Do Dogs Have Lips?

do dogs have lips
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As a dog owner, have you ever wondered if your furry companion has lips? Well, you are not alone. The question “Do Dogs Have Lips?” has been a puzzling mystery for many pet parents. It might seem like a simple question, but the answer is not as straightforward as you might think.

In fact, dogs do have lips, but they are not exactly like human lips. That’s right! While we may think of lips as soft, fleshy protrusions around our mouths, a dog’s lips have a slightly different function and appearance.

So, if you have ever looked at your dog and wondered if they have lips or if you are simply curious about the anatomy of our furry friends, you are in the right place. In this blog post, we will explore the world of dog lips, from their anatomy and function to common lip problems and even the age-old question of whether or not dogs can “kiss” with their lips. So, sit back, relax, and get ready to uncover the fascinating facts about canine lips.

Do Dogs Have Lips?

Yes, dogs do have lips, although they may not look like human lips. Lips are a common feature in many mammals, including dogs, and they serve various functions such as communication, eating, and drinking.

The lips of a dog are not as visible as those of humans. Unlike human lips, a dog’s lips are not soft, fleshy protrusions around the mouth. Instead, they are thin folds of skin around the muzzle area that protect the teeth and gums. The shape and size of a dog’s lips can vary depending on the breed. For example, some breeds, like the Bulldog and Newfoundland, have big upper lips that cover their teeth and help protect them while eating or drinking.

What Are Dog Lips Called?

The anatomy of dogs is fascinating, and their body parts have unique and interesting names. When it comes to their lips, they are known by specific terms that are different from the human anatomical vocabulary.

The upper lip of a dog is called the “flew.” Breeders and veterinarians commonly use this term to describe the loose skin hanging over certain breeds’ upper jaw, such as Bloodhounds and Basset Hounds. Flews can vary in size and shape depending on the breed, and they can affect the appearance and function of the dog’s mouth.

On the other hand, the lower lip of a dog is known as the “lower lip.” It is the fleshy area below the dog’s mouth that helps to protect its teeth and gums. The lower lip is essential to a dog’s anatomy as it helps prevent food and water from spilling out while they eat or drink.

In the world of science, the upper and lower lips of dogs have even more specific names. The upper lip is referred to as the “labium superfluous,” while the lower lip is known as the “labium inferius.” These terms are commonly used in veterinary medicine and animal anatomy studies.

Understanding the terminology for dog lips can be helpful for pet owners, especially when it comes to identifying and diagnosing any potential issues with their dog’s mouth. For instance, if a veterinarian mentions a problem with a dog’s flews, it can be helpful for the owner to know which part of the mouth they are referring to.

How Are Dog Lips Structured?

Dog lips have a unique structure that sets them apart from human lips. While human lips are smooth and continuous, dog lips are bumpy and textured, with no visible connection between the upper and lower lips.

One notable difference between dogs’ upper and lower lips is the presence of a median mucosal fold. This fold attaches the lower lip to the gums in humans, but it is not present in dogs. However, a weaker version of this fold can be found in the flews of certain breeds.

The size and shape of a dog’s lips can vary depending on the breed. Some breeds, such as Bulldogs and Bloodhounds, have large, droopy flews that hang over their upper jaws. Other breeds like Greyhounds and Whippets have smaller, tighter flews. The lower lip is generally hidden beneath the flews, but it plays an important role in protecting the dog’s teeth and gums.

Despite their unique structure, dog lips are crucial for a dog’s ability to eat and drink. Dogs’ long jaws and lips allow them to break bones and tear through flesh, as they house 42 sharp teeth. However, this structure can also lead to some spillage, which is why a dog might leave some water on the floor after drinking.

Dog Breeds With Big Flews

Basset Hound
Dogue de Bordeaux
Spinone Italiano

Why Do Dogs Have Serrated Lips?

The question of why dogs have serrated lips is not entirely clear, but experts suggest that this unique structure serves multiple functions.

One theory is that the bumpy texture of dogs’ lips helps them grip their food better. The bumps can provide a sort of friction that allows dogs to hold onto their food more easily while they chew. This may be particularly important for dogs that eat raw meat or other tough foods.

Another theory is that the bumps on dogs’ lips help clean their teeth. As dogs chew, the bumps can rub against their teeth and help to remove plaque and other debris. This is similar to how certain types of dog food or treats are designed to clean a dog’s teeth while eating.

A third theory is that the bumps on dogs’ lips help to enhance the taste of their food. The texture of the lips may allow dogs to better sense the flavors and textures of the food they are eating, much like the way that our taste buds work.

However, the most widely accepted theory is that the bumps on a dog’s lips help to protect them from accidental bites. Dogs have sharp teeth, and if they accidentally bite down on their lips, it could cause injury or infection. The bumps on their lips provide a cushion between their teeth and lips, preventing cuts and other injuries.

Why Do Dogs Have Black Lips?

The color of a dog’s lips can vary based on their breed, but many dogs do have black lips. This unique characteristic is not just an aesthetic feature, but it also serves a specific purpose. One of the main reasons for a dog’s black lips is to protect them from harmful UV rays coming from the sun.

Unlike the rest of the body, the lips do not have a lot of hair to shield them from the sun’s rays. As a result, dogs with black lips have a built-in defense mechanism to protect them from sunburns and potential skin cancer.

The black color of a dog’s lips is due to a pigment called melanin, which is responsible for darkening the skin and hair. Melanin production is a genetic trait and is influenced by factors such as breed, age, and health. If two dogs with black lips breed, their offspring are likely to have the same lip color, as the trait is passed down through genetics.

