How Many Nipples Does a Dog Have?

Filed in Dog Health on December 19, 2021

How Many Nipples Does a Dog Have

Have you ever examined your dog’s stomach, only to wonder how many nipples dogs are supposed to have? Strange lumps or unusual traits often worry new pet parents.

In the following article, I’ll share key information about how many nipples a dog has, the differences between male and female dog nipples, and how to tell if there’s a problem with your dog’s nipples.

How many nipples does a dog have? Short answer: Dogs usually have 10 nipples, although it’s relatively normal for them to have more or less than that.

Read more in this vet-reviewed article.

So How Many Nipples Does a Dog Have?

According to anatomy experts, most dogs have 10 nipples. The number of nipples corresponds to the number of mammary glands. Most dogs have 4 thoracic mammary glands, 4 abdominal mammary glands and 2 inguinal mammary glands.

However, the total number of nipples can vary depending on the individual dog. In fact, siblings from the same litter can have different numbers of nipples.

The number of nipples your dog has is based on genetics and is not determined by their breed. There is also no difference in number between male and female dogs.

Your dog can have an odd number of nipples. If you identify your dog’s nipples and note an odd number, this alone isn’t cause for alarm.

An odd number of nipples doesn’t pose any medical risk to your dog. Just make sure you confirm that each nipple identified is actually a nipple.

Differences Between Male and Female Dogs’ Nipples

dog nipple expose while sleeping

There’s almost no visual difference between male and female dogs’ nipples. In fact, it’s impossible to identify the gender of a dog based on their nipples.

The primary difference between male and female nipples is their function since female dogs use their nipples for nursing puppies.

A nursing female will have larger, more pronounced nipples. Otherwise, male and female dog nipples look the same. Dog nipples are small, round bumps that span from your dog’s groin up their stomach.

Contrary to popular belief, the number of a female dog’s nipples doesn’t correlate with the number of puppies she’ll have in a litter.

Identifying Your Dog’s Nipples

A dog’s nipples often appear in two rows, evenly distributed from the dog’s groin and up their abdomen. Dogs most often have nipples in pairs, although some dogs can have an odd number of nipples.

Some pet parents see their dog’s nipples and worry that they might be a tick. Before you inadvertently damage your dog’s nipples, make sure you know the visual differences between ticks and nipples.

The simplest way to tell the differences is to look for legs. Your dog’s nipples will never have legs, although ticks almost always have visible legs.

Another relatively easy way to tell the difference between ticks and nipples is to compare nearby nipples. If you aren’t sure if a particular bump is a nipple, compare it to your dog’s other nipples.

Nipples can often look like pimples, cysts, or other minor bumps. It’s essential to learn what your dog’s body looks like before there’s a problem. That way, you’ll know how many nipples your dog has and where they’re located.

A dog’s nipples can grow in unusual locations. If you find a nipple somewhere besides your dog’s abdomen, it’s best to consult your dog’s veterinarian for advice.

While dogs can have a nipple on their groin or leg, it’s best to get your dog evaluated by your veterinarian.

Detecting Problems with Your Dog’s Nipples

vet checking dog's nipples

Several medical conditions can affect your dog’s nipples, including infections and cancer. If your dog has one nipple that’s larger and more swollen than the rest, you should follow up with your veterinarian for advice. Infected nipples or mammary glands may appear red, swollen, or even warm to the touch.

You should also contact your dog’s vet if there’s discharge from any nipples, especially if your dog isn’t pregnant or nursing.

Your dog’s nipples shouldn’t increase in size unless she’s pregnant. Even when nursing, red or swollen nipples may be a cause for concern and should be evaluated for possible infection.

If it feels like there’s a lump beneath a nipple, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible. This can be a sign of mammary gland cancer and requires immediate care.

Conclusion on How Many Nipples Does a Dog Have

The number of nipples on your dog can vary, although most dogs have 10 nipples. Don’t be alarmed if your dog has more or less than that, though. Some dogs may even have an odd number of nipples!

Contact your dog’s veterinarian if your dog’s nipples seem red or swollen or have any discharge. If you’re having trouble identifying your dog’s nipples, ask your veterinarian to show you where they are during your next visit.

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