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Can a Dog Underbite Be Fixed? Causes, Treatment & Cost

Granted, a perfectly aligned set of pearl whites is sought-after for a million-dollar smile in the human world. However, in the doggy world, having a canine malocclusion or underbite (misaligned teeth) is the least of their worries.

Depending on a pooch’s breed, an underbite is particularly regarded as the standard or could be a hereditary abnormality, which may usher in difficulties in eating, among other problems.

Nonetheless, knowledge is power! In this guide, we’ll explore the ins and outs of a dog underbite, including the causes, cost, and treatment. Knowing this can aid in the minimization of problems and curb the reoccurrence of irregular bites in bloodlines.

What Is A Dog Underbite?

It describes a skeletal or dental condition characterized by the lower teeth protruding farther than the upper front teeth. A dog underbite is also known as a Class-3 malocclusion. In addition to creating an appearance in the face and mouth that closely resembles a bulldog, malocclusion triggers abnormal teeth alignment, which causes an irregular bite.

A pooch with a protruding lower jaw and bottom teeth sticking out when at rest is referred to as an underbite dog. Before we delve into whether or not underbite on pooches can be rectified, it’s essential to understand what causes it and its variations.

bulldog underbite

Types of Malocclusion in Dogs

There are three main categories of underbite on dogs, as outlined below.

Class 1 Malocclusion

It occurs when the lower and upper jaws are proportionally in length and shape, but the teeth are not properly aligned.

Class 2 Malocclusion

Commonly referred to as an overbite, just as the name suggests, it’s the opposite of an underbite.

Class 3 Malocclusion

As mentioned earlier, it’s synonymous with an underbite and occurs when the teeth on a dog’s lower jaw protrude relative to those on the upper jaw.

Other less common categories of malocclusions are:

  • Open bite
  • Bite base narrow or wry mouth canines
  • Posterior crossbite
  • Level bite
  • Anterior crossbite

By knowing the different types of malocclusions, you can address the right condition of your dog to the vet.

What Causes a Dog Underbite?

Here’s a breakdown of the most common causes of a dog underbite, along with how difficult it is to rectify.

Dental

It’s probably the top cause of malocclusion in pooches. Dental underbite occurs when one or a few teeth are irregularly positioned within a regular facial skeletal structure. As puppies grow, they begin losing their milk teeth that are gradually substituted by the permanent ones.

However, in some instances, a puppy’s baby teeth don’t fall. Consequentially, they interfere with the permanent teeth that end up growing crookedly due to the lack of ample space. In relatively undershot bites, the incisors are the only teeth that contribute to the misalignment.

Nonetheless, the dental cause of a dog underbite is the easiest to rectify, provided that interceptive orthodontics (the extraction of primary teeth) is performed as soon as possible.

dog teeth checking

Skeletal

In some dog breeds, an underbite is a cherished quality that is part of the norm. For instance, pugs, boxers, Pekingese, and bulldogs are renowned for their brachycephalic features. In this scenario, an abnormal mouth bone structure may result in the maxillary incisors or teeth making irregular contact with the gums. Consequentially, this leads to adverse distress and damage to your canine’s gums and teeth.

With the irresistible shorter jaws and pushed-in faces that a multitude of people find adorable, the gap into which the teeth erupt is restricted, ushering in a malocclusion. Given that skeletal underbite in pooches is significantly more problematic than dental causes, this leads to the rapid development of periodontal disease.

Genetic

In this case, malocclusion in pooches is hereditary, meaning the condition will likely be transmitted from one generation to another. Moreover, it’s acquired when something goes wrong during the growth and development or gestation stage, for instance, trauma or infection, among other events that stunt maxillofacial growth.

Typically, a dog’s lower and upper teeth intersect in a ‘scissor bite’ when the jaw is closed. However, some scenarios arise whereby the lower teeth stick out in front of the upper ones causing a reverse scissor bite. Genetic causes of a dog underbite are seen in long and medium-muzzled pooches.

Growth

In some scenarios, a puppy’s lower jaw grows more rapidly, becoming visibly longer than the upper jaw. Occurring in puppies as young as eight weeks, some upper jaw teeth get restricted behind those of the lower jaw. Consequentially, the upper jaw doesn’t grow at the normal rate.

Acquired

At times, the case of a dog underbite is acquired from the inappropriate tugging and chewing during the delicate stage of teething. Puppies then develop bite issues whereby their growing teeth shift from their initial position.

To avoid this predicament, refrain from playing tug-of-war and other aggressive games with your dog. Using ropes or towels to delight in these games can result in your pet’s teeth shifting into an unusual position, which results in their misalignment.

Important

Dogs with adverse undershot bites may experience challenges in chewing. Furthermore, their soft tissues get damaged. At times, the undershot bite is adverse enough to require tooth extraction or orthodontic treatment.

Inform your vet immediately you spot the development of an underbite in your puppy. Early intervention can make all the difference in curbing more adverse issues.

Common Dog Breeds with Underbite

boston terrier close up

Boston Terrier

Granted, an underbite can crop up in any dog breed. However, it’s more prevalent in certain breeds than others. Although small dog breeds with underbite are the most common, boxers and other larger breeds are also susceptible. Here are a few examples:

  • French bulldog
  • Bullmastiffs
  • Boston terrier
  • Shih Tzu
  • Pekingese
  • King Charles spaniel
  • Pugs
  • English bulldogs

It’s also worth noting that mixed-breed pooches with at least two parent breeds from the list above are also highly vulnerable to malocclusions.

Can a Dog Underbite Be Fixed?

