Have you ever realized that your dog has a bump between his ears on the top of his head? Even though lumps are often cause for concern, all dogs have a bump called the occiput over the top of their heads. Although the size and roundness of the bump might vary based on the breed of your dog, it is a typical feature of their anatomy. But what does it indicate when a dog’s occiput grows larger?
Since muscles surround the occiput, muscular atrophy caused by a medical illness can also expose the occiput and give it the appearance of being more noticeable.
Additionally, because the occiput in many breeds can extend from the skull, it is vulnerable to being hit or bumped, which can result in swelling, bruising, and potential head injuries.
We’ll go further in depth about these issues below.
What is the Occiput on a Dog?
As dog enthusiasts, we are aware that canine skulls come in a variety of sizes and shapes, including those of small-headed dogs like Yorkies, gigantic dogs like Mastiffs, flat-faced Pugs, long-muzzled Afghan Hounds, and dogs with circular heads like Chow Chows.
Nevertheless, every dog has a bump on top of their heads, regardless of the size or shape of the heads. The sole distinction is that it is more pronounced in certain breeds than others.
The occiput is the term for the bump on a dog’s head. The Latin phrase for “back of the skull” gives rise to the name “occiput,” also known as the “occipital bone.” The region of the skull that attaches to your dog’s neck and serves as a pathway for the spinal cord allows your dog to keep moving their head with respect to their spine.
The breed of your dog will determine the size of the occiput. Dog breeds vary, with some having a noticeable bump that can be felt through the skin of the head. For instance, hounds are renowned for having a prominent occiput.
The bump should stay roughly the same size for the duration of your dog’s life, as it is a component of the dog’s skull, excluding any medical conditions.
Other odd names for a dog’s occiput include “smart bump,” “knowledge knot,” and “brain bump” or “wisdom bump,” since in the past people believed dogs born with this bump were smarter.
Whatever name it goes by, a dog’s occiput is the anatomical word for the noticeable bony bump that can be found near the back of the dog’s head. This bony triangle protrusion of the skull, also known as the “occipital protuberance,” is situated in the lower-back region of the cranium.
What Bone is the Occiput in a Dog?
The last portion of the occipital bone that reaches back to the back of the dog’s head and joins the neck is what makes up a dog’s occiput. The occiput is a flat bone like all cranial bones.
Why is the Occiput Also Known as The Knowledge Bump?
The size of the dog’s occiput was once thought to be a sign of intelligence, and it was also thought that the size of the occiput and the dog’s sense of smell were related — so, the greater the occiput, the better the dog could smell.
The fact that Bloodhounds and other scent hounds have prominent occiputs lends credence to this theory. The occiput, a fascinating component of the canine skull, is now referred to by a variety of slang titles, including knowledge bump, wisdom bump, knowledge knot, love knot, smart bump, and dumb bump.
What Purpose Does a Dog’s Occiput Serve?
The occiput is a typical component of the canine head structure. As a result, it serves several purposes. Let’s examine them more closely.
The occiput’s primary function is to offer the dog’s skull greater protection. For example, when predators attacked dogs in the wild, they frequently went for the head. A bigger occiput might provide stronger defense against these assaults.
The occipital bone, like all the other cranial bones, provides a wide surface through which the muscles that move the head and neck can connect. In respect to the spine, this allows the head and neck to move.
Last but not least, the occiput has a number of nerve endings connected to the fight or flight system. Numerous holistic veterinarians who use acupuncture and massage give special attention to this region. It can soothe and quiet the dog when handled appropriately.
What Breeds of Dogs Have an Occiput?
All dogs naturally have occiputs; however, the size and form will vary based on the breed of your dog. The lump will be more obvious in certain canines, while you may be required to feel for it in other breeds.
Dog breeds with an obvious and prominent occiput include:
- Golden Retrievers
- Labrador Retrievers
- English Setters
- Basset Hounds
- German Shepherds
- Doberman Pinscher
Why Does My Dog’s Occiput Keep Growing?
The occiput typically grows as the dog does, or more accurately, as the dog’s skull does. Simply explained, because the occiput grows at the same pace as the skull, it will also cease growing when the skull does.
During their entire lives, your dog’s occiput should remain the same size, with the exception of puberty, when it begins to develop. As your dog’s body and skeleton are developing, the bump may momentarily look bigger. While bigger dog breeds can take up to 18 to 24 months to fully grow, tiny dog breeds are likely to attain maturity around six to eight months.
If your dog has reached adulthood and you notice a difference in the size of their occiput, it may indicate that they have lost muscle mass in the area behind their head. It’s critical to get in touch with your veterinarian right away since a number of illnesses, including cancer, can result in muscular atrophy.
It’s also probable for your dog to hit or harm that area of their head more frequently since some breeds have a more noticeable occiput, which can lead to bruising. A bruise on that part of your dog’s head may also give the impression that the occiput is larger.
