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Retarded Dog: Can Dogs Be Mentally Challenged?

Retarded Dog: Can Dogs Be Mentally Challenged?

You maybe started comparing your dog to other dogs. And now you have a sneaking suspicion that something is wrong. But you just don’t know what it is. You might have even googled “Mentally retarded dog” to see if it fits your canine.

Your puppy exhibits unique puppy mannerisms, is slow, or fails to respond to your directions as you would like.

Before you label your dog as mentally challenged, have them medically tested to rule out any other disorders or diseases.

It’s also possible that you haven’t properly trained your dog.

Is it Possible for Dogs to Be Mentally Challenged?

Both yes and no. A mentally impaired dog is possible, but not in the way you may assume.

Many dog owners rush to the veterinarian, stating that their dog is autistic or suffers from Down Syndrome. This, on the other hand, could not be further from the truth.

To begin with, autism is a neurodevelopmental illness that often impacts a person’s social functioning, rather than a mental disability.

While some dogs exhibit antisocial behavior, this does not always imply that they have autism.

We’re accustomed to seeing dogs who are constantly joyful and carefree. But there may be reasons why an otherwise happy dog develops certain tendencies.

Down Syndrome In Dogs

Some people believe that dogs can be affected by Down Syndrome. They also believe that physical indicators of the disorder can be recognized in dogs. These are things such as dogs born cross-eyed, with flat features, or other ‘abnormal’ characteristics.

Down Syndrome is a genetic illness that is unique to humans. That’s because it is linked to the number of chromosomes we have. It has not yet been scientifically established in dogs.

Most of the time, a “mentally retarded dog” is just a dog who has been affected by something. That can be a certain ailment, sickness, or trauma that has resulted in the development of one or more handicaps.

dog playing and training on the beach

Congenital Complications

Similarly to childbirth, certain dogs may experience birth complications that lead to permanent issues.

A puppy that gets caught in the birth canal and doesn’t get enough oxygen will usually develop into a retarded puppy.

Neurological impairment in dogs is frequently caused by a lack of oxygen at birth or problems following a c-section.

Mental Disorders

Anxiety, sadness, panic, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other neurological disorders can affect dogs.

These illnesses can make it difficult for dogs to live normal lives. But they can occasionally be treated effectively with medication.

Separation anxiety from the owner, which is found in dogs who spend most of the day alone at home, is a common cause of anxiety and sadness in dogs.

Depression can develop when your dog’s life undergoes significant changes. Such as the death of a family member or another house pet, relocation, or significant changes in their daily routine.

These diseases may cause your dog to exhibit some behaviors that may cause concern among owners. But this does not necessarily imply that the dog is mentally challenged.

Damage To The Brain

There may be lifelong neurological damage if your dog is in an accident and strikes his skull, or if he eats something toxic.

This is especially common in dogs that have experienced a cardiac or respiratory arrest or who have been saved from death.

Even if your dog recovers completely, even if the brain is deprived of blood and oxygen, he or she may not be the same intellectually.

This usually does not prohibit them from leading a regular life, but it might be worrisome for pet parents to discover peculiar actions in their dog that they have never seen before.

Psychological Trauma

Dog owners are sometimes uninformed of what occurred to their dog before they were adopted and mistake psychological stress for retardation.

Antisocial dogs appear to be afraid of everyone except their family members and other home pets, with whom they spend the majority of their time.

They have peculiar behaviors that distinguish them from other dogs and make them appear’slow’ or ‘stupid.’ These behaviors are frequently the result of a stressful childhood.

Some people are capable of performing heinous things, including animal experimentation.

Before being sold or abandoned, some dogs are mistreated and abused.


After a significant illness or infection, a dog’s brain may be injured.

Even eating the wrong thing can cause intestinal damage and allow gut bacteria to enter the circulation, where they can reach the major organs and the brain.

If your dog is treated in a timely manner, depending on the diseases, his overall health, and other factors, there is a chance that he may not suffer irreversible brain damage.

a dog waiting for a command or petting

Syndrome of Cognitive Dysfunction

Even while dogs are not affected by autism or Down Syndrome in the same way that humans are, there are some debilitating disorders that we share with our senior canines, such as dementia.

This disease, known as Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS), is very common in senior dogs. It occurs when the brain begins to change as a result of aging and results in a series of symptoms such as:

  • Loss of memory
  • Unable to recognize familiar faces or places (even the owners)
  • The inability to think
  • Inability to recall or respond to routine requests
  • Other learnt actions are being forgotten

What Are The Signs That You Have A Retarded Dog?

Now that you know that dogs aren’t likely to be retarded, but rather “just” impacted by a variety of ailments and diseases, you may be on your way to your veterinarian with the list above in hand to figure out what’s wrong with your dog.

Consider this: if your dog doesn’t listen to you, doesn’t follow your commands, and is a bit of a rebel, these aren’t necessarily indicators of dog retardation: your dog could simply be very independent, or you could simply be a sloppy trainer.

So, if you’re wondering how to tell whether your dog is retarded, keep in mind that they might not be, even if they exhibit habits that you don’t like.

When people say “my dog is retarded,” they often mean “I don’t know how to train my dog and have given up trying” or “My dog has really strange tendencies that I don’t understand.”

While you’re here, you can read our other health-related articles:

My name is Katy and I am 27. I love to travel and you would be surprised how good I am at karaoke. 🙂 Passionate dog lover and a "mother" to a beautiful toy puddle named Zara. I work as a volunteer in a local shelter and I am a veterinary assistant helping our four-legged friends every day.