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This guide covers everything about underbite in dogs.
Do you have an underbite dog? Should you be worried about his condition?
A dog underbite is more than just a cosmetic issue. While some dogs may learn to live with mild cases, severe cases may cause oral health problems.
Here is everything about it, including causes, treatment, symptoms, and everything in between. Let’s dive right in!
Underbite In Dogs: Can It Be Fixed, Causes, Correction Cost, Treatment (What Is Canine Malocclusion)
What is An Underbite Dog?
A dog underbite is a dental or skeletal condition characterized by lower teeth that extend outward farther than the upper front teeth. This condition is also called a Class-3 malocclusion.
It creates a bulldog-like appearance in the mouth and face.
Malocclusion in dogs causes an abnormal alignment of the teeth, which results in an abnormal bite. A dog whose lower jaw is protruding and with the bottom teeth sticking out when at rest is known as an underbite dog.
Before discussing whether or not underbite on dogs can be corrected, you need to understand the types and causes.
Types of Malocclusions In Dogs
There are three main types of dog malocclusions.
We will focus on “class 3 malocclusions,” also known as an underbite. This condition happens when the lower jaw teeth protrude forward relative to the upper jaw teeth.
Class 1 malocclusion, on the other hand, occurs when the upper and lower jaws are proportionally in shape in length, but the teeth don’t come together properly.
Class 2 malocclusion is known as an overbite. It’s the opposite of an underbite.
Other less common types of malocclusions include:
- Level bite
- Open bite
- Anterior crossbite
- Posterior crossbite
- Wry mouth or bite base narrow canines
Understanding these types of malocclusions is crucial when addressing the condition to your veterinarian.
What Causes Underbite on Dogs?
Underbite on dogs falls under different categories (causes). Each type poses a degree of difficulty in treatment and fixing your dog’s underbite.
These are the most common causes of underbites and how difficult they are to fix.
Dental is probably the number one cause of malocclusion in dogs. Dental underbites occur when one or a couple of teeth are abnormally positioned within a normal facial skeletal structure, says Dr. Santiago Peralta, assistant professor of veterinary dentistry and oral surgery at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine (CUCVM).1
Dental underbite commonly happens when a baby tooth fails to fall out and is still present when a permanent tooth erupts. This causes crowding among teeth. Thus the abnormal position and underbite look in your dog.
This cause of underbite on dogs is the easiest to correct. According to Sacramento Veterinary Dental Services, the extraction of the primary teeth (interceptive orthodontics) should be performed as soon as possible to correct the problem.2
Dr. Nadine Fiani, assistant clinical professor of dentistry and oral surgery at CUCVM, says the skeletal type of malocclusion is where the dog’s facial structure is abnormal, causing the teeth not to fit together correctly.
Skeletal underbite in dogs may be more problematic than dental. An abnormal mouth bone structure may cause the canine teeth or maxillary incisors to make abnormal contact with the gums causing severe distress and damage to your pup’s teeth and gums. This could fasten the rapid onset of periodontal disease.
Dr. Peralta says malocclusion in dogs is usually hereditary, which means the condition will likely be transmitted from generation to generation.
“[A dog underbite] will be acquired, whether because something happened during gestation or something happened during growth and development. The condition can develop due to an infection, trauma, or any other event that may alter maxillofacial [face and jaw] growth.”
A dog underbite may also be caused by jaw fractures that don’t heal properly. Trauma to the face and jaw caused by bites, accidents, or getting hit by a car can cause your dog to develop an underbite.
Can An Underbite Be Fixed?
How to fix dog underbite? Are there any dog underbite treatment options? The answer is “yes” to both questions.
Fortunately, most dog underbites do not require any treatment. If the underbite is not causing damage to a dog’s mouth (i.e., preventing chewing or swallowing), there may be no need for treatment.
If potential health issues arise due to underbite development, treatment options will typically fall into one of three categories:
1. Movement of secondary teeth passive or active force applied to teeth to correct their position or eruption angle to create a more comfortable bite.
