Dogs Getting Cosmetic Surgery

Dog Jaw


I was in the car on the way to a meeting this morning and I heard a report about crazy plastic surgeries animals get and I wanted to weigh in. Most of the surgeries seem to be out of necessity like a dog getting a titanium nose job – I am thinking and honestly hope that this only occurred because something happened to the dog and and needed a little help in the nose area I am guessing it also helped the dog’s quality of life because even if the nose it not functional a friendly dog who scared away children would not be a very happy one. So this is one nose job I can say I would not be against if it were for medical reasons.

Then there are other extremes where people are having their dogs undergo plastic surgery to remove excess skin from their muzzle area. This I do have a problem with. Yes maybe some dogs have an excess of skin there that they do not really need to perform their function but in the case of Bloodhounds the folds of skin serve a purpose to help them sniff out items. The fold of skin help trap the scent of the item or object the dog is looking for which is why they are used in search and rescue. Therefor to have that skin removed would be inhibiting the dog from doing its job. Even if it was a couch potato and did not tracking or scent work it is in their nature to walk nose to the ground to try and find things. So a surgery to remove their skin flaps would basically disable the dog from doing something it used to be able to do. They are called Scent Hounds for a reason they track via scent.

It is a good thing I wasn’t having something to drink when I heard the next story of a Chihuahua who had liposuction to remove a pound of fat. I honestly cannot think of any medical that might force a veterinarian to remove fat from a dog in this way. I guess there could be a fatty growth but that wouldn’t be called liposuction it would be a necessary surgery. And it is true that if there was a growth on a Chihuahua that became enlarged and when removed weighed a pound that really would hinder a dog that small from its normal everyday activities and the vet would want to test it to make sure it was not cancer but that would be cut out. Performing liposuction or a tummy tuck on a dog is just plain irresponsible. There are plenty of rescues out there that have taken in grossly obese dogs that have managed with a balanced diet and a gradual increase in exercise to get the dog back down to a more healthy weight.

Then there is the cosmetic surgery that people tend to “blame” on dog show people when if fact any dog caught or thought to have worn braces would be forever disqualified from competing in a conformation show as the dogs bite is always evaluated and in some cases the judge is supposed to literally count the number of teeth a dog has. So any reputable breeder would do everything possible to produce puppies with the correct bite for their breed. Dogs being shown in the conformation ring cannot receive any corrective surgery of any form and the judge would not hesitate to kick a dog out of the ring if it was even suspected. In fact if your dog undergoes a medically necessary surgery they must be kept from the ring for a specific period of time to allow everything to heal properly and the you would probably get asked as the judge is running their hands over the dog why the surgery took place because if it was something that could be genetic most likely your dog would not do very well as the conformation ring is used to determine the BEST representatives of the breed in order to mate and you wouldn’t want to pass along something genetic.

There are dogs however from BYB or Puppymills who have horrible bites that do hinder them from eating and drinking properly and so I think that if the dog was truly having a problem doing some kind of corrective surgery or using some sort of canine braces would allow the dog to live a healthier happier life. We are seeing more and more dogs with horrible bites produced by “designer” dog breeders. Those who are putting together the beagle and the pug. Just look at how different their jaw structure is and if the article I read a few weeks ago is true that a dog inherits its upper jaw from one parent and the lower jaw from the other one can see how that could produce a dog who truly had a problem eating and drinking.

Watch “Pet Crazy” tonight at 10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT on “20/20” to learn more about these cases and others.

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  1. Cynthia Downer says

    I do have to say that there are cases where having excess skin removed would be a medical necessity.. My dog Jack is (almost) an example. He gets lip fold dermatitis every couple of months. I can treat them, but if he had a lot extra skin I’m sure that they would be a lot worse and a lot more frequent. The infection is caused by extra skin in his bottom lips, which create a pocket that drool drains into which causes a moist dermatitis. And he is a lab/shepherd mix, so no purpose for the extra skin that I can think of.

    • That would be medically necessary for your dog due to the infections it is causing (if it were worse) and not as easily treatable. And also as you said not something that would help it do any sort of job it might be asked to do.

  2. AYFKM?!?! I would NEVER put my dogs through plastic surgery…shoot, I won’t put MYSELF through plastic surgery..and I’d love to have some bigger boobs…but I know I don’t need them and it isn’t worth the risk. WHY on Earth would people think their dogs need these types of surgeries….wow.

  3. Wow I can’t even imagine such a thing. I had no idea it was even happening.

  4. I can see if there is a medical reason for it (like Cynthia mentioned above. That’s a good reason), but I can see many people having it done to make them “look better” or whatever, and I think that’s horrible! If you don’t like the way your dog looks, you should have adopted/rescued/bought a different breed to begin with.

