Why Are My Male Dog Nipples Itchy?


Have you noticed your male dog vigorously rubbing his nipples against a surface or itching with the back of his paws? Are his nipples swollen and red? Does he have pus-like or bloody discharge from a nipple? 

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, and you’re concerned about your dog, that’s absolutely understandable. A dog can have itchy nipples due to several seasons, it could be an allergic reaction, an infection or a more serious problem. 

In this article, I discussed the various reasons why a male dog will have itchy nipples. But first things first, why do male dogs have nipples?

Why do male dogs have nipples?

Just like all humans have nipples, all dogs have nipples too, both male and female dogs. This can be a little confusing since male dogs do not need the nipples for anything, since they don’t have babies and don’t have to nurture puppies, why then do they have nipples? Well, this is because during the fetal development, both male and female embryos are identical and they both have nipples at that stage. 

Before embryos develop male or female sex organs, they are indistinguishable in every form, and they have nipples. When they eventually develop sex organs which differentiates them into male and female, the nipples remain intact for the males, even though they are really not useful. This is also why human males have nipples. In fact, most mammalian males have nipples, cats, dogs, pigs, etc. 

How many nipples do dogs have?

The number of nipples a dog has depends on its size and breed type. Small dog breeds are known to have an average of 8 nipples, while large dog breeds will usually have up to 10 nipples. Dogs’ nipples are located from the groin area up to the torso or stomach. You can find a dog’s nipples when they lie on their back, they have two rows of nipples, one row of 4 to 5 nipples on the left side and an identical row on the right. 

Each pair of nipples has a unique, depending on their location; 

  • One pair of cranial thoracic nipples
  • One pair of caudal thoracic nipples
  • One pair of cranial abdominal nipples
  • Once pain of caudal abdominal nipples
  • One pair of inguinal nipples

Dog nipples do not disappear, they are present at birth and remain visible throughout the life of the dog.

Why do male dogs have itchy nipples?

Itchy nipples in dogs can have many causes, it can be due to an allergic skin condition, a flea infestation, a food allergy, etc. Both male and female dogs can have itchy nipples, and this is often a source of great discomfort for dogs. If your dog has itchy nipples, you will find them scratching or rubbing their bellies against a surface. 

Other causes of itchy nipples include bacterial skin infection, fungal infection, and mites. If your dog has nipples, the first thing to do is try to identify the cause. Try to find out if there is an allergic condition that you’re not aware of, find out if they have fleas, or if there is an infection. The solution to the problem depends largely on the cause, and you may need the help of your vet. 

What is the black gunk around male dog’s nipples?

Black gunk around the nipples of your male dog can be due to a number of things. First, it could be dirt from the environment. Dogs produce natural oil that moisturize the skin around the nipples, sometimes this oil can get dirty and look dark and messy. 

And because some dogs can’t properly groom their nipples, dirt around the nipples may look like black gunk. If you notice this around your dog’s nipples, then you should consider giving him a good bath. 

It’s also possible that what you see around your dog’s nipples may be flea dirt. If your dog has been itching a lot lately, and you notice dark speckles that fall off when you touch it, this may be an indication of flea infestation. When fleas suck blood from a dog, they leave behind dark feces on the dog’s body. Flea infestation can be a serious problem and requires immediate action. 

Why is there dried blood around my male dog’s nipple?

Dried blood around your dog’s nipple is certainly a thing of concern. But don’t freak out just yet, because it may be due to an injury sustained from excessive scratching and itching. If your dog has been itching a lot, and you find dried blood around his nipple, then it’s possible that they injured themselves while itching. 

In this case, it’s vital that you identify the cause of the itchy nipple and have it treated. Find out if it’s a bacterial infection, a skin allergy, food allergy, flea or mite infestation or a fungal infestation. A visit to the vet may be what you need.

If you notice that the nipple is also swollen or sensitive to touch, this can be a sign that your dog has a bigger problem. Check if an abscess has formed around the nipple, or if there is a foreign object such as a small stick or sharp object stuck in the nipple. 

Although breast cancer in male dogs is very rare, one of the symptoms include pus-like or bloody discharge from the nipple. If you are unsure of the situation, check with your vet to find out where your male dog has dried blood on his nipple. 

What causes inverted nipples in male dogs?

Inverted nipples are fairly common in dogs and do not signify any concerns at all. Inverted nipples are mostly congenital and present at birth, dogs don’t feel any form of discomfort because of it. Both male and female dogs can have inverted nipples, and it’s mostly genetic, especially when they are present at birth. 

There is absolutely no reason to be worried if your puppy has inverted nipples. The only reason why inverted nipples should be a concern is that they can act as a dirt magnet. Because dirt can get trapped in them, so they need more attention during your dog baths, and should be cleaned often. 

Inverted nipples are not a problem for dogs, they are perfectly normal and only require more care to prevent a smelly build-up of dirt and potential bacterial infections. 

[6] Why do male dog nipples sometimes become swollen?

If you have noticed that your male dog’s nipples are swollen, inflamed and painful, you will certainly be curious to know the possible causes. It could be due to a number of things, and I’ve compiled a short list of the possible causes of swollen nipples in male dogs. 

Injury or irritation: if the nipples have been irritated by excessive scratching, pests or parasites, an injury, etc. it may become tender and swollen. This is usually not very serious, and you can help your dog by identifying the cause to prevent any further irritation. 

Mastitis: this is a condition that is more common in female dogs, but it also happens to male dogs. Mastitis is an inflammation of the mammary glands caused by a bacterial infection or trauma to the teat. Common symptoms of mastitis include painful and swollen mammary glands, discharge from the nipples, discolored and warm nipples, very sensitive and painful nipples.   

Anemia: this is a condition where the dog’s body doesn’t produce enough red blood cells or hemoglobin. It is typically due to an underlying disease like cancer, stomach ulcers, severe blood loss due to an injury or accident, blood loss to parasites like fleas, kidney disease, etc. Symptoms of anemia include rapid breathing and irregular heartbeat, pale eyes and gums, lethargy, weight loss, swelling in face, jaws, teats, etc. 

Mammary tumors: mammary tumors are rare in male dogs, but they still do happen. Mammary tumors are typically tumors growing around the nipple area, and they come in different sizes. This growth can make the nipples swollen and painful. 

Symptoms often include swollen and painful mammary glands, blood or pus-like discharge from the nipples, lethargy, loss of appetite, lameness, etc. Mammary tumors can either be benign or cancerous, therefore they need immediate medical attention.

Testicular tumors: swollen nipples in male dogs can also be due to testicular tumors. Testicular tumor is one of the most common genital tumors that intact male dogs suffer, it also occurs in neutered male dogs but to a smaller degree. Common signs of testicular tumors include swellings in one or both testicles, an enlarged testicle or asymmetric testicles, reduced sex drive, blood in urine, lethargy, loss of appetite, poor hair regrowth, etc. 

Closing Thoughts

There are a number of reasons why your male dog has itchy nipples, most times it could be due to a parasitic infection, allergic reaction, bacterial or fungal infection. Itchy nipples are always frustrating to dogs. 

And if your male dog has swollen and inflamed nipples, it’s very important that you seek the counsel of your vet and don’t engage in a guessing game. Your vet will perform some tests to make the correct diagnosis and determine the best treatment option. Taking your dog to the vet for treatment is the best course of action.

James Grayston

My name is James and I love dogs. have owned four Golden Retrievers in the past 15 years. Currently I own two "Goldies"- a five year old and a seven month old. The photo shows me with our youngest when she was about 7 weeks old!