Not all horses have wolf teeth. About 15% of males and 25% of females have been found to have these teeth, so fillies have them more commonly than stud colts. Most of the wolf teeth are found on the upper arcade of mouth but they can also be seen on the lower one. Most horse people have heard of wolf teeth but many believe these they are the large teeth directly behind the front or incisor teeth, but this is not the case as those are canine teeth, which are more common in male horses. The wolf teeth cannot be seen by looking at the teeth at the front of the horse’s mouth. They are small teeth located at the front of the large cheek teeth and are about 4-5 inches deep in the horse’s mouth from the front teeth. Because of this, the horse’s mouth generally needs to be opened to determine if the horse has them.
Wolf teeth are commonly extracted because it is believed by some that these teeth interfere with a bit and can cause pain by pressing the gum into the tooth when pulling on the bit. However, there is no scientific evidence that the bit causes pain with wolf teeth, so this is just one of those procedures that have been passed down for centuries and we are still doing it today. These teeth were even extracted in the middle ages because it was believed they made the horse develop blindness and madness. Regardless of the lack of scientific evidence indicating extraction is necessary, many owners and trainers want to remove wolf teeth to make sure they are not causing a decrease in performance. To remove the teeth, your veterinarian will sedate the horse and inject a local anesthetic to numb the teeth prior to extraction.