Is it okay to breed a dog that was born with an umbilical hernia?

Original Question: I got a puppy for the purpose of breeding but he has a belly button hernia. Is this an issue for breeding? - Tarisa

Is it okay to breed a dog that was born with an umbilical hernia? Apr 25, 2018

Hi Tarisa,

Thanks for your question.

The technical term for this is an umbilical hernia. It is an inherited deformation where the abdominal wall does not fully close during development and a hole in the muscle layer remains. As a result, abdominal contents, such as fat and possibly organs, can push through the hole and appear as a lump under the skin. If you can push the lump or abdominal contents back into the abdomen, then it is considered a ‘reducible hernia’. If the contents cannot be returned, then it is called a ‘non-reducible hernia’. In the case of a non-reducible hernia, there is likely some scar tissue that has formed in the area causing the contents to anchor themselves to surrounding tissues and are therefore stuck.

Most pets will live a normal life with an umbilical hernia but there is a risk that very serious medical conditions could arise. The hernia could widen and a vital organ could pass through the hole and become strangulated, such as a loop of bowel. This is an absolute emergency and could be a fatal condition. For this reason, umbilical hernias are typically corrected with surgical closure when a spay or neuter is performed at a young age.

We have a very thorough video about this condition, “General Info About Umbilical Hernias and Treatment for Puppies, Dogs & Cats”.

To answer your specific question, dogs and cats that are born with hernias have a greater chance of having offspring with them and therefore it is recommended that they are not used in a breeding program.

I hope this helps.

Dr. Clayton Greenway

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