Rage Syndrome

What is Rage Syndrome in Dogs?

This article describes Rage Syndrome in dogs and the possible treatments that can be used. It is a rare disease that mainly shows up in English Springer Spaniels and English Cockers, but can be manifested in other dogs. The exact cause is unknown, but many causes are being examined. It may be a form of epilepsy, a chemical imbalance in the the dog's brain, or a personality disorder passed down a line of offspring due to poor breeding.

If your dog has Rage Syndrome, it is a very sad disease for both the dog and you. We had a Springer Spaniel that possibly had this syndrome and needed to be euthanized. I am stll mourning the loss, because otherwise she was a wonderful dog and extremely intelligent. She was like a child to us, but she became too dangerous.

 

English Springer Spaniels

Possible Causes

Rage Syndrome has also been called Sudden Onset Aggression. Most dog go through stages of aggression, first they'll growl and give warning before they bite, but in Rage Syndrome the dog suddenly attacks without warning. It is believed that there is a genetic link involved and the disease can be inherited. Poor breeding doesn't help.

Springer spaniels are prone to dominance aggression, so this syndrome has been very difficult to pin down. In English Springer Spaniels the line can be traced to the original dog that the syndrome is inherited from. He was a winner at the Westminster Kennel Club and later became the stud for many litters and thus passed on the gene. He was a very desirable sire because of his beauty and had been used often as a stud.

The syndrome doesn't seem to show up in the hunting dog line like it does in the show dog line.
When we purchased our dog Abby, we were told she was from the hunting dog line, but it didn't take long to see she was really from the show dog line. Pick your breeder carefully. We didn't.

Symptoms

1. The dog will have glassy eyes, but this alone isn't a symptom because some dogs have glossy eyes when they are angry.

2. The dog will suddenly attack an object or person and minutes later not even realize that it has done so.

3. The syndrome usually starts at an early age.

4. At times the dog may urinate while it is exhibiting the other symptoms, but not always.

Springer Rage Syndrome is only found in the show dog line of the breed and not in the field dog line.In English Cockers it seems to be found in mostly the dogs with solid colors and more often in dogs with darker colors.


If your dog displays these behaviors it is important to take the dog to a professional. The dog can be a danger to members of the family, because these attacks happen without any warning. Different methods from medication to behavor training have been used to treat the syndrome, but sadly many do not work. Often the dog will need to be euthanized.