Science Reference

Dog anatomy

The anatomy of dogs varies tremendously from breed to breed, more than in any other animal species, wild or domesticated.

And yet there are basic physical characteristics that are identical among all dogs, from the tiny Chihuahua to the giant Irish Wolfhound.

Like most predatory mammals, the dog has powerful muscles, a cardiovascular system that supports both sprinting and endurance, and teeth for catching, holding, and tearing.

The dog's ancestral skeleton provided the ability to run and leap.

Their legs are designed to propel them forward rapidly, leaping as necessary, to chase and overcome prey.

Consequently, they have small, tight feet, walking on their toes; their rear legs are fairly rigid and sturdy; the front legs are loose and flexible, with only muscle attaching them to the torso.

Although selective breeding has changed the appearance of many breeds, all dogs retain the basic ingredients from their distant ancestors.

Dogs have disconnected shoulder bones (lacking the collar bone of the human skeleton) that allow a greater stride length for running and leaping.

They walk on four toes, front and back.

The dog's ancestor was about the size of a Dingo, and its skeleton took about 10 months to mature.

Today's toy breeds have skeletons that mature in only a few months, while giant breeds such as the Mastiffs take 16 to 18 months for the skeleton to mature.

Dwarfism has affected the proportions of some breeds' skeletons, as in the Basset Hound.

For more information about the topic Dog anatomy, read the full article at Wikipedia.org, or see the following related articles:

Note: This page refers to an article that is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the article Dog anatomy at Wikipedia.org. See the Wikipedia copyright page for more details.

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 44,032

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily's archives for related news topics,
the latest news stories, reference articles, science videos, images, and books.
 

Science Video News


Doggy Genes

Molecular biologists have completely sequenced the first dog genome. Understanding how genetics plays a role in canine diseases could lead to new. ...  > full story

Breaking News

... from NewsDaily.com

In Other News ...

Copyright Reuters 2008. See Restrictions.

Free Subscriptions

... from ScienceDaily

Get the latest science news with our free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Feedback

... we want to hear from you!

Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Post this page to your favorite social bookmarking site:
close
Include this item in your blog or web site:
close
Email this page's link to a friend or colleague:
close