Why Do Male Dogs Have Nipples? And Other Interesting Dog Questions


Dogs are fascinating creatures in their own right, but when you consider how closely we share our lives with them, it isn’t surprising that we want to know everything about them. If you’ve ever scratched your head trying to figure out a burning question you have about dogs, this article will provide some helpful information for you and hopefully address the question you have. For one, we’ll answer the question, “Why do male dogs have nipples?” and several other interesting dog questions I’ve found myself asking. 

Why Do Male Dogs Have Nipples?

All dogs, both male and female, have nipples. The number of nipples that dogs have will vary, with an average of between 8 and 10. Interestingly, some dogs having more nipples than others. Nipples also look similar, whether they belong to a male or a female dog. Females that are pregnant or nursing will have much more prominent nipples than males or other females that are not pregnant or nursing. The more litters that a female dog has nursed, the more prominent the nipples are likely to be.  Many male mammals have nipples, including humans and dogs. Male and female mammals are nearly identical in utero, and this includes the nipples. While nipples don’t serve a function in male dogs, they are not problematic either. Therefore, natural selection has had no reason to get rid of male nipples.  Male dogs that have nipples and those that don’t have nipples are equally well suited to survival, so the nipples have generally persisted. This is not unlike many other physical characteristics in both humans and animals, such as the remnants of pelvic bones in whales. Although whales don’t have legs and don’t need pelvic bones anymore, because the bones do not have a negative effect on the whales, they have remained. 

Do dogs get jealous?

It has long been assumed that jealousy is the type of complex emotion that only humans experience. However, recent studies have found that domestic dogs do appear to feel and demonstrate emotions of jealousy. Experiments adapted from experiments on human infants found that dogs actually display significant jealous behavior.  When owners displayed affectionate behavior toward something that appeared to be another dog (a toy that barks and wags its tail), as compared to a non-social object ( a Jack-o-Lantern pail), dogs showed jealous behavior such as getting between the owner and the dog-like object, pushing the object away from the owner, and snapping at the object. By contrast, the dog didn’t react at all when the owner showed similar affection towards the Jack-o-Lantern pail or read a children’s book.  This isn’t as surprising in light of more recent studies on infants. Studies have found that children as young as six months of age experience jealousy. Even such young human children show behavior that indicates jealousy when their mothers interacted with a realistic-looking doll but showed no jealous behavior when their mothers interacted with a non-social item like a book. The capacity of dogs to feel what appears to be real jealousy similar to the jealousy children feel indicates the depth of social intelligence that dogs are capable of. It also may indicate that jealousy is a more foundational and less cognitively complex emotion than we originally thought.

What is the oldest dog breed?

There are a number of dog breeds that can trace their history back to antiquity. These breeds have experienced lots of changes and development over time but can trace their history back to a common ancestor who looked very similar to them. The oldest known dog breed that is still very similar to its origins is the Saluki.  The Saluki is a beautiful sighthound similar to the Greyhound and the Afghan. Its appearance and coat fall somewhere between a Greyhound and an Afghan. The Saluki has feathering, which means hair on the back of the legs, the tail, and the ears, but not on the body. The Saluki doesn’t have as much long hair as the Afghan, but the hair is not as short and tight as the Greyhound’s coat.  These dogs were revered in ancient Egypt. They were kept as royal pets and mummified after death. Carvings in present-day southern Iraq show a dog that looks very much like the Saluki that dates back to 7000 BC. Owners of Saluki say that they are still an ancient breed. Salukis know themselves to be royal creatures. They may choose to follow their own ideas more often than listen to human commands.

Why do some dogs have short legs?

You may have noticed that some dogs are not so much small as they are short. This distinction includes corgis, basset hounds, and dachshunds. Recent discoveries have found that a gene insertion very similar to the gene that causes human dwarfism results in dwarfism in dogs.  This condition is known as chondrodysplasia. It occurs in over a dozen domestic dog breeds and often comes out in mixed breed dogs as well. The gene causes calcification of the growth plates, which stops the development of long bones and results in dogs that have short legs, which often tend to be curved or bowed.  These dogs look different than dogs that are true miniatures, like the toy poodle or the Maltese. Genetic screening has found that a genetic signature is only found in short leg breeds and can be traced back to a DNA insertion that occurred very early in the evolution of domestic dogs.  Early breeders took advantage of this gene to create short-legged dogs that were better at getting into the holes of their prey, like dachshunds, or good at dodging the kicks of cattle, like corgis. 

