Birth defects or developmental anomalies in puppies


Photos and stories were collected from contributing breeders and will remain anonymous . Thanks to those who contribute, so that others can be educated. Although the majority of breeders who contact me are Labrador breeders, this page will not be limited to Labradors only. If the breeders of any breed wish to contribute, they may do so.
These cases are presented for two purposes:
1. To educate breeders on the different birth anomalies they may encounter through the years
2. To educate those considering breeding their dog on the hard realities of having a litter.
Breeding dogs is an art, and not for the faint of heart!

(Greek for “belly cleft”) Can be small, with only a small amount of intestine exposed, or large, with most of the abdominal organs, including intestine, liver, and spleen are present outside the abdominal cavity

Click for detailed images: warning - graphic!

 As a fetus is growing, different organ systems are developing and maturing. Early in development, the intestines actually project into the umbilical cord as they are growing. The intestines should return to the abdomen. When the fetus is growing and developing during pregnancy, there is a small opening in the abdominal muscles that the umbilical cord can pass through, connecting the mother to the fetus. As the fetus matures, the abdominal muscles should meet in the middle and grow together, closing off this opening. An omphalocele occurs when the abdominal organs do not return to the abdominal cavity as they should.

Cleft Palate

    Dietary vitamin A excess is reported to be a possible link in congenital cleft palate.

  • Exposure to toxins or infectious diseases during the 25th to 28th day of pregnancy may also induce cleft palates.
  • Administration of cortisone during pregnancy can lead to the development of cleft palate in the fetus
  • Administration of the cytotoxic drug hydroxyurea (hydroxycarbamide) is reported to cause cleft palate.
    Failure of the two sides of the palate to fuse correctly during the embryonic stage of developement. It can just be the soft tissue, in which case it is only cosmetic defect, but if the hard palate is affected, a puppy usually dies. Affected puppies have difficulty nursing and do poorly.
    Can't suckle properly
    Have a slight quacking sound to their "voice".
    Smack while trying to nurse
    Milk comes out of nose while nursing on mother
    When tested on the finger, the puppy tends to chew, rather than suck.
    opening in roof of mouth detected. Often not associated with cleft lip.
    Puppies are often euthanized. They can be tube fed, and hand raised, until they're old enough to have surgery, but this is difficult on both the owner and the puppy. Each breeder must make their own decisions.

    Macroglossia, or large tongue, sometimes resolves with age and would not be clinically significant. Degrees of Macroglossa could result in excessive drooling, tongue injury, or excessively dry tongue.





    Accounts from breeders without photos:

    I had a puppy born with its umbilicus in its chest, rather than its abdomen. A very large diaphragmatic hernia was suspected. The cord was very wide at the base, and there was a pulsating (heart?) at the base of the cord, as well as a rise and fall within the cord with respiration. The puppy was euthanized shortly after birth.

    This page is dedicated to the puppies who taught us so much in the short time they lived. 
    Something to Remember about Breeders
    Author Unknown
    How many litters does a breeder have to have before being considered an experienced breeder?
    They should have bred at least one good litter that they can brag on. This will gain them credibility.

    They should have had at least one litter that looked great on paper but turned out to be a disaster. This will teach humility.

    They should have held (God forbid!) at least one deformed puppy and wept as it slipped into the calm, silent quiet of death. This will provide the heart to be very careful to do everything possible to not see it again.

    They should have studied the lines and the traits and the greats and the problems each has produced and read all the books they can bet their hands on. This will give them knowledge.

    Last of all, they should have consulted the greats in the breed and never, never consider themselves to be experienced breeders. They are then, possibly, experienced breeders.

  • Copyright: Blue Knight Labradors