So, you’ve decided to get a puppy. Adopt or buy? Male or female? What breed? What size? There are so many questions to answer. But the dog’s health and well-being are among the most important. So, should I buy a puppy with an umbilical hernia? 

Many inherited conditions affect dogs, and the hernia can be one of them. While other inherited health risks are far more dangerous, it’s always best to look into hernias before answering that question. Let’s discuss the topic in-depth:

Defining Hernia 

Just like us, our four-legged friends get hernias too. A hernia is a displacement of internal organs or fatty tissue. Dogs can acquire the condition from:

  • Injuries
  • Aging
  • Infections
  • Tumors
  • Chronic strain
  • Pregnancy

But it can also be congenital, meaning the pup can be born with it. The organs’ displacement happens through an aperture (tear) in the wall of a body cavity, which allows the organs to spill into another area. Most commonly, hernias in puppies appear in the abdominal area.

Common Types of Hernias

Hernias can affect different areas and have various causes, symptoms, and treatments. We’ll look at some of the most common types in dogs.


Umbilical (belly button) hernia is the most common type. It occurs when the umbilical canal of the fetus doesn’t close properly. If your puppy has an umbilical hernia, you’d be able to feel a slight swelling or protrusion in place of the belly button. 

If an 8-week-old puppy with an umbilical hernia has a growth that’s no bigger than the end of your pinkie, it’s typically not an issue. Small hernias like these (especially under half an inch) usually close on their own by the age of 3–5 months. Bigger hernias that don’t close off may need surgical intervention if the intestines start spilling out and get twisted. 

Umbilical hernias are usually painless. But trapped intestines can cause pain (the dog may stay close to the floor with its back arched), vomiting, or lack of appetite. This may indicate that your puppy with a hernia needs urgent intervention.


An inguinal hernia develops around the groin near the dog’s hind legs. It can range in size and severity. If it’s large, the uterus, bladder, or part of the intestines might be trapped, which can become a life-threatening issue. 

The inguinal hernia is often diagnosed in pregnant dogs and typically requires surgical intervention. It can also affect young male dogs that had a late testicular descent, obese dogs, or dogs experiencing trauma.

Symptoms may include:

  • Warming up of the swollen place
  • Pain
  • Vomiting 
  • No appetite for small or large puppy food
  • Worsened mood
  • Frequent peeing
  • Blood in the urine

Small hernias are usually categorized as reducible and can be pushed back. But can a hernia kill a dog? In the case of irreducible inguinal hernia, the organs typically protrude, and their functions may be easily impaired. So, the dog needs surgery.


When the diaphragm is deformed or punctured, the internal organs may start spilling into the chest cavity, hindering normal breathing. Puppies can inherit this type of hernia or get it from an injury or blunt trauma, especially in the abdominal area.


In many cases, hiatal hernia is hereditary, but it can also result from trauma. While it can affect any dog breed, the Bulldog and the Chinese Shar-Pei are at a greater risk of having a puppy with a hernia. 

Small Hiatal hernias may not affect the dog at all. In advanced cases, the dog may regurgitate or vomit their food, salivate excessively, or struggle to breathe. You can often notice these symptoms during exercise. The condition can be treated with medications or surgically.


Peritoneal-pericardial-diaphragmatic hernia (PPDH) is a rare congenital condition in dogs. Other accompanying inherited defects can also be present. 

Symptoms can vary but often include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Losing weight
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing

If the hernia is small and without symptoms, it might not need treatment. In other cases, surgery is advised, just as with umbilical hernia on dogs. A breed that’s more likely to develop a peritoneal-pericardial is the Weimaraner.

Tiny puppy playing with a toy flamingo.

How Can a Puppy Acquire Umbilical Hernia? 

There are two ways for a puppy to get this hernia:

  • Born with the condition — Hereditary factors are most likely the cause of umbilical hernia in puppies. In most cases, it’s not life-threatening and will simply give your baby a weird-looking puppy belly button. Breeds, such as Airedale, Pekingese, or Basenji, are more likely to get the dog belly button lump indicating an umbilical hernia.
  • Trauma to the body wall — More rarely, injury and blunt trauma can cause various issues, including a puppy umbilical cord hernia.

