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Do Dogs Have Lips? Everything You Need To Know

Do dogs have lips? Every time we see a cute dog, our lips curve into a smile by themselves. But have you ever wondered whether dogs too have lips as we do?. Yes, dogs have lips. They are an essential part of a dog’s anatomy. Nature has its way of making things perfect. So by that theory, dogs do have lips. But unlike humans, their lips are well-distinguished between upper and lower lips. We smile, talk, and laugh with our lips. Likewise, dogs use their lips for various purposes like munching, smacking, drooling, etc. Getting curious? Unseal your lips. Let’s talk more about “Do dogs have lips?”

Why Do Dog’s Lips Look the Way They Are?

Like in humans, lips are one of the defining characteristics of a dog’s face. But dog’s lips are distinctive from humans’. Usually, a dog’s lips have two layers:

  • Outside layer: The dog’s pout is defined by the outer layer.
  • Inside layer:  The inside layer consists of sensitive nerve endings. These nerve endings help to protect the muscles used to move the lips.

These distinctive features help the dog in various movements like curling up the upper lip over the lower one while drinking water. In addition, the flexible muscles in the lower lip help the dog push the food inside.

Parts of the Dog’s Mouth

Like humans or any other species, a dog’s mouth has teeth, gums, tongue, and lips. Let’s have a look at the anatomy.

Teeth: Humans and dogs have a whole set of different teeth with variations in size and number of teeth. While we have 32 teeth, dogs have 42 baby and adult teeth simultaneously. Their teeth are sharp, which helps in biting and catching the prey.

Gums: The gums are thicker than human gums. They help to protect the teeth. Also,  they are more resistant to tooth decay.

Lips: The lips are separated into the lower and upper lips. While the human lips are well defined and shaped, dog’s lips are bigger and more flexible. This helps the dog to curl up the lips while drinking water. They use their lips for communication too.

Tongue: The tongues are flat and longer in dogs than in humans. This is designed for lapping and is covered with projections called papillae. This helps the dog drink water and chew large chunks of food while eating.

Jawline: The jawline of a dog helps in drinking water and eating food. The jawline is designed in such a way that it helps to trap water and direct it into the mouth. The jaws are also loose to open their mouth wide and push in the food they eat. Also, the cheeks and the lips are not as developed, leading to drooling.

How Do a Dog’s Mouth and Lips Function?

Like normal humans, dogs also use their lips and mouth for the same functions, such as bark, eat, drink, and lick. 

The four primary functions

Smell: Wondering how mouth and lips help smell when we know dogs smell through their nose? But yes, dogs use their mouth and lips to smell things around. This is called “sucking” and “licking.” When a dog licks someone or something, it passes through a channel at the top of the mouth. Then, it is sent to an organ called the olfactory bulb. This organ that helps in smelling is located between the nasal cavity and the roof of the dog’s mouth.

Image source: Petpooskiddoo

Eating food: Obviously, any human or other species eats through the mouth—the mouth and lips of a dog function so that food consumption is not complicated. The lower lip works as a shovel and helps push the food towards its back tooth. It also helps to push the solid food-like bones down into the throat.

Communication: Dogs use their mouth and lips to communicate with humans. To gain your attention, dogs stick out their lower lip and slightly move their head forward. This way, a dog uses the lips for communication.

Aggression: It is a common sight to see the position of the mouth and lips of an aggressive dog. They use their mouth to exhibit aggression. This is done by sticking out the lower lip and curling the upper lip over it. Interestingly, this position of the mouth and lips is termed “fear grin,” an oxymoron. Commonly, mouth and lips are used in this function to show that they are aggressive and brutal. Dogs actively use mouths and lips to communicate with other humans and animals.

What Are the Dog’s Lips Called?

Have we ever given a thought about what the lips of a dog are called? A lip is just a lip. But no. Dogs have an upper lip called flew and a lower lip.

Flew lips: The bigger the flew lips are, the more drool is. Dog breeds with large flew lips are: 

These dogs have big flew lips, and you cannot find the lower lip without pulling the skin back.