However, not all dogs have black lips. Some may have non-pigmented lips, which are often pink or flesh-colored. Others may have piebald patterns that result in a combination of black and non-pigmented areas on their lips.

What Are the Functions of Lips in Dogs?

  • Protection: Dog lips form continuous protection around the mouth. They do not let anything directly hit the teeth or gums if it comes flying. A reliable natural safety mechanism can be deployed by closing the mouth and joining the lips together.
  • Food and Saliva: As in human beings, lips are the gateways to the alimentary canal in dogs, thus providing the path to introduce food into the stomach. But it also plays a role in retaining saliva in the mouth. Zygomatic salivary glands also empty into the mouth.
  • Temperature Regulation: Lips help regulate the body temperature by opening the mouth and initiating the airflow. Dogs can easily cool down in hot weather this way.
  • Communication: Dogs adjust their lips to show their feelings and express their emotions. For instance, an angry dog will bull his lips apart to bare his teeth. Similarly, when dogs are pleased with someone, they smile at them.
  • Breastfeeding: Dog lips help suck the teat. Young dogs use their lips to suck the mammary glands of their mothers to feed on their milk.

What Are the Health Issues in Dog Lips?

  • Cleft Palate occurs if the tissues making up the lips do not join. Resultantly, a slit can form in the upper lip. Puppies with this problem rarely survive and are mostly euthanized; however, their lifespan can be extended with proper care.
  • Tight Lip Syndrome: This defect is mostly prevalent in Shar-Pei dogs. It is a congenital defect in which the lower lip vestibule is either small or absent.
  • Lip Fold Dermatitis: This type of inflammation occurs in dogs with drooping upper lips and lower lip folds—English Bulldogs, for instance. Such a structure easily accumulates moisture and bacteria, leading to inflammation and other skin issues.
  • Lip Wounds: Chewing on hard things or even an inter-dog fight can lead to lip wounds. Though these issues are not so serious, provided the injury suffered is not big, such wounds can quickly get infected if not treated properly.
  • Lower Lip Redundancy: A dog suffering from this issue has a hard time controlling the saliva. Resultantly, it will keep falling out of the mouth. Though it is not bad for the dog himself, it is usually not okay for the people around him.
  • Oral Warts: It is a kind of tumor found in the canine lips and gums. It is known to be a benign disease. Mostly, it affects young dogs—around two years of age.

How to Protect a Dog’s Lips?

  • Regular Cleaning: Regular cleaning of your dog’s lips is essential to maintain good hygiene. You can use a soft damp cloth or cotton ball to wipe away any dirt or debris that may have accumulated on the lips. If your dog has been eating or drinking, it’s best to clean its lips right after, as food and water can easily accumulate on the lips.
  • Moisturizing: Just like humans, dogs can experience dryness and chapping of their lips. Applying a lip balm or moisturizer can help prevent this. However, using a pet-specific lip balm or moisturizer is crucial, as human products can be harmful to dogs. It’s best to consult with your veterinarian to get recommendations on pet-safe products.
  • Protection From the Sun: As mentioned earlier, some dogs have black lips that serve as a natural sunblock. However, if your dog has non-pigmented lips, you need to protect them from harmful UV rays. You can apply pet-safe sunscreen to your dog’s lips before going out in the sun. Alternatively, you can use a lip balm or moisturizer containing SPF to protect your dog’s lips.
  • Dental Hygiene: Good dental hygiene can also contribute to the health of your dog’s lips. Regular teeth brushing can help prevent plaque buildup and gum disease, which can lead to infections and other oral health problems. You can use pet-specific toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush to clean your dog’s teeth.
  • Watch Out for Signs of Problems: As a responsible pet owner, it is essential to keep an eye out for any signs of lip problems in your dog. If you notice any cracks, sores, or redness on their lips, it’s best to consult with your veterinarian immediately. These signs may indicate an underlying health problem that needs prompt attention.

Can Dogs Kiss With Their Lips?

Dogs do not have lips like humans that they can use to plant kisses. Instead, they have a tongue that they use for licking. When dogs lick humans or other dogs, it can be a sign of affection, submission, or even a way to get attention. Licking is also a way for dogs to communicate with each other. For example, a mother dog licks her puppies to groom and bond with them.

It is important to note that while dog kisses can be a sign of love, it is also essential to consider other factors. For example, if a dog is excessively licking a particular area on a human or another dog, it could be a sign of a health issue that requires attention. Additionally, dogs might lick because they enjoy the taste of salty or sweet substances on someone’s skin or clothing.

Moreover, it is not advisable for humans to let dogs lick their faces or mouth. Dogs’ mouths contain bacteria that can be harmful to humans. Dogs also lick themselves and other objects that are not clean, which can transfer germs and diseases. While occasional kisses from a pet dog might not cause any harm, it is essential to maintain hygiene and cleanliness. It is also essential to teach dogs good manners, such as not jumping up to lick people’s faces, to prevent accidents or injuries.

Conclusion: Do Dogs Have Lips?

While dogs do have lips, they are not exactly like human lips. A dog’s lips are thin folds of skin around the muzzle area that protect the teeth and gums. The upper lip is called the “flew,” and the lower lip is simply known as the “lower lip.” Dog lips have a unique structure that sets them apart from human lips, with bumps and textures that may serve multiple functions, including gripping food, cleaning teeth, and enhancing taste. Understanding the anatomy and function of dog lips can be helpful for pet owners, especially when it comes to identifying and diagnosing any potential issues with their dog’s mouth. Overall, dog lips are a fascinating and important part of a dog’s anatomy that plays a crucial role in their ability to eat, drink, and communicate.


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