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Erny

Anyone Heard Of This 'condition' Affecting (esp) Malinois?

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Erny   

Hi

Has anyone heard of Malinois (in particular) exhibiting unpredictable, inexplicable and inappropriate aggression? I have someone who is communicating with me at the moment and it's been suggested on a USA website (don't have the link yet) that this phenomenon is known to affect the Malinois and is a genetic temperament defect. These are my words and interpretation from the communications I have shared with this owner. I've not heard of it nor seen it. (To clarify - yes, I've heard of and witnessed inexplicable and unpredictable aggression and known of some of these occurrences to have an underlying medical reason, or a cause that relates back to bad training - but I've not heard of it being genetically linked nor associated to a representation of the Malinois breed.) I've personally worked only with few Malinois so I don't have a large cross-secion of experience to be able to suggest it does or doesn't happen.

Due to respectful confidentiality I would prefer not to go into the detail of the dog's behaviour at this stage - but I'm talking fear aggression even though the dog has been well socialised and was not provoked nor seemingly uncomfortable 1 second prior to the onset of the behaviour.

Just need to know if anyone knows of this peculiarity affecting members of this breed.

I hope I don't spike anyone's breed sensitivities - this is NOT what this post nor thread is for. I am just hopeful for some honest straight up responses. I'm happy for them to be PM'd if that's anyone's preference and I'm happy to have this post/thread deleted after that, if anyone would prefer.

Edited by Erny

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Diablo   

Erny,

I have heard this before from the US coming from a police K9 trainer in a discussion concerning the differences between the Malanois and GSD in police working roles. It went along the lines of the Malanios being a better worker than the GSD except for traits of unpredictability as you have mentioned which most involved in the discussion agreed upon. Different Malanois lines were mentioned which I am not familiar with, but generally the behaviour was percevied as a genetic disorder in the breed I recall???

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JulesP   

Have usually heard of this with Cocker Spaniels. I was on a American Groomers forum and Cockers were one of the breeds that worried them the most. For no obvious reason the dog just goes totally nuts. It is normally referred to as rage syndrome.

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Have usually heard of this with Cocker Spaniels. I was on a American Groomers forum and Cockers were one of the breeds that worried them the most. For no obvious reason the dog just goes totally nuts. It is normally referred to as rage syndrome.

i have seen this in a friends cocker.....it was very worrying to see

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Nekhbet   

it could also be misreading of the dog - Malinois do not act nor show the same signals as other breeds. Mine will show very subtle signs before she goes for a quick *snap* and what some people think is lovely dovey behavior, hers is actually 'ok I want to go home now'. Is this a dog/bitch and is it entire?

there are some mals with some spectacular temperament faults due to poor breeding. Weak nerve is not a pretty thing to see in a a mal. There isn't a rage syndrome per say but combining bad breeding with a high drive dog asks for trouble. Also I would like to know what they consider appropriately socialised. Socialise wrongly during fear periods and create some lifelong problems. My own bitch went from happy go lucky one day to shaking in the same situation another.

I would be going to full brain scan and bloodwork to check for hormonal imbalances and possible tumours causing the problem before assuming it is straight behavior.

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Erny   

Nekhbet - yes, I'm already 'onto' the medical side of things ie having the dog checked out. But I just wanted to know if this 'condition' (for want of better words) is something that is known amongst some Malinois and whether it is potentially a genetic 'mis-wiring' (again, for want of better words) as I'd already thought along the lines of medical issues.

From what I can gather (considerably lengthy emails) this person seems to know what she is about when it comes to socialising and training and from the information in her emails I have no reason to suspect that anything is amiss there. But this is all preliminary - I haven't met the dog yet and the owner is aware that I won't proffer a diagnosis until I do. I'm just doing some of the preliminary background checks to gather a bit more knowledge and understanding.

There is much more detail that the owner and I have shared, including reference to breeder (names excluded) and breeder knowledge of this trait within the lines (to which there is none). Gospel? Heck no. Just an initial enquiry as a basis of a preliminary information platform.

