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Puppy’s Jaw Spontaneously Regrows After Being Removed Due To Cancer

We've seen similar outcomes in children before, but never in dogs.

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Ben Taub

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Ben Taub

Freelance Writer

Benjamin holds a Master's degree in anthropology from University College London and has worked in the fields of neuroscience research and mental health treatment.

Freelance Writer

Edited by Laura Simmons
Laura Simmons - Editor and Staff Writer

Laura Simmons

Editor and Staff Writer

Laura is an editor and staff writer at IFLScience. She obtained her Master's in Experimental Neuroscience from Imperial College London.

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Tyson French bulldog regrows jaw

Tyson can't yet eat solid foods but is living his best life.

Image courtesy of Melissa Forsythe

A 3-month-old puppy has surprised vets by unexpectedly regrowing his jawbone after it had been surgically removed because of a tumor. Tyson the French bulldog had to have the majority of his lower left mandible cut away, yet enters the history books as the first reported dog ever to regenerate a lost jaw.

Vets first noticed Tyson’s cancer when he was brought in for surgery on a cleft palate in the spring of 2023. The tumor was identified as an oral papillary squamous cell carcinoma, with follow-up scans revealing that it had not yet spread to other parts of the body.

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Keen to act fast, the young pup's owners gave the go-ahead for doctors to remove the affected area, despite knowing that this would probably leave Tyson without a functioning jaw for the rest of his life. 

“We decided to give him a chance and continue with surgery,” explained owner Melissa Forsythe, in a statement. “We had no idea his jaw would grow back!”

Astonishingly, however, when Tyson was examined eight weeks later, veterinarians noticed that his jaw had indeed regrown. While similar outcomes have previously been recorded in human children, this is the first time that this has been observed in a dog.

Documenting the case, the vets overseeing Tyson’s care explain that bone regrowth in young humans is usually enabled thanks to the presence of stem cells in the periosteum, which covers the surfaces of bones. When operating on the puppy, surgeons took care to leave as much of the periosteum as possible.

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“Periosteum was preserved ventrally during this puppy’s surgery, and it was likely imperative to the subsequent regeneration of the bone,” they write. “However, exact mechanisms by which bone was regenerated cannot be fully understood in this case.”

Whatever triggered the regrowth, Tyson’s new jaw is almost as good as the original and is the same length as the right mandible. “The patient has continued to do well seven months after subtotal mandibulectomy, with a normal occlusion for the breed and no signs of oral pain or reoccurrence of the tumor,” write the authors of the case report.

Despite surpassing all expectations, Tyson’s new jaw does not have any teeth and he can’t yet eat solid foods. As a result, Forsythe says "he spent the majority of his puppyhood wearing an E-collar, not able to play with toys or chew on anything.”

However, none of this has stopped Tyson from racking up milestones and achievements. For example, he has already graduated obedience class and walked in a Christmas parade.

French bulldog wearing a purple birthday hat
Tyson celebrates his first birthday.
Image courtesy of Melissa Forsythe


Commenting on this unique case, veterinarian Alexandra Wright – who led Tyson’s care team – said "more has to be done to understand the likelihood of this occurring in other dogs and if a specific age range makes a difference.”

"[But] this case documents a very positive surgical outcome in a life-threatening situation."

The case report is published in the journal Frontiers in Veterinary Science.


ARTICLE POSTED IN

natureNaturenatureanimals
  • tag
  • cancer,

  • animals,

  • dogs,

  • surgery,

  • bone regeneration,

  • jawbone,

  • veterinary,

  • french bulldog

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