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Why Do Male Dogs Have Nipples ? (The Answer May Surprise You!)

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I have a male Labrador named Albi and I got him three years ago. He is my first dog ever and back when I got him, I loved dogs but didn’t know much about them. So when I saw nipples on my dog, I thought that my puppy was a girl!

So guess what I did next?

I called the breeder and told him that he gave me a female dog and to my surprise he told me that all dogs have nipples, regardless of their gender! I sure felt dumb that day…

The thing is that most male mammals have nipples! And your doggy friend isn’t any different! In fact male cats, pigs, etc. too have nipples!

But now the question is why do male dogs have nipples!?

Let’s see why!

In the Womb…

Let’s go back in time, shall we? Let’s go all the way back to when your pup was in his mother’s womb.

Did you know that all dog embryos are androgynous?

What does that mean exactly….We’ll have to talk science, you ready?

This means that regardless of what gender they will eventually be, all embryos are initially of indeterminate gender and, so, they initially have characteristics of both male and female genders!

So what does this have to do with you little ‘good boy’ having nipples? Let me explain.
Nipples develop in the early stages of a dog’s pregnancy, even before gender is determined! Once the gender is chosen, only then the reproductive organs begin to develop.

This means that the nipples have already developed even before the gender of the dog is determined!

Read on to know more about the why part…

Okay, I Got The How Part, But Why Do Male Dogs Have Nipples!?

For that, you need to ask yourself why do human males have nipples? They don’t serve any purpose and are redundant!

The thing is that your furry friend has nipples just because they were never selected against . What does this mean…?

Do you remember Darwin’s Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection? Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about Natural Selection:

“Natural selection is the differential survival and reproduction of individuals due to differences in phenotype. It is a key mechanism of evolution, the change in heritable traits of a population over time.”

This means that since this trait doesn’t have an evolutionary advantage for males, it doesn’t have an evolutionary disadvantage either. And that’s why the male dogs nipples.

Another this is that they double-up as sweat glands.

Here’s what Dr. Justin A Lee said in his book ‘It’s a Dog’s Life…But it’s Your Carpet : Everything You Wanted to Know About Your Four-Legged Friend’ :

“Mammary glands are basically modified sweat glands that develop from the germinal epithelium. Sounds sexy, no? While humans only develop one pair, dogs typically have five to six….The male nipples are just vestigial, though, and without female hormones, they are non-functioning and lack the “secretory” ability to release or produce milk.”

So this means that even though your male dog may have nipples, they are pretty useless and remain in rudimentary state.

Now that you know why male dogs have nipples, the next thing you should know is that if you need to be worried!

The thing is that nipples help you in pinpointing some problems and diseases, but more on that later…

Let’s Find Out More About Your Dog’s Nipples!

No now that you know that it’s completely normal for your dog to have nipples, let’s know more about them shall we?

Okay, so let’s study Dog Nipple 101! I’m sure there’s a thing or two you never knew about dog nipples!

I know I didn’t!

Where exactly are your dog’s nipples?

Now that you’ve newly discovered that your male pooch has nipples, are you having troubles locating your dog’s nipples?

Let me help you with that..

Nipples in dogs start from the chest area and go all the way back to the area near the legs.

A dog may have 5-8 pairs of nipples, but it all depends on the breed. In smaller dogs the average is 8 pairs and in larger dogs it is 10!

Yes, I’m not kidding!

Also, each pair of your dog’s nipples have a special name.

My dog’s nipples have names!? Seriously!?
Yes, you read that right!

And no, I’m not kidding!

There are in fact names for your dog’s nipples! Let’s go over them, shall we? For reference sake:

● Cranial thoracic nipples
These are the first two nipples on your dog’s chest area.

● Caudal thoracic nipples
These follow the cranial thoracic nipples and are the next to nipples from the chest.

● Cranial abdominal nipples
They are closer to the abdomen and follow the caudal thoracic nipples.

● Caudal abdominal nipples
They are the next in line at the abdomen.

● Inguinal nipples
These are closer to the legs of your dog and the last pair of nipples your dog has!

Do I Need To Worry If My Male Dog Has Nipples??

It is totally normal if your male dog has nipples, but there are a few things that you must look out for:

1. Bacterial Infections

● Dogs are prone to getting bacterial infections called mastitis which can happen if your dog’s nipples are scraped.

● Your dog is more likely to get the infection if it’s short, like a hot dog.

● What happens in Mastitis?
Well, when the bacteria enters the dog’s nipple, they get swollen, have discharge and are hot and painful for you furry friend.
More about it here.

So look out for them!

2. Nipples Can Change Color !

● Your dog’s nipples do change colour as they age, but this isn’t something you need to have a full-fledged panic attack over!

● Nipples changing colour is usually a sign that your dog is getting older and grow darker as they age.

● But do keep a lookout for any dramatic changes in the colouring.

3. Secretion of Liquid

● Your male dog’s nipples are in a ‘deactivated’ state.

● If there’s any liquid discharge take it as a red flag and go to a vet ASAP and get your doggy friend checked out.

● Discharge could be a sign of an infection or disease so don’t take it lightly at all!

4. Enlargement of Nipples

● This is the most alarming change in your dog’s nipples and you should not avoid it at any cost!

● Enlarged nipples in your male dog could be a sign of testicular cancer!

● If you see enlarged nipples in your dog, keep an eye out for the following as well:

○ Pain in abdominal area
○ Anemia
○ Symmetrical hair loss
○ Attracting other male dogs

If you see any of these signs, call your vet and schedule an appointment right away!

So What Does This Mean?

To sum it all up…

Yes, your ‘good boy’ like all mammals does have nipples! It could range from 6-12 pairs depending on his breed!

The answer to the question ‘Why do male dogs have nipples?’ isn’t straight-forward! It all comes down to evolution, but we can’t really be sure why male dogs (humans, for that matter!) have nipples.

I hope I helped you find out the answer to your question! If you have more questions, feel free to comment and I’ll help you out!

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4 Comments
  1. Abhinav says

    Such a comprehensive post!
    Enjoying your writing style. You help in answering my question. Thank you.

    1. bulldogs says

      Thanks Abhinav!

  2. arundhati sharma says

    interesting read!

  3. Jason says

    my dogs nipples r red in color

    is that ok

    im confused…

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