Thanks for the responses, everyone. I'm sorry that I can't give more information/specific detail on the actual situation at the moment. Diablo - your response was interesting to note that knowledge of this 'trait' is not completely unknown.

It is likely something for which I need to refer to someone with a higher knowledge than I (eg Vet/Behaviourist) but I'm just trying to help this person with some of the ground work investigation first.

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Nekhbet   

I'd pop a quick email over to Amanda Russell in QLD, if anyone would know it would be her malinois.net.au

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Erny   
I'd pop a quick email over to Amanda Russell in QLD, if anyone would know it would be her malinois.net.au

THANK you !! :thumbsup:

Very helpful info. I'm waiting for confirmation from the owner that I may share her emails that contain the information describing the behaviour and also answering to my investigative questions. Once I get that, I'll contact Amanda Russell and ask if she'd mind taking a read and commenting.

I don't think it will negate having a medical check-up, but getting things into a perspective and understanding possibilities and options is sometimes helpful to be able to plan out a path of action to take.

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When I was breeder shopping last year, I got warned by many people to be wary of poor nerves in the breed. Several of the mallies imported and bred over here over the years have apparently had to be put down as they were too unpredictable, had terrible nerves and fear issues - basically either too scared to be any use to anyone, or just ate people whenever they were nervous. I have heard of this "issue" occurring in both show and working lines.

I have no idea if that was a trainer issue (couldn't read and handle the dogs), or if these really were problem dogs, since I have only met a few of the individuals (and none of the dogs) concerned.

Am very happy my little girl is bold as brass. Amanda is great. :thumbsup:

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Erny - I believe that this sort of thing was mentioned when i did the NDTF course. I think it was Dr Robert Holmes - have you thought of contacting him for his opinion???

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Erny   

I've spoken further with the owner (previous communications were only by email). The aggression (which is coming with extreme fear response body language) is incredibly unpredictable and inexplicable. It might be fine for a time, then reacts. Recent information that came to light this morning leads me to believe that the responses are due to seizure activity. I could be wrong, of course, but I feel it needs to at least be investigated.

I don't know - I'm no Vet. However I've spoken with Dr Jead Dodds on it and the Malinois is represented as a breed (being in the Belgian Shepherd line) prone to thyroid issues which can present with seizure activity.

I've suggested bloods being sent to her in the USA for analysis be one of the first blood tests that are done. Beyond that, a full blood work-up and neurological exam.

Thanks for your responses, guys. I'll let you know how things go with this one.

Edited by Erny

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Aidan   
However I've spoken with Dr Jead Dodds on it and the Malinois is represented as a breed (being in the Belgian Shepherd line) prone to thyroid issues which can present with seizure activity.

Very interesting, Erny. I knew that Malinois were one of the breeds that had a higher incidence of thyroid-related behaviour problems but I did not know about the seizure link and what you had described did not describe the pattern for thyroid-related aggression that others have reported. I would be interested to hear about the outcome if you don't mind sharing.

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Erny   
I would be interested to hear about the outcome if you don't mind sharing.

Pleased to do that, Aidan.

I have come across a few dogs with unpredictable, unprovoked, inappropriate and inexplicable dog to human aggression cases before. Of them only one person has followed through with the USA thyroid bloods which did prove low levels, so for the others although I was highly suspicious that thyroid could have been the culprit, I have no way of confirming. In the case of the guy who did get the bloods done, there was no apparent seizure activity to my knowledge and I don't believe that seizure activity has to be present for this type of aggression to be linked to thyroid dysfunction. Although I have noted the aggression in those cases has been indiscriminative - ie. Could be towards anyone - even the owners. For some reason that person has dropped contact with me so I'm not certain what the outcome was - I think he received a lot of resistance from his Vet (who also argued the analysis) so I'm unsure whether he followed through with thyroid meds as prescribed by Dr. Jean.