2. Crown modification is often used for shortening or modifying crowns to prevent the tooth from causing trauma and using orthodontics to move the tooth into the correct position.
3. Interceptive orthodontics is performed to move teeth, shorten teeth, or extract teeth to fit together in a way that no longer hurts the dog.3
How Common Is A Dog Underbite?
Any dog breed can develop an underbite. However, Class 3 malocclusions (dog underbite) are more common in brachiocephalic dog breeds, like Pugs and Bulldogs. However, an underbite can appear in any dog breed.
Common Dog Breeds With Underbites
What dog breeds have an underbite? Below are the most susceptible dog breeds.
- Lhasa Apsos
- Boston Terrier
- Shih Tzu
- King Charles Spaniel
- Bulldogs (English & French)
- And others
Most malocclusions are genetic. It’s important to have your dog’s bite evaluated for non-symmetrical jaw growth by a professional, especially if your dog is brachycephalic.
Sings, treatment & cost
Signs Your Dog May Have An Underbite
The following are common signs and symptoms from dogs who may have developed this condition.
- The most obvious sign is a protruding lower jaw, sometimes called salmon jaw or bull-dog like face.
- Unable to close its mouth or appear to always have a slightly open mouth like a fish.
- Food regularly falling from its mouth while chewing.
- Misaligned teeth that stick out when the mouth is resting.
- Mixed dentition (puppy and adult teeth connected together or adult teeth not growing in)
Dog Underbite Health Risks
Is an underbite bad for a dog? Are dogs with underbites prone to health issues? Yes.
Untreated malocclusion can lead to more than just a crooked smile. It can result in a painful life for your pup.
Some of the health risks include:
- Misaligned teeth that cause damage to gums and the soft tissues of the mouth
- Difficulty to swallow or chew
- Trauma to the gums, palate, cheeks and other teeth
- Excessive tartar and calculus build-up
- Risk of wear on their teeth and periodontal disease
- Inability to tear and grind food
- Chronic discomfort compared to “normal bite” dogs.
- Oronasal fistula (a condition in which a hole forms between the mouth and nose)4
What To Do If Your Dog Has An Underbite?
Dogs with an underbite smile may be adorable, but this condition may lead to severe oral complications, so you need to act fast.
If your dog shows any of the symptoms described above, visit your veterinarian as soon as possible. They will check for signs of pain and infection.
Upon examination, your vet should recommend treatment if necessary. In some cases, underbites don’t cause any irritation and are nothing to worry about. Be sure to request a dental radiograph (X-rays) for your pet. This will help identify most oral diseases in dogs.
A few precautionary steps to take at home to help your pup cope with an underbite are:
- No chewing toys
- Soft dog food
If your dog is not diagnosed with a harmful underbite, you should always watch for behavioral changes that may signal discomfort.
Dog Underbite Correction Cost
How much will I have to pay to fix my dog’s underbite?
Orthodontic treatments for dogs with underbites vary in price depending on the condition, the number of teeth involved, rounds of anesthesia, among other factors. The treatment cost of malocclusion in dogs usually fluctuates between $1,500 and $4,000, according to PetMD.
Dogs are expected to visit the vet weekly or biweekly throughout the process.
Underbite in puppies may sometimes be corrected using braces. However, extraction and filling can also be applied. Treatment options for a puppy with underbites will vary depending on the type of malocclusion your pet faces, age, health status, and other factors.
Just like adult dogs, puppies with underbites are prone to health issues. If your dog has an underbite, seek medical attention to determine if your puppy’s underbite is detrimental to his health.
Will my puppy grow out of his underbite? It’s possible but improbable if this is genetic.
Do Puppy Underbites Get Worse?
An underbite is permanent and generally does not get worse with age. Dogs with underbites do not have many problems. However, the main issue you may encounter is that the teeth align and rub against each other and create a wound within the gums or hard palate.
Dog Braces For Underbite (Underbite Correction Video)
Watch this cute 6-month old golden retriever puppy with braces after an orthodontic procedure to correct his underbite!
