Dog knee anatomy

You will learn:

The names and position of bones and other structures in a dog’s knee

The first step in understanding cruciate disease and rupture in dogs is to appreciate the anatomy of the knee. By learning the position of the bones, you can understand exactly what’s happening when your dog’s cruciate ligament gives way. And learning the names of the bones and ligaments helps you to understand your dog’s vet when they’re talking about the surgery your dog might need.

The canine knee joint

A dog’s knee is very much like your knee. This diagram shows the most important structures in your knee.

What is the cruciate ligament?

The cranial cruciate ligament is a band of hard fibrous tissue that attaches your dog’s thigh bone (the femur) to the shin bone (the tibia). The function of the ligament is to stop the shin bone from moving forward when the knee joint is in motion. The ligament also provides security for the
knee joint and prevents it from rotating around or over-extending.
The cranial cruciate ligament in dogs is the same as the anterior cruciate ligament in humans.

You may have heard of this being referred to as the ACL. In humans, injury is commonly sustained when playing sports as a traumatic injury. In dogs,
traumatic injury can occur too, or the ligament can deteriorate in more of a chronic fashion, where it slowly degrades over time.

Canine knee joint – video animation

This video shows the main anatomic structures of the canine knee. It is designed for veterinary students, so it is quite complex – but it can be really helpful to see a 3D animation like this!