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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Aggressive Behaviors




Condition Overview

Some syndromes in dogs, such as rage syndrome and sudden-onset aggression, may have a physiological basis such as seizures or a metabolic disturbance in serotonin levels.


These dogs may suddenly switch from acting normally to viciously attacking whomever or whatever is nearest. Minutes later, the dog will often act as if nothing has happened.


English Springer Spaniels and Cocker Spaniels may have an inherited predisposition to these problems. Aggressive behavior has also been associated with hypothyroidism in Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, and Shetland Sheepdogs. Thyroid levels should be checked in any dog with newly appearing aggressive behavior.


Diagnosis is made by observing the dog's behavior.


Whether this is truly a physical problem or a behavioral issue has not been fully determined. Any dog showing these signs should be worked up for a physical examination as well as scheduled with a veterinary behaviorist. Using behavior modification and behavior modifying medications, some of these dogs can become relatively safe pets. Also treat any underlying (treatable) problems.


There is no prevention for this condition.


Please contact your veterinarian with questions regarding this condition.

Show Sources & Contributors +


Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook

Publisher: Wiley Publishing, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Authors: Debra M. Eldredge, Liisa D. Carlson, Delbert G. Carlson, James M. Giffen MD

1 Comment For "Aggressive Behaviors"



We took on a rescued 'labradoodle'. He began showing these symptoms every 12 hours. Our vet said he is seeing a lot of cases recently & this is 'congenital' (ie in-bred) NOT a behaviour issue. Our dogs brain was growing bigger than the space available, he was going blind & the pressure was pushing on his aggressive 'centre'. The outcome for our dog... was to end his pain & any possibility of him 'unknowingly' injuring someone.

March 27, 2013 at 5:48PM  Sign In or Join to Comment