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Why Do Dogs Have Serrated Lips? 6 Likely Reasons

Jana Blagojevic

By Jana Blagojevic

brown dog face bullpit

As a pet parent, you have probably stared at your companion observing their strange anatomy and trying to figure out their purpose. A dog’s body is perfectly designed for hunting, running, living in the wild, and eating meat. While we can certainly tell the purpose of almost every part of a dog’s mouth, one thing is particularly mysterious to many owners—a dog’s serrated lips. Dogs have serrated lower lips, and many theories about their purpose exist.

In the article below, we’ll discuss the purpose behind a dog’s serrated lips.

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The 6 Likely Reasons Why Dogs Have Serrated Lips

There are many unique and interesting theories about the purpose of a dog’s serrated lips, and it’s difficult to point out only one specific purpose. While there is no definitive explanation for those little bumps on our dogs’ lips, there are theories that offer a close enough explanation.

1. Helps Them Carry Objects and Food in Their Mouths

One of the most popular theories is that dogs’ serrated lips help them carry objects in their mouth. Since dogs rely on their mouths to carry stuff, they need that extra support, and those little ridges on their mouth can really come in handy. Dogs don’t have opposable thumbs, so you probably notice how they use their lips to explore and hold onto their favorite toys. If it weren’t for those small useful ridges, the toy might just slip out of their mouths, but this way, it is secured between their lips.

welsh sheepdog lying on grass with a ball toy in its mouth
Image Credit: Wirestock Creators, Shutterstock

2. Cleans Plaque and Tartar off Teeth and Gums

Other theories suggest that these ridges help clean off any excess tartar in a dog’s teeth and gums during chewing. The serrated lips may rub against their teeth during chewing, which helps remove any excess food that may accumulate between the teeth.

3. Allows Their Mouths to Open Wide

The serrated lips might be the dog’s way to allow its mouth to open wide. The serrated lips stretch all the way to the back of the dog’s mouth, which is why their mouth may appear “crumpled” when relaxed. These serrations can stretch and give dogs more room to open their jaws.

brown spanish dog opening her big mouth
Image Credit: Lucia Romero, Shutterstock

4. Enhances Their Taste

Since a dog’s sense of taste is very keen and sensitive, these ridges can also help them detect the taste, texture, and temperature of an object or food. They contain the same sensors as the rest of their lips or gums, which can be very useful for identifying objects while eating or chewing.

5. Helps Them with Grooming

Grooming is another potentially important role of their serrated lips, as the small bumps help them clean any debris from their fur.

friendly dog licking other dog's face
Image Credit: Stickler, Shutterstock

6. Prevents Their Longer Teeth from Piercing Through the Gums and Lips

Our last but probably one of the most logical explanations behind these mysterious ridges in a dog’s mouth is to protect their gums and lips. As you may have noticed on your furry sidekick, the serrated lip sits right between the upper and lower teeth. This position makes it perfect for preventing any injuries when the dog snaps their mouth shut. Since dogs do this hundreds of times during the day—when they bark, eat, and drink water—these small bumps can act as a cushion and prevent them from injuring their lips.

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Final Thoughts

While there are no definitive answers to why the dog’s lips are serrated, there are several theories that offer some insight. These little ridges may serve several purposes, all of which are important for a dog’s health and vitality.

Featured Image Credit: Jesus Vivas Alacid, Shutterstock

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