Can dogs (or other animals) be retarded?

Is it possible for an animal to be retarded, as in have the same learning disabilities as man does? Even though animals rely on instinct more than man, animals do learn and evolve.

I ask this question because I had a school friend many years ago, and I used to visit his house on a regular basis. They loved dogs. They had a Great Dane (several in fact, three died before this dog, I am sure they have gone through 2 or three more since, Dane’s live short lives), plus another small male dog of mutt type origin.

I think this dog was retarded because it would bark at me every single day I saw it and hid under a table. The dog was not being protective, it was scared of its own shadow. It would not answer to his name either.

I have another friend who had a retarded dog, but I called her “crackhead” because whenever I knocked on the door, it would howl, bark and go nuts. This dog was also scared of everything, like it was paranoid that someone was going to beat on it (my friend never did.) Like many stupid bitches, crackhead got
pregnant in a one night stand and had several beautiful pups. Crackhead was an outside dog and the pups lived in a doghouse where crackhead would sleep at night, also to keep here babies warm. This cold night crackhead did not sleep in the doghouse and her puppies died.

So those are my examples of retarded animals. Any truth in my hypothesis?

You can have mentally deficient dogs. For example Boston Terriers occasionally suffer from a genetic malady that causes the skull plates to fuse prematurely as a puppy, inhibiting proper brain growth and producing the functional equivalent of a drooling pet rock.

But in the cases stated above, it sounds that it is just as likely a socialization issue. Even this may be partially genetic as some particular breeds seem to have a predisposition to “shy-sharpness” ( fearful aggression - i.e. “doggy paranoia” ). But it generally can be overcome with proper training and socialization.

  • Tamerlane

We had a cat that was either mentally differently-abled or damaged shortly after birth. Her head seemed oddly shaped, if that’s indicative of anything. She had 3 sisters who all successfully reared kittens of their own, a mother to show them all how that was done and how to hunt and a good safe home. She alone was incapable of getting her kittens to live more than a few days–she usually smothered them by laying on them. She didn’t seem interested in caring for them. She didn’t appear to have a memory of more than a few days (It’s been 30+ years, I can’t give any more examples).

In our opinion she was deficient in the instinct arena, and she was kind of stupid/clumsy and seemed to lack the cat-like ability to tell when something bad is about to happen.

I would guess that animals who truly have a ‘retardation’, or a brain problem that makes them less intelligent, probably exist, but I’ll bet they don’t survive very long without human intervention. Kittens who can’t figure out how to nurse or clean themselves or play with other kittens would end up physically poor as a result of their mental deficiency, and would probably die young. If they were raised by people who knew how to deal with their specific problems, they’d probably be okay-- but I’m guessing you don’t see it much because they don’t survive very long.

And yeah, the dogs you’re describing sound more like they have socialisation problems. A lot of domestic animals have trouble raising their young; ‘instinct’ alone doesn’t always seem to be enough to teach them.

I have two basset hounds.

Enough saidl.

Enough said, too.

(Wish the “edit” key on this site worked.)

When I was in high school (or thereabouts - been awhile) our family had a dog that had brain damage. He couldn’t walk straight. He could only turn right. And he couldn’t stand. He got around by walking in a corkscrew pattern. When he wanted to stay in one place he would walk around in a circle. Oh and he only had one speed: overdrive. It was pretty freaking wierd. When he crapped, it was all over the place. Still a nice dog, as annoying dogs go. He didn’t seem all that dumb either, for a dog anyway.

My friend’s dog was a great pet-- very well socialized, intelligent and good-natured, but she would have nothing to do with her pups.

My friend couldn’t understand it. Her dog had lived with its own mother for almost five months, so it was familiar with how a mother should act. The dog wouldn’t even lick the pup after birth. She just walked away from them, and steadfastly refused to go near them again. My friend ended up having to “foster” the pups with another dog which had recently given birth.

Back to the OP:

My grandmother had a dog who was the canine equivillent of Forrest Gump. I honestly do think the dog was mildly retarded. Training him for the simplest skills, like “sit,” was a long and grueling process. Neither did he have the ability to think out a solution to a simple problem.

Once, I was tossing treats to both my grandma’s dog and my dog. A treat rolled under the leg of a table. Grandma’s dog stood there, utterly perplexed. He attempted to reach it with his head, but when he couldn’t, just stared helplessly. My dog walked up, examined the situation, reached under the table leg with one paw, and pulled the treat out.

