We know that men have nipples, but it can come as a shock to find small bumps on your male dog’s stomach and groin.
After all, most of us don’t spend a whole lot of time examining our dog’s genital areas, and so it is understandable that many owners are not aware that male dogs do indeed have nipples.
Do Male Dogs Have Nipples?
Yes, both male and female dogs have nipples. These small bumps extend from their groin area up their stomachs, and the number of nipples can vary. Dogs tend to have between 8 and 10 nipples, but some have more, while others have fewer nipples.
What Do Male Dogs' Nipples Look Like?
It is easy to see nipples on dogs with short coats. Owners of heavy-coated or long-coated dogs, on the other hand, don’t see their dog’s nipples on a regular basis, and may only know they are there if they part the hair on their dog’s belly.
Male and female dog nipples look similar. A nursing mother will have more pronounced nipples than a female without a littler or a male dog, but in general, nipples are small, round bumps that appear in a line from your dog’s sheath up his stomach.
Nipples can be pigmented or the color of your dog’s skin –- both are considered normal.
If one of your dog’s nipples appears significantly larger than the others, is leaking discharge, or looks or feels abnormal, contact your veterinarian.
Why Do Male Dogs Have Nipples?
Now that you know that male dogs do have nipples, you are probably wondering why. They serve no purpose, after all, so why do males have them in the first place?
The better question, however, is not so much why, but why not?
Many male mammals, humans included, have nipples. Scientists believe that the reason behind this is the result of natural genetic selection –- or lack thereof.
Male and female animals start out life almost identical in utero, complete with nipples. Nipples are essentially the default model for mammals, and even though they serve no function in males, they also pose very few problems.
In other words, there was no reason for natural selection to get rid of the nipples. A male dog without nipples had no inherent advantage over a male dog with nipples, and since they were more or less harmless, they therefore were not selected against. This is similar to the remnants of pelvic bones found in whales. Whales no longer have legs, but since the leftover structures did not cause any problems, whales retained them even though they have no present day use.
Is It a Nipple or a Tick?
There is something very disconcerting about scratching your dog’s belly and discovering a lump. If you live in an area with lots of ticks, your first reaction is probably something along the lines of, “ew, a tick! Get the tweezers!”
Sometimes, however, what you thought was a tick is actually a nipple, skin tag, or growth. Pulling too hard on these can cause your dog pain and even make him bleed, so you definitely want to be sure you've got a bloodsucker on your hands, instead of something with blood vessels.
You can tell the difference between a nipple and a tick in several ways.
The easiest way to tell if it is a tick is to look for legs. An engorged tick may look like a nipple, but nipples will never have legs.
You can also examine the base of the lump. If it seamlessly attaches with the skin, it is probably a growth or a nipple. If one end looks like it is buried or stuck, it is probably a tick. Also, check your dog's other nipples. If it looks like a nipple, it probably is.
You can always ask your veterinarian for advice about how to tell a tick from a nipple. And make sure your dog is on an effective flea and tick preventative.
Do Nipples Ever Cause Problems for Male Dogs?
Nipples in male dogs are mostly harmless, but in rare cases they can cause problems.
Mammary gland tumors occur most frequently in intact females. However, in very rare cases, they can affect male dogs. If your male dog's nipple feels like there is a lump beneath it, or if there are any abnormal changes in appearance, contact your veterinarian.
In some cases, what you believe to be a nipple could actually be something else, like a tumor. Some skin tumors are benign, such as skin tags, while others have the potential to be cancerous. If you are worried that your dog's nipple might be more than a nipple, set up an appointment with your veterinarian.