Dog Anatomy

04 May 2013 | by | Posted in: Wag Wiki

dog anatomy

You see your dog every day. You feed him. You walk him daily. You play with him. You take him to his vet regularly. You love your dog so much. But do you really know him? Most of the dog owners do not know their dog. To know your dog well, you must know about his body. Having a fair knowledge of his body might come handy in situations such as injury or any other health problem. When such situations arise, it will be easy for you to explain the problem to your vet and understand your vet as well. Every dog has a comprehensive anatomy which consists of several body parts and their functions. Below listed are things which you might not know about your dog:


Skin is the largest organ of any animal’s body. It is responsible for protection from physical damage, infection, heat and water. A dog’s skin is covered with coat of hair. It keeps his body warm and prevents injury to the skin. You can see that your dog’s feet are covered by thick pads of skin. It helps him to walk on all surfaces and protects feet from heat. Have you noticed long and thick hair near your dog’s mouth? These are called whiskers and are found on several body parts of your dog. Whiskers keep your dog informed of this surroundings. When a dog is angry or excited, his hair is known as ‘stand on end’. It is another important function of dog’s hair which is made to impress the enemy. This can be easily compared to the ‘goose bumps’.

Skeleton system

The skeletal system of dogs supports their body structure. Their skull protects brain and sensory organs. Pelvis supports the lower body organs such as stomach and uterus. The spine supports the nervous system of dog’s body. Ribs support lungs and heart. Skeletal system enables movement of body parts especially hind and fore limbs. Muscles attached to the bones help in the movement of bones. Dog’s have strong muscles in their hind limbs. This enables them to jump high and run fast. However, you must be careful while training your dog as he can get sprains and injury to his muscles.

Note: Chihuahua has a risk of having a disease called hydrocephalus or swelling of brain. The reason is the very small sized skull which constricts the flow of spinal fluid.


Scent: Dogs have excellent smelling senses. They can smell about 1000 times better than human beings.  They have more than 220 million smell detecting cells. With strong sense of smell, they mark their territory, communicate and recognize other animals. Some breeds have comparatively stronger sense of smell like Labrador retrievers.

Sound: Dogs can detect noises beyond the limit of human ears. Some breeds have ears which can be moved around for better sound detection. They can identify even the smallest of sounds. Like human beings, dog’s ears also help in maintaining balance of body. Here are some interesting facts about canine ears:

· It takes more than eighteen muscles for a dog to move its ears!

· 30% of Dalmatians are deaf with one or both ears.

· Dogs like Saint Bernard with big heads and large ears are best at hearing subsonic sounds.

Eyes: Dog’s vision is adapted for hunting. It is designed to see fast moving animals. The field of vision among dogs varies largely on the breed. Some breeds like Pekinese have smaller field of vision as their eyes are protruded more unlike other breeds. On the other hand breeds like greyhound have a large field of vision. Dog’s have third eyelid unlike human beings. The third eyelid, called ‘haw’ keeps eyes lubricated and protected. Some studies have confirmed that dogs can see better in low light.

Taste: Unlike human beings, dogs do not have highly developed taste buds. However, the taste buds can detect sour, sweet, salty and bitter taste.

The respiratory system: Respiratory system of dogs consists of small chambers in their lungs called alveoli. It warms and filters the oxygen as it enters their lungs. Like human beings, dog’s respiratory system expels carbon dioxide in exchange with oxygen.

Cardiovascular System : The cardiovascular system of dogs includes heart, veins and arteries for supplying blood to the entire body. It is responsible for transportation of nutrients, oxygen to other body parts. Blood is required to keep dog’s body warm.

Urinary system: Urinary system maintains water balance and eliminates toxins from body. It consists of kidneys which filter blood and remove toxins from body. Excess water and toxins eliminated by kidneys are transported to the urinary bladder. Urinary bladder eliminates the store toxins and water out of the body in the form of urine. The chemicals present in urine help dogs to mark their territory and to communicate with other dogs. Infection in urinary system is a common problem in older dogs.

Digestive system: In case of dogs the digestion of food starts in stomach which is entirely different from us as human beings. In human beings digestion of food begins in mouth. In dogs mouth is used only as a passage. As food enters the dog’s stomach, it breaks down and the nutrients get absorbed into body. Dogs are blessed with strong digestive juices in their stomach which helps in easy digestion of food. Dog’s teeth are adapted to suit the requirements of hunting. They have large canines to grab the prey and flat teeth at the back to help them in chewing the food. ( Tips For Selecting Good Dog Food )

Reproductive system: Male dogs have two testicles. When a male dog is eight to ten weeks of age, his testicles fall into his scrotal sac. In adult dogs, testicles are between their hind legs. Females mature within six month of age and come into ‘heat’ every six to twelve month. Heat is also triggered with seasons. Male dogs can reproduce anytime of the year while female dogs can do it twice a year. Pregnancy is about 60 days.

Nervous system and endocrine system: Nervous system is responsible for carrying messages from body to the brain. Dogs have a very complex nervous system. It is divided into main parts- Brain and spinal cord. Brain controls breathing and temperature of body. It plays a significant role in the complex behavior of dogs. It controls their motivation, perception and learning abilities. The spinal cord acts as conductor for reflex actions. Reflexes play an important role in a dog’s day to day life. Reflexes like twitching hair, itching, hair stand on end are some of the reflexes governed by spinal cord. Diseases like rabies and distemper can hamper dog’s nervous system drastically. You should get your dog vaccinated regularly against these fatal dog diseases. The endocrine system produces hormones which are responsible for proper growth of dog. Endocrine system consists of thyroid gland, pancreas, ovaries and testicles.

Other facts: Dogs, as human beings, give birth to young ones. Females feed their young ones with milk and care till they are old enough to look after themselves. Dogs are omnivorous animals. This implies that they can survive eating vegetable or meat based diets. They are pack animals and in wild they hunt in packs to gather food for the group. Their entire anatomy is adapted to suit the role of hunter and member of the pack.

So with these facts, take a fresh look at your dog. I am sure all this would help you in knowing him like never before!

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