Tag Archives: incisors

Horse Teeth Bite, Cattle Teeth Do Not

4 Jun

cattle's teeth

Cattle’s incisors only on the bottom jaw.

Next time some jerk tells you wild horses uproot the plant they are eating while cattle do not, keep in mind that horses have both upper and lower incisors and cattle do  not!

Definition of incisors:
noun, Dentistry
1. any of the four anterior teeth in each jaw, used for cutting and gnawing.


“Cows are unique in that they have fewer teeth than other animals. In the front of the mouth, teeth (known as incisors) are only located on the bottom jaw. In place of the top incisors, there is a hard leathery pad (known as the “dental pad”). In addition, cattle have a relatively immobile upper lip (compared to goats and sheep). Because of this unique oral anatomy, a cow uses its tongue to grasp a clump of grass and then bite it off. Teeth in the back of the mouth (known as molars) are located on the top and bottom jaws. Plant materials sometimes contain tough stems, but because a cow chews food in a side-to-side motion, the molars shred the grass into small pieces that are more easily digested. “

excerpt from:


“A fully developed horse of around five years of age will have between 36 and 44 teeth. All equines are heterodontous, which means that they have different shaped teeth for different purposes. All horses have twelve incisors at the front of the mouth, used primarily for cutting food, most often grass, whilst grazing.

see: Patricia Pence (2002), Equine Dentistry: A Practical Guide, Baltimore: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, ISBN 0-683-30403-8


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