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J Anat. 2009 Mar;214(3):362-73. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7580.2008.01042.x.

Cranial dimensions and forces of biting in the domestic dog.

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  • 1Centre for Nutrition Modelling, Department of Animal and Poultry Science, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.


The purpose of this paper is to analyse the effects of cranial size and shape in domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) on predicted forces of biting. In addition to continuous size-shape analysis, nine size-shape groups were developed based on three skull shape categories and three skull size categories. Bite forces were predicted from measurements made on dried skulls using two lever models of the skull, as well as simple models derived by regression analysis. Observed bite force values were not available for the database used in this study, so only comparisons between categories and models were undertaken. The effects of shape and size on scaled predicted bite forces were evaluated. Results show that bite force increases as size increases, and this effect was highly significant (P < 0.0001). The effect of skull shape on bite force was significant in medium and large dogs (P < 0.05). Significant differences were not evident in small dogs. Size x shape interactions were also significant (P < 0.05). Bite force predictions by the two lever models were relatively close to each other, whereas the regression models diverged slightly with some negative numbers for very small dogs. The lever models may thus be more robust across a wider range of skull size-shapes. Results obtained here would be useful to the pet food industry for food product development, as well as to paleontologists interested in methods of estimating bite force from dry skulls.

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