  5. I think it’s terrible when owners subject their dogs to unnecessary cosmetic surgeries just to improve the looks of the dog (medically necessary surgeries are just that, medically necessary, and have nothing to do with looks even if that’s an added “bonus”, as in Cyntha’s dog’s case above). I’ve heard of it before, and it makes me angry and disgusted, and it still does… to the point where I can’t even say anything more!! Pet owners like that don’t deserve pets!!

  6. Medically necessary only for humans and dogs

  7. unless its medically necessary that is just wrong

  8. A couple of points.

    One, there seems to be a confusion between “plastic surgery” and “cosmetic surgery.” All “cosmetic surgery” is plastic surgery; not all plastic surgery is “cosmetic.”

    Two, excessive skin folds are a real health issue–even in the breeds where some degree of looseness and wrinkliness was originally considered desirable for their working function. Look at pictures of these dogs now vs. pictures from a century ago when the competitive nature of the show ring had not yet taken its toll. Or, where a split between working and show lines has developed, look at the differences between them: the working lines are always much less extreme, have much less of these features “essential for their jobs” than the show lines. Some, indeed, but far less.

    In breeds where selection has been for extreme brachycephalic skulls, breathing, the ability to regulate body temperature, and the ability to breed and whelp are often severely impaired. Often these dogs require soft palette resections in order to breathe properly and live normal lives. Sometimes these surgeries happen in show-line dogs and aren’t reported. (Note: Breeding for “longer muzzles” is not a sure route to making this better. Breeding for “free breathing” is. As is not breeding dogs who can’t breed naturally, and not breeding the offspring of a bitch who could not whelp naturally her first time, and not breeding her a second time.)

    There’s also an unexamined assumption that “show breeders” are automatically “good breeders.” In fact, while to a reasonable approximation all good breeders will be competing with their dogs in conformation or performance events, or else actually working them (and in some cases, where resources exist, may be doing all three), there are also, at the very top levels where the possibility, otherwise chimerical, of making money from breeding your champion show dogs really exists, we find both the best breeders, and “show millers,” people who aren’t any more ethical or any more concerned with the dogs than the worst puppy millers.

    And then there are those who truly love their dogs, and do health tests, etc., and who have, sadly, bought into the current application of their breed standards completely. They look at a basset with legs too short for hunting, red-eyed with ectropian, and carrying too much weight for health, and see a sweet, beautiful basset hound. They look at Palacegarden Malachy, the Peke who took Best in Show at Westminster, wallowing slowly through an abbreviated circuit of the ring, panting the whole time, and see a triumph of Pekingese kind, rather than a struggling little dog who is anything but healthy.

    Many breeds are not like this. They have healthy structures without overdone extremes, they have no great burden of less obvious genetic disease–or if they do, they still have plenty of genetic diversity, and selecting for a responsible breeder who health screens will get you a dog who will be healthy, or as likely to be healthy as can be managed with any living being. There are many breeds where you just have to choose a good breeder–and in most breeds, the bulk of those “good breeders” will indeed be KC/AKC/CanKC breeders, active in showing and/or performance competition.

    “Doesn’t show or compete her dogs” is a red flag when checking out a breeder. “Does show or compete her dogs” is not, by itself, an assurance that all the other standards of an ethical, responsible breeder are being met.

    Sadly, even “obviously very much love their dogs” is not an assurance that everything is being done as it should be.

    In most breeds, looking for a reputable, ethical breeder will get you a healthy dog. There are, sadly, some breeds where the standard needs to be rewritten, dogs like Palacegarden Malachy have to start getting DQ’d rather than given Best in Show, and in some cases, there’s no hope for the breed unless the stud book is opened for controlled, intelligently planned, out-crossing.

    Two structurally lovely breeds, the Golden and Flatcoat retrievers, are examples of this. Lovely dogs, structurally sound barring the need to watch out for hip dysplasia as in most large breeds–but they’re cancer factories. And it isn’t “just” show lines, or “just” BYB dogs or “just” working lines. It’s the whole of these two lovely, and closely-related, breeds.

    Planned, controlled out-crossing has set the Dalmatian on the path to being free of the curse of high uric acid. It can work for other breeds, too.

    In still other breeds, “all” we have to do is stop awarding, as “lovely expressions of the standard,” what are in fact deformities. A dog with plainly visible bilateral ectropian should be DQ’d, not put up, and no, it doesn’t take a canine eye specialist to see it.

    And please, let’s recognize the fact that people breed for short muzzles and even flat faces in dogs because it’s cute, not because it’s functional. When bulldogs were actually being used for their original function, their muzzles were, indeed, shorter than the average–but not even close to the painfully squished faces they have now.

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