The reproductive organs of the male and female dogs differentiate them. However, you may be quite surprised to know that like female dogs, male dogs have nipples too just like other warm-blooded males like pigs, cats, primates and humans. Just like in female dogs, the nipples in the male dogs extend from the groin area right up to the stomach and run in two lines in pairs.
The number of nipples may vary between 8-10. Some dogs may have fewer nipples, while others may have more. For instance, smaller dogs may have 4 pairs of 8 nipples and larger breed dogs may have 10 nipples (5 pairs).
The nipples on the male dog have different names depending on where they are on the body. So, if your dog has 10 nipples, the pair closest to the front legs are known as cranial thoracic nipples, which is followed by the caudal thoracic nipples, then come the cranial abdominal nipples, caudal abdominal nipples and the last pair of nipples near the groin are called the inguinal nipples.
What Do Nipples in Male Dogs Look Like?
You can easily see nipples on dogs that have short coats. On the other hand, in the case of dogs with long or heavy coats, you may not be able to see the dog’s nipples and know that they are there if you part the dog’s belly hair.
The nipples in both male and female dogs look similar. They are small and round bumps that may be the same color as your dog’s skin or undercoat or they may be a completely different color. Both are quite normal.
Sidenote: Don’t confuse nipples for bugs…like in this funny video…
Do the Nipples in Male Dogs Serve a Purpose?
Like in human beings, even in female dogs, the main purpose of nipples is to secrete milk for their young ones. However, you may wonder if the nipples of male dogs serve any purpose. Unlike female dogs, male dogs cannot produce milk to nurse their young ones and their nipples have no function and are suspended in a rudimentary state.
So why do male dogs have nipples? Well, the answer to that is, that both female and male dogs are essentially identical in the womb and both the sexes start off the same way in utero. While the nipples in male dogs have no advantages, they are also not harmful and hence they have not disappeared because of evolution and natural selection.
Nipple vs Tick
While scratching your male doggie’s belly, if you find a bump, there’s no reason to panic. The bump may be a tick or it may just be your dog’s nipple, a growth, skin tag or a benign bump. So, don’t rush to pick up a pair of tweezers just yet.
If the bump is a nipple, growth or skin tag, pulling at it can cause pain and can make your pooch bleed. Before you start pulling at the bump, make sure that it’s definitely a tick.
There are many ways by which you can differentiate between a nipple and a tick. The easiest way to identify a tick is to look for legs. While a puffed-up tick may look like a nipple, but a nipple will not have legs.
Also, examine the base of the bump carefully. If it is attached to the skin seamlessly, then it is probably a nipple, growth or skin tag. However, if one end of the bump looks like it is stuck or buried, then most probably it is a tick. Compare the bump with your pet’s other nipples.
All nipples generally look similar in terms of their color, shape and size. And, if you still have a doubt whether the bump is a tick or a nipple, then it’s a good idea to check with your vet.
Do Nipples Cause Problems in Male Dogs?
Generally, nipples in male dogs are harmless and will not cause any issues; however, in rare cases, they may cause problems and should not be ignored. You should check your dog’s nipples routinely so that you can notice any changes in them. While some changes in your dog’s nipples may be benign and harmless, others may indicate a serious problem.
Change in Size
A change in the size of your dog’s nipples can be indicative of a problem and a cause for concern.
Enlarged nipples could be an indication of testicular cancer, which can affect both intact, as well as neutered male dogs; however, it is a more common problem in dogs that have not been neutered.
If you notice that your pet’s nipples are enlarged, then look for other symptoms such as pain in the abdominal area, swelling in the abdomen, anemia and symmetrical hair loss. Other male dogs may also start showing more interest in your dog. Even if you do not see these symptoms, if there is a change in the size of your dog’s nipples, then you must take him to the vet.
If your dog has been diagnosed with testicular cancer and he is intact, then neutering your dog is the only treatment required. However, if he has already been neutered, then he may have to undergo chemotherapy to treat cancer. Testicular cancer is usually not aggressive and often does not spread to the other parts of the body.
Change in Color
Over time, the color of your dog’s nipples could undergo a change. Most times, this is not a cause of worry and may be just a sign of aging. As they grow older, the color of nipples of both female and male dogs change. The change of color of a female dog’s nipples can be an indication of mastitis (a bacterial infection that affects the breasts); however male dogs are not affected by this condition.
So, in conclusion, while male dogs have nipples, they are in a rudimentary state and do not have any function. And, unless there is some sort of swelling in your male dog’s nipples, they are not such a big deal.