Last Updated on April 14, 2022 by Fabiola L.
There are many confusing names for the different parts of horse anatomy, and many people get muddled up when they hear about canine teeth in horses. Does this mean that you have a horse with dog teeth? Let’s find out!
What Are Canine Teeth In Horses?
It does sound a bit odd when you say that a horse has canine teeth – does this mean that it is possible to have a horse with dog teeth?
Canine teeth are not the same as the teeth in dogs’ mouths. In horses, canine teeth are slim, a pointed tooth that sits in the gap between the incisors and the premolars. It is because they look similar to dog teeth that they are called canine teeth.
In the modern domesticated horse, canine teeth do not really have a function. They are designed to be used in combat, with a long, strong point able to grip and tear an opponent’s skin. Luckily, our horses do not have to fight for survival in their domestic homes!
How Many Canine Teeth Do Horses Have?
A horse can have up to four canine teeth. The first ones to erupt are normally the canine teeth on the lower jaw, which will come through when the horse is around four years old. The upper canine teeth follow a year later.
A horse with dog teeth can grow up canines to 15mm long, with around 50mm of tooth root embedded in the jaw. Some horses have much smaller canine teeth, which will barely be noticeable.
Do All Horses Have Canine Teeth?
Not all horses have canine teeth, and some have much larger canine teeth than others. The purpose of canine teeth was for fighting, so they are much larger and more common in male horses. A small number of mares will have canine teeth, but they are much smaller and less well developed than canine teeth in male horses.
What Other Types Of Teeth Do Horses Have?
Along with canine teeth, horses have three other types of teeth – incisors, premolars, and molars. Some horses also have one or more small teeth called wolf teeth.
The horse’s incisor teeth are located at the front of the mouth – they are the teeth you will see if you lifted a horse’s top lip. These are small teeth with a sharp edge, able to cut and tear food. Behind the incisors is a large gap, in which the canine teeth can be found.
At the other end of this gap are the premolars of the horse. These teeth have a wide, flat surface, perfect for grinding up food. The premolar teeth are packed tightly together in a row, and sit close to the molar teeth.
The molar teeth are similar in shape and size to the premolars, and these two sets of teeth are often referred to as the cheek teeth. This is because they are located inside the cheek of the horse, and we cannot see them unless we can look deep inside the horse’s mouth.
The wolf teeth of a horse do not have a function but are something called a ‘vestigial’ tooth. This means that they were once a useful part of a horse’s dental anatomy, but as the horse evolved over millennia they have become obsolete. Not all horses have wolf teeth, but those that do can have up to eight of them.
Horse Dental Care
Don’t panic, we’re not going to ask you to start brushing your horse’s teeth every day! Horse dental care is a crucial part of maintaining the health and well-being of your horse, but this job is carried out by an equine dental professional.
To keep your horse’s teeth in the best possible condition, they should have a routine dental check every six to twelve months. Your equine dental practitioner will look inside the horse’s mouth, with the aid of a dental gag and possibly a camera. They will be checking for any abnormalities such as fractured teeth, overgrowths, sharp points, and missing teeth.
If there are any sharp points or overgrowths of the teeth, the horse will need its teeth floating. This is when a mechanical rasp is used to grind away the unwanted areas of the tooth. This is a task that should only be carried out by a professionally qualified person, as it is very easy to make dental problems worse rather than better.
With this routine care, your horse will be able to happily chew his food for many years to come!
So, as we have learned, a horse with dog teeth has a type of tooth called a canine tooth. These are not the same as the teeth that dogs have, although they do look quite similar. In wild horses, the canine teeth were used for fighting amongst male horses.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on a horse with dog teeth! Does your horse have some unusual canine teeth? Or perhaps you have a question about caring for your horse’s teeth? Leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!
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Which Horses Have Canines?
Canine teeth are most commonly found in male horses, including both stallions and geldings. Around one in five mares will also have canine teeth.
Why Do Horses Have Wolf Teeth?
Wolf teeth in horses do not have a function. They are the remnants of a tooth that has disappeared as horses have evolved.
Should Canine Teeth In Horses Be Removed?
Healthy canine teeth do not pose a problem in horses, and they should not be removed. The only time a canine tooth in a horse would be removed is if it has a major fracture. If your horse has canine teeth, care must be taken to avoid damaging the tooth when putting on or removing the bridle.
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