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Can Dogs Have Down Syndrome? Facts On Dog Down Syndrome

Dog Down Syndrome
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All of us who have spent a lot of time with the dogs will be able to catch the compatibility talk between, we humans and the canine species.

The blend of similarities and differences in the relationship between the dog and human is what makes the bonding quite unique in a perfect way.

However such similarities also have its grey side that relates to the diseases suffered by both men and dog. Such illnesses to name a few are cancer, heart ailments, epilepsy, and diabetes. Down syndrome is a very usual chromosomal abnormality found in humans. Down syndrome in cats is also common.

Now that we have discussed on similarity and differences in men and dog, the immediate question to pop up is whether Down syndrome falls in similarity list or difference list.

Can Dogs Have Down Syndrome?

Deciding on the factor whether dogs could suffer from Down syndrome is on what perspective we take that discussion. As per CDC about every 700 births in the United States 1 baby is affected by Down syndrome.

However the same cannot be taken as a deciding factor for dogs. Down syndrome in dogs is usually a rare condition in dogs. Dogs are humans have various similarities in terms of genetics, however genetically there are many major differences also.

Want a justification??? We, humans, have 23 sets of chromosomes but dogs have more than us, yes they have 39 sets. Thereby duplication of every set of a chromosome or a bit of chromosome 21 will show different symptoms in every species.

 Down syndrome Research!!!!! The interesting fact is that scientists are making use of mice which are engineered genetically as an animal model for the research in Down syndrome.

Such mice have the feature of chromosome 21 in human in the form of chromosome 16 which is a quite similar gene. So this gives us the sample mice that has similar to the human gene for the sole purpose of research in Down syndrome.

Just remember!!! These are genetically engineered mice, not the natural ones. As we expand defining the Down syndrome in canine includes certain duplication in genes which brings the abnormalities clinically, that is as same as the symptoms which occur in people affected with Down syndrome.

However, there are no specific conditions of Down syndrome that is been defined for the dog breeds. Yet listed below are three possibilities:

  • Any chromosome abnormalities usually end in the death of the dog.
  • There is no availability of genetic testing to detect the dogs affected with Down syndrome.
  • There are no specific conditions recorded for this illness in dogs.

Famous Dogs With Down Syndrome

1. Can Pugs Have Down Syndrome?

Undoubtedly pugs are definitely lovable and we always wish for their good health. However, there are possibilities of certain diseases and illness affecting the pugs. The most common heath issues being eye and breathing disorders.

Down syndrome one other disorder which could affect the pugs that are beyond our control. The chromosomal defect Down syndrome affects the pug’s life completely.

Its organs do not develop normally and it suffers abnormality in growth. Down syndrome in pugs risks the life of the dog and it is very difficult for the affected dog to survive longer in such a condition.

Check for symptoms

  • Abnormal growth
  • Infection in eyes
  • Skin disorders
  • Other sickness relating to the growth of the pug

2. Can Pitbull Have Down Syndrome?

Pitbull terriers are medium sized breed which is much adaptable and gets along with people more and are considered very protective in nature.

This breed is observed to be a bit aggressive with other dogs usually with the same sex which makes them not so comfortable companions for humans.

If you already have an American Pitbull Terrier as your pet or planning to add it as your companion, “Beware!! “ this breed is known to be affected by genetically linked disorders more often than any other breed.

Pitbulls are prone to suffer from genetic disorders such Down syndrome much more than the other species.

Check for symptoms

  • Allergies
  • Blindness
  • Nerve disease
  • Any other genetic related sickness

3. Can Chihuahua Have Down Syndrome?

The Chihuahua is a little dog which has an amazing personality. It is the national symbol of Mexico and it is defined as a good alerting breed and wonderful ‘Purse Dogs”.

It is known to be one of the oldest dog species in the United States which has a lineage which counts back to the ancient times of pre-Columbian period.

Chihuahua is, in general, a healthy breed but yet they are known to be affected by genetic disorders quite often.

The dog tends to be affected by Down syndrome type of illnesses accompanied by a blanket of signs and symptoms. Behavioral problems need to be analyzed as this is a major sign of the disorder.

Check for symptoms

  • Potty Problems
  • Tantrums
  • Aggression
  • Few other behavioral changes

4. Can Bulldog Have Down Syndrome?

Bulldogs were initially meant to ride cattle for the market and to play a bloody game called Bullbaiting. However times have changed, nowadays the Bulldogs are much recognized as soft natured companions who care for kids.

A short walk and a sleepover on the sofa is simply the pace of this dog breed.

English Bulldog is one such breed which gets affected by too many genetic disorders. It is a dog breed which is difficult to avoid with those squished face and wrinkles.

Most of the dogs in this breed are affected by genetic issues that pass on to them due to hereditary. Down syndrome also is a genetic illness which has chances of affecting the Bulldog.

Check for symptoms

  • Thyroid problems
  • Other skin or eye infections

5. Can Golden Retriever Have Down Syndrome?

Golden Retriever is a very popular breed in the United States. It is an amazing family pet with its friendly attitude and tolerant nature. Its high intelligence makes it a great choice of working dog breed.

