Why Is My Dog’s Occiput Getting Bigger?

correct answerThe Short Answer is:

If the occiput of your dog seems to be changing take him to the vet right away. The symptoms may appear harmless such as those associated with a growing puppy or they could indicate a serious condition that requires medical attention. Dogs have bumps on their heads no matter how big or small they are. Watch for any changes and keep an eye on them.

In this research you will know the answer to the query “Why Is My Dog Occiput Getting Bigger?“.

Are you noticing that the small bump on your dogs head seems to be getting bigger? 

In some dog breeds notably Labradors an “occiput” (officially called an “occiput”) is more prominent than others. 

It can be concerning however if the size or appearance of the tissue changes. 

Dogs’ occiputs are supposed to remain fairly the same size for most of their lives but may appear bigger as they grow from puppies to adults. 

Growing occiput can be a sign of a growing dog but it can also indicate a much more serious issue.

What is an occiput? Do all Dogs have an Occiput?

The occipital bone is found in almost all mammals including humans and our beloved canine companions. 

It is the only part of the skull that connects to the neck and provides a passage for the spinal cord so it is perfectly normal for a dog to have an occiput. In spite of the fact that it is present in every dog breed not every breed has a prominent occiput. 

Dogs with prominent occipital bones have a slight bump on the back of their heads which was thought to be a mark of intelligence hence the names “knowledge bump” “wisdom bump” “smart bump” “intelligence bump” etc. 

Why do dogs have occiputs?

Originally dogs lived in the wild and were attacked by predators who delivered crushing bites to their skulls. 

Providing a strong barrier to predators’ jaws the occiput provides the skull with a significant amount of protection making it more difficult for them to crush the skull and damage the brain. 

In addition to providing a solid cushion for the brain the occiput serves other functions. 

This bone is covered with several nerve endings and muscles that attach the head to the neck which is responsible for the flexibility of your dogs neck and the variety of head movements you observe in them. 

Dog Occiput Getting Bigger?

The occiput of a dog grows at the same rate as the skull and its size will be proportionate to the dogs head and skull size. 

As a result if your dog had a prominent occiput as a puppy it will remain fairly the same size as an adult. 

As an adult dog a puppy with a fairly visible occipital bone will also have a fairly visible occiput. 

In general dogs finish growing between 6 and 24 months. 

In general small dog breeds mature at 6 to 8 months medium dog breeds at about 12 months and large/giant dog breeds at up to 18 to 24 months of age. 

In the course of their growth stages dogs experience skeletal growth which means their bones develop and grow including their skulls and occiputs. 

The bump on the head of a dog will no longer grow when it has grown to its full size. 

If the occiput of your dog appears to have increased in size this is most definitely a sign that something is amiss. 

A suddenly large occipital bone should be examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible. 

Can Dog occiputs become swollen? Swollen Occiput on Dog?

You may notice that the occiput appears larger or swollen. 

Occipital growth may be a sign of a growing dog but if it looks enlarged or swollen it should be checked by a veterinarian as this may be a sign of Myositis. 

Myositis is a medical term used to describe a condition relating to muscle disease which is usually an inflammation of a muscle or group of muscles. Its symptoms include weakness swelling and pain. 

Myositis which causes swelling and pain can affect the occiput because it is covered with a variety of muscles. 

A condition called Masticatory Muscle Myositis (MMM) which affects the muscles that chew food can also cause swelling in the occiput. 

Swelling of the muscles on top of the head can be one of the first signs of MMM in some dogs. 

Furthermore as the condition worsens the dogs facial muscles (including the jaws and eyes) also swell causing tremendous pain. 

The MMM dog has a very difficult time opening his mouth and moving his head and eating becomes an extremely painful experience. 

A dogs head can also appear bumpy due to a multilobular bone tumor or muscle atrophy. A vet must be consulted if the smart bump on your dogs head is swollen or if the top of the head is getting bigger. 

What dog breeds tend to have more prominent occiputs?

There is an occiput in every dog breed though some breeds have more prominent occiputs than others. 

Those who breed sporting dogs are more likely to develop a very pronounced head bump especially Bloodhounds Labradors Golden Retrievers Basset Hounds and English Setters. 

What are the most common shapes of dog heads?

The majority of wild dogs have very similar head shapes whereas domestic dogs have very different head shapes as a result of centuries of continuous breeding and crossbreeding. 

Generally dog skulls and heads can be divided into three main groups: dolichocephalic mesaticephalic and brachiocephalic.

