Information All About Rage Syndrome
Rage Syndrome is a serious but rare uncharacteristic behavioural problem (particularly in Spaniels). Rage Syndrome is often incorrectly diagnosed as it is sometimes confused with other forms of aggression.
What are the symptoms of Rage Syndrome?
Sudden attacks for no apparent reason; the dog will often be sleeping and then attack without warning. The eyes become dilated and sometimes change colour during and after an attack, the dog is totally confused when attacking and will not respond to any attempts to stop it.
The attacks are very unpredictable and the dog will often appear disorientated afterward and unaware of it's actions, then return to it's normal self shortly after. Victims are usually members of the family and due to the lack of warning from the dog, suffer from a flesh wound that will need medical attention.
Is it true that only Red & Gold Cocker Spaniels suffer from Rage Syndrome?
Studies have shown that red/gold Cockers are more likely to suffer from Rage Syndrome compared to particoloured Cockers, but it is important to state that cases are rare and most reds/goldens live out normal, happy lives as family pets with no temperament problems at all. Temperament and behaviour problems happen in all breeds of dogs & behaviour can be influenced by many factors, not only genetics but also rearing, training & general health.
Poor temperaments (not necessarily Rage-related) are occasionally seen in all colours,due to the fact that the Cocker Spaniel is a very popular breed and sadly, not all puppies come from knowledgeable, reputable breeders. It is also true to say that some owners make mistakes in training their dogs which can result in temperament problems. Please see our Breeder Advice section for more information about REPUTABLE BREEDERS & our Puppy Training section for advice on training.
What other breeds are known to suffer from Rage Syndrome?
This problem has also been reported in American Cocker Spaniels, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, Dobermanns, English Bull Terriers, English Springer Spaniels, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Pyrenean Mountain Dogs and St. Bernards. Again, the number of affected animals is very small. This problem has also been reported in American Cocker Spaniels, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, Dobermanns, English Bull Terriers, English Springer Spaniels, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Pyrenean Mountain Dogs and St. Bernards. Again, the number of affected animals is very small.
What actually causes Rage Syndrome?
Nothing has been established as yet. Although there have been studies, it still cannot be accurately predicted. There are many theories on what Rage Syndrome is & what it is caused by. These theories are: a form of epilepsy, a canine form of schizophrenia; low serotonin levels in the brain and thyroid dysfunction. Some also believe that Rage Syndrome is simply an extreme form of dominance-related aggression & is not a separate condition. For more information on the possible causes of Rage & details of previous research, please go to our Research section.
Could Rage Syndrome have a heritable basis?
Although there have been no large studies undertaken to prove this theory, it is certainly possible and some leading geneticists and behaviourists believe that there is a genetic component to this problem. Again, please refer to our Research section for more information.Can Rage Syndrome be treated successfully?Each case requires individual attention and what is prescribed for one dog may not work for another. Some treatments that have been recommended and tried are: change of diet, the use of d-amphetamine, vitamin B12 therapy, Oculucidon, neutering and progestagen therapy, anticonvulsants and behaviour modification techniques aimed at changing the dominance status of owners.
What should I do if I suspect my dog has Rage Syndrome?
It is important to remember that true Rage Syndrome is very rare. Concerned owners should consult their Veterinary Surgeon & ask for their dog's case to be referred to an experienced behaviourist who can determine if the dog is in fact suffering from Rage or has some other type of aggression problem.