Curious about your dogs and their nipples? A lot of people are, actually, and it’s a very interesting topic when you are looking at understanding your dog’s body in all of its fascinating little details.
Both male and female dogs have nipples, and the numbers range from 8-10. The number varies depending on breed, size, and personal health details, too. Their nipples span from their genital area up to their chest, in rows of two. They tend to be evenly spaced, but not always. Below, you’ll learn everything you need to know about their health, size, and meaning for your dog’s health!
Do male dogs have nipples?
Yes, male dogs have nipples, just like male humans do! These are simply a part of the biological make-up of your dog, and they are formed in utero (in other words, before a puppy is born). They don’t serve a function, technically, they’re just part of the body!
Do female dogs get nipples if not pregnant?
As mentioned, all dogs are born with nipples no matter if they’re boys or girls. So, your female dog would have nipples even if she isn’t pregnant. However, when she does get pregnant, her nipples become more obvious.
If your dog has a lot of fur, most owners don’t realize that she has nipples until they start to change shape during pregnancy, or they start to inspect her belly and discover them.
Do dog nipples go away?
From puppyhood to their golden years, all dogs will have nipples. They won’t lose any or gain any throughout their life at all. Sometimes, nipples are less obvious, though. For example, a puppy’s nipples are so small you practically can’t see them. Sometimes, in their senior years, the nipples will shrivel up and get especially tiny. That being said, the nipples will still be there if you look close enough.
Why does my dog not have nipples?
All dogs are born with nipples, but the amount of how easy they are to see does depend on the dog. If you’re concerned that you can’t see or find your dog’s nipples, it’s a good idea to have a bet look your dog over to make sure that everything is okay!
How many nipples do dogs have?
The number varies depending on the dog him or herself, but the number often ranges from 6-10. They are evenly spaced in rows on either side of their tummy and look symmetrical to the eye. Just because your dog has 6 nipples and a neighbor’s dog has 10 nipples is no reason to be alarmed. Dogs are born with nipples at different spots (aka symmetrical) and in different odd numbers, too. It just means that they are extra special!
What should dog nipples look like?
Nipples often will look the same for girl and boy dogs. They are tiny little dots on their skin and they should often feel raised to the touch. A lot of people compare them to looking like a tiny bug bite. They’ll often feel like one, too.
Sometimes, though, your dog’s nipples may be a little squishy rather than harder, like a bug bite. This is perfectly normal and just the way your dog is made!
Normal dog nipples vs pregnant nipples
One of the few times that you will find a dog’s nipples changing is when she is pregnant. In fact, the nipple changes are often one of the most obvious signs that your dog might be pregnant.
You’ll see your dog’s nipples start to get a little bigger and squishier than they were before. A lot of people compare this to an udder like on a cow! But, much smaller, since your dog is smaller, too. The nipples may get soft and a little longer, too, rather than round and tiny. A lot of times the nipples are dark in color and will seem to swell up in width and length, too.
As her pregnancy progresses, her weight gain will make these even more obvious, and eventually, her milk will come in and they will droop down. This is easiest to see in a dog with thin fur, of course. If your dog has long fur, especially it’s darker in color, you may not be able to see them easily unless she bears her stomach.
Can dogs grow extra nipples when pregnant?
Just like above, a dog is born and dies with the same amount of nipples. No more, and no less, including through pregnancy. Otherwise, it would make sense for a mama-to-be to not have any nipples at all until she becomes pregnant, right?
Can you predict the litter size through the number of nipples?
This is an “old wive’s tale” going around about predicting the number of puppies that your dog is going to have by counting the nipples that she has. While it is a fun guessing game, and the logic makes sense there is, unfortunately, no truth to it.
A dog could have 6 nipples and only have 4 puppies. Or, she could have 8 nipples and have 9 puppies! While it would make sense to have one puppy per nipple at the “milk bar”, the amount of nipples does not actually connect to the puppies that she is going to have.
If she does have more puppies than nipples, it means that there’s going to be a bit of a struggle when everyone’s hungry and there are not enough seats!
What are dog nipple health issues?
Just like any other part of the body, there are some common health issues with the nipples that every pet parent should be aware of! The main things to be aware of include:
- Mammary cancer
Just like humans, dogs can get mammary cancer, also called “breast cancer”. Most of the time this happens in female dogs, but it can happen in males, too. A lot of times, this shows up as lumps in your dog’s breast, often around the nipple. Keeping an eye on your dog’s nipples will help you be aware of a change faster and easier than someone who doesn’t pay attention to the shape or size of their nipples.
This is a kind of infection that equally impacts boys and girls. It is caused by bacteria and it can even be life-threatening. This happens when your dog’s nipples get swollen and then bacteria gets in them, causing an infection that can quickly spread throughout the body.
If you ever notice strange bumps on the breast and/or any kind of pus that is leaking from a bump, or even the nipple itself, it’s always a good idea to make sure that a vet has a look, as it can spread without warning and require a lengthy vet visit.
Can a male dog’s nipples get infected?
Technically, a dog’s nipples can get infected or have tumors, just like a female dog. However, it tends to be rare because a dog’s nipples don’t go through the same kinds of changes that a female’s do.
For instance, a female will often have swelling throughout her heat cycle. There is also, of course, providing milk to puppies, nursing, and even the weaning process. All of this access to her nipples means a possibility for more issues in her life.
Some last-minute dog nipple facts
This is all great, but what about those weird questions that you aren’t sure you should ask? Don’t worry, we’ve saved you the embarrassment and asked them for you! Take a look:
- Can nipples show up in weird places?
- What do I do if I don’t like my dog’s nipples?
- Can I burn off or remove my dog’s nipples?
Can nipples show up in weird places?
Yes! Since nipples develop so early in a dog’s life, sometimes the biology gets a little confused and puts them on, say, the inside of the leg, or in a strange spot on the stomach or chest! This is perfectly normal and, even if it’s a cool little detail, harmless. If you’re concerned, you can always have a vet look at it!
What do I do if I don’t like my dog’s nipples?
We understand that some pet parents, no matter how much they love their dog, aren’t fond of nipples. Maybe their short fur makes them especially obvious, or maybe giving belly rubs is a little challenging if you’re not comfortable touching your dog’s nipples.
However, dog nipples are not “optional”. All mammals are born with nipples and they will be there for their entire life. If you are uncomfortable, you can get used to what they should look and/or feel like, or have someone else in the household take over the belly rub job.
Can I burn off or remove my dog’s nipples?
Is this question alarming? Yes! However, it’s one of those “deep dark secret” thoughts that some people find themselves thinking but are scared to say. This is especially if they have a male dog, or their female dog is spayed and won’t need the nipples for any particular job.
It’s important to really understand that a dog’s nipples are permanent features of your dog’s bodies. They can’t and shouldn’t be removed at all, ever. Any vet will tell you this, as well as explain a bit as to why. Feeling squeamish and frustrated? Feel free to ask them why they can’t be removed safely. If you have a professional that can offer to remove them, it’s best to run away (quickly), because they are definitely not a vet that you want to take your dog to!
Dog nipples are pretty fascinating when you learn about them in detail, and they are an essential piece of dog biology in dogs of all shapes, sizes, and ages!