Puppy with bowed front legs: Dog Deformity Explained

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. 

puppy with bowed legs

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.

What's In This Guide?

      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 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 its weight.



      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 severe circumstances 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 pup’s 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 in 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 circumstances, there may be a limb required to be removed.

      Recovering after surgery

      Most surgeries that are undertaken for bowed legs have a very high success rate. however, whilst the surgery itself is not considered high risk, their recovery after is quite the opposite. This is because an incision has to be made in order to complete the surgery, which in turn can result in a danger to your dog during the healing process.

      Making sure that your dog heals properly is essential to a full recovery. So that means no walking, licking of the wounds or undertaking tasks that will stress the legs in any way.

      A great way of helping to prevent your dog from licking the wounds is by using an Elizabethan collar (Link to Amazon). 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 can be 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.

      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 setback 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 the future.

      Picture of Rachael Summers

      Rachael Summers

      Rachael Summers is the Founder and Senior Editor at Dig Doggy. She is a lifelong canine enthusiast and adores dogs of all shapes and sizes! Rachael also loves iced coffee, hammocks, and puppy-cuddling!

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      Rachael Summers is the Founder and Senior Editor at Dig Doggy. She is a lifelong canine enthusiast and adores dogs of all shapes and sizes! Rachael also loves iced coffee, hammocks, and puppy-cuddling!

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