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Have you ever wondered whether dogs can develop Down syndrome? The condition is comparatively common in humans, with some estimates suggesting one out of every 700 babies is born with it. But can dogs also be born with this genetic disorder?
The short answer is no, dogs can’t technically develop Down syndrome. Although, there are a few circumstances where dogs can show symptoms and behaviors that resemble the disorder.
Remember, if something seems to be wrong with your canine, then you must always seek the advice of a veterinarian, regardless of the symptoms. Here’s what you need to know about why dogs can’t have Down syndrome and what other conditions a canine might have instead.
Why Can’t Dogs Have Down Syndrome?
Down syndrome is a congenital disorder that, in humans, involves the presence of an extra 21st chromosome in the DNA.
The number of chromosomes a human usually possesses is 23 pairs, or 46 total chromosomes. Therefore, those who have the disorder have 47 total because of the extra chromosome.
The presence of this extra chromosome can result in birth defects. In humans, some of the common characteristics of this condition include having a smaller head, a shorter neck, and less developed muscle tone.
Dogs, on the other hand, have 39 pairs of chromosomes, or 78 total. Since Down syndrome is categorized by an individual having 47 total chromosomes, dogs can’t technically develop the disorder because they have way more chromosomes by default.
Another reason dogs can’t develop the condition is because an extra 21st chromosome in a dog’s DNA would result in different effects than it would for a human.
So even if a dog had the extra 21st chromosome, they would not present the same symptoms that characterize the disorder in humans.
What Conditions In Dogs Might Resemble Down Syndrome?
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So if dogs cannot technically have Down syndrome, what are the conditions and circumstances that might make people think that a dog has developed the disorder? Well, some of the answers include:
- Congenital hypothyroidism (due to low levels of the thyroid hormone)
- Growth hormone deficiency
- Congenital hydrocephalus
- Portosystemic shunt (PSS)
- Congenital heart problems
- Pituitary dwarfism
As always, if you suspect that there is something troubling your dog — whether you think it’s Down syndrome or some other issue — it’s imperative that you speak to a professional veterinarian before taking any further steps or action.