While not 100% accurate, you can examine your horse’s teeth to determine age if you’re unsure of their exact date of birth. A qualified equine dental veterinarian will be able to do this safely during your horse’s next dental examination.
Unlike humans, the horse’s teeth continue to erupt – or grow – throughout its life. Determining a horse’s age by its teeth is accurate until eight years of age. After that, we can only determine an approximate age.
This is due to the horse’s diet, which largely consists of coarse roughage sources. Grazing causes wear on the horse’s teeth, which are worn down and, ultimately, change dramatically with age, including in shape and colour.
Baby and adult teeth
Horses have two sets of teeth during their lifetime – one temporary and one permanent – much like humans. Also called ‘milk’ or ‘deciduous’ teeth, these temporary teeth appear shortly after birth, and are replaced by the first permanent teeth between two and three years of age.
Baby teeth are much paler and shorter than adult teeth.
Over years of grazing, the concave surface of each tooth is worn flat. Here’s a quick overview of what you’ll find inside your horse’s mouth throughout its lifetime:
- One year old – your horse has six milk teeth incisors in each jaw
- Two year old – your horse has a complete set of milk teeth incisors, which are wearing
- Three year old – the two centre milk teeth incisors are replaced by adult teeth
- Four year old – the next two milk teeth incisors are replaced by adult teeth
- Five year old – the two corner milk teeth incisors are replaced by adult teeth
- Six year old – the corner incisors are wearing; there is a dental star present on the centre incisors
- Seven year old – a small hook appears on the top corner incisors
- Eight year old – the hook and black hollow centres on the teeth have disappeared
Ageing a horse by their teeth then starts to become more difficult.
- 12 year old – the Galvayne’s groove appears on the top corner incisors and grows downwards
- 13 year old – another hook appears, which is similar to when your horse was seven years old
- 15 year old – the Galvayne’s groove has reached half way down the teeth
- 20 year old – the Galvayne’s groove has reached the bottom of the teeth
- 25 year old – the Galvayne’s groove has disappeared from the top half of the teeth
Is your horse due for their next dental examination? Call us today on (07) 4511 4554 for a consultation with one of our qualified dental veterinarians. To find out more about our dental services, click here.