7 Unusual Features of a Dog Skeleton

A dog skeleton is designed to support and protect the organs and tissues. Dog anatomy is very similar across all canines, despite the wide range of sizes seen in different breeds. Here are some skeletal features that set dogs apart from most animals.

  1. Dogs have a wider variety of bone size and shape than any other species of animal.
  2. Despite that, the number of bones is the same: 318 (not counting tail bones).
  3. One of the tallest dogs on record is a Great Dane who stood 42" at the shoulder.
  4. The shortest dog ever recorded was a dwarf Yorkshire Terrier that stood less than 3" tall.
  5. For speed and flexibility, a dog's shoulder blades are not tightly connected to the rest of the skeletal system.
  6. As a puppy grows, bones lengthen along growth plates, soft areas of immature bone. By one year, the growth plates close and dog leg bones begin to harden and mineralize. In young dogs, the growth plate areas are somewhat weak and more likely to be a source of injury, particularly near the wrist or knee.
  7. Dogs have two types of muscles: smooth and striated. Striated dog muscles attach to the bones and are responsible for voluntary movement.