Many dog anatomy illustrations are created with veterinary professionals in mind, while others are geared toward general dog enthusiasts and pet owners. No matter which group you belong to, these illustrations can give you a better understanding of a dog's inner workings. From the location of their liver to a female dog's anatomy before and during pregnancy, you'll be amazed at what a dog's body can do.
Biological Dog Anatomy Illustrations
The following canine anatomy illustrations offer a look at various systems within the dog's body. Although these pictures are fairly basic, they still provide insight that can help the average dog owner gain a working idea of what's beneath all that fur.
Several of the beautiful canine anatomy illustrations below were created by Laurie O'Keefe, who is a noted biological artist. Laurie is certified by Colorado State University as a Medical Illustrator, and her work appears in many educational and instructional publications and is also used in presentations and on websites. Some illustrations below are Laurie's work and are used with her permission.
Dog Anatomy Organs Left Side
On the left side view of a dog's internal organs, you can see the lungs, heart, liver, stomach, spleen, kidney, intestines, bladder, and the rectum in that order from front to back. You can also view the spinal column and the brain.
Dog Anatomy Organs Right Side
The right side view of a dog's organs is similar to the left except that the liver appears much larger, as the majority of the dog's liver is situated on the right side of a dog.
Female Dog Anatomy
A female dog's reproductive system has similar organs as a human's. The female dog anatomy external organ is the vulva, which opens to the vagina. A pregnant female dog's anatomy includes two ovaries, which produce eggs, the cervix, fallopian tubes, and the uterus. The uterus becomes the womb for her puppies during their gestation period.
What is particularly unique about a dog's uterus is that it has a "Y" shape. Because dog litters can include upwards of seven to eight puppies, the pups grow in a line situated along each horn of the uterus. When a female dog is spayed, the veterinarian will typically remove the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the uterus.
Male Dog Reproductive System
A male dog's reproductive system consists of the genital tract with the penis providing the pathway for sperm from the testicles and urine through the urethra. Glands at the base of their penis are responsible for "tieing" dogs in place during mating. Dogs also have a penile bone, which sets their anatomy apart from human anatomy. A male dog's kidneys are connected to the bladder by the ureters, as can be found with the female dog's system.
Dog Anal Glands
A dog's anal glands can be found by their anus, and they function as scent glands. If you notice dogs greeting each other by sniffing each other's rear ends, it's the anal gland secretions that they are investigating.
Canine Olfactory System
A dog has a highly developed olfactory system with up to 300 million olfactory receptors. For comparison, humans have only six million. Dogs also have an organ called the vomeronasal organ on the roof of their mouth, which is responsible for detecting pheromones.
Dog Anatomy Muscles
A dog's musculoskeletal system is one of the biggest in their body and makes up 50% of a dog's weight. The system contains all the muscles, tendons, joints, and bones that support the body and allow for a dog's movement.
Dog Anatomy Stomach and Digestive System
A dog's digestive system includes the gastrointestinal tract, which is made up of the esophagus, stomach, and intestines. The intestines are made up of three sections (the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum), then are linked to the colon and anus. In addition to these organs, the gallbladder and pancreas connect to the duodenum of the small intestines via ducts and secrete enzymes to facilitate the digestive process.
Dogs also have a spleen which helps to prevent infections in the body, although dogs can live without a spleen if necessary.
More Resources for Dog Anatomy Diagrams
There are many books and resources that offer an in-depth look at a dog's anatomy. The following four resources are available online or at your local bookstore.
1. Dog Anatomy: A Pictorial Approach
Dog Anatomy: A Pictorial Approachby Peter C. Goody offers clear and precise illustrations of the skeletal-muscular system of canines. Each diagram is meticulously labeled with little additional text since the book truly takes a pictorial approach to the topic. If you're a visual learner and don't want to get lost in a lot of additional reading, this book gets straight to the point.
2. Saunders Veterinary Anatomy Flash Cards
Saunders Veterinary Anatomy Flash Cards includes 490 illustrations that are indexed by body system. Learn the term for each part as well as its clinical definition. The set is an excellent tool for veterinary students. They are currently out of print, but used copies can be found on Amazon and other online bookseller sites.
3. Miller's Anatomy of the Dog
Miller's Anatomy of the Dog by Howard E. Evans Ph.D. and Alexander de Lahunta DVM, Ph.D. is the 5th edition, which has been updated to include the most current information and veterinary terminology. The illustrations are in full color and very detailed, and the chapters are organized by body system. The book is a great resource for veterinarians and veterinary students, but it's also useful for dog breeders and anyone who wants to educate themselves about canine anatomy.
4. Textbook of Veterinary Anatomy
Dog Anatomy: A Coloring Atlas by Robert A. Kainer and Thomas O. McCracken includes 195 black and white line drawings for the reader to color. In addition to the illustrations, the book offers information on common illnesses related to each body system. This is especially helpful information for breeders and owners as it can alert them to when their dogs may need veterinary care.
Dog and Human Anatomy: A Comparison
Dogs and humans share very similar anatomy in that they both have the same major systems and organs operating in their bodies. These include the musculoskeletal, endocrine, digestive, lymphatic, reproductive, urinary, nervous, cardiovascular, respiratory, and urinary systems. Dog and human body shapes and sizes are different, of course, but there's much shared in common. There are some other differences of note:
- Dogs do not have an appendix, but they have an organ called the cecum, which has a similar function.
- Humans have 9,000 taste buds, whereas dogs only have 1,700.
- Dogs have three sets of eyelids instead of our two. The third set is called a nictitating membrane and is used for eye protection.
- Dogs have more muscles in their ears which allow them to move them to better process noises. Humans have three muscles whereas dogs have 18, and a dog can hear frequencies up to 65 kHz, while a human can only hear in the 12 to 20 kHz range.
- Dogs have about 320 bones, which can vary slightly depending on the presence of dewclaws and their tail structure. Humans have 206 bones.
- A dog's sweat glands are located on their noses and their paw pads.
Fascinating to Study
Even though these anatomical illustrations are mainly referred to by veterinarians, you don't have to be a vet student to enjoy learning more about your pet's body by reviewing dog anatomy pictures. Start out with the simple illustrations in above and then move on to more in-depth illustrations and texts as your interest grows. Everything you learn about your dog's internal functions can help you care for them better in the long run.