Why Do Dogs Have Nipples?Nipples are the external duct for the mammary glands. In female dogs, the mammary glands produce colostrum and milk to feed their young. Without nipples, a mother dog wouldn’t be able to feed her puppies and support life. In intact females, the nipples will actually swell during heat and pregnancy. They will eventually fill with milk during late pregnancy and throughout lactation.
What Do Dog Nipples Look Like?In spayed or neutered dogs, nipples will look and feel like little bumps, almost like pimples. They may be black, pink, or a combination of both colors. Some nipples may be more elongated, depending on the dog breed. In a dog that has had puppies or that isn’t spayed, nipples are generally bigger, and more stretched out.
Do Male Dogs Have Nipples?Male dogs do have nipples, just like females. Even though they don’t produce milk, nipples are a residual product of a developing fetus. Even though an embryo is genetically male or female, they follow the same developmental pathway for a short time. Nipples are formed on male and female embryos before the genitals are formed. In females, further development of mammary glands occurs, while in males, the development usually doesn’t go far enough to where they can produce milk.
How Many Nipples Do Dogs Have?The number of nipples that a dog has will vary depending on size and breed. This number usually falls between 6 and 10. Most of the time, dog nipples will be located starting in the groin area and extending in two rows along the belly and up to the chest. Nipples are symmetrical, meaning there is an even number on each side. However, it’s not uncommon for a dog to have an odd number of nipples. The number of nipples has to do with average litter sizes. The higher number of puppies that a breed has, the more nipples they will need to feed them. That’s part of the reason larger dogs have more nipples than smaller dogs-they tend to have larger litters. There’s also the issue of space; smaller dogs just don’t always have room on their belly to fit 10 nipples. The number of dog nipples is determined by breed, not gender. For example, male and female Golden Retrievers will have a similar number of nipples, while male and female Chihuahuas will also be similar. Males don’t tend to have fewer nipples than their female counterparts of the same breed. Instead, the number of nipples a dog has depends on its size.
What Problems Can Arise From Dog Nipples?Nowadays, most dogs are spayed or neutered, making nipples a useless feature on their body. Without going through a pregnancy or heat cycle, most female dog nipples don’t go through any changes in their lifetime. However, if your female dog isn’t spayed or was spayed after having puppies, there are a few conditions affecting the nipples and accompanying mammary glands.
- Mammary cancer: Mammary cancer is the canine equivalent to breast cancer in humans. It’s actually fairly common in older, intact females, but it can also occur in spayed females and male dogs. Mammary cancer often shows up as lumps under and around the nipple. There may also be swelling of the nipple or discharge. If your puppy has any lumps or bumps associated with a nipple, see your veterinarian as soon as possible.
- Mastitis: Mastitis is inflammation of the mammary gland. It most often occurs in lactating mothers following a bite or injury to the nipple, allowing bacteria in. However, male dogs and non-lactating females can also get mastitis if bacteria get into the mammary gland and cause an infection. Mastitis will usually present as a red, hot, swollen nipple and mammary gland. The discharge or milk may be bloody, and the gland may be firm. The pup is usually pretty painful and may have a fever, lethargy, and a decreased appetite. If left untreated, mastitis can become systemic and severe.
- Skin cancer: The lightly haired regions of a dog’s belly can be more prone to certain types of skin cancer, mainly squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. While these cancers aren’t particularly associated with a dog’s nipple, sun exposure on the lighter-haired areas around the nipple can be a contributing factor. Skin cancers can show up as dark, irregular-shaped spots or lumpy bumps. Most of the time, they grow fairly quickly. If your pup shows up with any new lumps or bumps, have them checked out by a veterinarian.
- Dermatitis: Dermatitis means inflammation of the skin. It can happen for all kinds of reasons, most commonly due to allergies or something that they came in contact with. Dermatitis isn’t caused by or made worse by a dog nipple; rather, you may notice it around a nipple before noticing it elsewhere. This is because the skin around dog nipples has less hair, making contact with allergens easier and making it more noticeable to you. Dermatitis often shows up as a red, scabby rash. Pups are often itchy and will lick or scratch the area. Further examination may show small bumps or weeping. A skin infection may be the next to come if the dermatitis isn’t treated.
Conclusion for Everything You Need to Know About Dog NipplesWhether this is the first time you’ve noticed or given thought to your dog’s nipples, they’re not something to be forgotten. Understanding what’s normal with dog nipples can help you to catch something problematic before it becomes a huge problem. When it comes to dog nipples, make sure to have any lumps, bumps, or discolorations checked by a veterinarian. Other articles you might like:
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