Anatomy of the Dog

The dog is made up of various parts that make him whole. Learn man's best friend's anatomy by reading this article.


By nature, the dog's instincts make him a most excellent hunter.

  Because of this, his body has evolved in such a way that he can easily perform his duties as a hunter.  Blessed with speed, energy, and muscular control, the dog is most adequately designed for the hunt.  

Even if your dog doesn't hunt so to speak, he still has the instinct inside of him.  His body is primed for the attack if need be.  It is advised that any dog owner has a basic knowledge of his or her dog's anatomy.  This will come in handy, not for just the fun of knowing, but if the time arrives where your dog has an injury or a problem of sorts, you will be able to describe to your veterinarian some of the problems with your knowledge and you will be better able to understand your veterinarian as well.  

Starting on the outside and working in, the hair of the dog plays a vital role in the dog's overall well being.  The hair acts as an insulator against both heat and cold.  If the dog has thin, patchy, or dry hair, the hair cannot do its job in protecting the dog.  

A dog sheds his hair twice a year.  Generally, this takes place in the spring and fall.  During this process, the old hair is replaced with new ones.  

Another function of the dog's hair is that when a dog is angry its hair is known to "stand on end".  This is a protective instinct made to impress the enemy.  This instinct can be easily compared to the human form of "goosebumps".

Next, is the skin.  Dogs, like humans, possess a wide variety of skin colors.  Some dogs have pink skin, some dark, others have blotched.  Whatever the color it has no significance relevant to its function.  The dog has sweat glands, as humans do, but they do not function the same.  A dog uses his sweat glands in his skin to regulate only his skin and surface temperatures.

The dog's skin has an amazing ability to heal very quickly.  Minor cuts, tears, or abrasion heal with great ease thanks in part to a healing aid found in the dog's saliva.  This built-in germicide found in the saliva of a dog amazingly heals wounds in record time.  

Under the dog's skin, you will next come to the skeleton.  Dogs are quadruped with his normal position on all four legs.  The skeleton of a dog is a strong framework and provides good protection to vital organs.  Dogs have many bones, but the important ones to know are the skull, ribs, spinal column, and of course the leg bones.  

The muscular system of the dog is where you can see some of his hunter instincts come in.  Dog muscles are very strong and well-coordinated.  Dogs need that to be the hunter they are so historically known for.  Just like humans, however, dogs get sprains and injury to their muscles when pushed to the limit.  Use caution when training.

The dog has a very complex nervous system.  This system is divided into two main parts: the brain and the spinal cord.  The brain plays an important role in the complex behavior of the dog.  It governs learning, motivation, and perception.  The spinal cord acts as a conductor and governs reflex actions.  Reflexes are very important to a dog's everyday life.  Responsibilities of reflexes include things like blinking or scratching an itch, twitching ears, hair that stands on end, and the like.  

Distemper and rabies can severely damage a dog's nervous system.  Get your dog vaccinated regularly against these deadly diseases.

Dogs differ from humans when it comes to the digestive system as well.  No digestion takes place in the dog's mouth as opposed to humans.  He starts in the stomach.  

The digestive system consists of the mouth, which is used only as a passageway, if you will, the esophagus, the stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and the rectum.  

The dog is blessed with strong juices in his stomach to help break down food and bone for easy digestion and to prevent indigestion.  

The dog's urinary system's purpose is to process and get rid of liquid wastes.  The main attractions in this system are the kidneys, the bladder, and the urethra.  Ailments in the urinary tract are more common in older dogs but can really occur at any time in any dog.  

The male dog's reproductive system matures around eight months of age.  He can reproduce any time of the year.  Female dogs can mate and reproduce twice a year.  The pregnancy of a dog is about 60 days and she will have what is called a litter of puppies.  The female reaches sexual maturity about the same time as the male dog but breeding is usually not recommended for the female until she reaches full maturity growth-wise.

There are many other aspects to a dog's anatomy that are clearly more comprehensive and detailed than what is described here.  Knowing the dog's general anatomy is very helpful and will be of great use should the time come that you need it.