Do Dogs Have Lips? Here’s The Answer 2023

The question, “Do dogs have lips?” often arises when contemplating the anatomical features of our canine companions. While human lips are a noticeable and versatile part of our facial structure, it is worth exploring the presence and characteristics of lips in dogs.

Dogs do have lips, but their anatomical structure differs significantly from human lips. While human lips are prominent and flexible, serving various functions like speaking, eating, and expressing emotions, a dog’s lips are generally thinner and less mobile. Dogs’ lips are composed of skin and muscles that surround their mouth and help them seal their mouths shut.

However, compared to humans, dogs have less pronounced and defined lips due to their muzzle shape and facial structure. The primary purpose of a dog’s lips is to provide a barrier and aid in functions like eating, drinking, and grooming. Their lips help prevent food and water from spilling out while they eat or drink.

Additionally, the thinness and flexibility of their lips allow them to groom themselves, lick their fur, and clean their paws effectively. While dogs may not have the same range of expressive lip movements as humans, they can still convey emotions and communicate through body language, including facial expressions and vocalizations.

Do dogs have lips like humans?

Do Dogs Have Lips

Dogs do not have lips like humans. The structure of a dog’s mouth is different from that of a human. While humans have distinct lips that surround the opening of the mouth, dogs have what is called a “flews” or “chops.” These are the folds of skin that hang down on the sides of a dog’s mouth.

The flews can vary in size and prominence among different dog breeds. They serve to help contain saliva and prevent excessive drooling in dogs. However, they are not equivalent to human lips in terms of appearance or function.

What is the anatomy of a dog’s mouth?

The anatomy of a dog’s mouth consists of several components that serve various functions. Here are the key features:

  1. Lips (Flews): Dogs have upper and lower lips, known as flews, which are folds of skin surrounding the opening of the mouth. The size and prominence of the flews can vary among different breeds.
  2. Muzzle: The muzzle is the elongated, forward portion of a dog’s face that houses the mouth. It consists of the upper and lower jaws, which hold the teeth.
  3. Teeth: Dogs have different types of teeth, including incisors, canines, premolars, and molars. These teeth are used for various purposes, such as biting, tearing, and chewing food.
  4. Tongue: The tongue of a dog is a muscular organ that helps with tasting, swallowing, and grooming. It is often covered in small bumps called papillae.
  5. Salivary Glands: Dogs have salivary glands that produce saliva, which helps with the lubrication and digestion of food. Saliva also contains enzymes that aid in the initial breakdown of carbohydrates.
  6. Palate: The palate is the roof of the mouth. Dogs have both a hard palate at the front and a soft palate at the back. The soft palate plays a role in closing off the nasal passages during swallowing to prevent food and liquid from entering the nose.
  7. Tonsils: Dogs have tonsils located at the back of the throat. These lymphoid tissues help with the immune response by producing white blood cells.

It’s important to note that the specific anatomy of a dog’s mouth can vary slightly among different breeds, but these are the general features found in most dogs.

Are a dog’s lips visible from the outside?

In some breeds, the lips are more noticeable and prominent, while in others, they may be less visible. Breeds with larger flews, such as Bloodhounds or Basset Hounds, have more prominent and droopy lips that are visible even when the dog’s mouth is closed. These types of lips often hang down and may give the appearance of a “sad” or “droopy” expression.

On the other hand, in breeds with shorter muzzles, such as Bulldogs or Pugs, the lips may be less visible when the dog’s mouth is closed. The shorter muzzle can make the lips blend in with the overall shape of the face. However, when the dog opens its mouth, the lips become more apparent.

It’s worth noting that even when a dog’s lips are not as visible as human lips, they still serve important functions in the dog’s overall oral anatomy, including containing saliva and aiding in eating and drinking.

Can dogs pucker their lips?

Do Dogs Have Lips

Dogs cannot pucker their lips in the same way that humans can. Puckering the lips is a specific muscular movement that humans can perform due to the complex musculature and flexibility of our lips. Dogs do not have the same level of muscular control over their lips, and their lip structure is different from humans.

While dogs cannot pucker their lips, they can make various facial expressions by moving their facial muscles. For example, they can raise their lips to reveal their teeth, which is often seen as a sign of aggression or threat. Dogs can also show other facial expressions through their eyes, ears, and overall body language to communicate their emotions and intentions.

