Do Whitetail Deer Have Canine Teeth?

Skull from a Chinese Water Deer with Canines

Question: What percentage of deer have canine teeth? On the last day of the rifle deer season I harvested a whitetail doe. At first appearance, the doe seemed… well, normal. However, upon further inspection I felt something hard and sharp in the front, upper part of her jaw, where there are not supposed to be any teeth. Using a knife, I uncovered a small canine-looking tooth in the doe’s mouth. What I am wondering is how common is this occurrence in a doe? When I searched the Internet, I could only find information on this in whitetail bucks.

Answer: Lower canines are present in all normal whitetail frrt, but upper canines are rare. Of the eight front teeth on a whitetail’s lower jaw, six are incisors and the outermost two are canines. These canines have simply moved forward through evolutionary adaption to look and function like incisors. Deer feed with these front teeth by pinching a leaf or bud against their upper palate and tearing it away from the plant.

Read more about canine teeth in deer.

One thought on “Do Whitetail Deer Have Canine Teeth?”

  1. Just like the ivory teeth in found in North American elk, canine teeth in deer are a rare and a disappearing appendage of the whitetails. I have only seen three or four such canines in my career and I see lots of dead deer each year. I have never shot a deer with canines but would think it extra cool to do so.

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