How Many Nipples Do Dogs Have?

How Many Nipples Do Dogs Have

How many nipples do dogs have? Depending on the breed of dog, you may notice that there is a variation in the number of nipples each dog has, and it is even possible for a dog to have an odd number of nipples.


How Many Nipples Do Dogs Have?

Dogs may have between 6 and 12 nipples, although 8 is the most common in small breeds, and 10 most common in large breeds. Teats are placed evenly on either side of the dog's chest, from the trunk to the groin. Each teat is part of the underlying mammary gland system.

These nipples are named as follows (head to tail):

- Two cranial thoracic nipples

- Two caudal thoracic nipples

- Two cranial abdominal nipples

- Two causal abdominal nipples

- Two pairs of inguinal nipples

In male dogs, there is no biological function to having nipples, much like in human males.

Litter Size And Number Of Nipples?

There is an old and commonly held belief that you can predict the number of puppies a bitch will have by counting her nipples and dividing by two. While this theory has a sound basis in our scientific understanding of how mammals reproduce, there seems to be only a weak correlation between number of nipples and litter sizes in dogs. This could be attributed to selective breeding to produce larger litters, or the evolution of dogs through domestication with thousands of years of food abundance shaping any breed.

The only way to accurately determine how many puppies a bitch is carrying is to take her to the veterinarian, who has a variety of techniques used to count puppy heads!

Your dog may be pregnant with between 1 - 12 puppies, sometimes more! Your vet has three reliable ways to count how many puppies are about to join your family.

Early Palpation

At 28 days your veterinarian can palpate your pregnant dog using one or both hands on the abdomen. At this early stage, it can be difficult for anyone but the most experienced veterinarian to get an accurate count, but they should be able to give you a good estimate! The size and weight of your dog will determine the veterinarian's accuracy, as will a dog with a uterus resting high in the abdominal cavity.


Ultrasound is becoming more and more popular with veterinarians due to the fact it is non-invasive and effective. Some dog grooming salons also have the ability to ultrasound pregnant dogs too. With an abdominal ultrasound, it is possible to see the gestational sac of a pregnant dog as early as 20 days into pregnancy and hear tiny heartbeats at approximately 30 days.


After 45 days gestation, X-rays are the veterinarian's method of choice to count puppies in utero. By this time the skeletons are dense enough to make a clear image of the puppies, allowing the vet to also notice any potential deformities.

Disorders Affecting Your Dogs Nipples


Mastitis an infection of the mammary glands of your dog. Common causes are the Staph and E. coli bacteria, although other pathogens can cause similar symptoms.

The condition occurs when bacteria enters through the opening in a dog’s nipple and causes painful swelling. Your veterinarian can take a swab to determine the causes of the mastitis and prescribe appropriate antibiotics.

Puppies can still nurse from a mother with mastitis but should be encouraged to suckle on any unaffected teats to reduce discomfort for the mother.


Mammary gland tumors account for approximately half of all tumors in female dogs, with female dogs more than three times more likely to develop breast cancer than their human counterparts. This makes dogs the most vulnerable species to mammary cancer known to science. Less than half of all mammary tumors are malignant, and surgery is a standard and effective treatment.

Lactation Disorders

Swollen mammary glands and unusual nesting behaviors are characteristics of a phantom pregnancy. A natural imbalance of hormones tricks your dog's body into thinking she is pregnant, and your bitch's stomach may swell, and nipples will enlarge. Most false pregnancies last around two weeks and go away without any human intervention.

Galactostasis is an uncomfortable condition which occurs when milk becomes trapped in a lactating bitch's nipples. Your vet can prescribe medication to ease the pain until your dog's body can heal.


It's hard for the untrained eye to tell the difference between a cyst and a tumor, so your vet will want to draw liquid from the lump to examine the color and consistency of any liquid inside. A cyst is a benign pocket of skin filled with fluid or fat. Cysts are not particularly dangerous to your pet but may cause discomfort if they become large, or if multiple cysts develop.

Why Do Male Dogs Have Nipples?

Male dogs, like male humans, possess nipples. These nipples are a result of early development in the womb, where nipples are formed before the embryo develops reproductive organs. There is no function to male dogs having nipples, but they have not given the dog any evolutionary disadvantage, so have not been selectively bred against.

How many nipples does your dog have? Let us know in the comments if you learned anything from this article that you didn't know before, and share any interesting and relevant facts with us all!

    Helena Foster

    Hi there, I'm Helena, founder of PawsomeWorld. I'm a Veterinary Nurse and I love to share my knowledge to all dog owners. Together we'll make a better world for our dogs.

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