How Many Ribs Do Dogs Have? Interesting Puppy Facts!

So how many ribs do dogs have? Continue reading our article to find out more about their ribs and functions.

A strong rib cage offers your four-legged friend’s belly a barrel-shaped chest. You can easily notice this body structure when your dog breathes in and out. It functions as a guard to protect vital organs like the heart and lung from external attacks and force.

So how many ribs do dogs have? Continue reading our article to find out more about their ribs and functions. 

How Many Ribs Do Dogs Have?

All dog breeds are born with 13 pairs of ribs. Nine of them are connected to their sternum, while four are attached to the cartilage in the rib, amounting to 26 ribs.

 How many ribs do dogs have

 Dog Anatomy 

The number of ribs often varies among different types of mammals. A whale is born with nine pairs of ribs, while carnivores have from 12 to 24 ribs.  

Both dogs and cats are born with the same number of ribs. The first nine pairs are sternal ribs attached directly to the sternum. The rest are astern in both those pets. Those pets also have an extra rib, called a floating one. 

Humans’ skeletons also have this feature. Yet, the floating ribs of humans are only half the size and cannot reach the body’s front side like a dog or cat.

The Function Of The Dog’s Rib

A dog’s rib cage resembles a set of bars in a steel cage. In fact, ribs are curved bones. They are attached to the dorsal vertebrae and the ventral breastbone to form the skeleton. This skeleton takes various months to mature.

The sternal, or true ribs, connect to the sternum directly, while the asternal are the false ones to connect indirectly. Together with the cartilages, the latter can form a costal arch.

This structure keeps your dog safe and functioning properly by protecting his internal organs like the spleen, heart, kidneys, and lungs. 

It also offers enough malleable and powerful muscles. Those muscles are available to support other body areas from damage and external injury. The spine, upper abdomen, and chest are just a few to name. 

The Rib Structure Of The Dog

A dog’s bones are made of mineralized and strong tissue, which provides the body with adequate structural protection. By examining your pet’s ribs, you can also make a rough guess about his weight.

If you feel the ribs easily, your pet’s weight is normal. On the other hand, feeling a layer can signify being overweight.

 How many ribs do dogs have - Structure


There is no fixed size of dogs’ bones and a variation in the composition of their skeleton. Its structure can be divided into three standard subunits.

They are the vertebral extremity, intermediate shaft, and sternal extremity. The first part possesses a distinct neck, a round head, and a tubercle. Here, you will find caudal and cranial articular facets, which grow closer to becoming confluent. This way, the last few pairs of ribs will get an increased movability.

The intermediate body is more curved than that of other domestic animals. The ribs’ length increases gradually in the first ten ribs and becomes shorter caudal. 

The area where this part bent more strongly is the costal angle. Its border and surface offer attachment to the trunk’s muscles, especially the respiratory muscles. 

The dog’s sternal extremity articulates with costal cartilages to form a costochondral junction. This part is also a cartilaginous cylindrical structure shorter than the bony ribs.

Floating Rib In Dogs

How many ribs do dogs have? As mentioned above, a dog’s skeleton comprises 13 pairs of ribs to support and protect the internal body parts. Yet, your pet can also have an extra rib. Unlike common ribs, this last rib type doesn’t connect to anything. 

There are five pairs called false ribs or floating ones. While true ribs connect to the breastbone, those are connected to the sternum through cartilages.

A pair of floating ribs connect to the back’s vertebrae but have nothing in the front to attach. Due to this structure, some dogs seem to come out a bit. 

Some owners are worried that these floating bones indicate a broken rib. Yet, that is not always the case. This type of rib is one of the dogs’ characteristics.

Potential Problems With Dogs’ Ribs

Bone Cancer

Several problems occur in dogs’ ribs, including osteosarcoma or bone cancer. This aggressive health issue can lead to a fatal form of cancer and will likely spread throughout the body without proper treatment. 

Therefore, it is vital to give your pet regular veterinary checkups. When spreading to other body parts like the lungs, this type of cancer might curb your dog’s respiratory system and cause severe breathing difficulty.

In this case, the only treatment is surgical removal. There are various symptoms that you should not ignore. If your pet suffers seriously from severe pain or swelling in its spine, jaw, ribs, and legs, it can indicate cancer.

Don’t underestimate it when your dog loses its appetite. Discharge from the nostrils is also worth your attention. The symptoms are not always noticeable, so you should give your dog the needed care.

Broken Ribs

Violent treatment or an automobile accident can result in a fracture of your dog’s ribs. Although the rib structure is present to protect the internal organs, it cannot endure any powerful hit. 

If your pet suffers from a fracture, it is time to give them immediate and ongoing care. Minimize their movement and offer adequate medical care to speed up the healing process. On the reverse, they will develop unwanted complications. 

It is worth noting that broken ribs can cause punctured or collapsed lungs and breathing difficulty. Thus, don’t forget to bring your friend to a vet.

 How many ribs do dogs have - Rib issues

Rib issues


A dog’s ribs are the most crucial part of its thoracic skeleton. They are present to intersperse with the intercostal spaces and arrange serially. So how many ribs do dogs have?

The answer is thirteen pairs. We bet that our article has offered you needed information about their functions and some common health problems. It would be best to give your gods essential care to prevent unwanted issues like broken ribs.

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Henry J Horne
Henry J Horne
Reviews products, tells you what to buy, and provides practical advice for your home.