Natural Resources, School of


Date of this Version

June 2006


Published in JOURNAL OF ZOOLOGY (2006). Copyright © 2006 Patricia Freeman & Cliff Lemen. Journal compilation © 2006 THE ZOOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF LONDON. Used by permission. JOURNAL OF ZOOLOGY (LONDON) is published by Blackwell Publishing. “The definitive version is available at ”


The strength of canine teeth in several carnivores is found through direct fracture experiments. The average forces required to break the canines of adult animals are coyote 1170 N, red fox 533 N, bobcat 737 N and raccoon 512 N. Stresses created in teeth at the breaking load are predicted by finite-element analysis and beam theory. The ultimate tensile stress sustainable in these teeth is 338 MPa in adult animals. The large pulp cavity in the canines of young animals significantly weakens the bases of their teeth (by about 25%), but as the animal ages the pulp cavity decreases and has little effect on overall tooth strength. The tooth material of young of the year is significantly weaker than that from older animals (by about 35%). With the experimentally derived ultimate tensile stress, finite-element analysis can estimate the breaking load of canines for several carnivores. A significant allometric relationship exists between log of body weight and log of strength of tooth (slope=0.81).