Do dogs have upper and lower lips?

Dogs do have upper and lower lips, although their structure and appearance differ from human lips. In dogs, the upper and lower lips are often referred to as “flews” or “chops.” These flews are folds of skin that surround the opening of the dog’s mouth. The size and prominence of the flews can vary among different breeds.

The upper lip of a dog is typically more visible and can be observed as a fold of skin that hangs down from the upper jaw. The lower lip is also present, although it is usually less pronounced compared to the upper lip. These flews help to contain saliva and prevent excessive drooling in dogs.

While the function of a dog’s lips is somewhat similar to that of human lips in terms of holding and controlling saliva, their appearance and mobility are different. Dogs lack the ability to pucker their lips or perform fine motor movements with their lips, as humans can.

How do a dog’s lips differ from human lips?

A dog’s lips differ from human lips in several ways:

  1. Structure: Human lips have a distinct shape and structure with a vermillion border that separates the colored portion of the lips from the surrounding skin. In contrast, a dog’s lips lack this clear distinction and have a more continuous transition from the skin to the flews.
  2. Mobility: Human lips are highly mobile and can perform intricate movements like puckering, pouting, and forming various shapes for speech and expression. Dogs, on the other hand, have limited mobility in their lips. While they can raise or retract their lips to reveal their teeth, they do not possess the same range of movement and fine motor control as humans.
  3. Sensitivity: Human lips are highly sensitive and contain a dense network of nerve endings, allowing us to feel texture, temperature, and pressure. Dog lips are less sensitive in comparison, as their primary sensory organs are their nose and tongue.
  4. Appearance: Human lips are often plump and smooth, while a dog’s flews can be looser and hang down from the sides of the mouth. The size and prominence of the flews can vary among different breeds, with some breeds having more noticeable and droopy lips than others.

Overall, the primary function of a dog’s lips is to help contain saliva, aid in eating and drinking, and assist in certain facial expressions. However, their structure, mobility, and sensory capabilities are distinct from human lips.

Are a dog’s lips sensitive to touch?

Do Dogs Have Lips

While a dog’s lips are not as sensitive as their nose or tongue, they do possess some sensitivity to touch. The level of sensitivity can vary among individual dogs and breeds. Dogs have nerve endings in their lips that allow them to detect pressure, temperature, and some degree of texture.

When touched, a dog’s lips can elicit a response or reaction, especially if the touch is uncomfortable or painful. It’s important to note that some dogs may be more sensitive than others, and individual preferences for touch can vary.

It’s generally recommended to be gentle and considerate when touching a dog’s lips, as excessive or rough handling can cause discomfort or stress. As with any interaction with a dog, it’s crucial to observe their body language and response to ensure they are comfortable and not displaying signs of distress or agitation.

Can dogs use their lips for communication?

Dogs can use their lips for communication to some extent. While they don’t have the same level of control and expressiveness as human lips, dogs can use their lip movements as part of their overall body language to convey certain messages and emotions. Here are a few examples:

  1. Submissive or Fearful Signals: When a dog feels submissive or fearful, they may pull their lips back and down, exposing their front teeth. This can be seen as a submissive or appeasing gesture, signaling that they are not a threat.
  2. Aggressive or Threatening Signals: Conversely, if a dog curls back their lips to reveal their canine teeth, it can be a sign of aggression or a warning. This display, known as “snarling” or “baring teeth,” is a clear indication that the dog is feeling threatened or trying to communicate a desire to be left alone.
  3. Relaxed or Content Expression: In a relaxed state, a dog’s lips may be loose and hang naturally. This indicates that the dog is calm and comfortable in their environment.

It’s important to note that lip movements alone should be interpreted in conjunction with other body language signals, such as ear position, tail wagging, posture, and vocalizations, to better understand a dog’s overall communication and emotional state.

Do dogs use their lips for eating and drinking?

Dogs do use their lips for eating and drinking. When dogs eat or drink, they typically use their lips to help control and guide food or water into their mouths. The lips play a role in preventing spillage and allowing for more efficient consumption.

