How Many Ribs Do Dogs Have? Dog Anatomy 101

how many ribs do dogs have

How many ribs do dogs have? Have you ever wondered about a dog’s physical make up?  Do they have extra bones or organs compared to humans?  How many bones are in a dog’s body?  These are all questions I’ve heard over my career training and helping others raise their animals.

Hi my name is Mike and I’ve been working with dogs for quite some time now.  I’ve gotten a lot of questions over the years and I’ve learned from many people along the way as well.  Decided to start this website to bring my acquired knowledge to as many people as possible.  Today we will be discussing the common question, “How many ribs do dogs have?”.  We will also be referencing some other common dog anatomy questions as well.

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How Many Ribs Do Dogs Have?

A dog has 26 ribs in all.  There are 13 pairs.  9 are connected to the sternum and are also referred to as sternal pairs.  4 are connected by cartilage and also referred to as asternal pairs.

The structure of them is generally as follows.  The first 7 ribs are known as the true rib cage,  These ribs are all connected directly to the sternum and serve to be the best source of protection for your dog from internal injuries.  The following 5 pairs of ribs will have more cartilage between the sternum and rib pairs and are known as the false ribs.  The last pair of ribs is often referred to as the floating rib.  This rib pair has no connection to the sternum at all and is completely connected by tissue.

The floating rib may actually look like a bony nub of raised skin in some dogs.  This will of course depend on their weight at the time.  The skinnier they are, the more pronounced the rib can actually be.

I Can See My Dog’s Ribs.  Is that Normal?

Many people are able to see their dogs ribs and take that as a sign that the dog is malnourished or under weight.  This is not always the case.  You should be able to see the outline of a dog’s ribcage if they are at a good weight.  If they are too obese you won’t be able to see them at all and if they are too skinny you will see deep indentations between individual sets of pairs.

What Are A Dog’s Ribs Used For?

The rib cage and ribs of a dog are generally used for the same reasons as a human rib cage.  They are mainly used as a protective structure for your dog’s internal organs.  This structure will protect organs like the heart, liver, kidneys etc. from injury.  The ribs also serve as a structure for which many other muscles of the body are overlaid to protect and strengthen your dog.

Without this crucial structure in place, your dog would have no way to prevent serious internal injury from mundane occurrences.  Sure a fall from 8 feet might crack a rib but if the ribs weren’t there at all, it could spell true disaster!

Dog Ribcage Size And Structure Explained

By now we have answered the, “How many Ribs do dogs have?” question and have covered what ribs are for.  What about the size of the rib cage and the general structure?  Does this change from dog to dog?  Can it vary by breed?  The answer is yes and no.  The structure stays pretty much the same but the size and shape of the bones can change quite dramatically depending on the breed themselves.  A good example would be a large dog like a Pitbull vs. a small dog like a toy poodle.  Each of them will have the same general structure of rib cage but the sizes and shapes of these bodies are drastically different.

How many bones does a dog have anyway

How Many Bones Does A Dog Have Anyway?

How Many Ribs Do Dogs have? 26.  What about the rest of their bones?  Dogs have an average of 320 bones in their bodies.  Why an average?  Do different dogs have more bones than others?  The answer is yes and it all comes down to their tails.  Depending on tail size and shape, some dogs have more bones than others.

The number of bones and size of bones in a dog’s skeleton will also change while they are growing as well.  Lets take our earlier example involving the Pitbull and Poodle.  The smaller poodle has less bones to develop and grow so it will probably take around 16 months to fully grow.  The Pitbull is a much larger dog with bigger bones, in their case, it may actually take around 16-18 months for complete bone growth to occur.

Other Common Dog Health Questions

I get a lot of questions about dogs and their bodies.  These usually come from first time dog owners or first time owners of specific breeds. Lets go through a few of the more common questions.  Quickfire Q and A style.

Why Is My Dog’s Nose Always Wet?

There are a few reasons for this.  Generally speaking, dogs use their sense of smell far more than any of their other senses.  A wet nose works way better for dogs when it comes to being able to sniff things out.  This occurs because of the location of the dogs mucus membranes and the fact that dogs are always licking their nose to begin with.  A common way for them to sniff things out would be to first smell and then taste the scent with their tongues.

How Often Should I Bathe My Dog?

Dogs can get dirty at times and definitely require more in the way of bathing then some other domesticated pets.  They also don’t self clean like cats.  Taking all of that into account, dogs should probably take a bath every 6 weeks or so depending on their level of activity and the activities themselves.

