Mommy dog feeding puppies through her nipples
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How Many Nipples Do Dogs Have

Male dogs, like female, does have nipples. They are greater in number than our nipples and start from their groin area and make their way up the abdomen. How many nipples do dogs have will vary, and can range anywhere between 8-10 on average, but you may see more or less depending on the breed, gender, and size of the dog.

Mommy dog standing and feeding her puppies through nipples
Image by waldryano from Pixabay

What Do They Look Like?

So yes, male dogs have nipples too, but what do they look like? At first glance, a male dog’s nipples don’t differ much in appearance compared to a female dog’s. They are small nubs that protrude on the underside of the dog. How visible they are, the size, and how easy they are to examine will be influenced by the type of coat they have.

Double-coated dogs are more modest and their nipples are hidden beneath the thick fur, however, short-haired dogs are more on display, with their nipples much more obvious than their long-furred counterparts.

Similar to the scrotum, a dog’s nipples can also be a darker pigment compared to the rest of their skin, which is normal and not a cause for alarm. What is a concern is if you notice the dog nipples to be misshapen, irregularly sized, is swollen, inflamed, or leaking discharge.

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Nipples on Female Dogs

Puppies feeding on their mom's nipples
Image by gilbertobal from Pixabay

As said, the nipples on both female and male dogs are very similar in appearance. The numbers are about the same, with an average of 8-10 on females but they can even be odd-numbered and end up with 9. A female dog’s nipples will change in size and shape when she is pregnant or breastfeeding, sometimes even growing to multiple times its original size and even sag. The change in appearance is due to the change in her mammary glands. This is all normal and nothing to be worried about.

It’s only a cause for concern when you notice the same alarming symptoms we mentioned above including swollen or infected nipples.

Why Do Male Dogs Have Nipples?

Ah, an age-old question that extends beyond the dog species. Why do male genders in many animal species have nipples? is it just to even out the genders? How many nipples do male dogs have and are they necessary?

As we can postulate, male dogs do not have mammary glands for breastfeeding, so what purpose could their nipples possibly serve? The reason could be similar to the number of nipples in human males. Due to the lack of genetic selection to be more specific.

In a mother’s uterus, both genders start of the same, and genetic selection occurs later in the gestation period. So what scientists have been led to believe and could also explain the presence of a male dog’s nipples is evolution just didn’t phase out nipples. The reason being because the number of nipples a male dog has is of no consequence whatsoever. So there hasn’t been any genetic selection in that case.

Nature didn’t see the point of eliminating something that has no consequence, so nipples on male dogs are just there for no specific reason. Whether or not they serve any pleasure purposes the way some would say male nipples do on humans, we have no idea.

Can Nipples Cause a Problem in Male Dogs?

Can Nipples Cause a Problem in Male Dogs?
Image by LUM3N from Pixabay

They don’t pose any harm in dogs for the most part, but dog owners still wonder if the many nipples on their male dog can be a problem in the future. While nipples can be a detriment more so to female dogs, they can still cause a problem in unlucky males. It’s still possible that made dogs can suffer from mammary gland issues, although it’s very rare.

Issues with mammary glands manifest itself as a hard lump under the nipple, not unlike breast cancer symptoms in humans. If you notice a lump on your male or female dogs, it’s time to get them checked out.

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Is It a Nipple?

It’s also easy to mistake something else such as a skin tag or small tumor for dog nipples, especially if the location is on the dog’s belly. Dogs can get skin tags too, and those can resemble nipples. Even a small bite or a benign growth. The most telling way to identify dog nipples is to look at the base. It’s possible that you may mistake a tick for a nipple. Although that sounds like ludicrous, it’s still better to be safe than sorry.

Examine the base where the nipple touches your dog’s skin. If it’s a seamless attachment with no break in the skin, then you are most likely looking at dog nipples. However, if you can’t make out where the nipples attach, then it’s most likely something else. Also, since a dog has a great number of nipples, it’s more than easy to compare the nipples in question with the other ones. If one or more look is unnatural, then maybe call your vet to make sure.

Another excellent indicator of growths that aren’t dog nipples is if the number of teats changes over time. Unless there is some kind of injury or surgery your dogs went through that affected the number of nipples, there should be no reason why how many nipples your dog has will change. Nipples cannot suddenly disappear on dogs just as they can’t suddenly grow new ones.

Therefore, if you notice the number of your dog’s nipples has changed, then the extra one may be something different. But keep in mind if your dog has a long coat, you could have just miscounted.

