Do Dogs Possess Belly Buttons?

Your dog’s fondness for belly rubs may lead you to wonder about the presence of a belly button. Do dogs have belly buttons? Although less conspicuous than ours, dogs do have belly buttons—much like most mammals, excluding marsupials such as koalas, wombats, kangaroos, and egg-laying mammals.

Similar to humans, a dog’s belly button is situated in a comparable location. It might be observable when your dog exposes its belly, but dog belly buttons often diminish in visibility over time. In dogs, the belly button is a remnant scar from where the placenta is attached to the puppy in the womb. This article delves into dog belly buttons, the process of their formation, and the potential complications associated with them.

Mammals And Their Belly Buttons

Now that you know dogs have belly buttons, it raises the question: What purpose do belly buttons serve, and why does your dog have one? Dogs, like humans, are placental mammals. In the womb, they rely on their mothers for nutrition and oxygen. This prompts curiosity about whether dogs have umbilical cords.

All placental mammals, including dogs, have umbilical cords that link the mother’s nutrients to the growing puppy. The oxygen and nutrition pass through the puppy’s umbilical cord, connected to the placenta. Each puppy in a litter possesses its own umbilical cord, linking its belly to the mother’s nutrient supply.

How Do Dogs Acquire Their Belly Buttons?

The navel, or umbilicus, forms after the puppy is born. While in the womb, the umbilical cord serves as the conduit for nutrients from the mother. After birth, when puppies feed on their mother’s milk, the connection becomes unnecessary. Unlike humans, where the umbilical cord is tied and cut, in dogs, the mother chews through it a few inches away from the pup’s belly. Over subsequent days, the remaining umbilical cord dries up and falls off, leaving behind a scar—the belly button.

Dog belly buttons vary from human ones—they’re smaller and less conspicuous. If the healing process is uneventful, they may appear as a thin line. Some dogs may have more noticeable belly buttons, depending on how their umbilical cord wound heals. Occasionally, puppies may encounter issues like hernias, swelling, protrusion, or itchiness around their belly buttons.

To locate your dog’s belly button, check the same area as you would on a human—centered on the belly, beneath the rib cage. Gently pressing on it can reveal scar tissue under the skin. With no complications, the belly button will gradually diminish in size and visibility.

Can dogs have an innie or outie belly button?

Given that dog umbilical cords are chewed off, belly buttons come in various shapes and sizes. While most appear as thin, lighter-colored lines, there’s no true innie or outie as in human belly buttons. Some may be more pronounced, with outie belly buttons being more visible, often due to the healing process or potential hernias.

What Are Umbilical Hernias?

Umbilical hernias occur when a dog’s belly button protrudes due to incomplete closure of abdominal muscles around the umbilical cord during development. Most are uncomplicated, causing visible swelling but posing no significant threat. However, complicated hernias may allow abdominal contents to pass through, leading to potential complications.

Causes of umbilical hernias

Most puppies are examined for umbilical hernias during their first vet visit, but if you notice abnormal protrusion, consult your vet. Possible causes include genetics (inheritance from parents with hernias), injury, and breed predisposition in certain breeds like Basenji, Airedales, and Pekingese.


Treatment depends on the hernia’s size. Small hernias may heal without intervention, while larger ones often require corrective surgery to prevent complications. Complicated hernias, if not addressed promptly, can result in serious health issues.

Dog Belly Button: Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why is my dog licking its belly button? Dogs may lick their belly buttons for various reasons, including seeking attention, showing affection, grooming, curiosity, or allergies. Excessive licking, especially with signs of swelling or soreness, should be examined by a vet.
  • Why is my dog’s belly button red and swollen? In adult dogs, redness and swelling suggest a health issue. For puppies, immediate veterinary attention is crucial to rule out an umbilical hernia. Potential causes include irritation, skinfold irritation (common in overweight dogs), yeast infection, mites/mange, allergies, fleas, or ticks.

Do dogs’ belly buttons go away?

Dog belly buttons, being scars from chewed-off umbilical cords, never truly vanish. With age, the scar fades, becoming less visible. Normal fading is expected, but persistent redness or inflammation warrants immediate veterinary attention.

Final Notes

Yes, dogs have belly buttons, although less apparent than ours. As puppy belly buttons heal and become less visible, complications can arise. If concerned, consult a vet, and explore telemedicine options for pets, especially if you’re a new puppy parent or managing a litter.