Ranger, a German shepherd, may look like a puppy, but he’s actually two years old!
The pooch, owned by Phoenix-based Shelby Mayo, has a genetic condition called pituitary dwarfism, which has caused his permanently small stature.
The condition can appear in German shepherds as a result of “autosomal recessive inheritance” — or recessive gene inheritance, according to Claudia E. Reusch and her chapter in Canine and Feline Endocrinology.
Mayo told South Wales News Service (SWNS) that she knew Ranger was the runt of the litter, but was not expecting him to stay small forever. They had originally thought he was smaller than the rest because of a parasite.
“When we originally got Ranger from the breeder, he was smaller than all his other littermates, but we figured that was because he had a parasite,” she told the outlet, according to the New York Post.
However, the pup didn’t just have a parasite. His owners also found that he had Giardia and an “infection” on his neck, when they took him to the vet. It was the dog’s doctors who discovered that Ranger had pituitary dwarfism.
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“During this time Ranger remained very small,” Mayo said. “The vet had suspected that he may have pituitary dwarfism.”
“After a few more months we got him neutered and that’s when we started to see big changes,” she added. “He lost his appetite, started to lose weight, lost almost all of his fur and had extremely dry and flaky skin.”
Vets were able to diagnose a thyroid problem in Ranger, and once he was placed “on levothyroxine” and started using a special soap from one of the his 68,000 Instagram followers, “his fur grew back and the dryness went away,” Mayo told SWNS.
According to researchers at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, pituitary dwarfism is known to cause a variety of health issues, as well as developmental and behavioral problems, in German shepherds. It also significantly shortens the pet’s lifespan, with most canines with dwarfism only reaching age 5.
However, Mayo reassures fans that Ranger is doing well.
“He is healthy and happy as can be as of now and loves jumping around and playing with his ball and squeaky toys with his two sisters Hazel and Jessie,” she said.
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