Canine Skeleton







Some of these Videos and Photos are Graphic

Canine Skeleton

This portion of the website is devoted to canine skeleton. These are graphic images of the canid. Please be aware of this as you visit this portion of the site.





Various Canine Skulls

The canine's craniofacial diversity occurred through human manipulation of the genome through selective breeding practices. Science knows very little about the under lying genetic developmental mechanisms that make dog skulls so diverse. The Canine skull is the most morphologically plastic on the planet.

Showing the variation of the canine skull

"Craniofacial diversity exists between and within breed dogs. White strips highlight the palate (left) and brainstem (right) in each skull example. (A) The continuum of airorhynchic and klinorhynchic dog breeds, arranged in order of severity. Examples include a Pekingese (1), French bulldog (2), Chow Chow (3), Bernese Mountain Dog (4), German Shepherd (5), and Borzoi (6). (B) Bull terrier skulls demonstrate the continual morphological evolution in breed dogs. Skulls are arranged chronologically from the oldest (top) to the most modern (bottom). Figure is adapted with permission (Nussbaumer 1982)." From the article "The Genetics of Canine Skull Shape Variation" by Jeffrey J. Schoenebeck and Elaine A. Ostrander

Canine mandable




The Scapula forms the basis of the shoulder region, providing points of attachment of extrinsic and intrinsic muscles. It is held in place by a synsarcosis of muscles and does not form a conventional articulation with the trunk.


Canine Left front leg assemblyCanine Shoulder Assembly




The joint capsule of the canine elbow runs from just proximal to the articular surface of the condyle of the humerus to the periphery of the olecranon fossa; it pouches between the ulna and radius, and under the tendinous attachments of some muscles. Carpal bones comprise two rows: Proximally - the radial and intermediate bones are fused to form the radial carpal bone. The accessory carpal bone articulates with both the ulnar carpal bone and the distal ulna. Distally - bones I-IV are present. The arrangement of the metatarsals are similar to those of the metacarpals in that they are rod shaped bones, numbered from I to V. The 1st is the most medial and is very small, the 3rd and 4th are the longest. The proximal base of each articulates with it's corresponding carpal bone and the adjacent metacarpal. The distal end is its head, which is transversely cylindrical and articulates with the proximal phalanx. Metacarpals II - V possess a sagittal ridge on their palmar aspects. The proximal phalanx of the main digits (II - V) have a concave articular surface and the palmar border has a groove to accomodate the articular surface of the metacarpus when the joint is fixed. The distal head has two convex areas separated by a groove. The middle phalanx is roughly two-thirds the length of the proximal phalanx and its base has a sagittal ridge on the articular surface which articulates with the groove of the proximal phalanx. The head resembles that of the proximal phalanx. The distal phalanx is made up of a cone-shaped ungual process with a distinct collar called the 'ungual crest'. The deep ungual groove distal to the crest provides attachment for the proximal border of the claw and articulates with the middle phalanx via a small sagittal crest. A bony sesamoid bone is found on the dorsal aspect of the metacarpophalangeal joint. The first digit (sometimes called the 'dew claw') of the forelimb is fully formed and functional. In the hindlimb, the equivalent first digit is often not present or contains only nail, skin and connective tissue (sometimes called 'wolf's claw' in this case)


assembly of front canine leg jointCanine Skeletal  Foot

The Vertebrae

Canine Vertebre

The vertebrae encloses the vertebral foramen (through which the spinal cord and meninges run), a spinous process, and a transverse process and the articular processes by which they are joined together. The dog has 31 vertebrae. There are seven cervical or neck vertebrae, thirteen thoracic or vertebrae of the chest, seven lumbar vertebrae which form the lower back, and three sacral or pelvis vertebrae which are fused.




The Hindquarters

Canine hindquarters

The Pelvis

The three elements of the pelvic girdle are the ilium, pubis, and ischium. The pelvic girdle is formed by joining two bones ventrally at the cartilagenous pelvic symphysis. It articulates dorsally with the sacrum. The femur articulates with the hip bone.

The bone that articulates with the hip bones to form the hip joint is the Femur.

The Canine PelvisThe Canine Pelvis

Canine Pelvis



The femur is made up of the femoral head notch which is circular and situated in the centre of the head. The great trochanter is level with the femoral head. The movement in the hip joint has a great range of movement.

The Canine Femur

Canine rear movement


Tibia, Fibula and Patella

Canine Lower Rear LimbCanine Petella

Canine Rear Foot

The bones distal to the Femur are the Tibia, Fibula, patella and some minor sesamoid bones. Some of these are involved in the stifle joint, weight-bearing and providing attachment for muscles. The patella is the small bone in the front of the knee. It slides up and down in the femoral groove as the knee bends and straightens. Distal to these bones are the complex series of bones that make up the tarsus, these are the tarsal bones and metatarsals, completed by the phalanges.













Canine fore limb

Great Dane and Chihuahua

Timberwolf skeleton

Timberwolf Skeleton