How Many Ribs Do Dogs Have? Everything You Need To Know

Dogs have 26 ribs. The rib bones of the dog give them a structure and protect the vital organs. In addition, the dog’s rib cage provides the belly with a barrel-like shape. Dogs have ribs for various purposes, hence categorized as true, false, and floating. 

How Is The Rib Structure of Dogs? 

Ribs are long bones having a joint attachment to the spinal vertebrae. They are curved and slender. Dog bones are composed of complex and mineralized tissue. This helps in protecting the structure of the dog’s body. The ribs also help in indicating the weight of the dog.  

The dog has a proper weight if you feel the ribs proportionately along with other muscles. Whereas, if the ribs feel like having no layer, the dog will be underweight; if the rib is not felt due to other layers, then the dog is overweight.  

The skeleton of the dog can be categorized into three parts: 

  • Appendage skeleton 
  • Axial skeleton 
  • Visceral skeleton 

Dogs have bones between 319 and 321. Dogs with longer tails have more bones than dogs with shorter tails. 

What is The Role of Ribs in Dogs? 

The rib cage helps the dog to stay safe as the ribcage acts as a protective wall for the lungs, heart, stomach, kidneys, and spleen. The surrounding area of the rib cage also has powerful muscle, which acts as a support system for the spine, chest, and upper abdomen.  

How Many Ribs Do Dogs Have?  

A dog has a pair of 13 ribs, 26 bones in total, of which 9 pairs are connected to the sternal (sternum), and 4 pairs are adjoined with the cartilage (asternal). First, let us check the divisions of these ribs: 

True Ribs 

The initial 7 pairs of ribs are called true ribs as they are directly connected to the sternum.  

False Ribs 

The following 5 pairs of ribs are connected to the sternal via cartilage. They are referred to as false ribs.  

Floating Ribs 

The remaining ribs are connected with the spine and slightly differ from the other pairs. This pair does not extend itself towards the frontal part of the sternum.  

Can Dogs Have Rib Bone Cancer? 

In dogs, rib tumors are uncommon. A palpable lump is the most prevalent reason for presentation. However, dogs may also come with lameness or respiratory problems. Osteosarcoma and Chondrosarcoma are the two most pervasive rib tumors. Rib osteosarcoma is an aggressive cancer with a high incidence of metastatic spread. At the time of diagnosis, up to 45 percent of dogs with rib osteosarcoma had metastases.  

What Are the Symptoms of Osteosarcoma and Chondrosarcoma? 

The symptoms are Osteosarcoma are: 

  • Lameness 
  • Swelling 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Reluctant to walk 
  • Reluctant to play 

The symptoms of Chondrosarcoma are: 

  • Swelling 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Pain 
  • Dehydration 

What is the Diagnosis of Osteosarcoma? 

CT scans of the thorax are useful for identifying tumor location, extent, and surgical planning. In addition, because the mortality for dogs with Osteosarcoma is substantially worse than the expectancy for dogs with Chondrosarcoma, a biopsy is suggested if the survival outcome would influence an owner’s desire to proceed with therapy.  

Initial chondrosarcoma screening tests generally include laboratory testing such as bloodwork and urine and radiographs (X-rays) of the afflicted region. Bloodwork and urinalysis results in most dogs with Chondrosarcoma will show no apparent alterations. However, a dissimilar lump from other bone or soft tissue tumors may be seen on radiographs.

The surgical technique for both tumor types, however, is the same. 

What is the Treatment for Osteosarcoma and Chondrosarcoma? 

Excision and rebuilding of the chest wall are suggested for dogs with rib tumors. Six ribs, maybe more, can be removed without compromising ventilatory function. The rib tumor was attached to or penetrated the lungs in 31% of dogs with rib tumors, the pericardium in 13% of dogs, and the diaphragm in 5% of dogs while experimenting with 39 dogs with rib tumors. Adjacent organs or tissues should be removed with the rib tumor. Depending on the location and extent of the defect, muscle flaps, prosthetic mesh, or diaphragmatic advancement are used to repair the chest wall defect. 

For dogs with Osteosarcoma but not Chondrosarcoma, chemotherapy is recommended. 

What About the Prognosis of Dogs With Osteosarcoma and Chondrosarcoma? 


Dogs with rib osteosarcoma have a mixed prognosis. Recurrence on a local level is unusual. Local tumor recurrence is 6.7 times more probable after incomplete excision and is substantially and negatively related to body weight. In 75% of dogs, distant metastases have been recorded. When surgery is paired with chemotherapy, the typical survival time for dogs treated with surgery alone is 90-120 days, with 20% of dogs living at 6 months. When surgery is combined with chemotherapy, the median survival time jumps to 240-290 days. The predictive variables include dogs with primary rib osteosarcomas, increased preoperative ALP, local tumor recurrence, distant metastasis, and chemotherapy treatment. Tumor-related mortality is 7.9 times more significant in dogs with increased ALP, 901 times higher in dogs with local tumor recurrence, 84 times higher in dogs with remote metastatic disease, and 2.7 times higher in dogs that do not get chemotherapy after surgery. 


Dogs with rib chondrosarcoma have a reasonably favorable prognosis. Local recurrence is infrequent (17%), although it is much more probable after partial excision. The metastatic rate is modest, with just around 17% of dogs developing the metastatic illness. Surgery alone has a median survival duration of 1,080 days to 3,820 days. Local tumor recurrence and distant metastasis are poor prognostic markers for dogs with initial rib chondrosarcomas.

Can Dogs Have Fractured Ribs? 

Yes, dogs can have broken ribs due to automobile accidents. In some cases, hairline fractures may need frequent X-rays as the visuals are not always clear. Sometimes, the fractured bone may also puncture the dog’s skin. It indicates that a broken bone inside may puncture the dog’s lungs, resulting in death. Hence, they need intense care, adequate treatment, and less movement for a speedy recovery. It is a thumb rule for dogs with fractures.  

What are the Symptoms of Broken Ribs in Dogs? 

The symptoms of broken ribs in dogs are: 

  • Breathing difficulty 
  • Whining 
  • Stiff gait 
  • Reluctant to walk and stand 
  • Pain when moving 
  • Lethargy 


Dogs have 26 rib bones that keep most vital organs safe, including the spleen, liver, heart, lungs, and kidney. It also protects the spine, chest, and upper abdomen. The ribs help maintain the dog’s barrel-shaped belly. In addition, the ribs can indicate the weight of the dog. However, it is always important to regularly check the dog’s health. Bone cancer can be deadly in dogs. It would help to keep your dog under supervision to avoid accidents, which might result in bone fractures. As a responsible pet parent, give your dog a healthy lifestyle.  


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