Normal Causes of an Enlarged Occiput in Dogs
Growing older and maturing are the common reasons for a larger occiput. In these cases, the occiput just seems larger in contrast to other head structures and the rest of the body, without really growing larger.
A young puppy has periods of rapid development as it matures and passes from puppyhood to maturity.
It is typical for the occiput to seem bigger at such periods. The occiput will blend in and be closer to the dog’s general look once the puppy approaches adult size. Therefore, these changes are just temporary.
In older dogs, the occiput may also appear to be bigger. This is due to the fact that elderly dogs usually lose muscle and become skinnier.
As a result, the occiput may look more prominent in the mature years of the dog than what it did in the adult years.
Abnormal Causes of a Dog’s Enlarged Occiput
As previously mentioned, certain reasons for an enlarged occiput are abnormal and point to potential health issues. Here is a deeper look at the abnormal reasons why dogs’ occiputs might get larger.
Injury or Trauma
Dogs are boisterous animals that frequently hurt themselves unintentionally. It is typical for their skulls to suffer damage in such situations.
Bumps and bruises are the result of minor head injuries, whereas concussions can happen from more serious traumas. It’s crucial to take your dog to the vet if they suffer a head injury. Concussed dogs need to receive the right medical attention.
Seromas and Hematomas
Hematomas and seromas are other reasons for an enlarged occiput. Seromas are fluid-filled pockets, while hematomas are packed with blood. Seromas and hematomas typically develop after surgery and trauma, respectively.
Veterinarian care is crucial in both situations because it will hasten the healing process and make it more pleasant and less uncomfortable.
If the muscles attached to the cranial bones start to deteriorate, the dog’s occiput may appear bigger (also known as muscle atrophy). Dogs that have muscle atrophy need medical care since it is a serious condition.
Masticatory Muscle Myositis (MMM)
An autoimmune disorder, canine masticatory muscle myositis, is likely the cause of a growing occiput. When the immune system of the dog mistakenly views its own muscular tissues as foreign objects, it assaults them.
Other head muscles may also be affected by the illness, which mostly affects the masticatory muscles (used for chewing). If impacted, the muscles swell and become excruciatingly painful.
Large breed dogs, including Labrador Retrievers, Weimaraners, German Shepherds, and Rottweilers, are more likely to develop MMM. Long-term usage of immunosuppressive drugs, such as corticosteroids, is part of the therapy.
Hair loss in the head region can give the appearance of an expanded occiput. There are several reasons why dogs lose their hair.
For instance, a poor diet and endocrine disorders may cause a dog to begin losing hair. Another problem that causes hair loss is allergies. Hair loss can also be brought on by parasites and mite infestations. The occiput gets more noticeable as a dog sheds hair on its head.
Multilobular Bone Tumor
The multilobular bone tumor in dogs, also referred to as osteochondrosarcoma, is a slow-growing tumor that often affects the flat bones of the skull. The tumor is often benign and does not grow. The preferred course of action is surgical removal.
Radiation treatment and chemotherapy may be options if surgery is not possible. Additionally, they may be utilized in combination with surgical excision.
Lastly, insect bites can cause a dog’s occiput to expand. Dogs are inherently inquisitive animals, and playing with bugs frequently gets them into trouble. Dogs frequently suffer from mouth and muzzle bites from insects. The head and occiput can also be bitten.
Bug bites often don’t cause any harm and heal on their own.
When to Consult a Veterinarian?
Overall, the occiput, or protuberance, on some dogs’ skull tops, is a typical component of the head. Contrary to common opinion, it has more to do with anatomy and the structure of the skull than it does with intellect or a good sense of smell.
The occiput grows with the skull because it is a component of the skull. The occiput also stops developing after the formation of the skull is complete. It is crucial to consult the vet if your dog’s occiput suddenly seems bigger than usual.
Dogs’ enlarged occiputs can be a warning sign for a number of health problems, some of which are mild and don’t need veterinary care, while others do.
Frequently Asked Questions
The occiput is a normal part of a dog’s anatomy that helps protect the brain.
It can take longer than expected for your dog to exit puppyhood. Your dog’s head will continue to grow as it gets older, and some breeds can take up to 18 to 24 months to finish growing.
One type of bulge on dogs is a lipoma — a slow-growing fatty lump that is usually harmless.
Conclusion for “Why is My Dog’s Occiput Getting Bigger”
Contact your veterinarian as soon as possible if you notice any changes in the bump’s appearance or feel, or if your dog expresses pain when touching the occiput.
Even if there are many possible causes, it’s always better to be safe than sorry because it might also be the early symptoms of impending sickness.
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Garrett loves animals and is a huge advocate for all Doodle dog breeds. He owns his own Goldendoodle named Kona. In addition, he volunteers at the Humane Society of Silicon Valley, where he fosters dogs and helps animals. Garrett enjoys writing about Doodles and believes that dogs can teach humans more about how to live than humans can teach a dog.
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