Do Horses Have Canine Teeth? Know The Truth!

By Zunnun Ahmed •  Updated: 08/14/22 •  6 min read

Have you noticed? Do horses have canine teeth? Check this out!

This is one of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to horse teeth. Yes, horses have.

When you look into the dental anatomy of horses, they have four different types of teeth like other mammals. They include incisors, molars, canines, and premolars.

OK, I know what you’re thinking: When are these teeth erupting?

Canines erupt when the horse is between 4-6 years. And, they are commonly found in male horses but some mares also develop.

In this guide, I will give you a deeper understanding of canine teeth. You will learn their purpose, possible problems they cause, how they differ from wolf teeth, and whether you should remove them.

Stay with me till the end!

Do all horses have canines?

Do you know?

They are mainly found in male horses with two on top and two on the bottom. Canine in horses are also called bridle teeth, tushes, or tusks.

About 25% of female horses develop small canine teeth. For the few female horses that have canine teeth, they are normally one or two with partial eruption.

These teeth are found between the incisor and the cheek teeth on the upper and lower jaw. The teeth are short and sharp enough to harm the inner lips and the tongue.

Is it important? What are the functions?

Canine teeth in horses do not have any mastication function.

Their use was for weaponry purposes so they don’t have any use for a modern horse. Canine teeth in horses do not have occlusal contact. This means that the upper and the lower canines hardly meet and this doesn’t help the chewing process.

horse tooth

Related: Take your horse’s oral health to the next level with Toothpaste For Horses! Solve common dental problems such as tartar, plaque, and gingivitis.

What is the horse canine teeth problem?

Let me explain:

This can be a major problem in some situations. While they do not grow as the horse gets old, they can be bigger and sharp in stallions and geldings.

Below are some common problems associated with horses.

Let’s dive in…

Sharp canines

The bridle teeth can become long and sharp hence posing a potential hazard to the horse’s mouth. The sharp teeth can also injure the lips and the tongue. Filing long and sharp teeth is essential during dental procedures.

It is good to file a modest amount of sharp teeth until they are not sharp anymore. Do not over-shorten the teeth because this can expose the canal pulp leading to infections.

Related: Don’t know what to do when your horse’s hooves crack? Try these 9 surprising home remedies!

Tartar buildup

Let’s dig a little deeper.

Another problem is tartar buildup, especially on the lower canine.

These teeth are mostly 5-7 cm long but you can’t see the most part above the crown. If the tartar is not removed, the buildup will lead to gingivitis.

Therefore, it is important to seek help from a qualified equine dental professional to remove the buildup.

Horse owners are also advised to brush their horse’s canine teeth weekly to prevent tartar buildup.

Teeth fractures

This is a common problem with canine teeth on male horses. You can correct minor fractures by filing and reshaping the teeth.

However, removing the is recommended for major fractures.


In some horses, the bridle teeth can be displaced and this can cause cuts in the cheeks. The teeth can also stick out of the horse’s mouth when bitted.

Placing bits

When the canine is developing, horses can experience pain or discomfort when removing the bridle. A fitted bit on the lower canine works well but horse owners should be careful when taking out the bridle to avoid discomfort.

What is the difference between wolf teeth vs canine teeth?


Many horse owners think wolf teeth and canine teeth are the same.

However, these are two different types of teeth. So, what is the difference between them?

Let’s take a closer look at the two types of teeth to help you know the difference.

Canine teeth: These are teeth that commonly erupt in male horses on the upper and lower jaw when they are about 4-6 years. About 20% of female horses also have bridle teeth but they are usually very small. The main purpose of the bridle teeth was fighting.

Wolf teeth: Unlike bridle teeth, wolf teeth are found in both male and female horses. Wolf’s teeth are also called vestigial teeth and they also serve no purpose to a modern horse. Wolf’s teeth erupt when the horse is around 6-8 months.


You can find wolf teeth in different parts of the mouth even in other unexpected places. Vestigial teeth do not cause any problems inside the mouth of a horse. However, they can lead to pain when in contact with the bit.

Another major difference between the two types of teeth is their number. Horses have 2-4 canine teeth while wolf teeth can be up to 8.

Sometimes the wolf teeth are blind, where they have not developed through the gum.

In some cases, they can be floating without any root attachment. Wolf teeth can cause discomfort or pain in horses, and they, therefore, need to be removed.

Should canine teeth in horses be removed?

Let’s jump in!

Canine teeth in horses do not aid in mastication because their primary role was fighting. In most cases, these teeth do not need to be removed because they do not affect the mastication process.

Removing the bridle teeth is also hard because they are long and curved deeper in the root mandible, and this makes it hard to remove them.

You need to remove it for major fractures, the procedure should be done by a qualified equine dentist. Canine extraction involves x-rays and jaw surgery.

Related: Find out the reasons why horses grind their teeth and the important facts you need to know about this behavior.


Understanding the dental anatomy of your horse is essential if you are a horse owner.

Horses have different types of teeth that you should know.

Many people confuse wolf teeth with canine teeth but the two are different. I have given you the essential information you should know about canine teeth, their functions, and their problems

At this point, you also know the difference between canine and wolf teeth. It is recommended to do a regular dental checkup to ensure your horse teeth are in good condition.

Zunnun Ahmed

We are a group of horse enthusiasts. We want to provide information and tips to help others learn more about horses, how to care for them, and how to enjoy them.

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