Animal Anatomy Glossary

A List of Animal Anatomy Terms and Definitions

We have feet, they have paws; we use our mouths, they use their beaks; while we have hair - they have fur.

While we share much in common with our animal friends, there’s still many differences between humans and animals. So, learning the correct terminology to describe their structure and anatomy is important.

If you’re a pet owner, student or just interested in the animal kingdom, brushing up on your knowledge will help you speak the lingo with greater confidence.

animal anatomy

A great place to start is this glossary of terms, from A to Z:

Action: This refers to how the animal moves
Angulation: Angle formed at a joint
Apron: The hair on a chest
Back: Part of the topline between the withers and the loin
Bangs: Long fringe like hair seen in rabbits
Barrel: An animal’s body, including internal organs and ribcage
Beak/bill: Mouth area in birds, used for eating as well as grooming
Bloom: A lustrous coat
Boils: Area of inflammation
Brisket: Breast bone
Brow Line: Eyebrow area across the face, just above the eyes
Bridge of nose: Area on top of the nose, under the eyes
Button: Button ears that often have a fold in them
Canker: Ulcer
Canine tooth: Dog tooth or fang
Caudal or posterior: Towards the rear
Chestnuts: A thick part of skin inside the horse leg
Cheek pouches: Area inside mouth that carries food and nesting materials
Cranial or anterior: Towards the head
Crest: Where the mane grows, on the neck
Croup: Muscular area around the tail
Crown: The roof of the brain or the top-skull
Dew Claw: The inside of the pastern
Distal: Away from the animal’s body
Docked tail: Shortened tail
Down: Plumulaceous feathers
Dorsal: The part facing the ceiling
Dropped: A reference to ears that hang down
Elbow: The front limbs
Ergot: A callosity (hard patch of skin) on the back of a horse’s fetlocks
Feathering: Long coat of the belly back of legs and tail
Flews: Hanging part of a dogs’ upper lip
Flank: In a dog, this is the side between the end of the chest and rear leg
Flabby: Loose hanging skin
Foreleg: Front leg
Fur: Short hair
Furrow: Center of the skull between the eyes
Hip bone: Also known as ilium at the top of the hip bone in front of the vertebrae where it meets the sacrum. The lower end of this holds the top of the femur as a ball and joint structure
Harlequin: Blue or black patches on white
Hock: An oddly shaped joint on rear leg between the thigh and pastern
Hoof: A hard foot
Lateral: The sides
Loin: Area from ribcage to pelvis
Loral: Area between beak and eyes
Mantle: The knee joint on the hind leg (front), in line with its abdomen
Medial: The midline
Mops: Excess paw hair
Muzzle: The foreface or area in front of the brain often referred to in dogs
Nape: This is where the neck meets the base of the skull at the rear of the head
Nose leather: A bare nose pad with nostrils
Occiput: The point where the back of the skull joins the parietal bones, the back point of the skull
Palmar: The bottom of the front foot (the pad)
Pastern: Area between the wrist and foot on the forelimbs
Pastern, Rear: Area between hock joint and foot on rear limbs
Plantar: The bottom of the rear foot
Premolars: teeth near the rear of the fangs
Proximal: Towards the animal’s body
Ruff: Hair on the collar or neck
Rump: Hind area of the back and bones
Saddle: Area on the back between loin and shoulder
Second Thigh: Area between the strife to the hock on the rear limbs
Stern: Tail
Stifle: Knee joint on rear limb
Stop: The region past the muzzle
Tail set: Where the tail attaches to the rear
Topline: Line from withers to croup
Trachea: The windpipe
Tuck up: Silhouette produced by the abdomen’s line as it sweeps upwards into the hind limbs region
Vane: A flat part of feather coming from the shaft (there are two vanes per feather)
Ventral: Toward the floor
Whiskers: A projecting hair or bristle with sensory feeling
Withers: Region directly behind the neck, the top of the shoulder blades
Zona pellucida: Tough area surrounding the ovum