How Many Teats Does a Dog Have? (Dog Nipples Explained by a Vet)

dog nipples

All dogs are born with teats or nipples, but the number of nipples a dog has can vary.  Typically, dogs have between 6 and 10 nipples, but they can have as many as 12.  Determining factors such as the breed, size, and genetics will dictate the amount of teats on a dog.

Both male and female dogs are born with teats, as puppies, the teats aren’t always noticeable and will grow larger as the dog matures.  Teats will also become more defined once a female dog is pregnant, and especially after a litter is born.  Male dog nipples do not function, but they still are born with them and can have the same number of teats as a female.

In this article we will provide information regarding a dog’s nipples.  In addition, we will discuss the difference between female and male dog nipples, and whether or not the amount of teats on a dog will determine how large a litter is.

How Many Nipples Should Dogs Have?

Answering the question “How many nipples should a dog have?” is not always straightforward. All dogs are born with nipples or teats.  Generally, dogs have between 6 and 10 nipples.  Usually, they are symmetrically placed in two rows, spanning from the groin area, all the way up to their chest.

Sometimes, dogs can have an uneven amount of nipples.  For instance, if a dog has 9 nipples, they’ll be 4 on one side and 5 on the other.  Though odd, this occurrence is nothing to be concerned about. 

Furthermore, mother nature sometimes gets confused and will place a nipple in an area it doesn’t belong, such as a leg.  These oddities will not function for lactation and are typically harmless to the dog.  Still, you may want your vet to take a look at it for verification purposes.

Larger dogs tend to have more nipples than smaller dogs because of litter size.  Small breed dogs tend to have fewer pups than large breeds.  However, the amount of nipples does not determine how many pups a dog will have, it’s basically an estimated calculation.  Furthermore, a female dog will still have nipples even though she may not be pregnant, or already birthed a litter.

What If a Dog Has More Puppies Than Nipples?

It is possible for a dog to have more puppies than nipples.  If this is the case, you’ll want to keep a close eye on the pups to make sure that they are all getting fed.  The weakest, or smallest dog in a litter will typically have a harder time fighting for the right to feed.

Most of the time, it’s not a major issue and all pups will do just fine.  However, dogs can sometimes in rare instances produce 12-16 pups.  Having this many puppies can drastically define how the mammary glands produce.  Production of milk is important for the nutrition and health of the puppy.  If the mammary glands become overwhelmed and can’t keep up with the demands of the puppies, intervention needs to occur.

As mentioned previously, the amount of nipples does not determine how many pups will be in a litter.  Some females may have fewer puppies than nipples and some will produce more than nipples available.

Do Male Dogs Have Nipples?

Yes, male dogs have nipples.  Male dog nipples look the same as female dog nipples, the only difference is they don’t produce milk.  Male dogs also have the same number of nipples as females.  Because they don’t lactate they generally don’t change in shape. 

You may ask yourself why do male dogs have nipples if they aren’t used for anything? It’s basically the same reason that men have nipples.  As an embryo, even before sex is determined the nipples are formed and remain even after birth.

Although, nipples on male dogs are generally harmless, in rare instances can cause a dog problem such as a mammary gland tumor.  This condition is more common amongst intact female dogs.

In conclusion, all dogs are born with nipples and the amount of nipples or teats is determined by the breed and size of the dog.  Dogs can have an odd number of nipples, or even more than normal.  Whatever the amount, rest assured the number of teats does not determine the health of your dog.

Related Question/s

Is it Normal for a Dog to Have 9 Teats?

Typically, dogs have an even amount of nipples.  However, there are some instances where the developmental process in the embryonic stage glitches and causes what some refer to as a birth defect.  It is not harmful for a dog to have 9 nipples or any uneven amount.

Can a Dog Have 12 Nipples?

Yes, a dog can have 12 nipples.  Though typically, they have between 6 and 10.

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