Laurie's Blogs.


Jan 2022

ADHD and Dogs

Laurie Edge-Hughes, BScPT, MAnimSt, CAFCI, CCRT

University of Helsinki has come up with some more unique and useful research again!  This time a doctoral student has researched dogs and behavioural factors that appear to mimic human ADHD.


From the paper, “Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a prevalent neurodevelopmental disorder impairing the quality of life of the affected individuals. The domestic dog can spontaneously manifest high hyperactivity/impulsivity and inattention which are components of human ADHD. Therefore, a better understanding of demographic, environmental and behavioural factors influencing canine hyperactivity/impulsivity and inattention could benefit both humans and dogs."


The research group collected data on more than 11,000 dogs by using a behaviour survey based on a human survey for ADHD.  It measured aspects of hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention.


What did they find?


They found that hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention were more common in young dogs and male dogs (as is seen in humans).


Dogs that spent more time alone at home daily were more hyperactive, impulsive and inattentive.


It seems that more often the hyperactive and impulsive dogs were found in dogs that were NOT the owner’s first dogs.  The causality was unclear.


The breeds with the highest hyperactivity/impulsivity scores were Cairn Terrier, Jack Russell Terrier, German Shepherd and Staffordshire Bull Terrier.


The breeds with the lowest scores were Chinese Crested Dog, Rough Collie and Chihuahua.


Medium-sized dogs had higher hyperactivity/impulsivity scores than small or large dogs.


Dogs getting less than 1 h of exercise per day had higher hyperactivity/impulsivity scores than dogs exercising more than 3 h, 2–3 h, or 1–2 h per day.


Compulsive, aggressive and fearful dogs were reported to have higher hyperactivity/impulsivity scores.


The breeds with the highest inattention scores were Cairn Terrier, Golden Retriever and Finnish Lapponian Dog. 


The breeds with lowest inattention scores were Spanish Water Dog, Miniature Poodle and Border Collie.


Dogs participating in activities and training never/seldom had higher inattention scores.


The dogs with compulsive, aggressive or fearful behaviour also had higher inattention scores.



Understanding the factors that affect canine hyperactivity/impulsivity and inattention can benefit not only recognition and management of these traits in dogs but also human ADHD research.



I’m sure we all know dogs that we would categorize as ADHD.  Fascinating, is that they used a human-based questionnaire to categorize dogs as well.  What does this tell us?  Well, pretty much what we know already.  Dogs need attention and some training.  Some breeds lean naturally towards the ADHD side of the spectrum.


All in all, this is just a handy dandy knowledge nugget to lock and load into your brain.



Sini Sulkama, Jenni Puurunen, Milla Salonen, Salla Mikkola, Emma Hakanen, César Araujo, Hannes Lohi. Canine hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention share similar demographic risk factors and behavioural comorbidities with human ADHD. Translational Psychiatry, 2021; 11 (1)