HealthAnatomyHow Many Ribs Do Dogs Have? An Anatomical Breakdown

How Many Ribs Do Dogs Have? An Anatomical Breakdown

Dogs have 13 pairs of ribs, for a total of 26 ribs. That’s one more pair than humans. Like humans, dogs have true, false, and floating ribs, each serving a different purpose.

Ever wondered how many ribs dogs have? This article will answer this question and provide many other cool facts about dogs’ anatomy.

Dog Rib Cage Basics

Like humans, dogs’ ribs protect the vital organs, such as the heart and lungs. They’re attached to the vertebrae and sternum by cartilage, which allows the rib cage to expand and contract when the animal breathes in and out.

The ribs that make up a dog’s rib cage are:

  • Nine pairs of true or sternal ribs, which attach to both the vertebrae and the sternum
  • Three pairs of false or asternal ribs, which attach to the vertebrae in back and the cartilage of the lowest sternal rib in the front
  • One pair of floating ribs, which attach to the vertebrae in the back and nothing in the front

Because the floating rib is unattached on one end, it may poke out a bit in certain dogs. This is normal.

Problems of the Rib Cage

Although the ribs aren’t more susceptible to injury or disease than other body parts, it’s worth noting a couple of things that can go wrong in dogs’ ribs.

Bone Cancer

Bone cancer can affect the ribs just like any other bone.

A specific type of bone cancer, chondrosarcoma, often affects the areas where bones and cartilage come together, making the ribs a common spot for this type of cancer.

Symptoms of bone cancer can include:

  • Localized swelling
  • Pain
  • Decreased Appetite
  • Tumor that feels hard to the touch


Several things can cause rib fractures in dogs, but all are related to trauma, such as a car accident, a fall, dog fight, or even abuse.

If your dog has experienced recent trauma and is having trouble sitting upright, or experiences pain when breathing, he may have a broken rib.

Broken ribs may protrude through the skin, in which case the injury will be obvious. But hairline fractures and others may not be obvious just by visual inspection.

Broken ribs require emergency medical treatment, as the end of a broken bone can puncture the dog’s lung.

The Rib Cage and Dog Weight

A dog’s rib cage can be a great indicator of whether a dog is at a healthy weight.

A dog whose ribs and hip bones noticeably protrude is likely underweight.

On the other side of the spectrum, if you cannot see or feel a dog’s ribs, he may be overweight.

In the case of dogs with thick, long coats, this may not be true, however, since the fur may hide the ribs. Look at the dog from the side and from above, and see if the stomach cuts in at all. If not, and the dog is more barrel-shaped, he may be overweight.

Although it varies by breed, a good rule of thumb is that you should be able to see a dog’s ribs just a bit, but when you pet him, it should feel like a thick blanket is between the ribs and your hand.

It’s a good idea to check with your vet if you suspect your dog is over or underweight, as neither are healthy.

This is especially true if the weight loss or gain is sudden, in which case, there might be a severe underlying issue.

More Dog Anatomy Facts

Curious to learn more about dog anatomy and how it differs from ours? Read on to learn more!

Shoulders and Collar Bones

Unlike humans, dogs don’t have collar bones. This means that their shoulder bones aren’t connected to another bone that holds them in place.

This allows freedom of movement for a longer stride and is part of why they can outrun even the fastest humans. Greyhounds can run at up to 45 miles per hour!

Skeleton Maturation

A skeleton is deemed “mature” when the epiphyseal plates, or growth plates, at the end of long bones are closed.

In humans, it takes an average of 25 years for a skeleton to reach full maturity.

On the other hand, dogs take between a few months and a year and a half to mature. Smaller dog breeds mature faster, with larger breeds taking longer.

Dog Sweat

Dogs only have sweat glands on their nose and footpads, which means that they can’t use sweating to cool off, although technically they can sweat in those areas.

Humans, on the other hand, have sweat glands distributed all over the body.

As you might have guessed, dogs cool down by panting. This causes water in their mouth and nasal passages to evaporate, causing a cooling effect.

Make sure to provide your dog with plenty of water during the summer, so he’s able to properly cool down when he needs to.

Taste Buds

Dogs are faster than humans and have superior powers of hearing and smell. But finally, we can do something better than they can: taste.

Humans have about 10,000 taste buds; dogs only have 1,700, making their sense of taste much less sensitive than ours.

Number of Bones

Dogs have about 320 bones in their bodies (compared to humans at 206), although this varies slightly depending on breed.

Most people don’t realize that a dog’s vertebrae extend to the tip of its tail, making it extra sensitive to trauma like getting stepped on.


Digestion takes place in about 2 hours for humans, but can take up to 12 hours in dogs. Dry food takes longer to digest than wet or raw food does.

Fitting for the long digestion process, dogs’ digestive tracts are three times as long as the dog’s body.

Beauty Sleep

Most dogs need about 12 hours of sleep, although some breeds require even more.

Elderly dogs and puppies sleep more as well.


Dogs are only pregnant for about two months before giving birth, compared to 9 months in humans.

Most dogs have an average of 5 or 6 puppies per litter.


Dogs are not entirely colorblind, as was believed until relatively recently. They can see colors, but are red/green colorblind, seeing these colors as grey.


Not only can dogs hear sounds from much further away than humans, but they can also detect a wider range of frequencies.

Dogs’ ears contain twice as many muscles as humans’, which is how they’re able to perk them up and turn them so much, aiding in both hearing and expression.


Dogs not only have sharper teeth than humans, but they have five extra pairs. The total teeth of most dogs is 42.


Dogs’ noses contain two separate chambers, one for each nostril. The two sides can be controlled independently, and take in different smells than each other.

Dogs have about 100 million smell receptors in the nose, compared to humans, who have closer to 6 million. This allows them to smell the faintest of scents, even from great distances.

Human Anatomy is Similar To Dogs

For all the differences between dogs and humans, we have an awful lot in common, too, as our basic anatomy shows.

Although dogs have one more set of ribs than we do, they have the same types (true, false, and floating) that do the same functions. Much of our skeleton and organs also function the same and are in roughly the same places.

Recommended For You

Latest Posts

More article