If your dog has an underbite and you’re scratching your head wondering whether it can be rectified, fret not, as the answer is yes! The good news is most dog types of underbite don’t call for any treatment if it’s not interfering with the chewing and swallowing process.

If potential health issues crop up due to an underbite, the following treatment options are available.

Crown Modification

It’s typically used for altering and shortening crowns to curb the tooth from triggering trauma. Crown modification shifts the teeth into their appropriate positions.

Interceptive Orthodontics

It’s a procedure that encompasses the extraction, shifting, and shortening of teeth to ensure they perfectly fit like a puzzle and no longer hurt a dog.

Movement of Secondary Teeth

It involves applying active or passive force to teeth to rectify their eruption angle or position, ushering in a more comfortable bite.

Signs of a Dog Underbite

Below are the tell-tale signs of dogs that have developed an underbite.

  1. Regular falling of food from their mouths while chewing
  2. A lower jaw that visibly sticks out, typically known as bulldog-face or salmon jaw
  3. Misaligned teeth that protrude when the mouth rests
  4. Mixed dentition whereby the primary and secondary teeth are linked, with the latter not growing in
  5. Unable to close their mouth entirely or appear to constantly have a slightly open mouth

Health Risks Associated with Dog Underbite

Untreated underbite causes more than off-kilter smiles. As you may have guessed, dogs with malocclusion are susceptible to a wealth of health risks, as outlined below. It ushers in a life of discomfort for your beloved canine companion.

  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Inability to grind or tear food
  • Excessive build-up of calculus and tartar
  • Adverse discomfort compared to pooches with ‘regular bite’
  • Trauma to other teeth, the cheeks, gums, and palate
  • Risk of wear on your dog’s teeth coupled with the onset of periodontal disease
  • A condition known as oronasal fistula whereby a gap forms between the nose and mouth
  • Misaligned teeth leading to damage of the mouth’s soft tissues and gums

What Should You Do If Your Dog Has an Underbite?

Granted, pooches with an underbite smile are as adorable as they come. However, this condition can trigger adverse oral problems, so it’s in the best interest of your pet to act as quickly as possible. If your pooch is exhibiting any of the symptoms mentioned above, we recommend visiting your local vet as soon as you can. They’ll then check for signs of infection and pain.

Upon examination, the vet will recommend treatment if need be. At times, an underbite doesn’t cause irritation, which should put you at ease. Nonetheless, ensure you request a type of X-ray known as a dental radiograph for your pet. It will easily pinpoint most oral ailments in dogs.

hungry dog eating outdoor close up

A few precautionary measures you can take at home to help your pooch deal with an underbite are:

  • Giving soft food
  • No chewing items

If your dog isn’t diagnosed with a harmful underbite, keep an eye out for behavioral changes that may indicate pain or discomfort.

How Much Does It Cost to Correct a Dog Underbite?

If you’re curious as to how much you’ll have to pay to correct your pup’s underbite, keep in mind that the orthodontic treatments vary based on various factors. They include the specific underbite condition, rounds of anesthesia, and the number of teeth involved. Typically, the price ranges from $1500 to $4000, after which your pet will need to visit the vet biweekly or weekly to monitor the progress.

Puppy Underbite

Underbite in young dogs can be rectified using braces. Nonetheless, filling and extraction can also be applied. The treatment alternatives for a puppy with an underbite vary based on the type of malocclusion involved, their health status, and age.

As is the case with adult dogs, a puppy with an underbite is susceptible to health problems. If you notice an underbite, we recommend seeking medical attention to determine if it’s detrimental to their health. If you’re wondering whether your puppy will grow out of the underbite, the truth is, although it’s possible, the chances are slim to none if it’s genetic.

Caring for a Dog with an Underbite

Symptomatic dog underbite can gain from early treatment and care to prevent eating challenges and pain, among other complications. With that being said, here’s a breakdown of a few ways to care for a pooch with an underbite.

  • Dogs that have undergone orthodontic procedures shouldn’t consume dry food and play with chew toys.
  • We recommend switching from hard to soft food when residing with a pup with an underbite. After all, it’s a no-brainer that a dog underbite causes chewing problems.
  • Wet dog food is an excellent option as it puts minimal stress on your pooch’s teeth when eating. You can also consider soft, chewy, or baked dog treats.
  • Provide your dog with a soft chewing toy, preferably made of textured chenille fabric, as it is soft on the mouth.
  • Frequent cleaning is necessary to ensure a pup’s teeth remain in tip-top health. Therefore, brush your dog’s teeth with a vet-recommended toothpaste and toothbrush every two days.
  • A dog with an underbite typically develops excessive calculus and tartar. As such, targeting this build-up with dental formula water will keep your pooch’s gums and teeth in excellent condition.

To Wrap It Up

While a dog underbite isn’t necessarily a problem, it’s undoubtedly a cause for concern. Turning a blind eye can usher in a boatload of health adversities for your pup, and that’s the last thing you need.

Therefore, as a responsible dog owner, you should be proactive in taking the steps we’ve discussed to pinpoint and treat an underbite for your pet to live a long, healthy, and happy life right by your side. Moreover, you need to exercise vigilance when it comes to planning regular checkups to monitor your pup’s health.

Lastly, without a shadow of a doubt, all pooches are worthy of equal care and love. However, we don’t recommend seeking out dog breeds that are susceptible to an underbite (regardless of how adorable they are) unless you can provide the much-needed care that includes hefty vet bills if complications crop up.

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Daniel Wagner

Daniel Wagner

Daniel is an animal-lover who specializes in marketing. He started running Dog Food Care with his mother, Sarah, after leaving his office job. Daniel gained enough flexibility in his schedule to be able to adopt a dog of his own and welcomed Emmie the dachshund into his home in 2020.