Structural and functional anatomy of the neck musculature of the dog (Canis familiaris)

Amnon Sharir*, Joshua Milgram, Ron Shahar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


The morphometric properties and the anatomical relationships of the entire musculature of the canine cervical spine are reported herein. These data were obtained from the dissection of cadavers of six dogs. Total muscle length, muscle weight, fascicle length and angles of pennation were recorded for each muscle comprising the canine cervical spine. Based upon these properties, physiological cross-section area (PCSA) and architectural index were estimated. When scaled by whole body mass, the values of each of these parameters were found to be similar between all dogs. Muscles that course from the cranial neck to the shoulder girdle or the rib cage (e.g. brachiocephalicus and rhomboideus capitis) were found to have relatively long fascicles and low PCSA values and thus appear to be designed for rapid excursions. By contrast, muscles that primarily support the neck and shoulder against gravitational forces (e.g. serratus ventralis and trapezius) were found to have relatively high PCSA values and short fascicle lengths, and thus have the capacity to generate large forces. Differences of morphometry as well as nomenclature were found between the canine and human neck musculature. Nevertheless, many similarities exist; in particular, both species have similar muscles adapted to force generation or large excursions. We thus conclude that the canine neck may be used as a modelling tool for biomechanical investigations of the human cervical region as long as the differences listed are borne in mind.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)331-351
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Anatomy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2006


  • Anatomy
  • Dog
  • Morphometry
  • Muscle
  • Neck
  • PCSA


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