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Why does my dog have 9 nipples?

Perhaps your dog just had puppies, and you noticed how many nipples she had. Perhaps you were simply scratching your dog’s belly, and suddenly noticed something odd. Your dog has 9 nipples. Is this normal? Should you be worried? 

Why does my dog have 9 nipples?

It can be a bit disconcerting, especially if you’ve just made the realization that your dog has 9 nipples. You instinctively expect an even number of nipples on a dog, male or female. So, it’s natural to be a bit concerned or confused if you discover your pooch has 9, rather than the typical 8 or 10. 

The good news is that you shouldn’t be concerned if your dog has 9 nipples. It’s not indicative of any health problems or genetic abnormalities. 

Why 9 Nipples? 

Dogs typically have between 6-10 nipples. Normally, they have an even number of nipples. So a dog having 6, 8, or 10 nipples is the norm. Nature loves symmetry. So why do some dogs have 9 nipples?  

It’s likely a slight genetic defect that occurs during embryonic development.

Humans also experience this. There are occasionally humans who are born with 3 nipples, instead of the usual two. The third nipple is known as a supernumerary nipple. 

Why Do Male Dogs Have Nipples? 

It’s obvious why female dogs have nipples. They need them to feed puppies. However, you may be wondering why male dogs, and even male humans, have nipples as well. 

Male mammals have nipples because the gender of a baby isn’t determined until a certain point in development. For the first few weeks of development, the embryo will develop in exactly the same way, whether it’s male or female. 

Nipple development occurs early in the process, before gender differences begin. Eventually, the male’s y chromosome activates, and the male will produce testes. This causes the changes that differentiate boys from girls. 

Is it normal for a dog to have 9 nipples?

It’s normal for a dog to have 6, 8, or 10 nipples. However, i’s not a cause for concern if your pooch doesn’t fall into this range. It is out of the ordinary, but doesn’t indicate that there’s something wrong with them. Think of it as a cute quirk, and not a defect. 

What does the number of nipples on a dog mean?

There’s an old wives tale that states the amount of nipples a dog has determines the size of her litter. This isn’t completely true, but it’s not entirely false either. 

Mammals tend to have enough nipples to nurse the amount of young they typically have. Humans normally have one, but sometimes two, babies at once.

Having 3 or more babies was very rare, until recently, when fertility treatments were developed. It’s also possible for a human mother to have a nursing baby and a newborn, which might be another reason we sport a pair of nipples. So, humans have two nipples to meet the needs of their offspring. 

A dog’s litter can range from 1-12 puppies, with 5-6 puppies being the norm. Most dogs have 8 to 10 nipples, which allows them to feed a litter of average size or slightly larger. 

So, the amount of nipples does correlate to the expected amount of babies a mother will nurse at one time. 

However, this doesn’t work on an individual basis. Your female doesn’t have 9 nipples because she’s more likely to have 9 puppies. The number of nipples is determined by evolution and genetics, and is not an indication of the specific litter size your dog may have. 

How many nipples should a dog have?

There’s really no set amount of nipples for a dog to have. Most dogs have 8 to 10 nipples. Anywhere between 6 to 10 and an even number is considered normal.

However, it’s perfectly fine for a dog to have fewer nipples, more nipples, or an odd amount of nipples. It doesn’t indicate any serious issues. A mother with fewer nipples can still have and care for puppies. 

If she has a large litter, she may require you to supplement feed. However, this is true for any dog with a large litter, regardless of the amount of nipples. 

Small vs. Large Breed 

Typically, the smaller the breed, the fewer nipples the dog will have. Small breeds typically have smaller litters. Their smaller bodies make carrying and delivering puppies more difficult. The average number of nipples for a small breed dog is 6. 

Large breed dogs, however, typically have larger litters. They average 7-8 puppies per litter. However, they can have 12, and occasionally even 13 puppies at one time. 

This means they naturally need more nipples. Large breed dogs usually have at least 8 nipples, with 10 being the most common. 

What Happens if a Mother Has More Puppies Than Nipples? 

If your dog has puppies that exceed the number of nipples she has, it raises a different question. Can she feed all her puppies? 

Studies have shown that it’s common for puppies to nurse at different times. So, half the litter may nurse. They will lay down, and the other half will nurse. 

This isn’t a hard and fast rule, however. Some pups are insistent about getting nursed at the same time. You can watch them jockeying for position, and even knocking their sibling off a teat before their eyes have opened. 

Even in this situation, mom and babies are usually fine. There are a few exceptions though. 

If one pup is significantly smaller or weaker than the others, they may need supplemental feeding or help staying on the teat. The other exception is when the amount of puppies exceeds the mothers’ capacity to produce milk for them. 

This is pretty rare. Nature tends to balance things out, so mom can provide for her babies. However, things sometimes go a bit awry. If the pups seem hungry after eating or aren’t properly gaining weight, you may need to supplement feed. 

To do this, you’ll need puppy milk replacer and small bottles designed for puppies. It’s best to let the pups nurse first, and then top them off with the formula.