Craniomandibular trauma and tooth loss in northern dogs and wolves: implications for the archaeological study of dog husbandry and domestication

Robert J. Losey, E. Jessup, T. Nomokonova, M. Sablin

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34 Citations (Scopus)
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Archaeological dog remains from many areas clearly show that these animals suffered tooth fractures, tooth loss, trauma, and dental defects during their lives. Relatively little research has explored the meanings of these patterns, particularly for ancient dog remains from small-scale societies of the North. One limiting issue is the lack of comparative data on dental health and experiences of trauma among northern wolves and dogs. This paper examines tooth loss, tooth fracture, enamel hypoplasia, and cranial trauma in a large sample of historic dog and wolf remains from North America and Northern Russia. The data indicate that the dogs more commonly experienced tooth loss and tooth fracture than the wolves, despite reportedly being fed mostly soft foods such as blubber and fish. The higher rates observed in the dogs likely is a result of food stress and self-provisioning through scavenging. The ability to self-provision was likely important for the long-term history of dog use in the north. Dogs also more commonly experienced cranial fractures than wolves, particularly depression fractures on their frontal bones, which were likely the result of blows from humans. Hypoplastic lesions are rare in both wolves and dogs, and probably result from multiple causes, including food stress, disease, and trauma.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere99746
JournalPloS ONE
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding for this project was provided by an ERC Advanced Grant (#295458) to Dr. David Anderson, University of Aberdeen ( Financial support to Mikhail V. Sablin was provided by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (Grant 13-04-00203; The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscrip


  • Craniomandibular Trauma
  • Dogs
  • Wolves
  • Domestication
  • Tooth Loss


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