In the current case I am wondering if the dog's nerves (potentially weak) spark the seizure activity and that this might be the reason why the aggression is aimed to the lesser familiar people the dog is in the proximity of at the time and not towards the owner.

Edited by Erny

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Erny   
I knew that Malinois were one of the breeds that had a higher incidence of thyroid-related behaviour problems but I did not know about the seizure link ...

Just to clarify as re-reading my post I may have written poorly.

As per my conversation with Dr Jean, the Malinois is prone to thyroid issues.

Thyroid issues can be linked to seizure activity.

Dr Jean didn't say that the Malinois was prone to the seizure link, as such.

Is that a bit clearer? I'd hate for Dr Jean's words to be minced around due to my poor transcription.

One of the things the owner of this dog told me more recently indicated to me that its behaviour could well be seizure related.

This from Dr. Jean on thyroid dysfunction/auto immune deficiency :

"Another group of dogs show seizure or seizure-like disorders of sudden onset that can occur at any time from puberty to mid-life. These dogs appear perfectly healthy outwardly, have normal hair coats and energy, but suddenly seizure for no apparent reason. The seizures are often spaced several weeks to months apart, may coincide with the full moon, and can appear in brief clusters. In some cases the animals become aggressive and attack those around them shortly before or after having one of the seizures."

Edited by Erny

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This from Dr. Jean on thyroid dysfunction/auto immune deficiency :

"Another group of dogs show seizure or seizure-like disorders of sudden onset that can occur at any time from puberty to mid-life. These dogs appear perfectly healthy outwardly, have normal hair coats and energy, but suddenly seizure for no apparent reason. The seizures are often spaced several weeks to months apart, may coincide with the full moon, and can appear in brief clusters. In some cases the animals become aggressive and attack those around them shortly before or after having one of the seizures."

I too would be interested to hear if the dog has a low thyroid hormone level, and if so, if the aggression resolves after the thyroid issue is treated.

Are Jean Dodd's claims based on published research, or are they just a hypothesis so far? The full moon angle makes me a little sceptical, no offense intended to you of course Erny.

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Aidan   
For some reason that person has dropped contact with me so I'm not certain what the outcome was - I think he received a lot of resistance from his Vet (who also argued the analysis) so I'm unsure whether he followed through with thyroid meds as prescribed by Dr. Jean.

Gosh, that's a real shame. This is a genuine, researched health and behaviour issue that unfortunately is poorly understood by many vets, here and abroad.

One of my own dogs has bouts of anxiety, and I've never been able to figure out a trigger. When I approached my vet about testing thyroid function I was practically ridiculed. In the end I didn't pursue the test because her behaviour didn't fit all that well anyway, it was just something I wanted to rule out.

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Aidan   
Are Jean Dodd's claims based on published research, or are they just a hypothesis so far? The full moon angle makes me a little sceptical, no offense intended to you of course Erny.

http://www.diamondsintheruff.com/healthandbehavior.html (short version)

http://iwsthyroidstudy.com/documents/Kenne...dated_02_07.pdf (much more detail)

As for the full moon link, who knows? Maybe there is something in it, maybe people just tend to notice or recall aberrant behaviour on the night of a full moon more? http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/20...21218_moon.html Light does have an effect on brain chemistry, ask anyone who suffers from seasonal affective disorder.

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Are Jean Dodd's claims based on published research, or are they just a hypothesis so far? The full moon angle makes me a little sceptical, no offense intended to you of course Erny.

http://www.diamondsintheruff.com/healthandbehavior.html (short version)

http://iwsthyroidstudy.com/documents/Kenne...dated_02_07.pdf (much more detail)

Thanks Aidan!

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Kelpie-i   

A good friend of mine who has the sister of my boy is getting bloods tested by Dr Jean for suspected thyroid. I wait with baited breath for the results.

Thanks for the links Aidan.

Interesting stuff Erny...do fill us in once you've heard more.

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Tonymc   

Erny, how do you the person sending the info is on the level?I am always careful about origins of some information. Tony

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