Canine Osteology: Study of Dog Bones

Canine Osteology, or All About Dog Bones

Osteology is essentially the study of bones through a scientific process. Canine osteology is the study of canine or dog bones. Students in veterinary school will note that they hear the term often when it comes to anatomy classes because the two concepts are closely related. By studying the bones in a dog’s body, veterinarians can learn to identify different diseases and hopefully find cures for those conditions.

Canine osteology looks at more than just bones. This type of study was actually identified early on by archaeologists and anthropologists who studied bones to learn more about the person and their lifestyle. In terms of human anatomy, this has helped in the past by letting criminalists identify the body and find a cause of death. The same thing applies in terms of dogs and other animals.

canine osteology dog bones anatomy

Dog Bones Anatomy

Take for example the skeleton of a dog found dumped in a trash can. The veterinarian can identify portions of the body and find things relating to the dog’s death. They may discover the dog was malnourished, beaten in the past by its owner, or if he suffered from a disease. This all helps identify the cause of death and possibly find the person responsible.

Veterinarians who learn about canine osteology learn concepts relating to the bones and teeth of the animal. They focus on diseases and pathology, as well as ossification. They also learn how to work with the bones to discover the dog’s age and sex. These individuals learn what causes the bones and teeth to break down over time and what factors cause the bones and teeth to soften.

A good part of canine osteology relies on the analysis of the bones. The veterinarian will begin by taking an inventory of the bones and teeth, identifying those that are found and any that might be missing. This helps the individual identify the dog’s age and sex. They’ll then work on identifying any unusual patterns or markings in the bones such as broken bones. The end result of this is that the veterinarian is able to identify the cause of death. They’ll also look for any markings that help identify the animal, which helps find the owner.

Here are 16 facts about dog bones and dog anatomy:

1) Dogs have an average of 319 bones. However, there can be more, depending on how many bones are in the tail/dew claws. This means that dogs with long tails will have a few more bones than dogs with short tails.

2) All dogs have about 50 bones in their skulls, no matter the breed. The skull is divided into two parts: the cranial and the facies. The bones that close in and protect the brain are part of the cranium. These include skull base, back, side, roof, and walls. The bones that make up the face are known as the facies. These include the jaw, nasal cavity and pharyngeal cavity, which are comprised of many smaller bones.

3) According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), the average body temperature of a dog is 101 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

4) Apart from providing support and structure to the body, the dog’s bones also act as a warehouse to store fat and several important minerals. These minerals are constantly moved around, being stored and kept ready for the dog as required.

5) The digestive tract length of a dog is 20 to 80 cm, or about 3 times its actual body length. Dogs also have a very strong stomach acid of pH 1-2.

6) While humans have a visual field of just 180 degrees, dogs have a visual field of 250 degrees.

7) A dog’s skeletal system has three main parts: appendicular, axial and visceral. The appendicular skeleton is made up of the legs and feet. The axial skeleton includes the head, neck, spine, ribs and sternum, which is the main support of the body. The visceral skeleton is made up of the small bony parts, like the organs in the inner ear.

8) As compared to a human whose heart beats between 70 – 80 beats per minute, a dog’s heart beats between 70 and 120 times per minute. Dogs also have the ability to take in and breathe out air simultaneously.

9) The role of a dog’s ear is neither to provide protection or support, but their major role is sound transmission. This allows dogs to use their sense of hearing.

10) It may take between 3 months and 18 months for a dog’s skeleton to mature. The actual period depends on the size of the dog. For example, the skeleton of a toy breed such as Chihuahua, Pug, and Papillion skeleton will mature within a few months, while the skeleton of larger breeds such as Great Dane, Boxer, and Greyhound can have a maturation period of 15 to 18 months.

11) Some breeds of dogs, like the basset hound, have genetic skeletal dwarfism (osteochondrodysplasia), which results in a slowed development and growth of cartilage and bones. The dwarfism cannot affect the number of bones a dog will have. It only affects the size of the dog.

12) Dogs have disconnected shoulder bones which allow them to get a greater range of motion when running. They also don’t have a collarbone for the same reason.

13) As compared to humans that have 10,000 taste buds on their entire tongue, dogs have just about 1700 taste buds that are gathered around the tip of their tongue.

14) Dogs eyes are red/green color blind but not completely color blind.

15) A dog’s whiskers, or vibrissae, are touch-sensitive hairs that are found on the muzzle, above the eyes and below the jaws. These hairs can actually sense tiny changes in airflow. These vibrations also help dogs sense impending threats.

16) There are several diseases that can affect a dog’s skeleton and other internal organs. These diseases can be hereditary or genetic, due to nutritional disorders, due to the lack of Vitamin D or several other reasons. Veterinarians use a number of diagnostic methods such as radiography, x-rays, biopsy, lab tests and advanced imaging to evaluate the dog’s skeleton and determine if and what treatment is required.