Approximately 5,168 large animals (pigs, sheep, goats, and cattle) were used for intervertebral disc research in identified studies published between 1985 and 2016. Most of the reviewed studies revealed a low scientific impact, a lack of sound justifications for the animal models, and a number of deficiencies in the documentation of the animal experimentation. The scientific community should take suitable measures to investigate the presumption that animal models have translational value in intervertebral disc research. Recommendations for future investigations are provided to improve the quality, validity, and usefulness of animal studies for intervertebral disc research. More in vivo studies are warranted to comprehensively evaluate the suitability of animal models in various applications and help place animal models as an integral, complementary part of intervertebral disc research.