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Sometimes we think about odd things. Have you ever wondered, do male dogs have nipples?
It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to anyone that male dogs have nipples.
Just like human men have nipples that serve no specific purpose in the reproductive process, male dogs also have nipples that are developed in the embryo before gender is determined. The nipples then stick around and don’t cause any problems for your pup.
Most of the time.
The owners of male dogs will probably never have a reason to pay attention to their dog’s nipples. But if they do draw your attention because they have grown or changed in color, this can be a sign that something is wrong.
In today’s article, we are going to go through exactly what a male dog’s nipples should look like and how to tell the difference between nipples and ticks (a surprisingly common problem). We will also go through all the reasons that your male dog’s nipples might start to change in appearance and what you should do if you notice.
Basically, today you will learn everything you need to know about the nipples of male dogs. Fascinating stuff.
Appearance Of Healthy Male Canine Nipples
So, both male and female dogs have nipples that run in two parallel lines, from their chest to their groin.
Dogs will have a different number of nipples depending on their breed and size. Ten nipples, two parallel rows of five, is the standard. But there is lots of variation.
OUR EXPERIENCE: When our female Golden Retriever Raven had a litter of 10 puppies we checked to see how many nipples she had. She had 9 nipples which meant during feeding time one of the pups had to wait his turn.
If we want to get technical, each pair of nipples on a dog has a special name:
- Cranial thoracic nipples – the first set highest up on the chest
- Caudal thoracic nipples – second set on the chest, closer to the abdomen
- Cranial abdominal nipples – the third set on the abdomen
- Caudal abdominal nipples – fourth set, still on the abdomen
- Inguinal nipples – fifth set, usually found in the groin area
But your dog may be missing any of these sets, or have two of a particular set—it just depends on the individual dog.
Also, nipples do not always appear exactly where you would expect. It is not uncommon for nipples to stray from their course during the gestation process and to find nipples tucked away in unexpected places, such as the inside of your dog’s legs.
The nipples on male and female dogs generally look the same, though they may be larger on females. They generally look like pimples and can be pigmented of the same color as your dog’s flesh.
Distinguishing Between A Nipple And A Tick
While nipples will generally be visible on dogs with short hair, if they have longer hair you may well never see their nipples.
As a result of this, and the fact that nipples sometimes show up in unexpected places, it is surprisingly common for dog owners to come across a pimple and think they have found a tick.
You don’t want to make the mistake of going after a nipple with a pair of tweezers. You can imagine just how painful that would be.
The easiest way to tell if the lump you are dealing with is a tick, and not a nipple, skin tag, or something else, is to look for the legs.
Nipples don’t have legs.
Also, look at where the lump meets the skin. If it looks like it is seamlessly attached to the skin, it is probably a nipple. But if it looks like it is embedded in the skin, then you are dealing with a tick.
And, of course, your dog has more than one nipple. So you can examine their belly for other nipples to give you a clear idea of their look and placement.
This should make it pretty easy to determine whether you are dealing with a nipple or a tick.
Why Your Male Dog’s Nipples May Be Swollen
The nipples of female dogs will swell during the later stages of pregnancy and while they are lactating to feed their pups.
If you aren’t sure how to tell if your dog is pregnant, check out our guide here.
But outside of this time, their nipples should not be swelling. And the nipples of male dogs should never be swelling.
There are a variety of things that might cause your male dog’s nipples to swell. Though they aren’t all serious, some are, and almost all of them will require a trip to the vet.
But here are the main reasons your male dog’s nipples might swell.
Just like on humans, a dog’s nipples are some of their most sensitive spots. So if the skin on their belly becomes irritated, their nipples may be the first thing to respond, becoming red and itchy.
So if you know they have been playing near some poison ivy, or you have changed their shampoo and recently given them a bath, this could be why their nipples have had an adverse reaction.
This can be quite common if your dog has recently suffered from hair loss that has left nipples that are usually covered exposed.
If this is the case, you may simply need to remove the irritant, and maybe apply something soothing to help the inflammation that has occurred to pass more quickly.
#2. Stomach Pain
Swelling of the nipples in male dogs can accompany the kind of abdominal pain that accompanies eating something they should not have.
Usually, this will be accompanied by other symptoms as well. They may have vomiting and diarrhea, or constipation, and they may well have very little interest in eating. Lethargy and changes in behavior also generally accompany this type of stomach pain.
You can lightly push on their abdominal area to see if this causes them pain and to confirm any suspicion that it is a seriously upset stomach that is causing their chest area to look a bit different.
