How Many Ribs Do Dogs Have

Whether it was in a biology class or while ordering a rack of ribs at a restaurant, you have probably seen a ribcage. The dog’s rib cage gives your dog’s abdomen its barrel chest. All dogs have 13 pairs of ribs in which nine are connected to the sternum (sternal), and four connected to the cartilage on the rib (asternal) for a total of 26 ribs. 

When your dog inhales and exhales, you might have noticed its rib cage. Your dog’s ribs gives structure and protection to vital organs, including the lungs and heart. It works like a shield for your dog’s internal organs against any sort of external force, hit, or attack. 

The Floating Ribs

The first seven pairs of ribs that connect directly to the sternum are called true ribs, and the next five pairs are joined to the sternum by cartilage. These are called false ribs. The last pair of ribs are called floating ribs. These can be seen on some dogs as a bony protrusion; this is where the end of the floating rib is capped off by cartilage. Some may think that these floating ribs are the sign of a broken bone, but not necessarily. However, it is always best to be cautious if you are concerned about a broken bone.

The Dog’s Rib Function

The rib cage is similar to the bars of a cage. The rib cage ensures your dog’s safety by protecting its main organs including the lungs, heart, stomach, spleen, kidney, etc. The dog’s rib cage also provides many strong and flexible muscles that protect other body parts, such as the chest, back, and upper abdomen, from any external damage and injury.

The dog's rib structure

Your dog’s bones are organs made of hard, mineralized tissue that provides structural support and protection to the body. The ribs also give a clue to the weight of your dog as you can check it by placing your hand on the rib.

If the ribs can be easily felt, it means your dog weight is normal but if not, and you feel some layer, it might be an indication of some fat and sign of overweight.

All dogs have different sizes of bones. For instance, while the chihuahua has the same type of bones as the Great Dane, but their bone size and shape are significantly different. Dogs have a variety in the size and configuration of their skeletons, unlike other animals. 

The skeleton is contained in three basic subunits: 

  1. Appendicular skeleton: the bones of the limbs
  2. Axial skeleton: the skull bones, spine, ribs, and sternum
  3. Visceral skeleton: a bone that forms part of an organ.

A skeleton comparison of human beings and dogs

Dogs have between 319 to 321 bones in their bodies, whereas humans have only 206 bones. Dogs with long tails have a few more bones as compared to dogs with short tails, but all dogs have disconnected shoulder bones which enable them to have more frequent movement over humans. A dog’s skeleton can take up to 18 months to mature, but the maturation period is associated with growth and size.

For example, a toy breed’s skeleton will mature within a few months, while larger breeds can have a maturation period of 15 to 18 months. For humans, their bones typically mature between 25 and 30 years old.

Bone Cancer In dog’s ribs

There are various health-related problems associated with the dog’s ribs, but osteosarcoma (bone cancer) is a more aggressive and malignant form of rib cancer than any other problem. It is a troublesome condition that can spread through the body, so it is important to monitor your pet and keep up with regular veterinary check-ups.

If this cancer spreads to other parts of the body such as lungs it can cause breathing difficulty for your dog. Surgical removal is a possible treatment option.

Fracture In Dog’s Ribs

Normally dogs fracture their ribs in a car accident or rough treatment because the bones are not able to endure such a forceful hit. If dogs get a fracture, they require immediate and lengthy care to heal the fracture. Fewer movements and proper medical attention may help the healing process faster, otherwise, complications may develop.

A broken rib can also affect the lungs of the dog that can result in anything from difficulty breathing to a collapsed or punctured lung, so it is imperative that you take your dog to a veterinarian if a fracture occurs. 

As with humans, a dog’s rib cage is incredibly important to their health, and it is up to you to ensure that your pet stays healthy and active.




Hello, I'm Shelly! I write about all things dogs. I'm a proud mother of 3. So I guess my official title is fulltime mother, part-time dog blogger. Look around and if you have any questions reach out to me