Lower lip: Lower lip is usually smaller than the upper lip. It helps in drinking water, eating food, and communicating.

Dog’s Lips and Bumps

When we take a closer look at the dog’s lips, we may notice bumps in them. Humans have soft and smooth lips, while dogs’ lips are full of spots, mainly around the edges. These bumps are called papillae. These bumps help the dog grip solid stuff like bones while eating. Also, canines have sharp teeth that may injure the lips while eating or hunting, and it may cause severe pain. The bumps prevent the teeth from damaging the lips. The lumps in the lips also help grip the food without falling off the mouth while eating.

Why Are the Dog’s Lips Black?

Commonly, all dogs come with dark and black lips. This is because of the creation of melanin in the dog and is a normal function. The amount of melanin determines the lip color in the dog. As the dog grows older, the melanin secretion wears off. This is the reason for the change in color of the dog’s lips as they grow. 

Do All Dogs Have Lips?

Yes. All dogs have lips. Only a few dogs have more visible lips than the others. Dogs with more visible lips have lips that are hanging from the mouth. This can be commonly seen in Pitbulls and Bulldogs. Few dogs have more defined lips. The muscles in the lips help in the movement of the tongue. In the absence of lips, there is no way for a dog to eat or drink.

Do Dogs Smile?

According to studies, dogs do not exactly smile, but they appear to be smiling. One can always tell the dog’s state of mind by looking at the corners of the lips. We can notice two familiar smiles performed by dogs. 

  • One is the ‘submissive smile.’ It is a growl, and the front teeth are bared behind the tight lip. 
  • The other smile is observed when the dog experiences happiness and is in a fun mood. 

According to animal behaviorists, this isn’t a smile but simply a muscular reflex. Bright eyes and lolling tongue combined with this smile means the dog is calm, secure, and relaxed. Also, new studies say animals do smile to express happiness. Dogs also give a smile-like expression when they want to gain our attention. However, it is all about understanding and communicating with our pets.

Do Dogs Kiss?

Now, we know that dogs have lips. Our very first wonder would be that do dogs kiss? Sadly, dogs do not kiss. Instead, it is perceived that they lick and nip as a form of showing affection. Licking and nipping are part of grooming, and it is all that we interpret and perceive our pets.

Lips Act as Health Indicators

Lips act as an early indicator of health problems. So, if you see any of the below signs and changes, your immediate bet is to take them to the nearest vet.

  • Lumps inside the mouth
  • Problems in eating or drinking
  • Drooling excessively
  • Red or raw-looking gums
  • White spots on the tongue
  • Bleeding from the mouth

Frequently Asked Questions

Do dogs have upper lips?

Dogs have upper lips called ‘Flews.’ The upper lips help move the food around their mouth while chewing. It also helps in holding the food and drinking water.

Why do dogs lick their lips?

Dogs lick their lips for various reasons. For example, they lick the lips to clean them, smell them, and ingest liquids. Sometimes, they lick their lips to moisten them. Dogs also lick their lips when nervous, happy, or sad.

What are muzzles?

The mouth of the dog is called a muzzle. It is also called a “hull.” The muzzle contains two layers of the lips; the upper flew and the lower lip.

What should the dog’s lips be?

The dog’s lips are usually dark and black. This is because the amount of melanin decides the color of the lips. However, melanin becomes lower as the dogs grow older, and thus the color of the lips also changes.

What are Serrated lips?

Dogs have serrated lips that help them hold the food and tear it to pieces. The teeth form a low ridge on their lower lip. This enables them to keep the food firmly and prevent it from falling.

Final Thoughts

All dogs have lips, and some have more visible lips. Few breeds have more defined lips. Lips are an essential part of a dog, and they help to eat, drink and communicate. The muscles in the lips help to move mouthparts like a tongue. The dog’s lips are dark and black. Melanin production determines the color. As the dog grows older, the melanin wears off, and the color of lips changes. Dogs lick their lips for various reasons, and it also shows that they are happy, sad, or nervous. Lips act as an early indicator of a dog’s health, and any changes in their lips need immediate vet attention.

Videos on Dog’s Lips

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