How do dogs know how you’re feeling?

If your dog has ever shown incredible gentleness and sensitivity instead of their usual robust greeting when you come home from an especially bad day or has growled at somebody you don’t like, apparently without prompting by you, you may wonder how it is that dogs know how you’re feeling.  Surprisingly, dogs can smell your emotional state. Also, being dogs, they don’t just take this information as a fact; they actually adopt your emotions as their own. Dogs exposed to the smell of fear on a human show more signs of stress than dogs exposed to neutral or happy smells.  They are less likely to socialize with strangers and tend to seek reassurance when they think that you are feeling fearful or stressed. The next time you’re wondering how it is that your dog can so easily pick up on your emotions, know that it is all in the nose. 

How do dogs know who they should beg for food from?

Have you ever gone to a friend’s house and found that their dog seemed to have voted you most likely to drop some food? It seems that sometimes dogs choose to focus almost exclusively on one person during dinner time as if they think the person is more likely to be generous or clumsy than other people at the dinner table.  Dogs are actually more likely to beg for food from people who are paying attention to them. Dogs understand that a human’s responsiveness to them is likely to correspond with a willingness to share food.  If a friend’s dog is more focused on you during dinner time, it may just be because they perceive you as being a more sociable individual who is more likely to share with them. If you make a lot of eye contact or look at the dog while you’re eating, it is even more likely for a dog to beg you for food. If you don’t want a dog to beg, look away, position your body away, and show that you are not responsive. 

How much better is your dog’s sense of smell than your own?

You probably know that your dog’s sense of smell is a lot better than yours. In fact, your dog is tremendously more sensitive to smells than you are. Your dog perceives the world more in odor than in vision.  This is why many people misunderstand their dog’s behavior as being distractible or their dog as being incapable of paying attention,  when in fact your dog is just aware of aspects of the world that you are oblivious to.  Your dog can smell from 10,000 to 100,000 times better than you can.  Whereas we may be able to tell if a cup of coffee has a teaspoon of sugar, a dog can detect a teaspoon of sugar in a million gallons of water.  Compare this to the sense of vision. What you and I would be able to see at a third of a mile, a dog would see at three thousand miles away and still see as well. This is how much better a dog can smell than you can.

Why are dogs so particular about where they poop?

If you have ever followed your dog around, frustrated, as they determine exactly the ideal place to drop their poop, you may have wondered why dogs are so picky about where they poop. Fun fact: dogs align their bodies with the Earth’s magnetic field when they relieve themselves. Seventy dogs belonging to 37 breeds were measured in reference to the direction of the body during defecation and urination over the course of two years. Results found that dogs prefer to poop with their body aligned along the north-south axis under normal magnetic field conditions. When the magnetic field was unstable, this behavior was eradicated.  When your dog carefully circles and decides where they are going to poop, they are aligning their bodies with the Earth’s magnetic field. 

Summary

These are answers to just a few of the questions that I’ve found myself wondering about dogs. Dogs are always making us think and wonder. That’s just one of the many things that we love about them. If you’ve ever asked yourself, “How does my dog know how I’m feeling?” or been petting your dog and couldn’t help asking, “Why do male dogs have nipples?” and other interesting dog questions, you’re not alone. 

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Coral Dawn Drake

My fiance, Justin, and I live with our two little dogs, Sofie and Lisa, and three chickens in Gainesville, Florida. Justin and I are homebodies who occasionally enjoy a good adventure. I love living in Gainesville, and I love Florida. I can’t imagine anywhere more beautiful or strange than this hot, marshy place where people are guaranteed to be nothing other than themselves. Justin is always reminding me to relax. Relaxing doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m always busy. Making art or editing photos, digging in the yard or trying to grow some new moss or plant. There never seems to be enough time to do everything that I want to do. Life is so, so full and I want to plunge into every second of it.

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