Dolichocephalic breeds: have pointed heads and long muzzles; examples include the Greyhound Whippet and Saluki.

Mesaticephalic breeds: have medium-sized heads with muzzles that are neither too long nor too short. Golden retrievers Labradors German Shepherds and Beagles are examples of these dogs. In general these dogs tend to have the least problem with head and neck issues. The majority of wild dogs fall into this category.

Brachycephalic breeds: differ greatly from their dolichocephalic counterparts. Their faces and noses are very short and their muzzles are almost nonexistent. Dogs with brachycephalic heads include Pugs Bulldogs and Pekingese.

Based on these three categories you can narrowly group the basic dog skull types and head shapes. In addition to these groups there are a variety of subgroups for categorizing dog head shapes mostly based on physical characteristics. 

Dog heads can be shaped in several ways including;

Wedge shape: the ears and nose are positioned at the edges of a long blunt wedge. Mesaticephalic dogs generally have wedge-shaped heads and examples include Shelties Tenterfield terriers Golden retrievers German shepherds etc.

Blocky or square-shaped head: usually squarish or cuboidal in shape with a blunt upward-pointing nose. Boxers Boston terriers Bullmastiffs Bulldogs and other breeds with square-shaped heads are all brachycephalic.

Snippy (or pointy) head: has a very pointy and long nose as well as a long neck. Greyhounds Borzois Whippets Afghan hounds Collie dogs Salukis etc. are examples of dolichocephalic dogs.

Apple head: refers to dogs with a dome-shaped top to their skulls and a small snout. The apple-head Chihuahua is one of the most popular breeds of dogs. Poodles are another popular breed. 

Egg-shaped head: Bull terriers have the most common egg-shaped heads among dogs. A rugby ball or an egg has an oval appearance.

Dome-shaped head: Cocker Spaniels and Rottweilers have heads with rounded tops and convex noses that have a dome-like shape.

Pear-shaped head: This shape is usually associated with the lamb-like Bedlington terriers rounded skull and narrow or tapering nose.

Brick-shaped head: A rectangular and brick-shaped head that is long and slightly dome-shaped. Scottish terriers Kerry Blue Terriers Black Russian Terriers and Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers are examples of dog breeds.

Otter head: Border terriers are known for their broad skulls and short muzzles which are said to resemble otters heads.

Can head shape predict how a dog behaves?

You usually do not wonder about the characteristics and personality of an adorable dog you see in a city park. 

The process can be challenging if the dog breed is unfamiliar. 

In a recent research study it was found that dogs’ physical appearances such as head shape and body size can dictate their behavior temperament and personality. 

The study found that brachycephalic dogs tend to be more interested in humans and enjoy playing and engaging in various activities which enables them to be fully engaged with their human family which makes them lapdogs. 

When faced with a difficult situation flat-faced dogs tend to be more defensive. Dolichocephalic dogs are generally aloof and independent and they do not care about human interaction. 

In addition mesaticephalic dogs tend to be highly intelligent and trainable. 

A dogs size may also be able to tell us about its personality according to the study. Dogs that are taller tend to be more affectionate and playful with humans. 

Shorter and smaller dogs on the other hand tend to be more aggressive particularly towards strangers and unfamiliar objects. 

Smaller and shorter dogs also require more attention from their owners while taller dogs tend to be more reserved. 

Can dogs get concussions?

It is still possible to injure a dogs head despite its thick skull. A concussion can also occur if a dog experiences a serious head injury. 

It is possible for a dog to sustain a concussion from a bad fall or an accident and some of the common symptoms are lethargy disorientation inability to stand walk or move rapid eye movements etc. 

When a dog is involved in a bad accident it can also lose consciousness and a very severe head injury can cause brain damage. 

In the event that your dog displays any of the above symptoms after a bad fall or car accident you should seek medical attention right away. 

A concussion can be treated differently depending on its severity. A mild concussion may only require rest and observation but a severe concussion may require special care and examination for brain damage. 


The occipital bone is an important part of the skull bone because it protects both the dogs skull and brain. 

Once upon a time it was thought that a prominent occipital bone indicated a dogs intelligence and dogs with prominent occipital bones were highly intelligent and trainable. 

The occiput of any dog is unusual to suddenly become larger or swollen regardless of whether it has a prominent occiput. Having a swollen occipital bone can be a sign of an inflammatory muscle disease which should be evaluated by a veterinarian as soon as possible.

If you want to read more about dog health tips read here: Dog Health Tips and Tricks.

Why Dogs Occiput Getting Bigger? (Watch Video)

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