Abstract Veterinary adult stem cell therapy is an emerging area of basic and clinical research. Like their human counterparts, veterinary mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) offer many potential therapeutic benefits. The characterization of canine-derived MSCs, however, is poorly defined compared to human MSCs. Furthermore, little consensus exists regarding the expression of canine MSC cell surface markers. To address this issue, this study investigated characteristics of cultured canine MSCs derived from both adipose tissue and bone marrow. The canine MSCs were obtained from donors of various breeds and ages. A panel of cell surface markers for canine MSCs was selected based on current human and canine literature and the availability of canine-reactive antibodies. Using flow cytometry, canine MSCs were defined to be CD90+CD44+MHC I+CD14−CD29−CD34−MHC II−. Canine MSCs were further characterized using real-time RT-PCR as CD105+CD73+CD14+CD29+MHC II+CD45− at the mRNA level. Among these markers, canine MSCs differed from canine peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) by the absence of CD45 expression at the mRNA level. A novel high-throughput canine-specific PCR array was developed and used to identify changes in the gene expression profiles of canine MSCs. Genes including PTPRC, TNF, β2M, TGFβ1, and PDGFRβ, were identified as unique to canine MSCs as compared to canine PBMCs. Our findings will facilitate characterization of canine MSCs for use in research and clinical trials. Moreover, the high-throughput PCR array is a novel tool for characterizing canine MSCs isolated from different tissues and potentially from different laboratories.