A hoof 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. "Hoof" is PronEng|huːf or IPA|/hʊf/; the plural is either "hooves" (PronEng|huːvz or IPA|/hʊvz/), or "hoofs" (IPA|/hʊfs/).

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.

The number of toes is considered in determining the kosher status of the animal's flesh.

ee also

*Horse hoof

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  • Hoof — Hoof, v. i. 1. To walk as cattle. [R.] William Scott. [1913 Webster] 2. To be on a tramp; to foot. [Slang, U.S.] [1913 Webster] {To hoof it}, to foot it. {On the hoof}, of cattle, standing (on the hoof); not slaughtered. {beef on the hoof}, live… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Hoof — bezeichnet: Hoof (Ostertal), Ortsteil der Stadt St. Wendel im Saarland Hoof (Schauenburg), Ortsteil der Gemeinde Schauenburg in Nord Hessen. Hoof ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Joachim Hoof (* 1957), deutscher Bankmanager …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • hoof — ► NOUN (pl. hoofs or hooves) ▪ the horny part of the foot of a horse, cow, etc. ► VERB informal 1) kick (a ball) powerfully. 2) (hoof it) go on foot. 3) (hoof it) dance …   English terms dictionary

  • hoof — [ho͞of, hoof] n. pl. hoofs or hooves [ho͞ovz, hoovz] [ME hoof < OE hof, akin to Ger huf < IE base * kapho > Sans s̍aphá , hoof, claw] 1. the horny covering on the feet of ungulate mammals: see HORSE 2. the entire foot of such an animal 3 …   English World dictionary

  • Hoof — (h[=oo]f), n.; pl. {Hoofs} (h[=oo]fs), very rarely {Hooves} (h[=oo]vz). [OE. hof, AS. h[=o]f; akin to D. hoef, G. huf, OHG. huof, Icel. h[=o]fr, Sw. hof, Dan. hov; cf. Russ. kopuito, Skr. [,c]apha. [root]225.] 1. The horny substance or case that… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • hoof — hu̇f, hüf n, pl hooves hüvz, hu̇vz also hoofs a horny covering that protects the ends of the toes of numerous plant eating 4 footed mammals (as horses or cattle) also a hoofed foot * * * (hoof) [L. ungula] the hard, horny casing of the end of… …   Medical dictionary

  • hoof — has a plural from hooves (more usual) or hoofs …   Modern English usage

  • hoof|er — «HUF uhr, HOO fuhr», noun. Slang. 1. a professional dancer, especially a tap dancer. 2. a habitual walker …   Useful english dictionary

  • hoof it — verb walk let s hoof it to the disco • Syn: ↑foot, ↑leg it, ↑hoof • Derivationally related forms: ↑foot (for: ↑foot), ↑footer …   Useful english dictionary

  • hoof — {{11}}hoof (n.) O.E. hof hoof, from P.Gmc. *hofaz (Cf. O.S., O.Fris. hof, O.N. hofr, Dan. hov, Du. hoef, Ger. Huf hof ), from PIE *kop to beat, strike (Cf. Skt. saphah hoof ). For spelling, see HOOD ( …   Etymology dictionary

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