Do Male Dogs Have Nipples? The Surprising Truth Pet Owners Need to Know

a human scratching a dogs belly

You are not alone if you have wondered at some point in your life if male dogs have nipples. It is a more common question than you may think! If you are a person who wants answers, and wants them now, the short answer is - yes, male dogs do have nipples! In this blog we'll doggy dig into this topic in detail, exploring why male dogs have nipples, their function (or lack of functionality).

Just like female dogs, male dogs also have nipples. And the reason, or biology is similar to male humans having nipples. Nipples are actually formed early in the embryonic stage, before the determination of the animal’s sex. So, you might see your male pup with a row of nipples on his tummy just like his female counterparts. While female dogs use their nipples to nurse their pups, male dogs don't have a function for their nipples (just like male humans).This is yet another fascinating reminder of the quirky, yet wonderful traits all mammals share!

How Many Nipples Does a Dog Have?

So how many nipples does a dog have, anyway? And does a male dog have the same number of nipples as a female dog? Well, you may be surprised by the answer - it can vary from dog to dog! But typically, the number of nipples (for males and females) ranges from 8-10. They are positioned in two rows that run parallel to one another on a dog's belly. And you definitely should not be surprised if you notice a dog with more or less. Whether you’re petting a fluffy Pomeranian or a robust Rottweiler, take a peek—you might be surprised at what you find!

Why Do Male Dogs Have Nipples?

Evolutionary Leftovers

The answer (as touched on above) is that male dogs, like humans, develop nipples well before they are born, even before their sex is determined!

No Real Function

Although male dogs' nipples may look similar to a female's, they do not serve a purpose. Again, this is exactly like the nipples on a male human. Think of them as evolutionary leftovers.

Common Among Mammals

It's not just dogs; most male mammals have nipples. Whether it's cats, horses, or even elephants, male nipples are a universal trait in the animal kingdom. It’s an interesting quirk of nature that shows how similar the developmental processes are across species.

Can Male Dogs Produce Milk?

Not in Normal Conditions

No, male dog nipples cannot, or should not produce milk. With that being said, there may be rare cases, due to hormonal imbalances, that could cause a male dog produce milk. More on this below!

Hormonal Imbalances

Certain hormonal disorders, such as Cushing's disease, can lead to unexpected lactation in male dogs. If you notice this happening, it’s best to consult your vet to rule out any underlying health issues.

Medical Insight

Hormonal imbalances or tumors that affect the pituitary gland can also cause male dogs to produce milk. While this is rare, it’s essential to be aware of the possibility so you can seek medical advice promptly.

Can Male Dogs Have Mammary Tumors?

Yes, Unfortunately They Can

Although it's far more common in females, male dogs (like male humans) may develop mammary tumors. The risk is significantly lower, but it’s not a 0. If you notice any unusual lumps around your dog's nipples, it's crucial to get them checked by a vet.

Do Male Dogs Need Special Care for Their Nipples?

Routine Checks

While male dogs don’t need special care for their nipples, it’s a good idea to include them in your routine health checks. Look for signs of irritation, swelling, or discharge. Sometimes, male dogs can experience skin irritations around their nipples, especially if they have been in rough play or have a habit of licking that area excessively. Keep an eye out for redness or sores.

Other Fun Facts About Dog Anatomy

Dew Claws

You may or may not have heard about dew claws! Most dogs have a little extra toe on their front paws, and this is called a dew claw. Some breeds also have them on their hind legs. These claws don’t touch the ground but are believed to help with gripping and tearing.


Dogs’ whiskers are more than just cute facial features. They are highly sensitive and help dogs detect changes in their environment. They can sense vibrations and airflow, aiding in navigation and hunting.

Common Myths About Male Dogs and Their Nipples

Myth 1: Nipples Indicate Gender

Some people mistakenly believe that the number or appearance of nipples can indicate a dog’s gender. This is not true. Both male and female dogs have nipples, and they look pretty much the same.

Myth 2: Only Females Can Develop Mammary Tumors

While it’s rarer in males, as mentioned earlier, male dogs can develop mammary tumors. Always keep an eye out for unusual lumps or bumps, regardless of your dog’s gender.

Myth 3: Nipples Are a Sign of Poor Health

Nipples are a completely normal part of dog anatomy. They are not an indicator of poor health unless there are signs of infection, swelling, or discharge.

How to Keep Your Dog’s Skin Healthy

Regular Grooming

Regular grooming, as much as your dog may hate to be bathed, is essential to keep your dog’s skin healthy. Brushing also helps remove dead hair and skin, stimulates circulation, and distributes natural oils.

Balanced Diet

A balanced and nutritious diet (that is also tasty, of course) rich in vitamins and minerals supports healthy skin and coat. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil (like cod liver oil) can be particularly beneficial.


Make sure your dog drinks plenty of water. Hydrated skin is less likely to develop irritations or infections.

What to Do If You Notice Something Unusual

Don’t Panic and Consult Your Vet

First and foremost, don’t freak out! Most issues related to dog nipples are not a big deal. Note any symptoms and if the issue continues, do not hesitate to call your vet.

Follow Treatment Plans

If your vet prescribes a treatment plan, be diligent in following it. This ensures your dog recovers quickly and maintains good health.

The Importance of Regular Vet Check-Ups

Preventive Care

Regular check-ups with your vet are key to keeping your pup happy and healthy.  This will help to catch potential issues before they become serious.

Vaccinations and Boosters

Regular vet visits also ensure your dog is up-to-date on vaccinations and boosters. This is crucial for preventing diseases and maintaining overall health.

Professional Advice - Vets

No one knows more about dog health than your vet. If you need professional advice for your dog, your vet is the person to call. From nipple concerns, to exercise and even diet - that can give advice and insights tailored for your dog.

Final Thoughts on Male Dogs and Nipples

It may seem odd at first thought that male dogs have nipples, but remember - male humans have nipples as well! So it is not that surprising. They are structures that are just there, and they do not have any real purpose at all. This is a fascinating reminder that developmental processes across genders and species are very much alike. Understanding these aspects of your pet’s anatomy helps you provide better care and ensures their well-being.

Next Steps for Pet Owners

Not that you are a master of all things related to dog nipples (trust us, if you have read this far you know more than most!), you can take a minute to check out your furry friend! If you are ever worried about their skin or nipples, please do not hesitate to give your vet a buzz. Your dog is reliant on you as their owner for their well-being, so it is important to be a responsible dog owner.

There is always more to learn about dogs, so stay curious and enjoy the journey (or walk) with your pup!


What Should Male Dogs Nipples Look Like?

Male dogs’ nipples look similar (but most of the time a bit smaller) to non-pregnant and non-lactating female dogs. They are small, smooth and flat against their skin, and the pigmentation is typically consistent with a dog's natural colorations.



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