How many nipples do dogs have? What a funny question! It’s a question that veterinarians get a lot. You may not be comfortable asking your local vet about your dog’s nipples, so this article is here to answer some of the more common questions that vets get about this silly canine topic.
Dr. Jess will explain dog nipple basics below:
What Are Nipples? How Do They Work?
Nipples are raised areas on the surface of mammary tissue in mammalian species.
A nipple allows milk to flow from the deeper mammary tissues of female mammals.
Nipples are the portal for milk to be suckled from the mammal mother to the infant who is suckling the teat.
Do Dogs Have Nipples?
Almost all mammals have nipples.
So, yes, dogs do have nipples.
As with other mammals, a dog’s nipples develop during gestation, in the reproductive tract of the mother dog, also known as a bitch.
So a dog’s nipples are formed by the time the pup is born.
What Does a Dog’s Nipple Look Like?
Many people describe the look of their dog’s nipples as little pimple-like bumps.
Unless they are swollen for some reason, a dog’s nipples should look very similar to a pimple, small cysts, or bug bite.
What Does a Dog Nipple Feel Like?
Depending on the dog, their nipples may feel like a bug bite or pimple.
If the nipples are swollen, they will feel much bigger, softer, possibly “squishy”, and sometimes warmer to the touch.
I have had many dog owners who bring their pet pup in to get checked out because of a persistent pimple or bump, only to have me inform them that they have discovered a normal nipple.
But don’t feel embarrassed, it happens all the time!
Hard To Find: Where Are They Located?
You probably already know the answer to this one, but let me describe it for those that are not familiar.
You will find a dog’s nipples on the underside of the dog’s belly.
Usually, there are two rows of nipples.
Most of the time these rows of nipples are distributed fairly evenly on the right and left sides of the abdomen (stomach).
However, there are some dogs that are special cases and will have an odd set of nipples.
There is no medical concern if your pup has a mismatched number of nipples.
Since even short-haired dogs are fluffy, and a dog’s nipples are so small in size- it’s often very hard to locate them beneath all that fur.
If you think that you can feel a nipple anywhere other than the belly of your dog, you should be concerned and you should contact your local veterinarian for further advice.
How Many Nipples Do Female Dogs Have?
Usually, a female dog has two rows of nipples, adding up to six to ten nipples in total. Some dogs will have fewer, and other dogs may have more than 10 and they are still completely normal.
These two rows are typically matched up evenly with one row on the right and one row on the left side.
Therefore, most dogs will have 3-5 nipples on the left row, and 3-5 nipples on the right row. Find out how many nipples cats have too!
However, sometimes dogs will have odd numbered nipples, with fewer or more nipples than that 6-10 nipple average. This is nothing to be worried about – no medical concerns because your dog has an odd number of teats.
The number of nipples your dog has does not depend on gender, breed, age, or health condition.
In fact, puppies from the same litter often have different numbers of nipples.
Can the Number of Nipples My Dog Has Change?
Speaking of number of nipples, another question I get is if dogs can lose or gain a nipple.
A dog’s nipples cannot disappear nor can they gain new nipples over time, even during pregnancy- that cannot happen.
How Many Nipples Do Male Dogs Have?
Male dogs also have nipples on their abdomens. They typically have two rows of nipples just like female dogs do.
Male dogs usually have the same amount of nipples that a female dog does, 6-10 nipples in total.
Telling the difference Between Male and Female Dogs Based on Nipples:
Since both male as well as female puppies have nipples, and because gender makes no difference to the number of nipples a dog has, one can not determine a puppy’s sex by their nipples.
Why Are My Dog’s Nipples Swollen?
If you notice that your dog’s nipples are larger, more tender, or more red, than normal, there may be a medical reason.
Notify your veterinarian immediately for more information on what to do next.
Most likely, your vet will want to exam your pet for more insight as to what is going on.
Enlarged mammary glands can be a sign of a larger medical issue for your dog.
I’ve listed some common health issues that can cause your Canine companion’s nipples to be engorged:
- Pregnancy: More on this in the next section below!
- Mastitis: inflammation of the mammary gland (usually due to infection during lactation)
- Galactostasis: milk collection in mammary gland during the weaning process
- Dermatitis: If your dog has skin inflammation surrounding their nipples, it may seem like their nipples are actually enlarged.
- Mammary/breast cancer: even male dogs can get mammary cancer and tumors
- Mammary Hyperplasia: growth caused by high levels of hormones (progesterone)
Canine Pregnancy and Nipple Size:
Yes! Your dog will have enlarged nipples during their pregnancy.
A pregnant dog’s nipples will start to become larger and pinker.
It will be MUCH easier to locate your female dog’s nipples during this period in her life!
This is in preparation to feed her puppies once they are born and need outside nourishment (milk).
What to do if Your Dog Has Swollen Nipples?
The first thing to do when you notice that your dog’s nipple or nipples are enlarged, is do not panic.
The second thing to do is to contact your vet to let them know your findings and to get their opinion on next steps.
The third thing to do is to stop touching or messing with the nipples in question, as this could be painful or even elicit a larger inflammatory reaction in that area, depending on what is going on.
This is also a good time to note other symptoms, things that may be a bit off with your dog.
Noting things like redness, discharge, swollen limbs or face, loss of appetite or anorexia, fever, abnormal hiding or aggression, etc., as these may be signs of something more and will very likely help your veterinarian get to the bottom of the swollen nipple mystery.
The quicker your vet can zero in on what the underlying issue is, the sooner your dog can be treated and start to feel better and get back to their normal, healthy routine, normal nipples and all.