With that being said, there are often 2 different times you should give your dog a bath outside of the 6 week schedule.  I always like to give my dog a bath anytime after I come back from a walk in the deep woods.  There are ticks and other parasites that can get stuck on your dog during these trips.  It’s a good idea to give your dog a bath after a long walk in the woods as a preventative measure.  This goes double for flea and tick season as well!  I also give my dog a bath anytime they get visibly dirty.  Mud comes to mind.  If my dog goes outside and plays in a mud puddle, he gets a bath before coming in the house.  This is mainly to protect my rugs and furniture from a dirty dog.

Should I Get My Dog Spayed Or Neutered?

That largely depends on the situation.  Many animal shelters and animal adoption agencies will require your dog gets these procedures before you bring them home.  If that is the case, there is little choice to be made.  If you do have a choice though, I would say have it done if your pet is young but if you are adopting an older animal, leave them be.

Sterilizing any animal can have some side effects but for the most part is a standard procedure that can be done at any vet office.  I personally find that the more adverse reactions seem to come in animals that have had their procedures after being a fully developed adult for a while.

Obviously if you are planning to breed your dog, don’t get them Neutered either!

Should I brush my dogs teeth

Should I Brush My Dog’s Teeth?

There are conflicting thoughts on this one.  I’ve had many dogs and only one of them had dental problems bad enough to warrant brushing.  I believe the diet you feed them and their genes will determine whether or not you need to brush their teeth.  Another great resource here would be your local vet.  When you take them in for a checkup, your vet should be performing an oral exam as well.  They can give you tips and tricks on how to brush your dog’s teeth or if it’s even required.

Do Dogs Get Cancer?

Sadly the answer to this question is always yes.  Dogs have the capability to get cancer just like humans do.  There are treatments that can be given for them as well which can be successful in some cases.  This will largely depend on the type of cancer and how early it was caught.  Things like skin cancer are much easier to deal with and often don’t become a long term problem unless they go untreated and spread to the lymph nodes.

Cancer in a dog is never fun though and I’ve had to put one of my dogs to sleep because of it.  This will happen from time to time.  It’s never fun to lose a pet but it’s even worse to watch them suffer needlessly.  Cancer is truly rotten in humans and animals alike.

Can My Dog Get Arthritis?

Yes your dog can absolutely get Arthritis.  This will have more of a chance to occur the older your dog gets.  Some common warning signs will be a dog that is slower to get up and move around in the morning.  A dog having trouble moving in the cold weather is also a common sign.  Dogs can also sometimes let out yelps or whines if they develop sharp pains due to arthritis.

How do we manage this or prevent it?  It depends on the dog really.  Some are just predisposed to it.  Others could stand to lose a few pounds.  That will make a drastic difference in their quality of life.  You could also bring your dog to the vet and have them looked at.  There are medications that could be useful here as well.

What Do I Do If My Dog Breaks A Bone?

It depends on the bone they break.  The first thing I would do if your dog has a fall is check for broken bones.  If you are able to determine that a bone is in fact broken, call up your vet and get your dog over there.

When a dog breaks a bone, there are many treatments that can be provided.  These are similar to the treatment options that humans get as well.  The major difference here is that dogs won’t really adhere to medical advice about recovery.  You have to be vigilant and make sure they aren’t over doing it too much.  If they do, your dog will just end up reinjuring themselves and prolonging the time hurt.

Some vets will actually prescribe mild sedatives or request to keep the dog for a day or two after a bad break.  This will help them monitor the situation and keep your dog from reinjuring themselves in a bad way.

How Many Ribs Do Dogs Have Explained

So there we have it.  How many ribs do dogs have? 26.  How many bones do dogs have?  320 or so.  This will depend largely on their tail and how long it is. We also know that the size of the dog will greatly change the size and shape of their bones as well.  The structure is the same but the sizes will vary greatly from breed to breed.

We also talked about some of the more common questions I get concerning dog health.  Probably the most common off the list of questions above is the one about brushing teeth.  As I’ve said before, your vet should be giving your dog an oral exam on the yearly visits.  When they do this, your vet will be able to tell you if any oral care like brushing is warranted.  Some dogs can just get away with chewing on bones as well to help stimulate their gums too.

Are you new to dog ownership or looking for some help training your dog.  I’d advise you to check out this guide here before paying for any expensive pet training.  The problem with pet training is that there is very little follow through with your dog that is not provided by you.  In short, you still determine the success of your dog training by reinforcing the concepts your trainer shows you.  Why not just check this online guide and save thousands on expensive long term training?



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