Whether all dogs have an occiput is something that many dog owners may be wondering about.
Yes, we're talking about that prominent bump on a dog's head.
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 a big quality. Dogs with a pointed, "cone head" were therefore cherished.
What is a Dog's Occiput?
The occiput is a bone in the skull of vertebrate animals. It is the uppermost part of the posterior skull, at the back of the head.
This bone is formed in humans and many other animals by fusion of two or more ossified cranial bones: four in humans (two parietal and two temporal).
The occiput is an integral part of the skull, providing vital passage for the spinal cord. Its size and prominence are proportional to the size of the dog's skull and head.
What is a Smart Bump in Dogs?
Curiously, a dog's occiput is also known by several other colorful names such as "smart bump, knowledge knot, brain bump of wisdom bump" because in the olden days, dogs blessed with this bump were thought to be more intelligent.
Regardless of what it's called, a dog's occiput is simply the anatomical term to depict that prominent boney bump found towards the back part of the dog's head.
Indeed, if we look at the origin of the word occiput, it derives from the Latin word "occiput" which means "back of the skull."
Also known as "occipital protuberance" this bony triangular projection of the skull is located in the lower-back area of the cranium.
Did you know? A dog's pronounced occiput was also considered sign of a dog with a superior sense of smell. This is likely because many scent hounds curiously have a bumpier head.
What's The Main Function of a Dog's Occiput?
The main function of a dog's occipital bone is to provide protection to the brain along with other bones forming the skull.
It can help protect from predators who typically target the head and throat.
This bone also enables movement of the dog's head in relation to the spine.
Do All Dogs Have an Occiput?
Yes, all dogs have an occiput, it's a normal part of their anatomy, but in some dogs it can be much more prominent than others.
For instance, male dogs generally tend to have larger occiputs than females.
Certain dog breeds tends to have a more pronounced occiput than others.
What Dog Breeds Have a More Pronounced Occiput?
Several dog breeds have a larger "bump on the back of their head." In particular, it a pronounced occipital protuberance cab ne found in several sporting and hound breeds.
Dog breeds with a larger occiput consist of the following:
- Labrador retriever
- Golden retriever
- English setter
- Irish setter
- Doberman pinschers
Did you know? A dog's head shape is classified by its cephalic index (CI) which is the ratio of the maximum width of the head multiplied by 100 divided by the head’s maximum length. The shorter a dog’s head, the higher its CI.
Why is My Dog's Occiput Getting Bigger?
A discussed, an occiput is an important part of dog anatomy, and is usually not a cause for concern unless it becomes larger and more prominent.
A dog's occiput is covered in nerves and muscles that attach the head and neck together and these can sometimes swell.
When the area appears swollen, it can be difficult to tell whether it's serious or not.
It could be anything from a simple bruise to something more serious such as cancer or a skull fracture.
A multilobular bone tumor can sometimes cause the occiput to become larger, but this is not very common.
It can be challenging at times differentiating whether a bump on a dog's head is actual bone or some time of skin growth. There 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.
Dogs may bump their head on something and the area may swell. Possible causes of bumps on the top of a dog's head can include seromas and hematomas. A vet can easily distinguish the two from a needle aspirate.
In some cases though, it's not that the actual dog's occiput that has increased in volume, but the dog's facial muscles have atrophied causing it to appear more prominent.
This kind of muscle atrophy can be seen with trigeminal nerve abnormalities, abnormalities of the dog's temporomandibular jaw and masticatory myositis, points out veterinarian Dr. Salkin.
Other than a more prominent bump on the head, masticatory myositis causes pain upon opening the mouth, trouble chewing and a decrease in appetite.
Masticatory myositis, is an autoimmune disorder affecting the musculature of the dog's face.
My Dog Has a Bump On His Head After Hitting it
As mentioned, dogs may bump their head and the area above the occiput may swell.
At this point, you may worry about whether dogs can get a concussion from bumping their head hard.
Yes, dogs can get concussions. The symptoms depend on which region of the brain has been injured.
For example, an injury to the cerebrum may cause changes in the mental status or vision, whereas cerebellar injuries often cause ataxia, abnormal head tilt and nystgmus.
The most dramatic behavior changes involve seizures, stupor and coma. Paralysis or paresis may result from injury to the brain or to the spinal cord, explains veterinarian Dr. Ivana Crnec.