It is absolutely easily trainable. The Golden Retrievers have an average life span of about 10 to 13 years however they have the risk of certain genetic predispositions to some diseases. Down syndrome is no exception to Golden Retrievers as it affects them genetically.

Check for symptoms

  • Dullness in eyes
  • Development problems in joints
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Few other skin infection and allergies

6. Can Shih Tzu Have Down Syndrome?

Shih Tzu simply means little lion but there is nothing much fierce about this pet. Shih Tzu is a loving breed and not a hunter.

Much popular as a good companion Shih Tzu is an affectionate, joyful and outgoing breed which keeps wagging behind its people at home.

Nowadays it has changed a bit, people have started letting it down the laps and it is being a trained breed for sports. Shih Tzu is popularly trained for rallies, agility competitions and it learns to be obedient.

Shih Tzu is no exception to genetic disorders. They suffer from various illnesses that are caused due to genetic abnormalities. Down syndrome is also a possibility sickness in Shih Tzu.

Check for symptoms 

  • Cataract eyes
  • Discharge from rectum
  • Allergies
  • Heart ailments

Down Syndrome In Dogs - Signs & Symptoms

Apart from the above conditions, there are few most usual signs and symptoms of Down syndrome in dogs. It is advised to understand these signs as it would be helpful in detecting them at an early stage in turn helpful in taking corrective action as quick as possible.

Though it a tricky task to detect, it is possible if you are a bit vigilant and observant. A simple example!!!  Usually, the healthy dogs have moist noses whereas dogs with the illness have dry noses.

Keep a check on the below symptoms, to know better whether your canine partner is affected by down syndrome:

  • Poor Eyesight – As there is a risk of poor development in dogs infected with Down syndrome, they happen to develop poor eyesight. Moreover, they also tend to develop a cataract in either of the eyes.
    Cloudiness in the eyes of the dogs needs to be observed. The cloudiness in eyes of dogs is a primary symptom of cataract.
  • Unusual physical features and face – Dogs affected by this disorder usually have a dwarf type or deformed facial structure. Few of the most common abnormal features are neck being short, face flattened, tiny head, eyes slanting upwards and abnormal shape of the ears.
    Apart from this Down syndrome also makes the nose dry and warm. It also leads to abnormality in the skin with patches, incomplete legs that are deformed and shredding i.e. a lot of hair fall.
  • Hearing defects – Though this is a symptom which might be tougher to detect, you can observe that a dog with Down syndrome is generally slow in reacting to the instructions and also doesn’t get along normally when in a company of one or more dogs.
  • Congenital Heart ailment – It is a very usual symptom in the Down syndrome-affected dogs as they tend to develop a circulatory system which is abnormal. Malformations are developed in them from birth 
  • Random pain – As the dog with Down syndrome has the compete body being developed abnormally and is totally affected due to the disorder, there are high chances of deformed internal organs.
    Due to the abnormality in the internal parts the dogs have tendencies to develop pain randomly.
  • Discharge – Dogs affected by Down syndrome also develop other illnesses which lead to the discharge of blood through the rectum. Such blood discharges are signs that develop during the later stages of this syndrome. 
  • Skin defects – Most of the dogs with the Down syndrome develop skin related diseases. Apart from developing patches on the skin which is abnormal and heavy shedding, they also tend to be quite sensitive towards slightest irritants too.
    This leads to high sensitivity to allergies and other health problems.
  • Thyroid problems – Down syndrome dogs also leads to thyroid malfunction which affects their metabolism and temperature. Their temperature tends to be lower than the normal dogs.
  • Behavioral problems – Dogs with Down syndrome portray odd traits and manners like wailing, whining and howling quite incessantly. They tend to be reserved unusually. Puppies affected by this syndrome do not develop quickly.
    It is absolutely difficult to handle these puppies with this syndrome while feeding and training them for potty. This is due to the complexity they face in controlling their bladders. At times they might even finish their walk outside and just enter and pee on the carpet.
    Relax!!! Lots of patience is required in handling them. Understand!!! They aren’t normal.

Can Down Syndrome In Dogs Be Managed As Pet?

There are various examples which we come across those children born with Down syndrome go ahead with their lives in a healthy and better lifestyle.

Parents generally share their experience as it is not a cake walk to bring up children with Down syndrome; however, it is worth all the pain.

However, when we speak about pets with Down syndrome it is considered more complicated to manage and treat their illness. As every day passes it is quite a life-threatening and it definitely tests the patience of the owner.

The two major issues which stop us is that there aren’t many details available about the down syndrome in dogs and there is also no many medical treatments and support available to treat the affected puppy.

It gets very difficult to manage and treat the dog to cope up with numerous health disorders it gets affected to due to this syndrome. The growth pace is very slow and uncertain.

Moreover, the dogs with Down syndrome are born infertile so spaying or neutering isn’t required in such affected dogs. This is good as it doesn’t pass its abnormal genetics to the next generation.

