It is normal to feel a bump on your doggo’s head when you give them some head scratches. You can rest assured it’s not a sign of disease or a defect.
All Golden and Labrador Retrievers have a bump on the head known as the occiput. It is their smart bump and is said to show your dog’s intelligence!
The occiput is a small bony protuberance there to protect a dog’s skull from danger and predators. And you’ll likely notice your doggo’s occiput, as it is a bit bigger in Golden Retrievers.
In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the occiput, why Golden Retrievers have one, what it can mean, and some important things to look out for on your Goldie:
Table of Contents
- 1 The Reason Behind the Bump on Your Golden Retriever’s Head
- 2 What Is The Occiput?
- 3 Is The Bump On Your Dog’s Head a Health Concern?
- 4 Could The Bump Be a Skin Growth?
- 5 FAQ
- 6 Final Thoughts
The Reason Behind the Bump on Your Golden Retriever’s Head
Why does your Golden Retriever have a bump on its head? Finding a bump or a lump on your Golden Retriever is always stressful, especially when you find it on their head. Luckily the occiput is completely normal, but it is scary as lumps can also signal cancer.
But when it comes to dogs, they all have a bump on their head as a result of years of evolution. It is a normal part of a dog’s skull.
You will find the occiput at the back of your Golden Retrievers skull. It is also commonly referred to as the knowledge knot, knowledge bump, or wisdom bump. This bump on dogs’ heads is so well known; even Disney’s famous Pluto has one on his noggin!
The occiput is thought to indicate a doggo’s intelligence. Bloodhounds and our loving Golden Retrievers are two breeds with large occiputs on their heads. The occiput is merely a sign of evolution. Dogs developed this bony occiput to survive as it served as a form of protection from predators.
A lot of new pet parents don’t know this and often think that something is wrong with their pup. But fortunately, that bump on your Golden Retrievers’ head is natural and is a very beneficial part of their anatomy.
It is usually a lot easier to notice when your Golden Retriever is a puppy, and they will keep it into adulthood as it stays roughly the same size.
What Is The Occiput?
Occiput is a Latin word that means “back of the skull.” The occipital bone is much more visible in certain dog breeds and can make their head look pointy. Most mammals, our canine friends, and we humans have this occiput or ‘smart bump.’
It is the one part of your dog’s skull that is connected to their neck, and it provides a good passage for their spinal cord. The occiput protects your Golden Retriever from skull crush and head accidents and is directly linked to their muscles and nerves.
This part of their skull is a common focal point during canine therapeutic massages as it contains various nerve endings. When massaging a dog’s occiput, you stimulate the calming effects that are associated with a Golden Retriever’s fight or flight system.
Is The Bump On Your Dog’s Head a Health Concern?
As you now know, the occiput is completely normal and is in no way a health concern for your Golden Retriever. A very distinct occiput that gives your doggo a well-known pointy head is not something to worry about, especially when you see it in growing pups.
The occiput may get a bit bigger or change shape a little, but there shouldn’t be any extreme changes. Essentially, when your pup is all grown up, its occiput shouldn’t get any bigger.
However, if it does stick out a lot, it can get bruised or bumped, making it look a bit bigger due to the swelling. If you pick up on any drastic changes in the occiput appearance or size, it may be due to a health issue, and you should take your doggo to the vet as soon as you can.
Masticatory Muscle Myositis and Muscle Atrophy are two common health concerns that can make your Golden Retrievers occiput look more pronounced.
Masticatory Muscle Myositis (MMM)
Masticatory Muscle Myositis (MMM) is a common disorder affecting the immune system that can affect your dog’s muscles in their jaw and the muscles they use for chewing. This health condition will cause your Golden Retrievers’ immune system to see its muscle tissues as something foreign and then attack.
One telling sign of MMM is the swollen muscles on top of your doggo’s head, and this will, of course, make their occiput look bigger. As their condition worsens, you will notice swelling in their facial muscles, jaw, and eyes.
All of this is then followed by muscle loss. This will put your pup in a lot of pain and makes it very difficult for them to open their mouth. MMM is common in all dog breeds. It often hits when they are around three years of age, but they have seen cases in dogs as young as four months.
Swelling in the head and face and difficulty opening their mouths are all very telling signs of MMM. However, you can get an official diagnosis through a muscle biopsy or blood tests at the vet. If your Golden Retriever is diagnosed early on, the prognosis is generally quite good.
