A hoof ( /ˈhuːf/ or /ˈhʊf/), plural hooves ( /ˈhuːvz/ or /ˈhʊvz/) or hoofs ( /ˈhʊfs/), is the tip of a toe of an ungulate mammal, strengthened by a thick horny (keratin) covering. The hoof consists of a hard or rubbery sole, and a hard wall formed by a thick nail rolled around the tip of the toe. The weight of the animal is normally borne by both the sole and the edge of the hoof wall. Hooves grow continuously, and are constantly worn down by use.
Most even-toed ungulates (such as sheep, goats, deer, cattle, bison and pigs) have two main hooves on each foot, together called a cloven hoof. Most of these cloven-hoofed animals also have two smaller hoofs called dew-claws a little further up the leg – these are not normally used for walking, but in some species with larger dew-claws (such as deer and pigs) they may touch the ground when running or jumping, or if the ground is soft. Other cloven-hoofed animals (such as giraffes and pronghorns) have no dew claws. In some so-called "cloven-hoofed" animals such as camels, there are no hooves proper – the toe is softer, and the hoof itself is reduced to little more than a nail.
Some odd-toed ungulates (equids) have one hoof on each foot; others (including rhinoceroses, tapirs and many extinct species) have (or had) three hoofed or heavily nailed toes, or one hoof and two dew-claws. The tapir is a special case, with three toes on each hind foot and four toes on each front foot.
Sagittal section of a wild horsehoof.
Pink: soft tissues;
light gray: bone;
yellow: digital cushion;
dark gray: frog;
Rear foot of a giraffe (no dew claws)
Rear hooves of a horse
Malayan tapir hooves: front with four toes, back with three toes
Read more about Hoof: Uses
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... bone (U.S.), is the bottommost bone in the equine leg and is encased by the hoof capsule ... The coffin bone is connected to the inner wall of the horse hoof by a structure called the laminar layer ... insensitive laminae coming in from the hoof wall connects to the sensitive laminae layer, containing the blood supply and nerves, which is attached to the coffin ...
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Famous quotes containing the word hoof:
“The water for which we may have to look
In summertime with a witching wand,
In every wheelruts now a brook,
In every print of a hoof a pond.”
—Robert Frost (18741963)
“In our science and philosophy, even, there is commonly no true and absolute account of things. The spirit of sect and bigotry has planted its hoof amid the stars. You have only to discuss the problem, whether the stars are inhabited or not, in order to discover it.”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)
“Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Canada are the horns, the head, the neck, the shins, and the hoof of the ox, and the United States are the ribs, the sirloin, the kidneys, and the rest of the body.”
—William Cobbett (17621835)