The number and location of the nipples becomes especially relevant at a time when the owner learns that his dog will soon give birth to puppies, since the development and number of formed mammary glands is the key to successful feeding of healthy offspring. Owners are also interested in this parameter before rejecting puppies when determining compliance with all exterior requirements. Sometimes unpaired arrangement or different degrees of development of these organs is of particular concern. For dog breeders who have been breeding animals for a long time, such questions do not arise, but for a beginner this can be a serious cause for concern.
In order to clearly understand how many nipples a dog should normally have, what violations will not become an obstacle to normal feeding, and what should serve as an occasion for a quick visit to a veterinarian, it is worth familiarizing yourself with some aspects of the reproductive system of these animals.
Normal quantity and location
Dogs are multiple animals, so they should be able to feed as many puppies as they appeared in the litter. Most often, the picture is observed when one individual can count from 8 to 12 paired nipples. But in veterinary medicine it is considered the norm and a much smaller number - up to four.
Their classic location on the abdominal surface is as follows:
- two breast pairs (easily groping behind the front paws);
- two abdominal pairs (the gaps between them may be similar, but may vary significantly);
- one inguinal pair (you can feel closer to the hollows near the hind legs or directly in them).
The amount primarily depends on how many mammary glands the dog has. On each mammary gland there are two parallel pairs.
How many nipples a female depends on depends on the breed of which parameters:
- in large breeds - 8-12 nipples in 4-6 mammary glands;
- in small breeds - 8 nipples in 4 mammary glands.
Each pair is supplied with blood by different blood vessels: the thoracic pairs - from the anterior part of the thoracic and small branches of the mediastinal artery, and the abdominal and femoral - from the femoral arteries.
Representatives of those breeds that have long or thick hair with a significant undercoat can find nipples quite difficult to find, so dog owners can skip a few pieces on their own inspection. Sometimes the hairline around these structures becomes rare, so they can be seen well, but this should not be scared, because this is not a pathological phenomenon that is not associated with a deterioration in the health of the pet.
The secretory tissue secreting milk appears at the end of pregnancy and looks like a swelling of the breast. This picture is preserved throughout the entire process of lactation and feeding, with the nipple becoming larger and longer, sometimes several times. A slight tumor in the dog persists for one and a half to two months after feeding has already stopped. The size of the nipples themselves increases after the first feeding of the puppies and does not return to their original state, but decreases slightly when they do not fulfill their function.
In the case when the dog managed to find more or less nipples than necessary, do not worry: this is not a sign of illness or insolvency of the animal in terms of feeding offspring. The quantity is considered sufficient when it provides food for all puppies in the litter. A dog with four nipples will be more difficult, and it will take longer to feed, but in any case it will feed all the offspring if it develops milk.
In addition to a varying amount, the following standard options are found:
- asymmetric arrangement in pairs and vertical rows, referred to as "beds";
- complete or selective absence of some pairs;
- placement in the middle of the abdomen;
- different sizes of individual nipples;
- different pigmentation.
These parameters are not related to the dog breed, the main difference is that in bare breeds these structures are more visible, and in those with a long coat they are invisible. Culling the dog on this factor should not happen, because at exhibitions and competitions most often the number of nipples is not counted.
What affects the amount
Contrary to the opinion of many novice dog breeders, the decisive importance remains not with the number of nipples in the dog, but with how successfully they will perform their function. It happens that with a full set of milk, milk is not supplied through the ducts, and sometimes a nursing female successfully feeds a large litter with one pair of nipples.
It is impossible to determine the functional quality until the offspring. Those nipples that are not lactated do not fully develop even at the time of the embryonic period of the animal, therefore their ducts are not formed and will not develop anymore. Changing the number of nipples in a dog with age is also impossible: they cannot become larger, but they never decrease.