We humans can ponder some pretty unusual things sometimes. For instance, have you ever thought to yourself, “do male dogs have nipples?” Of course, just like human males, they do. They don’t have a specific purpose but are formed in the womb before gender is decided.
Usually, a male dog’s nipples will not cause any issues, and there is no reason for their owners to pay them any mind. However, if they change size or color, this can be a cause for concern.
If you have ever wondered if your male dog’s nipples were normal, or you have ever mistakenly tried pulling one off thinking it was a tick (it happens!), then this article is for you.
What Should a Healthy Male Dog’s Nipple Look Like?
On both male and female dogs, there are two lines of nipples on the abdomen. There could be a different number depending on the breed, but it is generally two sets of five, for a total of ten, running parallel to each other from the groin to the chest. The number of nipples can vary, so if you notice your pet does not have ten, don’t fret. You may even find your dog is missing one from a pair, but this is relatively common as well.
You may be surprised to learn that there are different names for these pairs. Going from the first set closest to the chest down, they are known as:
- Cranial thoracic nipples
- Caudal thoracic nipples
- Cranial abdominal nipples
- Caudal abdominal nipples
- Inguinal nipples
Even more surprising than missing one of a particular pair, both female and male dogs could be missing a set completely or have two pairs of one of the above!
Furthermore, nature is great at throwing curveballs, and you may find an errant nipple in a strange place, such as under the inside of your dog’s leg.
Nipples on both male and female dogs resemble one another. They often look like pimples and are usually the same color as the dog’s skin. However, you may find the nipples on a female canine are more significant than those on male dogs. Again, this is not always the case.
Is it a Nipple or a Tick?
If you have a short-haired dog, you often have no problem seeing their nipples. On longer-haired breeds, there’s a good chance you won’t see them at all unless you look for them. Because of this, and the fact they can present in unusual places, some owners come across them and think they have found a tick.
Obviously, jumping the gun and taking a pair of tweezers to try to remove something from your dog that has been attached since before birth will be quite unpleasant for your pet. Imagine someone trying to pull one of yours off! To determine whether it is a removable tick or something to stay attached to, like a nipple or skin tag on your dog, you will first want to look carefully for legs.
Look at where the bump meets the skin. If the base looks seamless, it is likely a nipple. If it has a stalk-like appearance, it could be a skin tag. In either case, you want to leave it alone. You may also want to examine your dog’s other nipples for a clear idea of what is normal for your particular pet.
Now, if you see tiny legs or the lump seems to be embedded in the skin, you likely have a tick that you will want to remove. Going forward, it’s not a bad idea to routinely apply some flea and tick treatment for dogs to prevent this from happening again.
Why Are My Male Dog’s Nipples Swollen?
A female dog’s nipples swell towards the latter end of pregnancy and while they are lactating. Nipples should not be enlarged any other time, and a male dog’s nipples should not swell at all.
There are several reasons for nipple swelling, and some are quite serious. This is not a condition to ignore and is one that you will want a veterinarian’s input on.
Anemia is a condition in which the red blood cells are not circulating throughout the body as they should. This predicament can result in swollen nipples. One of the tell-tale signs is in a change of the dog’s gums. Instead of being a healthy darker pink, they will be lighter or may even have turned white.
Anemia is a serious condition that cannot be solved at home. Your vet may recommend chemotherapy, medication, or surgery, depending on the severity.
Breast cancer and tumors growing in the mammary glands can cause swollen nipples in female and male dogs. It is similar to the disease in humans, and you may feel a lump in the area. The nipple may also change in other ways than just enlarging, such as its color.
Breast cancer in canines is usually surgically removed. Cancer is a time-sensitive condition that you do not want to spread to your pet’s other organs, so any changes like this require a vet trip.
Mastitis is usually brought on when bacteria enter the teat or there is a build-up of milk in the breast glands of a breastfeeding dog. The mother may reject her pups because the feeding process has become too painful, or the puppies may not be able to suckle enough milk.
Therefore, mastitis is an infection of the breasts that is more common in female dogs than in male dogs. However, bacteria can make their way into the teat of a non-lactating animal, so mastitis can occur in a male dog, too.
If the dog has suffered a trauma to the teat area or lives in filthy conditions, bacteria can enter the body. Your otherwise healthy and clean dog could also get himself in a situation where he is bombarded with them, and if they can find a way to enter, they will.
Symptoms of mastitis include appetite loss, diarrhea, vomiting, and weight loss. If you get the dog to the vet in time, treatment with antibiotics and anti-inflammatories can clear the condition. If the infection goes untreated for too long, the mammary glands can become septic. In severe cases like this, surgery will be necessary to remove the glands.
When a dog eats something they shouldn’t, stomach pain can occur, and this can cause nipple swelling. In this case, you may observe the animal being constipated, having diarrhea, throwing up, not eating, and acting lethargic. There may be other changes in behavior as well.
If you lightly push on their abdominal area and it causes them discomfort, this action can confirm your suspicions. While stomach issues often resolve themselves, you will want to make an immediate appointment if your dog is not drinking water. Likewise, if he has not eaten or kept food down for a couple of days, a vet visit is necessary.
Even though the nipples are outside of the testes, they can still become enlarged if testicular cancer is present. The good news is that this type of cancer rarely spreads and is generally treated successfully through surgical removal of the testicles.
Any type of surgery is expensive, however. Therefore, it is always a good idea to have the best dog insurance for your pet.
The least detrimental of reasons that a dog’s nipples can swell is the same reason ours do – irritation.
There are many ways for irritation to occur in human and canine nipples alike. For instance, if the skin on their belly is adversely affected by rubbing, poison ivy, or even a change in dog shampoo, the nipples will likely end up red and possibly swollen. A dog that has recently suffered a hair loss can be more prone to this, as their usually covered nipples are suddenly more exposed.
In these cases, remove the irritant if possible. You may also apply a dog-approved soothing ointment to help ease the pain and heal the area.
Nipples on Male Dogs FAQ
Why do boy dogs not have nipples?
Male dogs have nipples. Even though female dogs have nipples for feeding their young, you will find them on your male dog as well.
Why does my male dog have nipples?
Just as human males have nipples, male dogs have nipples. In both species, they are developed in utero. Once the gender is assigned, the nipples stop developing in males and do not become part of the reproductive system as they do in females.
Why is my male dog’s nipple enlarged?
There can be many explanations for a male dog’s nipples to become enlarged. The most innocent reason is irritation. More pressing reasons include several types of cancer, anemia, stomach pain, and mastitis. If you are ever in doubt, make an appointment with your veterinarian to rule out anything serious.
Do dog nipples go away?
Evolution has not progressed enough yet for nipples to not be present in males. Just as a human male’s nipples do not disappear over time, the nipples on male dogs will remain. The nipples on a male dog are usually small and can be difficult to see, especially when covered with hair.
What is the difference between male and female dogs?
Female and male dogs are very similar, and it often takes a close inspection to determine their sex, especially if the male has had their testes removed. The most apparent differences are in the genital region of the animal. Male dogs will have testes and a penis.
Both sexes of canines have nipples. Often, they are more pronounced in the females, as they are functional for lactation and feeding their brood.
How Many Nipples Do Male Dogs Have?
Male dogs have nipples just like their female counterparts, and, interestingly, their number can vary on both sexes. The number of nipples ranges between eight and twelve and can be different for various breeds and sizes. They usually present in pairs, but there can be uneven numbers of nipples, too.
Nipples on both female and male dogs can likewise appear in places you would not expect, like on the inside of the animal’s leg. Therefore, you should not be concerned if you find your male dog does not have the number you expected.