Can Dogs Have Autism? Signs Of Autism In Dogs

Surprisingly, dogs can have autism, but it's called canine dysfunctional behavior (CDB).

steven zauderer
Steven Zauderer
September 20, 2023
min read

Autism spectrum disorder in humans has become more diagnosed over the past decade. The increase in autism prevalence has led to people wondering, can dogs have autism?

Let's explore whether or not dogs can be diagnosed with autism.

Can Dogs Have Autism?

Researchers have found that dogs can have autism, but it's called canine dysfunctional behavior (CDB).

They believe that canine dysfunctional behavior is an idiopathic condition, meaning that the cause is unknown.

It appears that dogs are born with it and that dogs with this disorder lack certain neurons in their brain that help them learn social norms.

Without these neurons, dogs aren't able to develop social skills, similar to humans with ASD.

If you notice that your dog is showing signs of CDB, contact your veterinarian to schedule an appointment for a physical examination.

Your veterinarian will work with you to determine your dog's triggers that might be causing negative behavioral reactions.

Conditions in Dogs That Look Similar to Autism

There are numerous disorders in dogs that can produce similar clinical signs to autism in people, including:

  1. Canine anxiety
  2. Canine hypothyroidism
  3. Intracranial neurologic disease

Research on Autism in Dogs

Research of autism-like symptoms in dogs began in the 1960s. Much more recently, in 2015, the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists showed their findings on a connection between tail-chasing and autism in Bull Terriers. The study found that tail-chasing in this breed was more prevalent in males vs. females, associated with occasional aggressive behaviors, and associated with trance-like behaviors.

Signs Of Autism In Dogs

Below are the most common signs of autism in dogs (Canine Dysfunctional Behavior):

  1. Antisocial behavior
  2. Communication issues
  3. Inappropriate reaction to stimuli
  4. Avoidance of new environments and situations
  5. Decreased physical activity

Treatment of CDB

Your veterinarian may recommend some therapies such as:

  1. Medication
  2. Regular exercise
  3. Positive reinforcement
  4. Secure space


steven zauderer

CEO of CrossRiverTherapy - a national ABA therapy company based in the USA.

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