Dog Anatomy Illustrated

Whenever you start talking about dog anatomy with veterinarians, breeders, other dog owners, groomers or anyone else you'll probably hear all sorts of terms tossed about. Below we'll do our best to describe in everyday terms exactly what each of these Dog Anatomy terms really means.

Below find a photo of a beautiful German Shepherd named Ralph. He will be our model for this short canine anatomy lesson.Please feel free to refer to the photo to get a better idea of where what is. Most Anatomy terms will be pointed out in the picture. Otherwise I will try and physically describe as best I can where and what the term means and where it is on the dogs body.

We'll do our best to work our way from head to tail. So, here we go ladies and gents....

Dog anatomy illustrated

Dog Anatomy - The Head Area

HEAD AND SKULL - The head of the dog - can be many shapes depending on the breed. It should also be proportionate in size to the dogs body.

STOP - The indented area in the dog's forehead just above eye level.

MUZZLE - The dogs foreface.

EYES - They will vary in color and size depending on the breed.

EARS - Some dogs have erect ears, some may have dropped or rose shaped ears. Ear shapes, size and carriage also vary from breed to breed.



FLEWS - The pendulous hanging parts of the upper lips.

The Body

SHOULDER - This is the joint at the uppermost part of the dogs forelegs.

WITHERS - This is the part of the dog between the shoulder bones at the base of the neck. This is also the point where the height of the dog is usually measured.

BRISKET - This is the lower part of the chest - in front of and also between the dog's forelegs.

LOIN - This is the part of the body located on both sides of the backbone between the dog's ribs and hip area.


TAIL - This is the the hind-most part of the dogs backbone.

The Legs

PASTERN - This area on a dog's leg that corresponds to the area between the wrist and hand on humans.

STIFLE - The joint next above the hock, and near the flank, in the hind leg; rear hock joint bends backwards only.

HIGH - This is the upper part of the dog's hind leg.

FOREARMS - The parts of the dogs forelegs between the elbow and the pastern.

FOREFOOT - These are the front feet.

HINDFOOT - These are the back feet.

HIPS - These are the joints at the uppermost part of the dogs hindlegs.

HOCK - These are the bones that form the ankle/heel of the dog.


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"I am not a cat man, but a dog man, and all felines can tell this at a glance a sharp, vindictive glance." -- James Thurber