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Do Sheep Have Top Teeth?

sheep teeth

Sheep do have top teeth, but not at the front of their mouths. Instead, they have a plate there that acts as scissors that allow them to grab grass. In total, sheep have 32 teeth both on the upper and the lower palate.

At the top of their mouths, sheep have a fibrous pad. The role of this pad is to help them grab food such as grass or hay.

To chew the food, they will use their rear teeth. In general, sheep have three types of teeth. They have incisors at the bottom of their mouth, and they also have premolars and molars both at the top and the bottom of their mouths.

Do sheep have top teeth?

sheep wool

Sheep do have top teeth, just not at the front of their mouth. That’s where they have a soft plate that they use to grab food. However, they still have teeth at the back of their front palate.

At the top of their mouths, sheep have 6 premolars and 6 molars. They don’t have any incisors at the top, while they are present at the bottom of their mouths. The role of the premolars and the molars at the top is to help with chewing their foods.

In the middle of their top palate, they have a soft, fibrous pad instead of incisors. The reason for that is that they don’t need the top incisors.

Because of this pad, it might seem as though that sheep don’t have any top teeth, but that is not the truth. They still have top teeth, it’s just that they’re not as visible.

sheep wool

But how do sheep eat without the top incisors, then?

They can still easily consume and eat their foods even without their top incisors. They have adapted to only eat softer types of food such as grass or hay.

For eating the types of food they eat, sheep don’t need to have strong incisors because they don’t need to have a powerful bite to do so.

For this reason, sheep have lost the top incisors and only have them at the bottom. They will use their rear teeth such as the premolars and molars for chewing, while their bottom incisors and the top palate will allow them to bite off the grass and other types of soft foods they consume.

Why does a sheep not have teeth at the top of its mouth in the front?

sheep wool

At the front of its top palate, sheep have no teeth. Where other animals have incisors for biting and chewing, sheep have a fibrous pad or a plate.

The role of this fibrous pad is for grabbing food. Sheep are ruminants and will primarily eat grass, so they will need this plate to grab food and allow other teeth to chew the food. But they don’t have the same type of teeth that other animals have, because they don’t need these teeth in the first place.

To better understand the role of this top plate, it’s best to first take a look at how sheep eat.

sheep

They are grass eaters and they will also eat other herbivorous foods. To eat these foods, they will need their molar teeth to be strong, so they have them both at the top and bottom of their mouth.

They will chew their food until the food is fine enough so it can pass down into their stomachs.

Once the food is there, it will stay inside their stomachs for some time. Sheep are ruminants, which means that they have a special structure of their stomach. They have a four-chambered stomach where some food is preserved for later use, while the rest of the food is consumed right away.

Another reason is that sheep eat softer types of food that don’t require a strong bite. This includes grasses, leaves, and other soft foods that aren’t that tough to bite. They’re herbivores, so they don’t need to have incisors like humans, for example, who also eat meat so we need them.

How many teeth do sheep have?

sheared sheep

Sheep have 32 permanent teeth. They have 12 premolars and 12 molars including 8 incisors at the bottom of their mouth.

When sheep are born, they start without any teeth or with very small teeth that grow throughout their lives. At the age of around two weeks, sheep will start growing permanent teeth. Usually, the first teeth to come out are the molars, and then premolars also start coming out after that.

At the start, sheep will be fed milk and other soft foods until they grow their teeth. Until they have their molars and premolars, sheep won’t be able to consume foods such as grass or leaves because they won’t be able to chew them. 

It might take sheep quite a long time to grow out all their teeth. On average, it will take between 30 and 46 months to completely grow all their teeth. In the months between 12 and 24, they will start growing their incisors, but these won’t be as strong as the teeth of an adult sheep.

It’s also possible to tell the age of a sheep by simply looking at its teeth. Usually, larger incisors teeth will tell you that a sheep is older, while undeveloped incisors indicate that a sheep is still young.

Do sheep have bottom teeth?

lamb

Sheep have all the bottom teeth grown out. They usually have 8 incisors with 6 molars and 6 premolars on each side.

Bottom teeth are also important for the sheep because they assist to chew foods and to consume the food easier. The main difference between the top teeth and the bottom teeth are the incisors – they are present on the bottom, while they are not there in the top palate of their mouths.

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Final Thoughts

Sheep don’t have front teeth on top, which are replaced by a fibrous pad. The role of this pad is to help the sheep bite grass and leaves, as well as other foods that they eat. 

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