dog with bowed legs

Puppy with bowed front legs: Dog Deformity Explained

In HEALTH by SeanLeave a Comment

puppy with bowed legs golden retriever

It’s a very unpleasant sight to see a puppy with bowed front legs. And even more unpleasant to know that they may not walk. Unfortunately, this is still something that you may come across on very rare occasions.

And this seems to be more common in some breeds than others. There are many different ways that a deformity can occur in a dog’s front legs. Such as one limb growing faster than the other or an inverted growth of the bones.

There are a few ways you can identify whether your puppy has bowed legs. To give you an insight, in the next section I’ll go through what exactly you should be looking for.

Symptoms of bowed legs

When you notice a dog with bowed legs there will be some very distinctive symptoms. Though it may not so much seem like a deformity at first. To avoid a late diagnosis for your dog, make sure you stay up to date with the relevant information and symptoms to look out for. A few of those include:

  • Limping
  • Struggling when rising
  • Limited movement
  • Bowed like paws
  • Swelling
  • Grinding in the joints
  • Different length in limbs
  • Painful movement

You might find that some of the above symptoms show up in a very subtle way. Either way, you still need to be careful as you can easily wind up thinking that there nothing to worry about… That means early signs or signals should be taken seriously and a trip to the vets is almost imperative if you find signs of deformity in your dog.

Like with anything else that causes potential problems in the body. Early diagnosis is always best to prevent any further harm in the adult age. abnormal growth can be caused by many varying factors, but let’s go through a few of the most common next.

Common causes for bowed legs

Although there are many reasons why a puppy may experience deformity in limbs and body parts. There are a few that seem to pop up time and time again. Let’s take a look at what they are:

  • Fracture
  • Degeneration Injury before growth plate has matured
  • Improper alignment of bones
  • A pair of bones may have a disparity in growth rate, causing one of the pair to bow
  • Trauma, or fall on a front limb
  • Damage to the blood supply of a growth plate

As you can see, a majority of the above mentioned all come under the subject of the genetic disorder. An easy way to make the judgment on whether your dog may be prone to bowing in the legs would be to find out information on their parents.

If you find that either of the parents has had bowed legs then you will pay close attention to their growth in order to prevent harm in the future. Obesity is another common cause as this can be caused by a dog’s legs not being able to support their weight.

dog in vets getting leg checked


The way that bowed legs are diagnosed involves your pup undertaking an x-ray to see any broken bones or hyperextensions of the limbs. Radiographs will also be used whilst your dog is sedated to prevent any pain as a result of the testing. MRI and CT scans may be also used in a severe circumstance to provide a better understanding of the deformity.

All tests should be made by a professional veterinarian and no pain should be incurred as a result of the testing. In the following section below we discuss what types of treatments are provided to cure bowed legs.

Potential Treatment

Depending on how severe the extent is of your pups deformity will depend on what treatment is suitable for them to undergo. The one purpose of any type of treatment is to get them back into tip-top shape and straighten their legs once again. Whilst undergoing this treatment it is important for surgeons to prevent any further complications later on their adult life. In most cases, surgery will be the selected option for your dog to undergo.

This can range from corrective surgery to stabilization surgery or even just providing a balanced diet. Again it will all depend on how severe the deformity is in order to determine the correct repair. Other treatments can involve removing part of the bone or plate. And in some very extreme circumstance, there may be a limb required to be removed.

dog after surgery

After surgery recovery

Most of the surgeries that are associated with bowed legs have a very high success rate. However, there are a few risks involved later in recovery. Because of most surgery involving the need to make an incision.

Your puppy can be at risk of infection or poor bone healing if they are to walk again too early. So it is important that when they get home from surgery you provide the appropriate bedding for them to recover inside. Like with any surgery that involves incisions, you will also make sure that your dog does not lick the wounds once they get home.

A great way of helping to prevent this is by using an Elizabethan collar. You may also find that your dog loses their appetite for a few days after surgery. In most cases, this is perfectly normal but if it continues past 48 hrs then contact a vet.

Vomiting is another result of the unlucky few. If you find yourself having to deal with this then make sure that they are warm and well-rested to ensure the best possible recovery. What is the cost to repair a puppy with bowed front legs?. Continue reading to see what I found.

Costs of surgery

Depending on what surgery is a need for your pup will depend on the cost you can expect to pay. But just to give you a guideline you can expect to pay anywhere from $1000 up to around $5000 depending on the surgery needed.

Whilst this can be a big set back financially it is important to undertake any surgery suggest by your vet. This will help your dog to live a healthy happier adult life which in turn will make you a happy parent. Make sure to get yourself some pet insurance as when these kinds of things pop up, you’ll be thanking yourself twice over. On the other hand without it, you could end up in a few unwanted financial situations.


Even though it’s not common to find puppies with bows legs. you should now know how to spot it and what to do if you find signs. Your dog’s life could be pending on the speed of your phone call, so make it quick!

In most cases, this is a repairable deformity providing an early diagnosis is made. That’s why I recommend that you gather as much information possible around this topic, so you’re able to spot the signs should they pop u in future.

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