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Seems to be a controversial question!
I'm running a 38t up front and 11t-32t rear cassette 9 speed on my dh bike.
only just bought it and previous owner had a road bike mech on it.
will a short cage work ok?
Looking at shimano saint shadow?
 

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yep, short derailleur. As LaXCarp said, be careful of your chain length, and also your b-tension screw. Make sure that you set your chain length at the point in your suspension travel where the axle is the furthest back. Super important with short cages.
 

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Seems to be a controversial question!
I'm running a 38t up front and 11t-32t rear cassette 9 speed on my dh bike.
only just bought it and previous owner had a road bike mech on it.
will a short cage work ok?
Looking at shimano saint shadow?
Controversial??? Maybe if you don't know basic math.

cap req'd (T) = (BIG ring - small ring) + (BIG cog - small cog)

38 T up front negates to 0

0 + (32-11) = 21

You need a derailleur with a 21thooth capacity. Shorts are usually around 30, your $$$.

Med and long would result in more chain slap. Just add a couple links for chain growth under compression.
 
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