For example, when a dog takes a bite of food, their lips can help to enclose the mouth around the food, keeping it in place while they chew. Similarly, when drinking water, the lips create a seal around the rim of a bowl or the source of water, allowing the dog to create suction and lap up the liquid without excessive spillage.

While dogs do not have the same level of dexterity in their lips as humans do, their lips still serve a functional purpose in the process of eating and drinking.

Are there any specific functions of a dog’s lips?

Do Dogs Have Lips

Dog’s lips serve several specific functions:

  1. Containing Saliva: The lips, or flews, in dogs help to contain saliva within the mouth. This prevents excessive drooling and aids in the process of swallowing.
  2. Preventing Spillage: When a dog eats or drinks, the lips play a role in preventing spillage. By enclosing the mouth around food or creating a seal while drinking, the lips help keep the food or liquid within the mouth and reduce mess.
  3. Communicating Emotions: While not as expressive as human lips, a dog’s lip movements can contribute to their overall facial expressions and body language. Dogs can use their lips to communicate various emotions, such as submissiveness, fear, aggression, or contentment.
  4. Protecting Teeth and Mouth: The lips provide a layer of protection for a dog’s teeth and inner oral structures. They help shield the teeth from external damage and prevent foreign objects from easily entering the mouth.
  5. Assisting in Grooming: Dogs may use their lips during grooming activities, such as licking their fur or cleaning certain body parts. The lips can help to maneuver and direct the tongue for grooming purposes.

While the primary function of a dog’s lips is not the same as that of human lips, they play a vital role in the overall oral health, communication, and functional aspects of a dog‘s daily life.

Can dogs make different facial expressions with their lips?

Dogs can make different facial expressions with their lips, although their range of expression is more limited compared to humans. Here are a few facial expressions dogs can exhibit with their lips:

  1. Relaxed or Neutral Expression: When a dog is in a calm and content state, their lips are typically loose and relaxed, hanging naturally without much tension.
  2. Submissive or Appeasing Expression: In situations where a dog is feeling submissive or trying to appease, they may pull their lips back and down, exposing their front teeth. This is often accompanied by other submissive body language signals.
  3. Aggressive or Threatening Expression: Dogs can also display aggression or a threat by curling their lips back to expose their canine teeth. This display, known as snarling or baring teeth, is a clear warning sign indicating that the dog feels threatened or is trying to communicate a desire for the perceived threat to back off.

While these are some common examples of lip expressions in dogs, it’s important to consider that lip movements should be observed in conjunction with other facial expressions, body posture, ear position, tail position, and overall body language to gain a more comprehensive understanding of a dog’s emotional state and intentions.

Do dog breeds have different lip structures?

Dog breeds can have different lip structures and variations in the size, shape, and prominence of their lips. The lip structure can be influenced by factors such as genetic traits, breed standards, and specific functions the breed was originally bred for.

Some breeds are known to have more prominent and droopy lips, while others may have lips that are less pronounced or tightly fitting. For example:

  1. Breeds with prominent lips: Bloodhounds, Basset Hounds, St. Bernards, and some Mastiff breeds are known for their large, droopy flews that hang down from the sides of their mouths.
  2. Breeds with tighter or less pronounced lips: Breeds like Greyhounds, Doberman Pinschers, and many Terrier breeds typically have tighter lips that fit closely to the contours of their muzzle.

These variations in lip structure can contribute to the overall appearance and expression of different dog breeds. However, it’s important to note that individual variation within breeds can exist, and not all dogs within a specific breed will have identical lip structures.

Can dogs get chapped or dry lips?

Dogs can experience chapped or dry lips, although it is less common compared to humans. Environmental factors, weather conditions, and certain health issues can contribute to dry or chapped lips in dogs. Here are some possible causes:

  1. Weather: Extreme cold or dry weather conditions can lead to dryness and chapping of a dog’s lips. Just like human skin, the lips can be affected by exposure to harsh elements.
  2. Dehydration: Insufficient hydration can contribute to dryness, including dry lips, in dogs. Ensuring that your dog has access to clean water and is adequately hydrated is important to maintain overall moisture balance.
  3. Allergies or Irritation: Dogs can develop allergies or sensitivities to certain food ingredients, environmental allergens, or even products that come into contact with their lips. These allergies or irritations can lead to dryness, redness, or chapped lips.
  4. Sun Exposure: Prolonged sun exposure can cause sunburn and dryness, including on the lips. This is especially true for dogs with light-colored or thinly-haired lips.