In both cases, it’s best to monitor if the umbilical protrusion gets bigger and the dog displays typical symptoms.

How Does It Look Like?

Luckily, most umbilical hernias aren’t dangerous and won’t ruin the cute look of your puppy. Generally, the belly button hernia in dogs looks like a soft swelling under the skin. It’s most noticeable when the dog is standing up, straining, or barking. 

The hernia may protrude and simply look like an outie belly button. The protrusion in a puppy with an umbilical hernia comes from abdominal fat or internal organs pushing through. You can usually feel a hardened ring of tissue around the hernia.

Very small hernias are least likely to cause health issues because the hole is too tiny for the intestines to spill out. If you don’t want to visit the vet for a small lump, consider when puppies get shots and combine the two reasons for a check-up.

Is It a Self-Healer? 

When a puppy has a tiny abdominal hernia, the vet may advise you to wait for a few months and just monitor your pooch. That’s because small protrusions (less than half an inch) often close on their own before the dog becomes half a year old. So, if you wonder, “Should I buy a puppy with an umbilical hernia?” know that it’s safe in most cases.

Depending on the condition, the vet may do other tests to evaluate the need for surgical intervention. Sometimes, the dog must be spayed or neutered to treat the hernia. But if the dog shows signs of intestinal strangulation or obstruction of abdominal organs, it’ll need urgent surgery.

Does It Hurt Your Puppy? 

Simple and small hernias typically don’t cause pain. In such cases, your puppy won’t be bothered by it and will still love playing with cute dog toys. But if they’re in pain or warm to the touch, you might have reason to worry about a puppy umbilical cord infection or abscess.

A bigger dog belly button hernia in a more advanced stage poses the risk of intestines and organs getting incarcerated and strangulated, which is very dangerous and painful

The issue is serious if your dog suddenly starts throwing up, loses its appetite, is lethargic, depressed, and loses weight. The organ displacement may also cause ruptures in the intestines, leading to a septic shock. Symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Not eating
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty going to the toilet
  • Weakness
  • Collapse

Dogs Prone to Umbilical Hernia

Trauma can also cause an umbilical hernia, but in most cases, it’s a congenital condition passed on from generation to generation.

Inherited umbilical hernias in puppies are common in most breeds. Still, some dogs are a bit more vulnerable, including:

  • Pekingese
  • Basenji
  • Weimaraner
  • Shih Tzu
  • Airedale Terrier

Umbilical hernia often affects pooches with concurrent cryptorchidism. Also, it occurs in small and toy breeds.

Be Cautious When Breeding — Hernias Are Genetic 

Pregnant dogs sometimes develop hernias, but can a dog with a hernia have puppies? Technically, female dogs with a hernia (especially a small one) can give birth. But the condition can increase the health risks during pregnancy or birth. Besides, the babies may inherit the defect.

Generally, dogs with a congenital hernia (especially if both parents have it) shouldn’t be bred. Sometimes only one puppy from the litter may have it, but if they’re all affected, it’s most likely congenital. That’s why it’s always best to get a dog from reputable breeders. You need just one look at the puppy mill maltreatment statistics to become more attentive to breeders’ credentials.

Thinking of a Surgery? — Here’s What You Need to Know 

Surgeries for umbilical hernia on dogs typically have a high success rate, and the recovery prognosis is very good. But in some complicated cases, where the intestines are extremely entwined, or a rapture has occurred, the odds get worse.

But what is the umbilical dog hernia surgery cost? For the most typical hernia repair, you can expect to pay about $200–$500. But in severe cases with infections, you may need $2,000–$3,000 to save your dogs.


After reading this article, you should be able to recognize some hernia types and tell if a puppy has a small enough protrusion that may eventually heal. But there’s always some risk, and hernias may occur later in life. So, it’s also good to know the symptoms and treatments. 

So, should I buy a puppy with an umbilical hernia? Ultimately, the decision is yours.

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