Rare Birth Defect Gives Rescue Dog Permanently Shocked Expression

A dog with a birth defect that makes her look permanently shocked is winning hearts all over the internet.

After Belle got stuck in the birth canal, her facial muscles grew higher up her skull than average, resulting in her distinctive appearance.

Owner Lieschen O’Neill posted a video about Belle to TikTok on November 15. The clip has since racked up more than 1 million likes and over 5 million views – and the “100 percent good girl” has made lots of new friends.

Belle the rescue dog
Belle’s unusual eyes were the result of getting stuck in the birth canal during labor.
Lieschen O’Neill

Things To Consider When Adopting a Disabled Pet

Although pet adoption rates rose at the height of the COVID pandemic, dogs with disabilities are still overlooked at shelters. According to Four Paws International, “less adoptable” pets include animals with additional needs, senior pets or black dogs and cats (as they are believed to be “bad luck”).

Dr Jeff Smith, medical director at Danville Family Vet in Virginia, said adopting a disabled dog was rewarding but potential owners should think about the animal’s long-term care needs, in order to give them the best life possible.

“If the dog is physically disabled, they may have difficulty with steps and slippery floors,” he told Newsweek.

“You will have to consider the physical structure of your home and if it is a big dog, you have to imagine what it will be like to constantly lift them and help them up.

“If the dog has an ongoing medical condition, there may be additional costs for medications and veterinary care. Usually, by the time of adoption, the dog will have had several medical treatments and a rough long-term cost estimate can be predicted.”

‘She Is Perfection’

O’Neill’s clip shows Belle going about her day-to-day life. The video captions explain the dog’s condition as well as a little more about her personality.

“Hey Belle, you have a lot of new fans, so let’s go ahead and share your story,” wrote O’Neill.

“First of all, why do your eyes look like that? Your vet says that you got stuck in the birth canal and, as a result, your facial muscles have grown a little bit farther back in your head.

“You’re perfectly fine, just a little bit different.”

Although Belle’s face has formed differently than other dogs, O’Neill told Newsweek that was otherwise healthy.

“We do put drops in her eyes,” she said. “She has no problem closing her eyes completely, and she can blink just fine.”

Belle the rescue dog as a puppy
Lieschen O’Neill and her husband adopted Belle as a puppy from the Lawrence Humane Society in Kansas.
Lieschen O’Neill

Now 5 years old, Belle came into O’Neill and her husband’s lives in 2017, when they visited the Lawrence Humane Society in Kansas.

“It was my husband’s 30th birthday and he really wanted to get a dog,” she said.

“We walked in the door, and Belle immediately ran to the end of the kennel and greeted us.

“She was just a puppy, and filled with so much energy and wiggles. We took her into a small area to get to know her, and she immediately jumped in my lap, licked my face, and basically claimed us as her humans.”

The couple fell in love with Belle and left with her that same day, with the puppy “prancing around the house as if she had always lived there.”

Belle spends her days running around her backyard, napping on the stairs, watching out the front window and barking at squirrels.

“Her favorite toys are balls and she loves pouncing on them, carrying them around, kicking them, and losing them under the couch,” O’Neill said.

“When she hears a siren, she will walk around in a circle and imitate the siren like a hound.”

Belle the rescue dog lying down
Belle lives in Kansas with Lieschen O’Neill and her husband.
Lieschen O’Neill

O’Neill said people regularly comment on Belle’s appearance, but it’s usually out of curiosity not malice.

“When people meet her, they usually say that she has really interesting eyes,” she said. “Belle is extremely friendly and she loves greeting new people and making new friends.”

TikTok users couldn’t get enough of Belle, who was described by O’Neill in the clip as “50 percent cattle hound, 50 percent doberman and 100 percent good girl.”

“She is perfection,” commented Ellie_vvv.

“She is so adorable!” agreed Stefanie Bloom.

“Not to be dramatic but I would give my life for her,” wrote Kellyann.

Pain2Consciousness said: “That wagging tail is just confirmation for how happy and loved she is.”

Fortunately, Belle isn’t the only dog with special needs to have found a loving home. In 2021, a clip of a one-eyed rescue dog realizing she was being adopted had TikTok users teary-eyed, while an Oakland native told Newsweek how she’d managed to rescue and rehabilitate over 100 rescue dogs.

Do you have funny and adorable videos or pictures of your pet you want to share? Send them to life@newsweek.com with some details about your best friend and they could appear in our Pet of the Week lineup.

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