If you notice that your dog‘s lips appear dry, cracked, or uncomfortable, it is advisable to consult with a veterinarian. They can assess the underlying cause and provide appropriate treatment or recommendations to alleviate the dryness and promote healing.

Are there any health issues related to a dog’s lips?

Do Dogs Have Lips

While dogs’ lips are generally resilient, there are a few health issues that can affect them. Here are some common health issues related to a dog’s lips:

  1. Infections: Dogs can develop infections in their lips, such as bacterial or fungal infections. Symptoms may include redness, swelling, discharge, and discomfort. These infections often require veterinary treatment, including appropriate medications.
  2. Lip Fold Dermatitis: Dogs with loose or pendulous flews, particularly breeds with pronounced facial wrinkles, can develop lip fold dermatitis. This condition occurs when the skin folds around the lips trap moisture, debris, and bacteria, leading to inflammation, redness, irritation, and sometimes infection. Regular cleaning and proper grooming of the lip folds are essential to prevent and manage lip fold dermatitis.
  3. Trauma or Injuries: Dogs can experience lip injuries from various causes, including bites, accidents, or foreign objects getting lodged in the mouth. Lacerations, cuts, or puncture wounds to the lips can occur, requiring veterinary attention for cleaning, evaluation, and potential suturing.
  4. Tumors or Growths: Like other areas of the body, the lips can develop tumors or abnormal growths. These growths may be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). If you notice any unusual lumps, bumps, or changes in the lips, it is important to have them examined by a veterinarian.

If you observe any abnormalities or concerns regarding your dog‘s lips, it is advisable to consult with a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Early detection and intervention can help manage and resolve many lip-related health issues effectively.

What should dog owners know about caring for their dog’s lips?

Caring for your dog’s lips is an important part of their overall oral hygiene and well-being. Here are some key points for dog owners to consider:

  1. Regular Inspection: Periodically inspect your dog’s lips for any signs of abnormalities, such as redness, swelling, sores, or lumps. Early detection of any issues can help address them promptly.
  2. Cleaning Lip Folds: If your dog has loose or pendulous flews, it’s crucial to clean their lip folds regularly. Use a soft cloth or gentle pet wipe to remove any dirt, debris, or moisture that may accumulate within the folds. This can help prevent lip fold dermatitis and reduce the risk of infection.
  3. Hydration: Ensure that your dog has access to clean, fresh water at all times. Sufficient hydration is important for maintaining overall moisture balance, including the health of their lips.
  4. Avoid Irritants: Be mindful of potential irritants that can come into contact with your dog’s lips. Avoid using harsh chemicals or products on or near their mouth that may cause dryness, irritation, or allergic reactions.
  5. Regular Veterinary Check-ups: Include your dog‘s lips as part of routine veterinary check-ups. The veterinarian can examine the lips and oral cavity, address any concerns, and provide guidance on lip care specific to your dog’s needs.
  6. Dental Care: Maintaining good dental hygiene is essential for overall oral health, including the lips. Brushing your dog’s teeth regularly, providing dental chews or toys, and scheduling professional dental cleanings as recommended by your veterinarian can help prevent dental issues that may affect the lips.
  7. Nutrition: A balanced and appropriate diet plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy skin, including the lips. Ensure that your dog is receiving a well-balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs.

Remember, if you notice any persistent issues with your dog’s lips, such as dryness, swelling, or discomfort, it’s best to consult with a veterinarian for a proper evaluation and guidance.


Do Dogs Have Lips? While dogs do have lips, their structure, and function differ from human lips. Dogs have upper and lower lips, often referred to as flews or chops, which surround the opening of their mouths. However, their lips are not as prominent or mobile as human lips.

Dogs cannot pucker their lips or perform intricate movements like humans can. Instead, their lips primarily serve functions such as containing saliva, preventing spillage during eating and drinking, and playing a role in certain facial expressions.

Although less sensitive than their nose or tongue, dogs’ lips can detect pressure and temperature. Understanding and caring for a dog‘s lips is important for their overall oral hygiene and well-being.