What you see. The starting point for addressing any equine health related issue is your observation.


Wolf Teeth Present


Wolf teeth are tiny peg shaped teeth that are present behind the corners of the mouth, just in front of the row of molar teeth (cheek teeth). Wolf teeth are considered to be vestigial (no longer functional) cheek teeth. They are much more commonly found in the upper jaw than the lower jaw.

About 50-70% of young horses have wolf teeth by the age of 12-18 months. They are not likely to erupt later. There is debate about whether wolf teeth cause discomfort with bitting. Therefore, there is debate about whether wolf teeth should be removed. Unless they are loose or otherwise malformed, they don't usually cause a problem for horses that have a bit in their mouth.

"Blind" wolf teeth have not erupted through the gum and are considered more likely to cause pain or discomfort associated with the bit.

  • Code Yellow

    Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment
    • If you feel that your horse may be resisting the bit.
  • Code Green

    Contact Your Vet to Obtain Useful Advice & Resources
    • You are unlikely to bit the horse.

your role


What To Do

If you notice that your horse has wolf teeth, talk to your vet about whether they should be removed. This depends your intended use of the horse, the size, position and shape of the wolf teeth, and whether you are noticing resistance to the bit.

What Not To Do

Do not assume that the presence of wolf teeth is the cause of any undesirable behavior. Only rarely are they the true explanation.

your vet's role

Removal of wolf teeth is a simple and routine part of dentistry for many vets. We consider many factors when determining whether or not wolf teeth should be removed including their size, shape and position in the mouth, and of course the desire of the owner. Damaged or loose wolf teeth are likely to be removed to prevent irritation.

Your vet either simply removes the wolf teeth, or ignores them if the horse will not have a bit in its mouth and client does not insist on removal.

I am more likely to encourage removal if they are already loose or I think they are irritating. I always remove wolf teeth in horses that are not performing well with a bit in their mouth. In doing this, I eliminate wolf teeth as a potential cause of this behavior.

I usually sedate horses for wolf tooth removal because extraction causes some transient pain. Since the horse is already sedated, I often recommend routine dentistry at the same time.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • How old is the horse?
  • Has your horse had a dental exam performed by a vet or dental tech working with a vet?
  • Is the horse performing to your expectation under saddle?
  • What level of work is the horse being asked to perform?
  • Are you noticing any resistance to the bit?
  • Is your horse bracing against the bit or seem irritated by a bit in their mouth?
  • Is your horse bracing against the bit or seem irritated by a bit in their mouth?

further reading & resources

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP