This review is aimed at clinicians appraising preclinical trauma studies and researchers investigating compromised bone healing or novel treatments for fractures. It categorises the clinical scenarios of poor healing of fractures and attempts to match them with the appropriate animal models in the literature. We performed an extensive literature search of animal models of long bone fracture repair/nonunion and grouped the resulting studies according to the clinical scenario they were attempting to reflect; we then scrutinised them for their reliability and accuracy in reproducing that clinical scenario. Models for normal fracture repair (primary and secondary), delayed union, nonunion (atrophic and hypertrophic), segmental defects and fractures at risk of impaired healing were identified. Their accuracy in reflecting the clinical scenario ranged greatly and the reliability of reproducing the scenario ranged from 100% to 40%. It is vital to know the limitations and success of each model when considering its application.