Caring For Dogs With Underbites
Symptomatic dog underbites may benefit from early care and treatment to prevent pain, difficulty eating, and other complications.
Here are a few guidelines for caring for dogs with underbites:
- A dog that has undergone an orthodontic procedure should avoid hard, dry dog food and play with hard chewing toys.
- Switching from hard to soft dog food is advised when living with a dog with an underbite. Some dogs with underbites tend to have trouble chewing their food. Nom Nom fresh dog food is a great alternative to aid when this happens and to put less stress on your dog’s teeth when eating his food.
- When it comes to dog treats for dogs with underbites, consider these soft-baked dog treats by Merrick or American Journey’s soft chewy dog treat. You also want to provide a soft chewing dog toy like Chuckit! Roller Dog Toy. Its textured chenille fabric is gentle on dogs’ mouths.
Dogs whose teeth have been extracted or re-shaped must maintain a strict recovery period by only eating soft foods. Regular cleaning is needed to make sure the dog’s teeth continue to be healthy. Be sure to brush your dog’s teeth regularly.
We love using our Dental Kit from Bark Bright. This veterinarian formulated enzymatic toothpaste has three enzymes that break down the debris that cause bad breath.
This helps promote fresher breath and cleaner mouth reducing the chances of periodontal disease, which is more common in dogs with underbites and present in 80% of dogs have by age 3. No toothbrush required.
Vet’s Best toothpaste and toothbrush is another good option for brushing your dog’s teeth that’s easy and effective.
Finally, dogs with underbites often develop excessive tartar and calculus build-up. Hence, it’s also a good idea to target the build-up of plaque and tartar with a Dental Formula Water to leave your dog’s teeth and gums in tip-top condition.
Dog Underbite Frequently Asked Questions
Can A Dog’s Underbite Get Worse?
A dog’s bite typically sets at ten months old. It is unlikely that an underbite will improve on its own at this point. However, there is a chance that your dog’s underbite can worsen due to poor oral hygiene and neglecting the condition.
Can Puppy Underbite Correct Itself?
Most dogs that show underbite symptoms as a young puppy will likely have a dog underbite for the rest of their lives. This misalignment can sometimes self-correct as your dog develops, but if your dog is genetically predisposed, it is highly unlikely for this to happen. Dog underbite can be corrected through surgery and braces in some cases.
Dog Overbite Correction Cost UK
The price varies greatly, depending on the severity and the dental issue. Generally, the whole procedure starts at £1,500.
Why Does My Dog Have An Underbite?
Genetics, accidents, dental or skeletal problems can lead to underbites in dogs. In some breeds, underbites are the result of intentional breeding practices. Breeders breed underbite dogs specifically to engineer the type of jaw structure of a bulldog or a boxer.
What Is The Medical Term For Underbite Dog?
The medical term for a dog underbite is Mandibular mesioclusion or Class 3 Malocclusion (MAL3).
Is It Normal For A Dog to Have An Underbite?
An underbite malocclusion can be considered normal and healthy as long as the dog can chew and eat solid food comfortably and their bite is functional. Some breeds of dogs, usually flat-faced or brachycephalic, are naturally born with underbites. These breeds have been genetically bred to have a lower jaw that is slightly longer than the upper.
Do Bulldogs Have An Underbite?
Bulldogs have brachycephalic skulls, which means their faces are pushed inward. As a result, the upper jaw is usually shorter than the lower — underbite. In some bulldogs, the underbite is minor, while in others, it is extreme that they find eating difficult.
Can A Dog Live With An Underbite?
This condition can cause more problems than just cosmetics. A dog may be able to live with mild cases, but severe cases can affect its oral health.
Should You Worry About Correcting Your Dog’s Underbite?
While not all underbites pose a health threat, neglecting dog underbites can lead to serious health problems for your dog.
As a responsible underbite dog parent, you need to be proactive in checking your dog regularly for any developments that could cause substantive health and dental issues so they can live a long and healthy life by your side.
If you plan to adopt or buy a genetically predisposed underbite dog, you need to understand and meet the special care and potential treatment requirements of such a sog.