It’s hard not to chuckle to yourself while typing “Do male dogs have nipples?” into Google, especially if you have this hilarious scene from Meet the Parents pop into your head while you’re on your quest for knowledge about male dog nipples:
Dina Byrnes: I had no idea you could milk a cat.
Greg Focker: Oh yea, you can milk anything with nipples.
Jack Byrnes: I have nipples, Greg. Could you milk me?
Along with informing you that no, you cannot, in fact, milk anything with nipples, we’re here to answer all your questions about male dog nipples that you might be too embarrassed to ask your pup’s vet.
Do Male Dogs Have Nipples?
Yes! Similarly to male humans, and the majority of male mammals—with the exception of horses and mice (stash this fun fact away to impress your friends)—male dogs do have nipples.
They’re typically more noticeable on short-haired breeds, but even then, they can be hidden underneath their fur. Dog breeds with longer hair or double coats have nipples that usually go unnoticed unless you’re brushing them, checking for fleas/ticks, or if they’ve recently been shaved for a medical procedure.
How Many Nipples Does a Dog Have? (How many nips could a nippy dog nip if a nippy dog could nip nips??)
Male and female dogs both tend to have anywhere from 8-10 nipples along their bellies in rows of two—starting near their groin area and ending toward their chest (between their front legs)1. This means there would be 4-5 nipples on the left, and 4-5 nipples on the right. However, some dogs may have more nipples, fewer nipples, or even just one oddball extra nip! All these nipple arrangements are okay and normal as long as you haven’t noticed recent changes.
Do Larger Dog Breeds Have More Nipples?
Nope! You might be surprised to find out that the number of nipples on dogs actually doesn’t correlate to the breed, size, sex, or age of a dog. Puppies in the same litter can even have a different number of nipples!
Can The Number Of Nipples Change On A Dog?
No, dogs will have the same number of nipples from the time they are born until they are adults, and the total number will never change. If you find a bump that you know wasn’t there before, or a bump located on your dog’s body somewhere other than their belly/abdomen, you’ll want to bring this up with your pup’s vet.
What Do Male Dog’s Nipples Look Like?
This puppy in the pic above is here to demonstrate!
You may have been petting your dog or brushing them and noticed a tiny bump on their chest. It’s extremely common for pet parents to mistake a nipple for a tick, bug bite, pimple, or a cyst—they can look similar, after all. Depending on your dog’s breed or color, nipples can range in color from pink/tan to brown/black. Nipples on male dogs should never be swollen, red, oozing or tender. These would be causes for a vet visit.
Are There Health Issues Related To Nipples On Male Dogs?
Health issues related to nipples are fairly uncommon in male dogs, however, a few concerns to watch for include:
Mammary Gland Tumor In Male Dogs: If you notice a lump under your dog’s skin near their nipple, it’s possible that this might be a mammary gland tumor. Although this is rare in male dogs, the majority of cases have been found in dogs over the age of 10. Luckily, these tumors are usually benign and can be treated and removed with surgery2.
Infected Nipples In Male Dogs: The inflammation of mammary glands, also known as mastitis, can occur in male dogs due to infectious organisms. More rarely, inflamed or swollen nipples can also be caused due to incidents of physical trauma, fight wounds and infections. This may cause their nipples to become swollen, red and painful to the touch3.
Swollen Or Discolored Nipples: Swollen nipples can occasionally be due to parasites, allergies or dermatitis. Rarely, swollen and suddenly-discolored nipples in male dogs can also be caused by elevated levels of estrogen—a.k.a hyperestrogenism. This issue is associated with testicular tumors and should be brought to the attention of your vet.
Why Do Male Dogs Have Nipples?
We can confidently tell you that male dog nipples do not have milk production, and therefore are not for milking, contrary to what you’ve heard from Greg Focker in Meet the Parents! In fact, nipples on male mammals have no real purpose whatsoever!
When dogs are being formed in the womb of the mother dog, their embryos all start out as female by default. This is true for all mammals (yes, even with humans!). It isn’t until later in development that the embryo gets its genetic instructions to form male or female physical characteristics, but by that point the nipples have already been formed. Nipples are actually the default model, and once the embryo is encoded to become male, nipples just become a physical decoration, of sorts, with no real purpose or functionality. Now there’s a random fun fact to impress your friends!
1 G.R. Rutteman, E. Teske. (2009). “Mammary Glands.” Medical History and Physical Examination in Companion Animals (Second Edition), https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/veterinary-science-and-veterinary-medicine/mammary-gland
2 Saba, Corey F. et al. (2007). “Mammary Gland Tumors in Male Dogs.” Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, U.S. National Library of Medicine, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17939564/.
3 Solano-Gallego L. (2010). “Reproductive System.” Canine and Feline Cytology, 274–308. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-141604985-2.50017-7