All humans have belly buttons, but did you know that we’re a very rare species that has a visible umbilicus? All mammals require a placenta during gestation, and a placenta means there was an umbilical cord, but humans are one of the very few species that actually have a concave “belly button”. Are dogs one of those species?
Canine Umbilical Cords
A belly button is nothing but a scar left behind from the umbilical cord. When a puppy is born, they’re born connected to the placenta. The mother dog, if left uninterrupted, removes the umbilical cord by chewing through it. For about a week after birth, there is a small umbilical cord stump left on the puppy (just like human babies have) before it disappears and turns into a very small, light scar.
Your dog’s navel is located at the point on the belly where your dog’s fur starts to disappear. If you run your finger down the center of your dog’s chest straight down towards their tail, the navel scar is located just below the xiphoid process, or the small bony protrusion where the ribs stop.
You may or may not see the scar; some dogs have very visible navel scars while other dogs look like they never had one.
Can I Feel Their Belly Button?
You shouldn’t be able to feel your dog’s navel except for a tiny area of scar tissue.
There are photos floating around on the internet of puppies with “outie” belly buttons. While they are technically an “outie”, this is never normal for dogs. If your dog’s navel protrudes outwards, they have something called an umbilical hernia.
An umbilical hernia means the tissues where the umbilical cord entered didn’t close with a layer of muscle, leaving an opening for fat or even the intestines to poke out of the body. A small hernia isn’t necessarily dangerous for a dog, but larger hernias letting the intestines come through can cause secondary health issues in your dog.
Usually hernias present themselves by the time your puppy is old enough to be spayed or neutered, and your veterinarian will repair it then to prevent your dog from going under anesthesia more than once. Regardless of how big or small it is, it needs to be closed.
Your dog won’t have a visible belly button, and that’s completely normal! Sometimes people forget puppies are born with an umbilical cord because there isn’t a visible remnant of it, and not many people get to see their puppies when they’re less than a week old. As long as your dog’s navel isn’t protruding from the body, there isn’t anything you need to do to it. Just be glad it isn’t one more thing to clean on your dog!