With all these complications it is totally an individual’s interest and patience that could answer whether the dog with Down syndrome can walk in as a pet or not.

Conditions That Show Possibilities Of Down Syndrome In Dogs

Certain congenital or development conditions are diagnosed in dogs which are quite common and these conditions have similar symptoms of Down syndrome. A good example is a congenital hypothyroidism.

The main cause of it is the reduced or absence of thyroid hormone level from birth or at the early stage of life which leads to a combination of the below defects:

  • Growth in slow pace which leads to tiny stature.
  • Broad wide head
  • Big, protruding tongue
  • Small limbs
  • Gait abnormality
  • Weak muscle tone
  • Mentally dull
  • Delay in eyes and ears open
  • Delay in the eruption of teeth

Few other symptoms that confuse us as Down syndrome in dogs are pituitary dwarfism, congenital hydrocephalus, and deficiency in growth hormone and portosystemic shunt.

If you suspect that your pet seems to affect by down syndrome, discuss it with a veterinarian. The veterinarian would advise a proper plan for diagnosing the illness and would recommend the necessary treatment after the diagnosis.


Possibility Of Improving The Quality Of Life Of Dog With Down Syndrome!!!

Although there isn’t any cure for this illness, it is necessary to take certain steps to make you affected pet feel comfortable. It is not an easy task and requires a lot of time.

Remember if you own a pet training it for potty, feeding and obedience is necessary and it involves a lot of time, now that your pup is Down you may require to spend few extra hours. All are worth!!!

Diet Advice

Regulating the food intake of the affected dog is a must. A good amount of protein is required for the Down pup to build and maintain its strength.

Rather than feeding it with the regular dog food, make his diet filled with meat like a small bowl of ground beef, a piece of jerky and any other available meat as it would support its muscle development.

Allergy Caution

Before you fill your dog’s bowl with the food make sure to read the details of the ingredients in the food pack because dogs with Down syndrome have a high risk of allergies. Be aware of the allergic foods in specific for your pet.

Certain by-products and other food ingredients may cause a severe allergic reaction in Down syndrome pups, which tend to lead to many other health complications. It is always good to take the vets advice before proceeding on a diet for Down pups.

Must Exercise

Exercise is essential in the life of every dog. Exercising is no exception for dogs with Down syndrome. They will surely like to take a walk in the backyard and outside.

As a Down pup owner make sure to take your pup for regular walking and encourage him to do some fetching like fetching the ball, sticks etc…, chase birds and also let him play some games.

As they suffer from growth defects these workouts will help them build muscles and bones. It also supports building connective tissue and lead a better life.

However, if your pup suffers from any heart ailment make sure to check with your vet about the exercises and training sessions to be given in specific for your pet.

Due to the heart condition, there could be certain limitations in the exercises to be practiced by your pet because too much pressure could lead to more damage to its fragile ticker.

It is good to let the pups with Down syndrome socialize and get along with other canines to learn good manners and behaviors. Follow the above suggestions and help them in stepping forward as a normal dog.

Few Other Considerations

Adopting a dog with Down syndrome is challenging, however, it is definitely undeniably rewarding.


Maintenance of down pups is a bit expensive affair as the number of visits to the pet is more than the usual. The cost of diagnosis, testing, and prescriptions require a few extra pennies than the usual pet maintenance expense. Pet Insurance helps a lot with these.

The medicines meant for these pups are a bit costly due to its limited availability.


The pups with this syndrome demand specific special training throughout their life. Such training only helps them have a better lifestyle amidst their pain.


Provide them with a good place to rest and sleep. A comfortable bed bought from a store or a special pile of blankets is necessary for soothing the aching bones and muscles of the pup with this disorder.

Good comfortable resting place and the bed is a necessity to keep them comfortable during warm and cold nights as they may develop another sickness if left without adequate care.

Keep Away

It is advised to be cautious with the bed and other things used for the pup with Down syndrome and keep them away from children and other pets at home. These pups have severe allergies and tend to have rectum discharges which are harmful.

The infections in the things used by the down pups may cause illness in children and other pets so keep them away.


Being infected with allergies and having harmful discharges from the body it is necessary to keep pets with Down syndrome neat and clean. Give them a good bath and clean their infections every day or as per the Vet’s advice.

Such infections tend to spread and cause diseases for others at home and also complications for the pet. Cleanliness and regular bathing with a good shampoo is a must in dogs with Down syndrome.


Down syndrome is a genetic disorder which mainly affects human; however, it may also affect animals including dogs.

There are no much details available about Down syndrome in dogs and many vets do not have a grasp on taking care for a dog affected by Down syndrome simply because dogs with this syndrome rarely survive after birth.

However, those down pets which survive after birth grow up and are absolutely friendly companions like any other normal pets.

All that these special pups require is special attention, care, and patience. If your down pup is close to you and you are ready for the long haul, just go ahead undoubtedly there is nothing which you guys can’t beat.

Have a Happy Life together!!!!

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