Do Male Dogs Have Nipples?

Georgina Ushi, DVM
By Georgina Ushi, DVM on Jul. 19, 2023

While nipples are typically associated with females, male dogs possess nipples as a vestigial feature (rudimentary appendage) inherited from their evolutionary ancestry. Unlike in female dogs, the nipples in males serve no functional purpose and do not play a role in reproduction or lactation.

Key Takeaways

  • Dogs typically have 8-10 nipples, arranged in two rows on the underside of their belly.
  • Female dogs have nipples to provide nourishment to their offspring, male nipples serve no purpose.
  • When checking your pup for fleas and ticks–don’t confuse a nipple for either of these parasites.

Do Male Dogs Have Nipples?

Yes, male dogs have nipples. Nipples are a characteristic feature of mammals, including both males and females. The number of nipples in male and female dogs is typically the same, although there can be some variation depending on the individual pet.

On average, dogs have about eight to 10 nipples, arranged in two rows on the underside of their abdomen. Some dogs may have fewer or more nipples than average, but this is not significant and doesn't affect their overall health or well-being. 

While female dogs have nipples to provide nourishment to their offspring, male nipples serve no purpose.


What Do Male Dog Nipples Look Like?

Male dogs' nipples typically appear as small, raised bumps or dots on the underside of their abdomen. The appearance of the nipples can vary depending on the individual dog and their breed. In some cases, the nipples may be more pronounced and noticeable. In others, the nipples may be smaller and less prominent.

Male dog nipples are typically similar in appearance to female dog nipples, although they tend to be smaller and less developed. They are usually evenly spaced, running along the midline of the belly from the chest to the hindquarters. The color of the nipples can also vary, ranging from pink to brown, depending on the dog's skin pigmentation.

Fleas and Ticks

Pet parents often confuse a dog’s nipples with a flea or tick on their pup’s belly. Nipples are typically symmetrical and evenly spaced in rows, while a tick or a flea appears as a small, dark, and irregularly shaped object attached to the skin.

Pet parents should be vigilant and seek veterinary assistance if they notice any of the following: a tick firmly embedded in the skin, difficulty removing a tick, the presence of multiple ticks, signs of tick-borne illness (such as lethargy, fever, or loss of appetite), or any other concerns regarding their pet's health. Veterinarians can provide guidance on proper tick removal techniques and discuss preventative medications like year-round tick and flea options to keep your pup safe.

Why Do Male Dogs Have Nipples?

Nipples are a common feature among mammals, including males and females. During the early stages of development in the womb, both male and female embryos follow a similar blueprint before sexual differentiation occurs. The presence of nipples in males is a result of this shared developmental process.

Health Issues with Male Dog Nipples

While male dogs generally do not encounter specific health issues related to their nipples, there are a few conditions and concerns that pet parents should be aware of:

  • Mammary gland enlargement: If a male dog's nipples become enlarged or swollen, it could indicate an underlying health issue. Mammary gland enlargement in males is rare but can be a sign of hormonal imbalances, toxin ingestion, or conditions such as testicular tumors.

  • Infection or inflammation: Male dogs can develop infections or inflammation in their nipples, similar to females. These can occur due to factors like poor hygiene, trauma, or underlying skin conditions. Signs of infection or inflammation include redness, swelling, discharge, or discomfort. Veterinary attention is necessary to diagnose and treat the underlying cause.

It's essential for pet parents to monitor their male dog's nipples for any changes in size, color, texture, or the presence of discomfort. If there are any concerns or abnormalities, contact your veterinarian.

Featured Image: Gimenez Ruiz

Georgina Ushi, DVM


Georgina Ushi, DVM


Dr. Georgina Ushi completed her undergraduate education at Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans, where she earned a Bachelor of...

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