Do Puppies Have Soft Spots On Their Heads?

By Elizabeth Muirhead

Handle your precious young pups with care! Puppies -- especially small or teacup dogs -- like humans have soft spots in their skulls at birth. The soft regions, called fontanels, exist where the skull bones meet. These soft spots will eventually close in puppies as they age, but while they remain open, your critter is prone to sustaining serious injuries if care isn't taken around this delicate area.

When to Expect the Spot to Close

A dog's fontanel typically closes by 4 months of age, although many close much sooner. At the open fontanel, the only protection for Fluffy’s brain is her skin. Minimize risks such as falls to keep her safe. Although it's rare for a fontanel to NOT close, this will happen on occasion which can lead to risks down the road.

Breeds Prone to Soft Spot Issues

Tiny dogs including so-called "teacup" and "toy" breeds of Chihuahuas, Shih Tzus, and Pomeranians are more likely than others to have problems stemming from fontanels that don't close. The most common condition is congenital hydrocephalus, also known as "water on the brain" as it is characterized by extra fluid accumulating around the brain. This is why regular visits to the vet are important while your pooch is young. A trained professional will be able to check Fluffy for both an open fontanel and hydrocephalus.

By Elizabeth Muirhead

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Reference
American Shih Tzu Club: Open Fontanels

About the Author
Elizabeth Muirhead is a practicing veterinarian with an undergraduate degree in biological sciences. She has real-world experience with the husbandry, grooming, training and feeding a variety of household pets.