Swelling of the nipples can also be a symptom that accompanies anemia, which is when your dog’s red blood cells are not circulating throughout their body correctly.
This will probably be accompanied by a change in the color of the gums. Rather than their usual healthy pink, they will have become lighter and maybe even have taken on a white color.
Treatment for anemia may include medications, chemotherapy, or surgery depending on the seriousness of the condition, so a timely visit to the vet is in order.
While this condition is much more common in female dogs than male dogs, swollen nipples are a sign of mastitis, which is an infection of the breasts.
This usually happens in connection with breastfeeding. A build-up of excessive milk in the glands can trigger the infection, or bacteria can enter the teat, which is open and exposed as part of the breastfeeding process.
Clear signs of mastitis in pregnant dogs are when suckling pups are unable to get enough milk from their mother, or when the mother rejects the pups because the breastfeeding is painful.
But mastitis can happen at other times and in both male and female dogs, if bacteria are able to enter the teat. This can happen if the teat suffers any kind of trauma, or in particularly dirty conditions where the teat is bombarded with bacteria—though they will probably also develop a variety of other conditions if it is that dirty.
When mastitis is left untreated, a dog will also likely develop symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and extreme weight loss.
It is usually treated with oral antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications. But if the condition is left untreated and the mammary gland becomes septic, surgery may be required to surgically remove the glands.
#5. Breast Cancer
Swollen nipples can also be a sign of breast cancer, or tumor growths in the mammary glands underneath the nipples.
This kind of cancer is similar in dogs as it is in humans. You will probably notice it as a lump in the vicinity of the nipple, or changes in the appearance of the nipple.
This type of cancer is generally treated by removing the affected mammary glands through surgery.
#6. Testicular Cancer
Testicular cancer may also cause your dog’s nipples to swell. While this symptom occurs outside the testes, testicular cancer rarely spreads, which means that it is relatively treatable through surgical castration.
Yes, some of the medical treatments described here are quite expensive, and that is why it is important to have insurance for your pet. You can read more about pet insurance here.
Why Does My Male Dog Have Nipples?
Male dogs have nipples for the same reasons as male humans do. They develop in the embryo before gender is assigned. Once the male gender is determined, the nipples stop developing and do not become part of the reproductive system. But the nipples remain, as there does not seem to have been any evolutionary reason for them to disappear.
What Does It Mean When A Male Dog’s Nipples Are Swollen?
There are a variety of different things that might cause your male dog’s nipples to swell, such as skin irritation or a severely upset stomach.
However, it can also be a symptom of serious medical conditions such as anemia, mastitis, and breast or testicular cancer.
So, if your dog’s nipples are starting to look different without explanation, it is time to visit the vet.
Do Dog Nipples Go Away?
No, your dog will always have nipples. But they tend to be very small, and if your dog has long hair, they may be very difficult to see.
With females, the nipples will generally expand during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and then return to their smaller, less noticeable size.
How Many Nipples Do Male Dogs Have?
There is no hard or fast rule for how many nipples a dog will have. It depends on the breed and the size. And sometimes nipples will show up in unusual places, such as on the inside of the leg.
You can usually expect a dog to have between eight to 12 nipples, but there is no need to be concerned if they have more or fewer.
Do Dogs Have Belly Buttons?
Yes, dogs are born with umbilical cords that connect the young pup to their mother via their belly button.
The mother breaks off and eats the cord after the birthing process is complete.
Human belly buttons are scars left behind by the umbilical cord, and puppies develop this scar, too. But their umbilical cord is much smaller and so leaves a much smaller scar, which is generally difficult to spot after the first few months.
The scar left behind is flat rather than dented, so it doesn’t look much like a human belly button.
Just like the males of most mammalian species, male dogs have nipples.
The nipples serve no particular purpose, and most of the time, owners of male dogs won’t even notice that they have nipples—until they accidentally mistake one for a tick and try to remove it.
Trust us, your dog will not be happy to have their nipple pulled on by a pair of tweezers.
If you so start noticing your dog’s nipples because they grow, change in color, or become inflamed, this can be a symptom of a variety of medical conditions.
While it could be a simple skin irritant or a straightforward upset stomach, swollen nipples can also be a symptom of mastitis, anemia, and breast and testicular cancer.
So, if the nipples of your male dog do start to swell, take your pup to the vet to determine what is happening.
Have you dealt with a male dog with inflamed nipples?
What were the symptoms and what did you do?
Share your experience with the community in the comments section below.
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