The Muscle Structure of Dogs

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The Muscle Structure of Dogs
A dog uses voluntary muscles for jumping. (Black Dog Jumping image by Bestside from

Typically, muscles make up half the body weight of a dog and are built for endurance. A genetic mutation in the whippet however, doubles the muscle mass of the dog creating what has been termed as the "bully" whippet. This dog is built for speed.

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Voluntary muscles are those in which the dog can control itself. They include the extensor and flexor muscles, working to contract and pull. This helps the dog to move its limbs for running, jumping and walking.


Involuntary muscles include the heart, intestines and diaphragm. The dog is not able to control these muscles; they are controlled by the nervous system. Likewise the act of shivering to keep warm is also managed by involuntary muscles.


Smooth muscle tissues are found in the involuntary muscles such as the internal organs. All muscles get blood from blood vessels. The blood vessels in turn help to deliver oxygen to the muscles.


Skeletal muscles are voluntary muscles often called striated muscles, which are connected to bone, thus moving part of the skeleton. The skeletal muscles help with such movements as tail wagging.


Cardiac muscles are involuntary but are also striated muscle. They are fibres found in the heart. For the heart to beat, the muscle fibre changes chemical energy into mechanical energy resulting in a muscle contraction.

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