Let’s Talk About Dog Nipples!

By Deb Haines

One of the most common questions that people ask about dog nipples is how many nipples should a dog have? Although the average dog will usually have between six and ten nipples, it actually depends on the breed. Some breeds produce larger litters of puppies than other breeds and these will have more nipples.

In most instances, dogs will have an even number of nipples that are aligned symmetrically in two rows along the chest and belly of the dog. However, there are some dogs that will have an uneven number of nipples. The exact cause of having an odd number of nipples is unknown, so it is possibly just a quirk of nature. It is also possible to find a lone nipple in an unusual place, such as at the top of their leg.

Both male and female dog nipples are small, round bumps that stretch the length of the dog’s belly. On a short-haired dog, the nipples will be more noticeable, but on a long-haired dog, they are more hidden beneath the fur.

A dog’s nipples can range from off white, light pink to black depending on the breed and color of your dog. The nipples of unspayed female dogs will swell and can change in color during heat, false pregnancy, and when they are lactating. The nipples should shrink around one week after the puppies stop feeding. If dogs are spayed at an early age, the nipples and mammary glands will be smaller and less developed than an intact female

Normal nipples

Normal 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. 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.

Normal Male Dog Nipples

Can Male Dogs Have Nipple Problems ?

Dog nipples can change size, color, and shape if and when your dog develops and illness or disease. So, keeping a wary eye on your male pooch’s nipples can help you pinpoint a potential health threat and act on it before it gets worse.

There are lots of different nipple-related signs and symptoms that should raise a red flag, but here are the most common and urgent:

  • Nipple secretion in males and females (if she isn’t lactating)
  • Sudden change in color in males and females (if she isn’t pregnant)
  • Marked increase in size or swelling in males and females (if she isn’t pregnant)
  • Abnormal growths around the nipple area
  • Sudden change in the shape of the teat

Sometimes enlarged nipples on a male dog could point to Testicular cancer, But be aware that testicular cancer doesn’t metastasize very well, so chances of spreading to other parts of your dog’s system are very minimal.

I see black dots ( black heads) around my dogs nipples

what you see are caused by over active Sebaceous Glands. These are glands within the hair follicles which become infected and release a brownish/black substance, you can gently clean with mild soap and water.

Black Heads

Wait ! It Might not be A tick !

Many Amateur pet parents can often mistake other structures and even some pests on a dog as nothing more than a rudimentary nipple. they confuse nipples, moles, and skin tags for ticks. Nipples tend to come in even numbers so if you’re unsure whether it’s a nipple or tick, check the opposite side and see if there is a matching one. Ticks are usually found around the head, feet, and neck area of a dog. Ticks feel like a small bump and can be identified by running your fingers over the dog’s skin. On closer inspection, you should be able to see the legs of a tick – they have eight legs.

The Mammary Gland

The mammary system is comprised of the mammary glands or breasts and is present in all mammals including dogs and other pets. In males, mammary glands exist in a rudimentary state. Mammary glands are typically arranged in two parallel rows extending from the underside of the chest to the groin area, along the outside of the body wall. In dogs, there are usually five mammary glands on each side, joined together in a chain. Ten is the most common number in larger breeds, while four pairs are more common in smaller breeds. The pattern is often staggered, which makes all teats equally accessible to the pups when suckling with the bitch lying on her side.

What is mastitis?

Mastitis is a term used to describe inflammation of a mammary gland (breast).

In most cases, mastitis is caused by a bacterial infection. Trauma to the nipple or teat canal can allow bacteria to enter the teat canal, traveling up into the mammary gland and creating a bacterial infection. Even in the absence of trauma, a female dog living in unsanitary conditions may be exposed to large quantities of bacteria and other irritants, allowing this ascending infection to occur.

Less commonly, mastitis can be observed without evidence of infection. Trauma to the mammary gland, or prolonged periods of milk accumulation without milk removal, can lead to inflammation within the mammary gland.

Mastitis is most frequently seen in the postpartum period, after a dog gives birth. Many cases follow sudden weaning (which can lead to excessive milk accumulation within the gland) or the death of a puppy (leading to decreased milk removal from the glands).

The symptoms of mastitis in dogs are often visible around the teats, and dogs are likely to show signs of discomfort or pain. It is important if you notice any signs of mastitis in your dog to get to a veterinarian immediately, as an infection can spread quickly and cause major illness or become life-threatening. The signs include firm, swollen, or painful mammary glands, pus or discharge from the teats, discoloration of the teats, avoiding nursing puppies or growling and snapping at them, puppies lacking nutrition, lethargy, dehydration, weight loss, crying, fever, septic shock, gangrene, or abscesses if left untreated.

Anytime you find a change or discharge in your dogs nipples, please seek veterinary care.

We encourage members to please establish a relationship with your local veterinarian.


The Vet Corner Groups are run solely by volunteers. If you would like to support the groups, please feel free to make a donation to the running costs of the groups and websites. We thank you for your kindness!

© 2014-2022 Rural Veterinary Outreach. All Rights Reserved.