Ranger the dog got big on Instagram because of his famous head tilts – you know, when you’re using your dog voice and they tilt their head like they’re trying to understand you. His cuteness has earned him 10,000 followers.
Ranger, a 2-year-old purebred AKC German Shepherd, has “Pituitary Dwarfism.” This means Ranger is stuck in perpetual puppy-hood.
“When we first got him, we didn’t really know what was going on. He was very sick,” Shelby Mayo, a freshman at Grand Canyon University, said.
Ranger suffered from parasites for several months — coccidia, then giardia. For a year, he didn’t lose his baby fur or grow in size. After he got neutered, most of his fur fell out and didn’t grow back.
When Darcy, a senior at Arizona State, documented his condition online, other pet owners chimed in with advice, suggesting various remedies and procedures. Following others’ recommendations, the Mayo family had Ranger’s thyroid levels tested.
“Our vet thought he was a dwarf before any of us were willing to even accept that that could be a possibility,” Darcy said. “Luckily we had an awesome vet who did a lot of background research to try to figure it out.”
Dr. Jennifer Fitzpatrick at the Desert Hills Animal Clinic in Phoenix is to thank for finding the right medication to treat Ranger’s thyroid problems, they said.
Pituitary dwarfism is a genetic disorder in which the body’s pituitary glands don’t produce enough growth hormones. The lack of growth hormones slows and severely stunts the afflicted dogs’ growth and some common signs of pituitary dwarfism are unusually short legs, an unusually long body, and not growing an adult coat of hair, to name a few.
Due to his condition, 2-year-old Ranger is much smaller than other German Shepherds his age and looks like he’s still just a puppy.
Even though his condition has him stuck in this forever cute stage, there are some side effects that come with him being a dwarf dog. Due to that, he had such health issues as shedding fur and flaky skin. It is all caused by a disorder in the endocrine system called Hypothyroidism that causes the thyroid gland to not produce enough thyroid hormone.
Despite experiencing challenges early in life, Ranger has been “really healthy and happy” since he has received treatment. “We have two other dogs, and he’s the most energetic out of all of them, and he’s also the oldest,” Shelby said. Ranger’s siblings include Jessie, a German shepherd, and Hazel, a Labrador. He loves goofing around, playing with his sisters and enjoying life. He’s a little guy with a big heart and his family loves him just the way he is.