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You may have at some time or another stumbled on a dog with a prominent bump on his head and may have wondered why some dogs have a bumpy head while some others do not. 

In the fictional world, Pluto is a great example of a dog with a bumpy head.

Despite being a cartoon character, Disney was inspired by real features considering that Pluto was a bloodhound and bloodhounds are notorious for having a bumpy head!

Indeed, some dogs are genetically prone to having a bumpier head than others.

Interestingly, in the old days, a bump on a dog's head was considered appealing, a feature that owners cherished and actually looked forward to.

Introducing the Dog's Smart Bump

The bump on the dog's head is technically known as "occiput" which comes from a Latin word meaning "back of the skull."

Many dog owners still like to proudly refer to it as their dog's "smart bump" for the simple fact that in the old days having such a bump at the top of the head was considered a sign of intelligence.

Some other dog owners may choose to call it instead "knowledge knot, brain bump or wisdom bump."

Regardless of how it's called, one thing is for sure though (and sorry to burst someone's bubbles), this is an old wives' tail as there is no proof that a bump on a dog's head is associated with superior cognitive abilities.

Many hounds have a very prominent bump on the head.

Many hounds have a very prominent bump on the head.

More Prominent Than Others

The dog's occiput is a bony protuberance on the dog's head and its primary role is to protect the dog's bones of the skull and brain. 

On top of this important protective function, the dog's occiput also promotes movement of the head in relation to the spine.

 While all dogs have an occiput, it's more prominent in certain breeds compared to others. 

We often see it in hounds, particularly the bloodhound. According to the American Kennel Club's bloodhound's standard: "The skull is long and narrow, with the occipital peak very pronounced."

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A prominent head bump may also be seen in several sporting breeds such as golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, cocker spaniels and English setters.

Did you know? Because the occiput is commonly prominent in hounds, it was also once considered to be an indicator of a dog with a superior sense of smell.

Signs of Trouble

While the presence of an occiput is normal part of a dog's anatomy, an occiput that appears to be more prominent that usual may denote a health problem.

 Usually, this is an indicator of some level of muscle wasting going on, points out veterinarian Dr. Marie. It's important therefore to investigate what could be causing the muscle atrophy in the first place. 

Some types of cancer or masticatory myositis may also be underlying causes. So any changes to the dog's occiput should be investigated by the vet. 

This area is also prone to getting bumped and when this happens, a bruise can form on top of it, making it appear more prominent, adds veterinarian Dr. Pete. 

 Watch for signs of the area feeling warmer than the rest of her skin and painful to the touch. This could be a sign of an abscess or a pocket of infection. 

On a less alarming note, the occiput may appear temporarily more prominent due to hair loss, a bug bite or it can be just a phase of developing adolescent dogs. 

As these dogs further develop, the puppy "cone head" appearance should decrease as the puppy grows and "fills out," so to say.

Some puppies have a distinct "cone head" as seen in this cocker spaniel puppy.

Some puppies have a distinct "cone head" as seen in this cocker spaniel puppy.

Bone or Skin Growth?

It can be challenging at times for dog owners to differentiate whether a bump on a dog's head is actual bone or some type of skin growth. There's an easy little test though that can be carried out.

If the bump is part of skin, then you should be able to move it around a little, while if it is bone, and therefore, it is part of your dog's skull, you should not be able to move it at all, points out veterinarian Dr. Gabby 

However, have your dog see the vet if you have any doubt or concern. 

Did you know? The occiput is blessed with several nerve endings and as such, it's a location of interest to many canine therapeutic massage specialists.

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