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What to Do if Your Dog’s Nipples are Swollen

What to Do if Your Dog's Nipples are Swollen
Image by Winsker from Pixabay

Just because your dog’s nipples have swelled up, it doesn’t mean your dog is sick or there is a serious problem. It could be a bug bite that caused your dog to scratch excessively at the area and bruised the nipple. In female dogs, nipple swelling during pregnancy is very normal, and female dogs that are breastfeeding will experience the same engorged nipples.

Swollen nipples in male dogs are more concerning. If you notice swollen nipples on your dog and can’t figure out a logical reason why that is, examine it to see if there is a source of injury. If not, don’t irritate the nipple anymore and call your vet. Prevent your dog from touching it for the time being and take note of any other symptoms that may accompany the swollen nipples.

Can I Tell the Litter Size by Counting the Dog Nipples?

There may be an old wives’ tale that claims you can guess the litter size by the number of nipples your dog has. That is untrue as far as science has proven. Just because your female dog has 10 nipples doesn’t mean she is prone to larger litters. The average number of nipples is 6-10 and the average litter size is around 5-6.

That alone should dispel the belief that the nipple number is a way to foretell how many buns are in the oven. While it’s fun to guess how many puppies will be in the litter and attribute it to the number of nipples your dog has, the litter size has more to do with the breed than anything else.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do male dogs have 6 nipples?

Male dogs can have anywhere between 6-10 nipples on average. This number is determined by the breed and sometimes the size of a dog. There is no right number of nipples male and female dogs have, and sometimes you can even end up with odd-numbered nipples, all of which is normal.

Do female dogs get nipples if not pregnant?

Nipples are a natural occurrence in both male and female dogs. In a female dog, the presence of nipples is not impacted by pregnancy. Whether or not the female dog gets pregnant, she will still have nipples in the same number she was born with. Other than injury or surgery, there is no reason why the number of nipples should increase or decrease.

Do dog nipples ever go away?

No, dog nipples don’t ever go away. Unlike a bug bite or a swollen bump, nipples are a natural occurrence, and much like human nipples, they don’t just disappear randomly. If in fact, you notice the nipple count decrease, it could be because you miscounted or what was previously mistaken as a nipple turned out to be something different that eventually disappeared.

What causes a female dogs’ nipples to turn black?

What causes a female dogs’ nipples to turn black?
Image by JACLOU-DL from Pixabay

The pigmentation in dog nipples can vary from canine to canine regardless of gender or breed. You may see the nipular area darken on a pregnant female dog, and slight discoloration such as this during that time is not a cause for concern. However, if you notice severe darkening, it could be an indication of canine mastitis.

Other reasons for discoloration in female dog nipples could be hormonal changes, which can again be attributed to pregnancy when a dog is nursing, they are irritated, or the dreaded cancer. If you suspect something deeper and more serious is affecting the coloring of your dog’s nipples then we suggest visiting your vet.

Is it normal for my dog to have 9 nipples?

Nature isn’t perfect, and sometimes a dog may not have even-numbered nipples, and that’s okay. But before you can be sure, check if you miscounted. On some dogs, their nipples aren’t perfectly lined up, which could cause a miscount. In other cases, the teats are hidden under layers of fur, which is common in long or double-coated dogs and can cause you to miss a nubbin or two.

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Why do male dogs have nipples?

Nipples on a male dog do not serve any particular purpose as far as modern-day science can determine. However, whether or not they serve any pleasure functions is something we will never know. What scientists can somewhat agree on is the presence of male nipples is due to a lack of genetic selection. In other words, the existence of the nipples aren’t hurting anyone, so nature didn’t bother to eliminate it. Therefore, the nipples in male dogs still exist to this day.

Conclusion

How many nipples do dogs have is determined by genetics. What we can ascertain is the existence of the teats have nothing to do with the gender of the dog. We can also agree that the mother dog makes more use out of her nips than the father, as she uses them to produce milk for nursing puppies. Some people may have you believe you can predict how many puppies you will have in a litter by counting the nipples, but this is untrue.

There are people out there that believe you have a teat for each potential puppy, but there is no science to back this theory. We are also pretty sure that the existence of nipples on a male dog is just a natural fluke.

Did You Know?

Enlarged or discolored nipples can be a tell-tale sign of a dog pregnancy, but there is also such a thing as a false positive, much like in humans. False pregnancy can occur after a heat period that could require vet attention.

Expert Tip

There may be a chance a pregnant female dog refuses to nurse her dogs. This could be due to pain or illness, so you have to keep your eyes open and step in if the occasion calls for it.

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