By the time I got to the third person and found out that they, too, had no clue about nipples and male dogs that I knew I was onto something.
“WHAT??? they said.
None it seemed, knew if male dogs had nipples - nor if they did, how many they had.
Here are the answers to these questions - plus why male dogs have nipples and how to look after them.
Do Male Dogs Have Nipples?
Yes - just like female dogs, male dogs have nipples. You may not have noticed them - they are not so easily seen on some dogs, and you aren’t necessarily expecting to see them.
A male dog’s nipples look much the same as a female dog’s.
How Can You Tell Which Are Nipples?
You need to know what you are looking for.
Part the hair on your dog’s belly and have a close look! The nipples will appear small and round and run in two lines down the sides of your dog’s belly. They will be paired, located on either side.
It will be easier to find a dog’s nipples if the dog has short hair. Longer haired dogs or those with thick coats are not so readily seen. A male dog’s nipples are likely to be smaller than a female dog’s ones.
The nipples will usually be either much the same color as the dog’s skin or pigmented. Both of these are perfectly normal.
Distinguishing a Nipple From a Tick
You might worry that a spot you have found on your dog is not a nipple but a tick. You will need to look more closely at it and check if it has legs or not - ticks have legs, nipples do not!
Ticks are generally burrowed into the flesh.
You might also find on your dog’s belly what are called ‘tags.’ A tag is a fleshy growth that looks like a wart. They are common on a dog’s face, legs, and belly.
As he aged, I had a dog that got more and more of these tags and moles until he had so many, it became unpleasant to pat him. These are generally nothing to worry about, but it is recommended that you take your dog to the vet to have them checked.
How Many Nipples Do Male Dogs Have?
Knowing now that your male dog does have nipples, you are wondering how many they have.
The number depends on whether your dog is a small or a larger one. A smaller dog will have fewer nipples than a larger one. Most dogs have between eight to ten nipples. This number varies - just as it might in humans. Nor will your dog always have an even number of nipples.
Do the nipples have names?
Each pair of nipples has a name. For a ten-nippled dog, the names are:
- Two cranial thoracic nipples- these are the ones closest to your dog’s head.
- Two caudal thoracic nipples
- Two cranial abdominal nipples
- Two caudal abdominal nipples
- Two pair of inguinal nipples - these are the nipples closest to your dog’s tail.
The other names are for the ones in between the cranial thoracic and the inguinal nipples.
Next time there is an issue with your dog’s nipples, you can now impress your vet by mentioning which pair of nipples has been affected!
Why Do Male Dogs Have Nipples?
Knowing that ‘male dogs do have nipples’ and roughly the number of nipples they have and their names, the next obvious question is why do they have them?
The answer to this question is similar to the answer to the same question about humans - no-one knows exactly why there are nipples on male dogs (or humans) nor why they have not disappeared through evolution since they have no purpose. I have heard stories of male humans breastfeeding babies, but I have heard no similar stories about male dogs stepping up to this job with their puppies!
Scientists do, however, know the process of how nipples are formed, and it almost gives an answer to the why question.
As embryos, female and male dogs develop undifferentiated for the first month or so. Nipples are formed during this period, which is why both sexes have them. They develop from ‘milk lines’ and are initially sweat glands. In females, these milk lines develop further into mammary glands. They remain in this rudimentary state in males from that time onwards while the rest of the pup develops and becomes either male or female.
Not all males of a species have nipples - male mice, horses, and platypuses, for example, don’t have them. It could be argued in terms of evolutionary progress, mice, horses, and platypuses are more advanced.
What should you look out for
As with everything to do with your pet, keep a regular check on your dog’s nipples and the rest of him, to make sure there is nothing untoward happening.
Here are a few things to look out for.
You already know to expect your dog’s nipples to be either the same in color as their skin or pink. You should have checked your dog’s by now and be familiar with them and know what to expect.
They can change in color as your dog gets older. Usually, they get darker. If this happens to your male dog, you do not have to worry.
However, if your female dog’s nipples change color, it may be due to mastitis, an infection of the mammary gland, and you should take her to the vet.
Secretion from the Nipples
It is unusual to have a secretion from your male dog’s nipples, but it may be due to an abscess if this does happen.
An abscess may be caused by a splinter, thorn, or something similar piercing the nipple and becoming infected.
While there are a lot of home remedies, seek advice from your vet - just in case.
For a male dog, enlarged nipples may signal that he has testicular cancer. Testicular cancer is more common in male dogs that have not been neutered but can occur in both desexed and non-desexed dogs.
Generally, other signs happen when a dog has testicular cancer, such as anemia, abdominal swelling, and hair loss.
Don’t jump to any conclusions - take your dog to the vet and have him checked out. There are excellent treatments for testicular cancer in dogs, so the sooner your dog is diagnosed, the better.
Is it a nipple or a tick?
If that bump you were worried about is a nipple, not a tick - that’s great! However, if it is the other way around, whether it is a tick or a tag, take your dog to the vet to look at it.
If you are in an area where there are lots of ticks, you should check your dog regularly and make sure you use a good tick treatment that stops them before they have attached themselves to your dog - male or female.
Here is a list of how to distinguish a nipple from a tick:
- Ticks always have legs. Nipples don’t.
- A tick will be buried or attached to the skin - a nipple will be a part of the skin.
- A tick is unlikely to be in line with all your dog’s nipples - nipples are in two rows along your dog’s belly.
When in doubt, you know the drill - ask your vet!
No need to wonder any longer whether your dog has nipples or how many. You know that now and will have checked your dog. They do have nipples, and they have between eight to ten of them.
Keep an eye on them much the same as you keep an eye on the rest of your dog, so you are confident he is healthy and happy.
If something seems amiss, always take him to the vet for him to be checked.