Do Dogs Have Lips? (Types Of Dog Lips)

Photo of a dog licking his lips. Do Dogs Have Lips?

Dogs obviously have different bodies than us, but some traits are similar. But do dogs have lips as we humans have? Curious to know more about dog lips? Below is the information that you need!

Dogs do have lips, though they look and function differently from a human’s lips. The job of a dog’s lips is the same as those of a human — to protect their mouth from harm. Dogs have a tighter jawline, so their lips aren’t as obvious to differentiate as humans. A dog’s lips can be pink, white, or black. 

Why do dogs not have lips?

Experts agree that dogs do have lips, even if they seem thin and hard to spot to us pet parents. Since their jawline is so close together compared to humans, a dog’s mouth seems like it’s just an opening.

Dogs have both an upper and lower lip. Some dogs have droopy and seemingly loose upper lip and jowls, and others have tight mouth line that is hard to distinguish. It comes down to genetics and your dog’s physical characteristics. Neither option is better or worse than the other.

Do dogs have upper lips?

If you’ve ever peered closely at your dog’s mouth, you might be convinced that they don’t have an upper lip. All you can see is their muzzle and then their teeth when they open their mouth. But, dogs do have an upper lip.

Experts refer to this upper lip as “flews,” and they hang down loose often over your dog’s lower lip/jaw. Often it looks like your dog has saggy jowls or cheeks.

What are a dog’s lips called?

A dog’s general mouth area is called a muzzle. This term is used for their lips, jawline, and nose. A dog’s upper lip is called a “flew,” as already stated. Their lower lip doesn’t have a specialized name, so it’s called a lower lip. 

Why do dogs have frilly lips?

Dogs can sometimes appear to have lips that frill or ruffle out. This is common in many hounds. These frills are designed to help them control their mouth’s movements, including keeping food from spilling out of their mouth. If you’ve ever watched your dog eat, you probably know already that this specific role isn’t always successful!

Why do dogs have bumps on their lips?

There are often frills and bumps on your dog’s lips. While experts used to be baffled about the reason, there is some general agreement now! It all comes down to understanding how your dog’s jaw/muzzle/mouth work.

This best works if we compare it to humans, so let’s start. When we eat, the muscles in our cheeks and jaw/mouth work harmoniously to keep the food inside as we chew and work the food around. These muscles are fine-tuned over time to help prevent slips and spills as we eat. As kids, or after recovering from sickness, etc., our muscles aren’t as developed, so we tend to spill food more!

A dog’s muzzle, jaw, and mouth don’t have the same muscle build. A dog’s jaws often will work independently of their mouth. It doesn’t matter how much your dog was to train their skills; they wouldn’t be capable of having the same kind of control over their mouth.

So, the design of their mouth has worked to accommodate that! A dog’s mouth has bumps and frills to help keep food and drool in place. As explained above, that isn’t always successful. But the reason for it is apparent and focused on what your dog’s mouth needs.

Do dogs have black lips?

Dogs often do have black lips. Their lip color is intended to match their nose. This coloring is due to melanin, and the amount of melanin is determined by genetics. Dogs can sometimes have pink or white for their nose and lip coloring, which is actually a sign of melanin deficiency.

Why do dogs have black lips?

Dogs have black lips and a black nose simply because their melanin production creates that for them at birth. It’s an inherited trait that is as normal as their jaw shape, fur type, and coloring. Sometimes dogs will have speckled noses and lips, where they will have black, white, and pink together. It creates some adorable dogs!

Why do dogs’ black lips turn pink?

Have you noticed your dog’s lips turning pink? Or is your dog’s nose slowly transitioning from black to pink or white? There are a few causes for this, mainly depending on your dog’s habits and health:

  • Using plastic bowls
  • Normal aging
  • A change in health

Using plastic bowls

Plastic bowls are standard for dogs since they are sold in various colors, shapes, and sizes. However, there are some rumors that imply plastic bowls can cause discoloration in your dog’s nose and lips. 

There is no general agreement on this, but it is something to consider. Many professionals recommend stainless steel bowls because they are antibacterial and easier to clean than plastic. Your vet can help you with more information on plastic versus stainless steel bowls if you need it!

Normal aging

As dogs age, some will lose the pigmentation in their nose and lips, leading to the black fading to pink and/or white. This is similar to how dogs will get “salt and pepper” in their fur as they enter their final years in life. The changeover just means that their melanin is draining as they get older.

A change in health

If you notice that your dog’s lips are changing color randomly and quickly, you might want to check about their health. For instance, oral infections and even skin infections or tumors can cause a change in the color of their lips. When in doubt, a vet check is a good idea to ensure your dog’s health is still okay!

Can dogs smile?

So, if dogs have lips and they work like a human’s, does this mean that your dog is smiling at you when they seem to be making that gesture? While it’s a nice thought, the unfortunate answer is “no.” Dogs aren’t capable of smiling biologically, and they have no reason to smile since they don’t understand why they should smile!

Rest assured, though, that your dog finds other ways to show their happiness with you and their love. 

Can dogs kiss with their lips?

Dogs can’t kiss with their lips, even if they were to understand what the action meant. They don’t have the same muscle control over their lips as humans do, so the simple act of kissing isn’t something they can actually physically do. 

After all, if they are so sloppy with the muscles that they drool and spill food, then it’s unrealistic of us to expect them to be able to give us a smooch!

Dogs often lick us, making us infer that they are happy with us and showing their love. It’s a nice sentiment, but it’s not really the case. If your dog licks you, they are most likely smelling and tasting salt on your skin. Dogs don’t lick us to show their love.


Dogs have lips that protect their mouth from damage and form a seal to keep food and water/drool inside. Dogs have a different kind of jawline, so their lips tend to be hard to spot, particularly since their muzzle color matches their nose and lip color. Depending on their genetics, dogs can have black, pink, or white lips.

It’s pretty neat to see how much information is out there about dog lips and their different forms and functions! Know someone who has wondered about this sort of thing before? Share this with them!

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Dog Advisory Council

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