Do Dogs Have Lips? (Detailed Explanation)

Are you also wondering if dogs have lips? You’ve more than likely checked your furry friend’s mouth several times but still find yourself doubting if they have lips or not.

Just like with humans, nature has created everything with perfection, with dogs being no exception. However, each of God’s creations is unique in its own way. A dog is entirely different from a cat, likewise, a cow is entirely different from an elephant.

do dogs have lips
Do Dogs Have Lips?

To answer your question……

Do dogs have lips? Yes, they have lips! They are an important part of dogs’ anatomy. However, their lips are unlike humans who have well-demarcated upper and lower lips.

Interesting enough to read further, right? Stay tuned!

Dogs Do Have Lips But They Are Different From Human Lips In Both Structure And Function

Dogs are also created with lips, however, their lips differ in structure and functions in comparison to humans. Lips in dogs are the entire lining of their mouth, bordering both the upper and lower parts.

Unlike humans, they have no separate upper and lower lips, but instead a soft tissue lining that covers the edges of their lip flaps and lines their mouth, covering the entire oral cavity.

They have a highly vascularized lip with a rich blood supply underneath. They are well innervated with the upper lips housing the whiskers seen around the nose.

A dog’s lips also differ in structure. They have long jaws with lips that aren’t separated from each other, unlike humans, with short and small jaws.

Lips in humans are used to help chew food and aid communication, but dogs use theirs as a perennial shield around their jaw and teeth. Furthermore, their lips play a crucial role in helping them sense scents around them, giving them a sharp sense of smell.

The upper lip of the dog is called the “flew’, while the lower one is still referred to as the lower lip. The “flew” comes in various shapes and sizes. The bigger the jowls and flies, the more the dog drools.

Examples of such breeds include the Mastiffs, Saint Bernards, Retrievers, Bulldogs, Basset Hounds, Bloodhounds, Newfoundland, Dogue de Bordeaux, Spinone, Italiano, Bull Mastiff, and Bull Terriers.

The lips are anatomically separated into the labium superfluous entafada (upper lip) and the labium inferius (lower lip). They are made up of skin, muscle, tendon, glands, and oral mucosa, with the lip margins being the meeting place of the skin and mucosa. The muscle responsible for closing the lips is the orbicularis oris muscle, also known as the transverse fibers.

Why Are A Dog’s Lips Black?

Have you ever asked yourself that question? Well, that thought is nothing but a common misconception. The reason for this is that dogs have lips that are of the same color as their gums and nose.

What determines their lip color is the amount of melanin produced in their body. Thus answering why some dogs can be seen with grey or brown lips or with any other colors.

The more melanin produced, the darker their coat, skin, and lips. However, factors like the growth hormone and its production could cause the color change later in their life no matter the amount of melanin produced.

Why Do Some Dogs Lips Have Bumps?

One of the distinguishing features of a dog’s lips, when compared to humans, is the presence of rough bumps. It’s natural and neither congenital nor a disease.

The bumpy mouth aids dogs in gripping and securing their food while also ensuring that the outer lip layer is not injured from trauma via the teeth/chewing.

Although bumps on the canine lips are normal, they can be used to spot a disease called “Oral Papilloma”. This is caused by oral papillomavirus that gives rise to many clustered bumps appearing across the gums and mouth. 

It is more commonly found in dogs under two years of age and is highly contagious, resulting in small benign tumors within the dog’s mouth. It’s transmitted via shared toys or general dog-on-dog greetings.

Uninfected papilloma does not need any medical intervention, nor does it result in symptoms.  However, infected bumps can appear with cardinal signs of inflammation such as swelling and pain. The infected papilloma must be treated with antibiotics and other supportive therapy as prescribed only by a veterinarian.

Can dogs smile?

Having understood that dogs do have lips, you may be wondering if they can smile or not. However, judging their state of mind that can be seen through their mouth commissures.

There are two common smiling signs seen with dogs. The first is the “submissive smile”, which nearly resembles a snarl, with the front teeth bared behind tight lips.

The second type of smile can be seen when dogs are happy, having fun, or when they’re play-fighting with other dogs around their premises. What can be interpreted as a smiling dog is when the dog is seen with his lips flaccid, especially at the commissures.

Considering the bright eyes and lolling tongue, the loose contours of the lips give the impression that if the dog isn’t smiling per se, then he at least appears to be relaxed and content.

Therefore, we can conclude that a dog’s manner of smiling is entirely different from what humans experience.

vizsla dog lips
Vizsla dog lips

Related Questions

Can Dogs Kiss?

You may also be wondering if dogs can kiss since they have lips but the answer is no, they can’t. However, grooming behaviors such as licking and nipping are what you can perceive as a form of affection.

They neither kiss other dogs nor their owners out of affection or love. The reason they lick your skin may be anything, however, it is mostly because they love the salty taste of your skin.

However, that doesn’t prevent you from kissing them. You can play with them in any manner you want.  Not only dogs are known for the inability to kiss, but most human cultures don’t either.

What Are The Spikes On My Dogs’ Lips?

It’s not a sign of infection or disease for dogs to have spikes in their lips. However, it is of great significance to their state of health and well-being.

Veterinarians do use it as an aid in performing tooth extraction and in the cleaning of their teeth.

Why Do Large Dogs Breed With Droopy Lips?

Historically, large dogs are bred mostly for hunting, guarding, fighting, and gaming. The more they are used for fighting or hunting, the more they droop. Quite fascinating!

The extra skin seen around their lips serves as protection against trauma from other animals. Examples of such breeds include the shar-peis, boxers, bloodhounds, mastiffs, and bulldogs.

Why Do Dogs Lick Their Lips?

Dogs can lick their lips for several reasons. It could be as a sign of anxiety, affirmation, stress, or as a reaction when there is food nearby. Lip licking is mostly a stress signal. When you notice that, study your dog well and stop or remove whatever you see as a stressor to them that initiated such a response.

Whenever you try to intervene and your efforts are futile, you can directly consult your veterinarian, dog behaviorist, or trainer. However, lip licking can also be a sign of a relaxed dog. Therefore, as a dog owner, it is best to be conversant with your dog’s behavior to give them the best care.

stuart and his dog

Family Dog Expert Author

Hi there! I’m Stuart, a devoted dog lover and family dog expert with over a decade of experience working with our furry companions. My passion for dogs drives me to share my knowledge and expertise, helping families build strong, loving bonds with their four-legged friends. When I’m not writing for SirDoggie, you’ll find me hiking, playing with my beautiful dog, or studying music.