Muscle Atrophy happens due to aging and is the wasting away of your Golden Retrievers muscles. It can also happen due to reduced activity or illness. It can appear almost anywhere in your doggo’s body but commonly occurs in the rear legs.
Could The Bump Be a Skin Growth?
It can be very scary noticing a bump on your Golden Retriever’s head, especially when you’re unsure of what it could be. Luckily it is easy to tell the difference between a bone and a skin lump.
If the lump or bump is quite hard and doesn’t move, then you can be sure it is their bone. But if the bump or lump moves around a bit, it is certainly a skin lump. If you are worried, take your Golden Retriever to the vet so that they can check up on your dog and properly diagnose them.
Most skin lumps are non-cancerous. But there are a few cases where they turn out to be malignant. Visiting your vet is the best and easiest way to rule out cancer; if it is cancer, it’s best to catch it and treat it in its early stages.
The following are a few of the skin growths that could show up on your Golden’s head:
Sebaceous cysts are pimple-like lumps that generally develop on their heads. However, you may also notice them on your Golden Retriever’s back.
These cysts form when their glands get clogged up with oil, dirt, and debris. They generally appear as one single bump and are slightly blue or white.
Sebaceous cysts can pop or rupture like our pimples do. This type of cyst is benign, and medical attention is usually not required.
These small growths appear on your dog’s head, ears, and legs. These bumps are commonly found in younger dogs, but they usually go away on their own and are usually always non-cancerous.
Skin Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Skin Squamous Cell Carcinoma is a skin cancer that mostly affects older doggos. Dog owners may notice a raised wart-like lump or patch that is very firm when touched. It is commonly found on their lower legs, head, abdomen, and rear.
Lipomas are small deposits of fat. They tend to form under Golden Retrievers’ skin and are basically fatty tumors. They are common in overweight dogs and older Golden Retrievers. In most cases, they are benign and are no cause for concern.
Lipomas do not really spread and will not harm the dog; however, if you notice that they are growing abnormally fast or are on their legs, they may need to be removed. If they are on your doggo’s legs, they will hinder the dog’s movement, so removal is best to ensure your furry friend is comfortable.
Abscesses (Malignant Infection)
An abscess is a lump that is filled with pus. They generally form in reaction to a sore, wound, or foreign object in the body. It is a swollen lump of infection, generally very tender and sore.
The vet usually treats abscesses, and they can lance the abscess and then flush it out using a sterile solution. Your Golden Retriever may need to go on antibiotics for very bad abscesses to help them heal.
All Golden Retriever owners should know that their doggos can have allergies. Hives are common in dogs. These are red welts that spread across their body and are sensitive to touch. This can happen due to an allergy or a bee sting. It usually goes away by itself, but your dog may need antihistamines to reduce their hives.
Warts are usually caused by common viruses and often show up on and around a Golden Retriever’s mouth. They are not very nice to look at but are no cause for concern. Warts disappear on their own.
Cysts form when the glands under your dog’s skin get obstructed by dirt, sweat, or any fine matter. They are common in older dogs and usually appear on their back.
Mast Cell Tumors (Malignant)
A mast cell tumor is skin cancer. Hereditary and environmental factors cause it. An MCT is deceiving as it can appear as a wart or harmless skin growth, so you may think there is no problem. However, this type of growth can be diagnosed through a Fine Needle Aspiration procedure.
The vet can also determine how serious Mast Cell Tumors are. Certain dog breeds are much more prone to them than other breeds, and they may even spread faster in particular dogs. The cells can be surgically removed if caught in the early stages.
Are Golden Retrievers prone to lumps?
A Golden Retriever is most prone to lipomas. They usually appear on their snout but can appear on any part of the body.
When should I be concerned about my dog’s bump?
If you notice a bump on your Golden Retriever, it may be best to take them to the vet to get the bump checked out so you can rule out any health issues. If the bump changes color or gets bigger, take your doggo to the vet immediately.
A little bump on your dog’s head is part of a Golden Retriever’s anatomy, so it is nothing to worry about. However, various other bumps that can appear on your dog’s body or head may be a bit more concerning. It helps to know what to look out for to catch problems in their early stages.
Your pup’s knowledge bump is normal, and any other bump can likely be removed and treated so that your furry friend can live a long healthy and happy life!