Competency-based veterinary education focuses on the knowledge and clinical skills required to generate a productive and confident practitioner. Accurate identification of clinically relevant core competencies enables academic institutions to prioritize which new and foundational information to cover in the limited time available. The goal of this study was to aggregate the opinions of veterinary practitioners about small animal core competencies in veterinary orthopedics. An online 20-question survey was distributed with questions regarding respondent demographics, education, practice type, caseload, involvement in orthopedic procedures, access to referral hospitals, frequency of orthopedic condition presentation and procedure performance, and proposed percent allocation of various orthopedic curriculum topics. Responses were included from 721 respondents, largely first-opinion veterinarians (81%, = 580/721). The majority (58%; = 418/721) of respondents performed less than 10% of the orthopedic surgeries themselves and, 37% ( = 266/721) reported never performing orthopedic surgery; of those performing surgeries, 78% ( = 354/455) performed less than six orthopedic procedures monthly. The five most common orthopedic conditions seen included: generalized osteoarthritis, patellar luxation, cranial cruciate ligament disease, hip dysplasia/arthritis, and muscle/tendon injuries. Median respondent scores for the percentage which a topic should comprise in an ideal orthopedic curriculum were 20% each for ‘orthopedic exam’ and for ‘non-surgical orthopedic knowledge’, 15% each for ‘non-surgical orthopedic skills,’ ‘orthopedic imaging (radiographs),’ and ‘surgical orthopedic knowledge,’ 10% for ‘surgical orthopedic skills,’ and 2% for ‘advanced orthopedic imaging.’ Based on these results, a curriculum focusing on the most clinically relevant orthopedic conditions with an emphasis on diagnosis establishment and non-surgical treatments is proposed.