Lifestyle & Human Interest

Tiny German Shepherd That Survived Rare 'Dwarfism' Might Be the Cutest Thing You Will Ever See


Dogs of all sizes are lovable, but there’s something about the smallest ones that make us say “Aww!” If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like if your dog remained the size of a puppy forever, Ranger the German shepherd will melt your heart.

When Shelby Mayo got Ranger, it was obvious that the dog was the runt of the litter.

“When we originally got him from the breeder he was smaller than all his other littermates, but we figured that was because he had a parasite called Coccidia,” Mayo told Liftable, a section of The Western Journal.

Ranger seemed to be in the clear when he settled in and was found to be parasite-free, but it wasn’t long before the poor puppy contracted another parasite called Giardia. If that weren’t enough, Ranger was also suffering from an infection on his neck.

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Within a few months, Ranger’s infection was healed and the parasites were finally banished. Despite these positive advances, Ranger still hadn’t grown.

It was then that the vet suggested the dog might have a rare genetic mutation called Pituitary Dwarfism. The condition is so unusual that Mayo was doubtful. She still believed that Ranger would grow into a full-size German shepherd as time passed.

As time ticked by and Ranger remained the size of a puppy, Mayo was forced to accept that her furry friend might stay small for his whole life.

“Over time Ranger still did not get much bigger, and at this point we are certain he does have this condition,” Mayo said.

Mayo and her family established an Instagram page for Ranger, @ranger_thegshepherd. The page has garnered over 50,000 followers who are absolutely enamored with the “tiny” dog. Some followers pointed out that Pituitary Dwarfs experience medical issues, but Ranger seemed to be in good health.

Once Ranger was neutered, however, he started running into more health challenges.

“He lost his appetite, started to lose weight, lost almost all of his fur, and had extremely dry and flaky skin,” Mayo said.

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In addition to a vet’s input, Mayo had Ranger’s thousands of friends and followers to turn to for help. When Mayo asked for advice on Instagram, Guardians Farm sent Ranger a special goat milk soap to help heal his skin. Another follower suggested Mayo take Ranger to get his thyroid checked.

“So our vet checked his thyroid levels and sure enough he was low, this can cause hair loss and a loss of appetite. After getting Ranger on Levothyroxine and using this soap his fur grew back and the dryness went away,” Mayo said.

There are plenty of tests that responsible breeders get done for their dogs before breeding them, and different breeds have different recommended tests. The AKC requires that German shepherds get hip and elbow evaluations, but sometimes rare conditions like this one are nearly impossible to predict until they actually crop up.

“Ranger’s litter was the first litter that our breeder had bred those two specific dogs together,” Mayo said. “We believe this was the cause of the genetic defect.”

Although Ranger is faring well now with the help of his dedicated owner, the breeder Mayo got him from is taking precautions to prevent the mutation from reoccurring and reportedly will not be pairing those two dogs together again.

Now, Ranger’s size doesn’t seem to bother him in the slightest. The little dog is just as playful and energetic as any other German shepherd his age. Ranger will turn 2 in July.

“Some of our favorite things about being Ranger’s owner is just seeing how full of life and energetic he is!” Mayo said. “He is a ball of energy and loves to play with his toys and ball with his sister Hazel! They are inseparable and do everything together!”

Despite his small size, Ranger has a huge support group looking after him. With so many loving friends and followers, the little dog is certain to enjoy a life full of joy, treats and playtime!

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Noel Marquis is a journalist and animal-lover hailing from the Midwest. After an internship with Disney following her college graduation, she pursued a career writing content that makes readers smile. Coffee, books and superhero movies are some of her favorite things.