Since we’re on retarded animals…can a vet give a dog, cat, horse, etc. an abortion?

There was this cat that used to sleep in the bottom of my Coke machine that I think had something wrong with it. For one thing, it didn’t say ‘meow’, it said ‘Meaaaaaah’. It also was very dirty and smelled bad.

Man, I’d think that any Coke machine that said “meow” would have something wrong with it. Let alone “Meaaaah”… :wink:

A friend of the family’s used to have a collie that could not grasp the concept of windows and glass doors. Appropriately, the family’s home had a front door with a pane of glass running down the middle. EVERY SINGLE TIME we went over, the visit would start with the same sound sequence:

ding dong
uncontrollable laughter from 6-year-old auRa

The owners eventually had to keep the Venetian blinds in the living-room windows half-closed all the time because every time the collie saw another dog walking down the street, he would try to run through the window. With the blinds half-closed, he recognized that there was something in the way.

Yes. Certain drugs are used to cause cats and dogs to abort.

Another option is to spay the female while pregnant, but that’s only feasible if you don’t want to breed the animal in the future.

Don’t you be talkin’ 'bout plugdogs like that!

Anyway… only more anecdotal evidence here. We had a kitten we adopted from a farmhouse that started out normal, then suddenly got stupid. My sister and I just figured he was a dumb but sweet cat, until one day our mom told us she’d found him wedged between the frame and mattress of her waterbed, lifeless. She actually administered artificial rescusitation to the poor beast, but he’d been dead long enough to suffer brain damage. So my thinking is, yeah, animals have brains just as humans do, which can be mildly or severely damaged, so it’s entirely possible that animals can be retarded, too.

My brother in law had a cat named Kahlua that was retarded.
During birth, its head got stuck for several minutes.
Growing up, he was never quite right. Drooled a lot, would try to scratch himself and miss, scratching at the air, puzzled as to why he still itched. That sort of thing.
Even full grown, he would run through the house, full-tilt and run head-first into the oven. BONG
Then he’d get up and do it again, exactly the same way, 4 or 5 times a day.

This brings up a question that I’ve had for years (Thanks for bringing it up, by the way).

When dogs and cats are inbred, does that affect them negatively?

Also, can animals have a form of Down Syndrome?

IANABreeder, but yes, it does - more physiologically than mentally, altho’ I’ve heard it said that inbred dogs are more “nervous” than most dogs. Whatever that means.

Well, a relative of mine used to have a collie that frequently managed to get itself stuck… in the corner of a room! It would walk headfirst into a corner and then apparently be unable to figure out the whole “back out to leave” bit. Instead, it would just stand there and whine until somebody picked it up and turned it around.

I don’t know about “retarded,” but that there dog weren’t none too bright…

godzillatemple, I think I just got ginger ale up my nose, from snorting with laughter at the same time I was taking a drink. Thanks.

When I was younger, a client of my dad’s brought in two tiny kittens that had been born outdoors, in the middle of winter. She had found them, in a freezing puddle, and brought them to my dad to be disposed of, since they were almost certainly dead. My dad thawed 'em out, found one a home, and kept the other as an office cat. This cat may not have been retarded from birth, but he was certainly some kind of brain damaged. He never groomed himself, and would have to be plunked into the sink and hosed off once in a while. He didn’t seem to mind. He didn’t seem to know how to retract his claws, and would regularly get stuck in the carpet, and stand there looking dumbfounded until someone came along and unhooked him. He would reach up and pat someone’s leg for attention, and if they were wearing pants or a skirt (as opposed to bare-legged), he would get stuck in their clothing and sit there with his arm in the air, hooked on their pants until the person noticed and unhooked him. He wouldn’t even meow or anything, just sit there placidly until someone took notice.
He also wasn’t smart enough to be afraid of aggressive dogs. He lived in my dad’s clinic, and would hang out in the waiting room looking for attention. Someone would come in with a slobbering, hostile rottweiler who was looking for a kitty-snack, and the cat would meander over and climb into the person’s lap as the dog went nuts and the person had to simultaneously restrain the dog and keep the cat from getting eaten.
Also, he’d regularly get into people’s cars and go home with them. There were many times when a client would leave, then we’d get a phone call ten minutes later saying they had our cat and they were on their way to return him.

Don’t know about retarded, but I have a former farm kitten whose mother had sex with it’s son and produced her…she’s beautiful but very very odd. She doesn’t meow, she doesn’t clean herself and she doesn’t move a whole lot…she looks like a stuffed animal

You should give it a banjo.