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Why Do Dogs Have a Bump On Their Head?

Dogs have a bump on their head for the simple fact that that's what Mother Nature wanted them to have. There are dogs with small heads, dogs with large heads, and then, there are some dogs with a prominent bump on the head. Before understanding why dogs have a bump on the head, it's important to clarify something: all dogs have a bump on their head, only that in some dogs the bump is more noticeable than in others.

Why Do Dogs Have a Bump on Their Head? Some dogs have a bump on their head that is more pronounced than in other dogs and this may trigger curiosity in dog owners. The bump in question is a skeletal bump that dogs have all their lives and that's normal part of their anatomy. 

We're therefore not talking about any unusual lumps or bumps that dogs may get on their heads. If your dog develops any new suspicious lumps or bumps on his head, please see your veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Does your dog have a "knowledge knot?"

Does your dog have a "knowledge knot?"

Introducing the "Smart Bump"

Pluto isn't the only dog with a bump on his head, turns out many dogs have it and they're not part of a Disney cartoon.

 Some dog owners proudly call the bump on their dog's head the "smart bump" because in the olden days, dogs blessed with this bump were thought to be more intelligent, and the more pronounced the bump, the smarter the dog.

 Other names for the bump include: knowledge knot, brain bump and wisdom bump. Some even call it "stoll." 

Regardless of what it's called, it is important to debunk something that has been going on  for quite some time: this bump being an indication of superior intelligence is an old wives' tale. 

A Lesson in Anatomy

In case you were wondering, there's an anatomical term for that bump on the dog's head: it's called formally called the occiput. The term 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 at the back of the head, in the lower-back area of the cranium. 

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One important function of the occipital bone is to provide protection to the brain along with other bones forming the skull. This bone also enables movement of the dog's head relative to the spine.

A Matter of Breed

As mentioned, all dogs have an occiput but it is more pronounced in certain dogs than others. For instance, the bump is particularly noticeable in hounds, particularly the bloodhound.

 Possibly, this gave rise to another old common myth once popular in dog folklore, suggesting that the bump was also an indicator of a superior sense of smell. 

The occipital protuberance can also be seen in some sporting dog breeds such as golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers and English setters. 

Veterinarian Dr. Vivian Carroll, also notes that this knob-like bump at the top of a dog's skull is more prominent in dogs with long noses, as seen in Dobermans or Collies.

A Warning Signal 

An occiput that appears more prominent than usual may at times be an indicator of a health problem. While during puberty this bone may appear more prominent, normally the occiput shouldn't undergo any major changes throughout the dog's life. When it does, this should be worthy of veterinary investigation. 

According to Neuro Pet Vet, a medical condition known as "masticatory myositis"may cause the occipital protuberance to become increasingly visible because the dog's muscles undergo atrophy. 

Other than a more prominent bump on the head, masticatory myositis causes pain upon opening the mouth, trouble chewing and a decrease in appetite.

Did you know? The occiput has several nerve endings and is an area that gets attention from canine therapeutic massage specialists. Maryjean Ballner, a New York State Licensed Massage Therapist, suggests massaging the occipital bump in her book "Dog Massage: A Whiskers-to-Tail Guide to Your Dog's Ultimate Petting Experience."

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