Ectopic Ureter

Ectopic Ureter can affect dogs in general and studies have shown a slightly higher incidence in the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier compared to other breeds.

A small number of Wheatens have been born with congenital Ectopic ureter. This condition can affect one or both Ureters. An Ectopic Ureter bypasses the bladder and can open into the urethra, vagina, sphincter muscle or uterus. Any of these malformations result in the puppy constantly dribbling urine.

This condition is present from birth, so the problem may not be noticed at first as the mother constantly cleans the puppy. Many puppies have problems house training and can have bladder infections.

The following Zoom webinar is produced by the SCWT Club of America and SCWTCA Endowment Inc. (Zoom is not needed to view). This webinar is on the topics of Ectopic amd Urogenital Disorders Click here (opens on a new page)

Signs of an ectopic ureter:

  • Almost exclusively diagnosed in females.
  • Incontinence i.e. urine leaking or dribbling at times but normal urination at other times.
  • Frequent urination.
  • If infection is present blood tinged urine can sometimes be seen.
  • Excessive licking of the genital area. Often the urine leakage will cause a rash in this area.
  • A shortened urethra is sometimes seen
  • Vaginal Bands or Bifid Vaginas may be present.


Normal Anatomy
normal ureter

The kidney is made up of very small filters called nephrons, these filter blood and the final waste result is urine. The tube that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder is called a Ureter. The urine is stored in the bladder until the dog needs to expel it to the outside via the urethra.



ectopic ureter



Anatomy showing Ectopic Ureter

The diagram (right) shows the right Ureter opening into the bladder as normal but the left Ureter is totally bypassing the bladder and entering via the Urethra.



ectopic ureter



This diagram shows the abnormal Ureter separated from the bladder and only connecting at the Urethra. 

At the neck of the bladder is a valve called the urinary sphincter, which controls the release of urine. Dogs that have Ectopic ureters can also have weak urinary sphincters.  


How to Diagnose:

  • Verify unconscious leaking of urine
  • Almost never a Urinary Tract Infection
  • Culture the urine to avoid use of unnecessary antibiotics
  • Use imaging such as Contrast Radiographics or Ultrasound to visualise anatomy
  • Cystoscopy is the best way to visualise from the inside and possibly correct during the procedure
  • Laser ablation can often correct the anatomy
  • Follow up medications may be needed

Although surgery is possible for ectopic ureters, in many cases it is not successful and the puppy continues to leak urine. In extreme cases, this condition results in the euthanasia of the puppy.

In the USA there are Centers of Excellence to conact: American Veterrinary Society for Nephrology and Urology will have listings of facilities and their locations

In UK and other countries, ask for your veterinarians advice.

Vulvovaginal Stenosis:

A less common cause of incontinence in female dogs is vulvovaginal stenosis. This is a condition in which the vagina is narrowed at the level where the urethra ends.

Occasionally when the bitch urinates, some urine will be trapped in the vagina in front of this narrowed area. When the dog rises from lying down the urine seeps out. This condition can be diagnosed by veterinary examination.

In some dogs the narrowing can be stretched under anaesthesia. The incontinence may or may not resolve as sometimes other defects are also present.