Congenital abnormalities of the urogenital tracts form a major part of clinical practice for paediatric urologists, but their knowledge of normal and abnormal development is often limited. Advances in understanding frequently come from studying experimental findings from animal models, however, most clinicians underestimate both the power and perils of extrapolating scientific knowledge from animals. In this review, the key issues that urologists need to understand in order to link animal studies to clinical practice are discussed. Urologists must avoid the traps of anthropomorphism (assuming humans are always the same as animal models) or anthropocentrism (assuming humans are too different from animal models). This review used two common disorders: hypospadias and undescended testes.