Coyote Teeth: Everything You Need to Know

Written by Taiwo Victor
Updated: February 8, 2022
© Derek R. Audette/
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Coyotes are one of the wild dog species you wouldn’t wish to turn into pets. These mammals have innate feral impulses that help them thrive in the wild. Thus, domesticating coyotes like pet dogs is not advisable. Apart from this reason, coyotes can also be dangerous to humans because of their sharp teeth that can cause serious wounds. Coyote teeth are large and pointy like other wild dogs and can crush hard material, including bones.

Coyotes belong to the family Canidae, or canines, and are closely related to wolvesfoxesjackals, and other wild dogs. There are a lot of wild dog species out there, more or less 35, and all of them share almost the same appearance, anatomy, skull, and behavior. Appearance-wise, coyotes look the closest to foxes and wolves, making it tricky to know which is which at times. But apart from their very similar anatomy, one thing that also relates to them closely is their dental structure. Coyotes have the same set of carnivorous teeth as wolves and foxes and are equipped with a ferocious, bone-crushing bite.

What Kind of Teeth Do Coyotes Have?

Coyotes have the same dental structure that most dogs have.

©Angel DiBilio/

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Coyotes have the same set of teeth and dental structure that most domesticated and wild dogs have. They are complete with incisorscaninespremolars, and molars. As omnivorous canines, their four canine teeth in the upper and lower jaws are essential in catching and grabbing their prey. The premolars and molars, collectively called “cheek teeth,” are utilized in tearing and crushing bigger chunks of animal meat. 

However, the coyote’s most distinct feature that separates them from their canine relatives is their small, pointed, and narrow snout or muzzle with jaws that have a ferocious bite and impressively expansive range. 

How Many Teeth Do Coyotes Have?

Coyotes have 42 teeth.

©Constantine L/

Coyotes have a total of 42 teeth, which include three incisors, one canine, four premolars, and two to three molars in each quadrant, which creates the dental formula of incisors 3/3, canines 1/1, premolars 4/4, molars 2/3 = 42. 

The coyote’s canines are quite long, measuring from 31.5 mm to 38 mm (1.5 inches) in length and 15.5 mm wide. Coyotes’ canine teeth are broad, pointed, and circular, followed by hefty cheek teeth capable of crushing bone materials.

The coyote’s jaws are long, thanks to their long snouts. The overall length of the jaw’s teeth line is around 4 inches, while the entire jaw length of a coyote is 5.5 inches. Coyotes have a palate length to width ratio of 2, while wolves and domestic dog breeds have less than that. The skull of a coyote is typically long and slanted, with large canine teeth and a gently sloping head.

Do Coyotes Have Sharp Teeth?

The family Canidae is named canines after their distinct and prominent sharp canine teeth. As canines, coyotes share the same unique Canidae characteristic. The coyote’s canine teeth are very sharp, but they are not as sharp as a house cat’s teeth. Coyotes are omnivores, and they are equipped with teeth that can aid them in grabbing, stabbing, and tearing their prey’s flesh. In that sense, coyote canine teeth are just sharp enough to pierce through animal meat and tear tough flesh apart. Coyote’s canines also provide a tight grip on their hunt. Their premolars and molars are sharp as blades as well, to help them crush meat, insects, and even bones.

What Do Coyotes Use Their Teeth For?

As omnivores, coyotes use their teeth to eat other mammals and carrion meat.

©Derek R. Audette/

As omnivores, coyotes use their various types of teeth in eating in various ways. The front teeth or incisors are squarish and sharp-edged to help coyotes bite and cut their food. The canine teeth sitting behind the incisors help in tearing flesh, gripping onto prey, and grabbing other types of food. Following the incisors are two pairs of canines that are sharp and pointed, adapted for catching, grabbing, and gripping onto their prey. Coyotes use these canines to tear their flesh once they get a hold of their hunt. Then they chew on the meat and other food such as vegetables, fruits, insects, fish, and mammals using their blade-like cheek teeth that are strong enough to crush and grind them, including mammal bones.

Coyotes can sneak into tight spaces and use their jaws in a polished, practical manner, thanks to their narrow snouts. These canines’ set of teeth can be used for various tasks, including scrubbing their coat of bugs, scooping up their young, and tearing smaller prey apart.

Three-quarters of a coyote’s diet consists of other mammals and carrion meat, utilizing their sharp canines even more. As omnivores, the coyote’s diet is not exclusively of small mammals but includes plant materials as well. Their sharp molars are useful when crushing hard food such as nuts and insects. 

Can Coyote Teeth Tell Their Age?

The structure of a coyote’s teeth can reveal a lot about its age. Scientists can estimate a coyote’s age by counting the cementum layers on its teeth. This substance covers the entire tooth, strengthening it and making it more effective.

Every year, coyotes produce a new coating of cementum. Thus, a coyote with 16 cementum layers is around 16 years old. Apart from this, a coyote’s teeth also grow bigger and longer as it gets older. 

Coyotes are diphyodont, like domesticated dogs. This means that they are born with a deciduous set of teeth or baby teeth that they lose as they age and as permanent ones erupt. A coyote’s baby teeth normally appear at two weeks of age and fall out after around six months.

How Strong is a Coyote’s Bite?

Coyotes have quite a strong bite, generating a bite force of 88 PSI. Their narrow lower jaw usually gives off the strongest punch. Apart from their very strong jaws, what helps coyotes defeat bigger animals is their nature to hunt in packs, giving them more strength in taking down prey. 

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About the Author

For six years, I have worked as a professional writer and editor for books, blogs, and websites, with a particular focus on animals, tech, and finance. When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games with friends.

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