Dog Discoveries

Do Dogs Have a Belly Button?

 

Many dog owners wonder “do dogs have a belly button?” That’s a good question considering that among humans, belly buttons are quite noticeable whether they are “outies” or “innies,” however, among dogs things are far more secretive. You might need to go on some sort of treasure hunt to search for it, and if you have already tried to look everywhere under all that fur with little success, you may have been tempted to shrug your shoulders and assume dogs just don’t have one. So do dogs have belly buttons or not?¬† Should you keep looking for one or to throw in the towel and give up?

Discovering Dog Belly Buttonsdog belly

Before going on a treasure hunt in search of your dog’s belly button, it’s worthy¬† gathering some more info about belly buttons in dogs.

We affectionately call it belly button, but to be more precise the technical term is navel, or if we want to be more clinically correct, the ideal term is “umbilicus.” For this article though, we’ll stick to belly button just because we think it’s cuter ūüėČ

What’s really a belly button though and how is it formed? It might not look like it, but a belly button is simply scar tissue that has formed at the site where the umbilical cord was once attached.

Therefore, we can say that the belly button is simply a “memory,”¬† a memory reminiscent of the good old days when pups were still in their mother’s belly and their umbilical cords were attached to mom’s placenta so that they were nourished with oxygen-rich blood.

A Trait of Placental Mammalsdog mother

Not all animals have belly buttons though. In order for an animal to have a belly button, it must have a history of having an umbilical cord attached to a placenta.

So animals like birds who hatch eggs or marsupials who incubate their little ones in their handy front pouch, don’t fit the description.

Therefore, the only animals that can have belly buttons are animals that fall under the category of “placental mammals.”According to the University of California Museum of Paleontology, these are mammals that prior to birth, are nourished through a placenta.

Examples of placental animals include humans, cats, dogs and several non-egg laying farm animals such as goats, cows, horses, llamas and sheep. For ease of explanation, we can therefore state that when there’s an umbilical cord, there’s likely a belly button hiding somewhere.

Picture of my puppy’s belly button. All rights reserved.

Going on a Treasure Hunt

Just because your dog’s belly button isn’t readily visible, doesn’t mean it’s not there! For sure, you’ll have an easier time finding it in day-old puppies. After being born, mother dog will chew off a portion off the umbilical cord or the breeder will cut it using sterilized blunt-type scissors.

Shortly thereafter, generally after a few days, the remaining portion of the umbilical cord will shrivel and detach. At this point, a small scar may be the only thing that remains visible.

Puppy belly buttons, are therefore, something that will mostly be seen by dog breeders when dealing with their litters of puppies when they are only days-old.

As the puppies develop, their  small belly buttons start becoming more and more difficult to detect as their permanent adult coats come in.

Fact is, dog belly buttons aren’t as relevant as ours. Unlike our belly buttons that are readily noticed, dog belly buttons are barely visible often resembling a small, rather inconspicuous white line or scar. For some dogs, the only indication of its presence is a small tuft of hair.

To be more precise, if you are up for a dog belly button search and your dog is compliant, wait for your dog to be belly up. Then, look at your dog’s belly just below the ribcage right in the middle. To see it, you may need to part the fur in several places carefully looking at the skin. Don’t expect a bump or a shallow area, it is just a little, thin white line.

As you can see in the picture on the left, my puppy’s belly button was barely visible even after having her belly completely shaved. She was shaved from being spayed and her belly button scar can be seen as a tiny scar. Right below the belly button, is my dog’s spay incision.

Pushing the Wrong Button

“Outies” are quite common among humans, but in the dog world if you notice something sticking out from the dog’s abdomen, you’re likely looking at an umbilical hernia, explain Caroline Coile and Margaret H. Bonham in the book “Why do Dogs Like Balls.”

An umbilical hernia in puppies is simply a squishy protrusion found around the dog’s umbilical area caused by some fat or a portion of abdominal lining or abdominal organ.

Generally, the soft bulge doesn’t cause any particular complications other than looking unsightly, but they can sometimes warrant an emergency trip to the vet when a loop of the intestines become trapped, explains veterinarian Debra Primovic.

Generally, umbilical hernias that can be pushed back inside out with a little pressure, but then pop back out, are known as reducible umbilical hernias. These are the type of hernias that may cause trouble because they indicate that the abdominal wall is still open, which can be capable of strangulating an intestinal loop should it escape through.

On the other hand, umbilical hernias that can’t be pushed back in, are unlikely to cause issues. These may just be a cosmetic thing and some dog owners elect to do nothing about them.¬†Generally, to play it safe or for cosmetic reasons, umbilical hernias are removed at the same time puppies undergo surgery to be spayed or neutered.

References:

  • Pet Place,¬†Umbilical Hernia in Dogs,¬†Dr. Debra Primovic, retrieved from the web on May 27th, 2016
  • University of California Museum of Paleontology,¬†Eutheria, the Placental Mammals,¬†retrieved from the web on May 27th, 2016
  • Why Do Dogs Like Balls?: More Than 200 Canine Quirks, Curiosities, and Conundrums Revealed,¬† D. Caroline Coile PhD (Author), Margaret H. Bonham,¬†Sterling (September 2, 2008)

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Adrienne Farricelli

About the author: Adrienne Farricelli is a certified dog trainer and behavior consultant. She is also a former veterinarian assistant, and author of  the popular online dog training course "Brain Training for Dogs." Her work has appeared in several print and online publications including E-how, USA Today, Every Dog Magazine, Daily Puppy and Connecticut Dog Magazine.
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