Diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH) is a common, non-inflammatory, systemic disease of the spine and the abaxial skeleton in humans and dogs. Spondylosis deformans (SD) must be considered as an important differential diagnosis which in humans, unlike DISH, is always accompanied by degenerative disc disease. In the veterinary literature, usually no difference is made between these diseases. The aim of the present review is to summarize essentials of DISH regarding its definition, etiology, prevalence, clinical findings and therapy in both, the human and dog. In particular, the various classification schemes and the most important differential diagnoses are discussed. Specific aspects of canine DISH are highlighted.