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What's that Bump on Top of a Dog's Head?

Bump on Top of a Dog's Head

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 and despite being a cartoon character, Disney was inspired by real features considering that bloodhounds are notorious for having a bumpy head. Today's trivia question therefore revolves around this bump on the dog's head. The question therefore is:

In the old days, this bump on a dog's head was indicative of what?

A) Intelligence

B) Stubbornness

C) Loyalty

D) Obedience

The correct answer is: drum roll please....


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The correct answer is: A, Intelligence.

dog bump on head

Introducing the 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 though 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 dogs 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.

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 and several sporting breeds such as golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers 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 be underlying causes. 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. 

So any changes to the dog's occiput should be investigated by the vet. On a less alarming note, the occiput may appear temporarily more prominent due to hair loss and in developing adolescent dogs.

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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