A List of Animal Anatomy Terms and Definitions

We have feet, they have paws; we use our mouths, they use their beaks; while we have hair – they have fur.

While we share much in common with our animal friends, there’s still many differences between humans and animals. So, learning the correct terminology to describe their structure and anatomy is important.

If you’re a pet owner, student or just interested in the animal kingdom, brushing up on your knowledge will help you speak the lingo with greater confidence.

A great place to start is this glossary of terms, from A to Z:

Action: This refers to how the animal moves

Angulation: Angle formed at a joint

Apron: The hair on a chest

Back: Part of the topline between the withers and the loin

Bangs: Long fringe like hair seen in rabbits

Barrel: An animal’s body, including internal organs and ribcage

Beak/bill: Mouth area in birds, used for eating as well as grooming

Bloom: A lustrous coat

Boils: Area of inflammation

Brisket: Breast bone

Brow Line: Eyebrow area across the face, just above the eyes

Bridge of nose: Area on top of the nose, under the eyes

Button: Button ears that often have a fold in them

Canker: Ulcer

Canine tooth: Dog tooth or fang

Caudal or posterior: Towards the rear

Chestnuts: A thick part of skin inside the horse leg

Cheek pouches: Area inside mouth that carries food and nesting materials

Cranial or anterior: Towards the head

Crest: Where the mane grows, on the neck

Croup: Muscular area around the tail

Crown: The roof of the brain or the top-skull

Dew Claw: The inside of the pastern

Distal: Away from the animal’s body

Docked tail: Shortened tail

Down: Plumulaceous feathers

Dorsal: The part facing the ceiling

Dropped: A reference to ears that hang down

Elbow: The front limbs

Ergot: A callosity (hard patch of skin) on the back of a horse’s fetlocks

Feathering: Long coat of the belly back of legs and tail

Flews: Hanging part of a dogs’ upper lip

Flank: In a dog, this is the side between the end of the chest and rear leg

Flabby: Loose hanging skin

Foreleg: Front leg

Fur: Short hair

Furrow: Center of the skull between the eyes

Hip bone: Also known as ilium at the top of the hip bone in front of the vertebrae where it meets the sacrum. The lower end of this holds the top of the femur as a ball and joint structure

Harlequin: Blue or black patches on white

Hock: An oddly shaped joint on rear leg between the thigh and pastern

Hoof: A hard foot

Lateral: The sides

Loin: Area from ribcage to pelvis

Loral: Area between beak and eyes

Mantle: The knee joint on the hind leg (front), in line with its abdomen

Medial: The midline

Mops: Excess paw hair

Muzzle: The foreface or area in front of the brain often referred to in dogs

Nape: This is where the neck meets the base of the skull at the rear of the head

Nose leather: A bare nose pad with nostrils

Occiput: The point where the back of the skull joins the parietal bones, the back point of the skull

Palmar: The bottom of the front foot (the pad)

Pastern: Area between the wrist and foot on the forelimbs

Pastern, Rear: Area between hock joint and foot on rear limbs

Plantar: The bottom of the rear foot

Premolars: teeth near the rear of the fangs

Proximal: Towards the animal’s body

Ruff: Hair on the collar or neck

Rump: Hind area of the back and bones

Saddle: Area on the back between loin and shoulder

Second Thigh: Area between the strife to the hock on the rear limbs

Stern: Tail

Stifle: Knee joint on rear limb

Stop: The region past the muzzle

Tail set: Where the tail attaches to the rear

Topline: Line from withers to croup

Trachea: The windpipe

Tuck up: Silhouette produced by the abdomen’s line as it sweeps upwards into the hind limbs region

Vane: A flat part of feather coming from the shaft (there are two vanes per feather)

Ventral: Toward the floor

Whiskers: A projecting hair or bristle with sensory feeling

Withers: Region directly behind the neck, the top of the shoulder blades

Zona pellucida: Tough area surrounding the ovum

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