Dogs with Mental Disabilities?

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Barked: Thu Dec 16, '10 6:23pm PST 
Ive seen another old thread about this, but wanted to refresh the topic to see if im mis-interpreting Dan's behavior.I didnt think of this at first however after some time now comparing him to a mentally "slow" male human being I see a lot of similarities. To start at first observation he appears overweight but its a result of a much larger frame than the average bluetick, currently he weighs in at 85 lbs. but breathings in I can see his rib structure. Second, he is much stronger than my other two hounds, when playing he can use one leg to pull them down. He also gets these catatonic stares and you can there is simply nothing going on in his head, its like hes sitting up with his eyes open sleeping. He also waddles a little bit with his paws pointed outwards instead of forwards. And just tonight he went to get a drink of water and stuck his face in his food bowl then did a double take and went to his water bowl. There are a lot of other things, but I just wondered if this was due to a lack of intelligence compared to other all other dogs, or simply his personality being a "larger than usual" bluetick?
Bella and- Daisy CGC

I'm a Meanie
Barked: Thu Dec 16, '10 6:37pm PST 
LOL. Sounds like a hound to me!

Both my girls have episodes where they stare off into nothing. They won't look if I call them but they sometimes will wag their tail.

And knowing a hound, he didn't miss his water bowl-he just wanted to check and make sure there wasn't anything in his bowl. Daisy does this a couple times a day.
Leah, CGC

All the Beauty- with none of the- Brains
Barked: Thu Dec 16, '10 7:00pm PST 
First: The proper terminology is Intellectually and/or Developmently Disabled. Mental disability has a negative conontation for many people

Second - Dogs aren't really easily defined as ID/DD but can have damaged or underdeveloped congnitive issues. Usually they are born with them, due to unjury during birth or trauma resulting in extensive brain damage or lack of oxygen. The only way to truly determine his cognitive and neurologic deficits (if any) is to have him evaluated by a board certified neurologist and then have an MRI or CT scan if deemed neccessary. However if this is only minimally affecting his daily life this may be overkill. A good neuro exam-with neurologist (around $100) may be a very good place to start.

OK lets look at the individual issues you are concerned with...

A) He has a "larger frame than the average bluetick". OK so this could simply be the result of his family tree. In humans with ID/DD especially common identifiable ones like Down Syndrome we see people who tend to range from overweight to obese. This has to do with alot of things both genetically, socially and medically. The actual genetic change that creates down syndrome has physical markers like "rolly-polly" or soft body frames. Also many times because others have difficulty interacting or communicating with those with ID/DD food is used as a reinforcer which only encourages additional weight gain.

HOWEVER - Dogs don't suffer from down syndrome. There are no genetic diseases that I am aware of at this point that cause soft or larger body frames. Where is Dan from? Was it an established breeder with lines of well proportioned dogs? Was it a neighborhood or backyard breeder? Was he from a shelter or a stray? I am more willing to believe he just isn't a perfect example of his breed (not that that doesn't make him cute as a button) not that he has ID/DD.

Also his photo of him standing shows me a slighly pudgy dog. To determine if he is proper weight or overweight check out this Body Condition Scoring Chart. BCS Chart You need to look at several different markers on his body like does he have an abdominal tuck, can you feel his ribs slightly or do you need to dig in your fingers, when you look down at him standing does he have an hourglass shape or is he box shaped. Hounds tend to do better on the slimmer side (but its my opinion that all dogs are better off on the slimmer side than the chunky side).

B) His strength is most likely due to his size and mass.

C) Catatonic stares can be indicative of several different things. They can be behavioral, neurological, metabolic etc. To determine the causes keeping a diary of when they happen and for how long may help. But the best thing to do is have him seen by a veterinarian. Have his eyes checked as well as his propriception (IE his ability to know where his own body is) and nerve responsiveness.

D) The waddling may be due to his extra weight or mass. Or it could be due to arthritic changes, malformation during development, previous injury or genetic problem from his family line. A physical exam with a vet could help you rule out pain or discomfort. Xrays may be able to pin point a bones malformation. Again knowing where he came from would be helpful.

E) There is one metabolic disease that may explain all the issues you mentioned. Hypothyroid disease causes animals to be lethargic, confused, stare and gain weight. It may be worth getting him tested when you see the vet. It is a pretty simple blood test and easily treated with daily medication. What is hypothyroidism?

Also what do you do with Dan every day? Is he a working dog? A hunting dog? Do you walk him? Have you done any agility or training with him?

Sometimes if dogs don't have a specific bond with someone or a job they enjoy doing they can seem "dumb" or uninterested when they are really just bored or don't understand what is expected of them. This is a total guess since I don't know what his life is like.

I just don't like to see dogs called dumb if nothing is expected of them.

Edited by author Thu Dec 16, '10 7:01pm PST



Momma is the- center of the- universe...
Barked: Thu Dec 16, '10 7:10pm PST 
Leah is a hard act to follow......
I agree he looks a bit plump....and whatever Leah said.
Ginger- M.I.A.

my first and- finest
Barked: Thu Dec 16, '10 7:18pm PST 
Very interesting, Leah! Thanks for the info.

To me, Dan looks overweight as well. Even on fat dogs you can see the edge of their ribcage when they inhale. I worry that Bruno is becoming overweight even though he still has a noticeable waistline, just because I don't see a hint of individual ribs or feel a hint of hipbones anymore.

I think dogs vary as much as humans in intelligence, but it's very hard to measure since they think differently.

I know, I'm- handsome
Barked: Fri Dec 17, '10 7:25am PST 
Interesting Leah!

We've always thought something is 'off' about Dante...can brain injury be caused after birth...say due to an attack?

Dante was attacked at 6 weeks old, which lead to neck surgery and the amputation of his front leg. It's kind of the chicken before the egg...did he get attacked because he's not your average dog and mom knew, or is he this way because of the attack? Or is he just a weird little dude and nothing is 'off'?

If you were to meet Dante you'd think he's had no training. He's 1 and we're still working on simple commands like 'lay down' and 'stay'. I've put waaaaaay more time and effort into him than his sister...but to watch the two you'd think we've done nothing with him. He still jumps, he still puppy nips. I was home with them most of the time for 2 months, and then all day with them for 2 more months...I put a ton of work into them, puppy kindergarten, etc. Nada. That little brain of his does not seem to comprehend.

He's got some very odd mannerisms too. We love the goober to death though, no matter what. It would just be nice to know at some point if we're just really doing it all wrong, or if there is actually a cognitive delay and it's just going to take aloooot of patience and time to get him trained.