Ranger the dog from Phoenix, Pennsylvania, is often mistaken for a puppy, but in fact he is almost five years old. He'll stay a furry little pup for the rest of his life because of a rare canine disorder – pituitary dwarfism, or growth hormone deficiency.
Dwarfism can be caused by a variety of reasons. The pituitary dwarfism that Ranger was diagnosed with is caused by the deficiency of somatotropin, the growth hormone produced by the pituitary gland.
According to Ranger's owner, medical student Shelby Mayo, she got the puppy when he was very young but hadn't realized he had some health issues until he was one year old. After noticing that the pet was barely growing, the girl went to the vet, who confirmed the dreaded diagnosis. Unfortunately, pituitary insufficiency is not limited to short stature. Ranger will have to take medication for the rest of his life which will be shorter than normal.
When Shelby found out about Ranger's diagnosis, she started searching for information about this condition on the Internet, and it turned out that the mechanisms of dwarfism in dogs are still poorly understood. The vets predicted that Ranger would live about three years, but Shelby's pet is now 5 and he feels and behaves just like any other healthy dog. He runs around a lot, loves active games and genuinely enjoys life.
"He plays and barks nonstop," Shelby says. "He's a crazy little pup, but he's also very affectionate."
The dog was named after a late friend of Shelby's father, a U.S. Army Ranger. By the way, Ranger's sister Jessie did not inherit dwarfism. Ranger is the only puppy in the litter with this condition. The siblings are inseparable, and according to Shelby, despite Ranger's lack of stature, he still dominates Jessie, showing his masculinity.
To draw attention to Ranger's condition and to learn more about his diagnosis herself, the dog's owner has created a page on Instagram, where she posts photos and videos of her pet and talks about the peculiarities of his condition. Ranger's Instagram has almost 140,000 fans following the unusual dog.
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Shelby's main goal is to raise people's awareness of the risks in interbreeding dogs, which is especially relevant for German Shepherds. She urges breeders to contact a doctor immediately if a pet is found to have severe hair loss or appetite problems.
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