Bulldogs have gone through intense modification and selective breeding throughout the years leading different bulldog breeds to have their own defining characteristics.
In the case of English bulldogs, they are bred to have undershot jaws which means that their lower jaw is longer than the upper jaw. This condition is more commonly known as an underbite.
So, do all English Bulldogs have underbites? All English bulldogs do have an underbite. However, some bulldogs might have a more severe underbite than others depending on their breeding. Underbites are considered an essential characteristic of the English Bulldog breed standard as it gives the dog the appearance of strength and fierceness.
Keep reading to learn more about what causes underbites in dogs, the health problems associated with underbites, and what to do if your English Bulldog has an underbite.
What Are the Causes of Underbite in Dogs?
The technical term for underbite condition is Canine Malocclusion and it’s a condition where your dog’s teeth are not aligned properly. You may think it only affects your bulldog’s smile, but there is quite a bit more to it.
It is very common in various dog breeds and can range in severity from very mild, requiring no action, to very severe, potentially requiring surgery, depending on the breeding of the dog.
There are two main causes for underbites in dogs:
The first cause is that the dog has more than teeth that are positioned abnormally but otherwise its facial structure is normal. This condition is referred to as dental malocclusion or dental underbite.
The second cause is that the dog has an abnormal facial structure where its lower jaw is longer than its upper jaw causing the teeth not to align properly. This condition is referred to as skeletal malocclusion or skeletal underbite.
Both dental and skeletal underbites are mostly due to the dog’s genetics. However, in some breeds like English Bulldogs, underbites are a result of intentional breeding.
Why Are English Bulldogs Bred with Underbites?
English Bulldogs are one of the breeds that are most affected by Underbite. The condition has been passed on from one generation of English Bulldogs to another.
These dogs have brachycephalic skulls which means they have flat faces with short muzzles. The only part of the dog’s face that sticks out is its lower jaw, giving the distinctive appearance of the underbite with the lower jaw rolling over the upper one.
The reason why English bulldogs were bred with underbites in the past is that these dogs were used to fight bulls and other animals, so having an undershot jaw helped them hang on to their opponent during a fight.
However, since using dogs to fight other animals has been outlawed, English bulldogs are now bred with underbites simply because it’s considered one of the essential characteristics of the breed standard that many owners seek as it makes the dog appear strong and fierce.
What Is the Breed Standard for English Bulldog?
The official breed standard for any breed is basically what decides the essential characteristics of a purebred dog and it’s what counts in dog competitions.
Some of the characteristics that have become a standard for English Bulldogs include having bigger heads, flat faces with short muzzles, square undershot jaws with the lower set of teeth poking out, and lower rounder chests,
Different kinds of bulldog breeds have their own defining characteristics as bulldogs have gone through a lot of modification and selective breeding. The breeder’s goal is mainly to retain the dog’s strong and fierce appearance while mellowing its personality.
What Are the Health Problems Associated with Underbites?
The underbite is not a characteristic that usually benefits English Bulldogs or any other dog. Some dogs might have a mild condition that causes no problems, while others have a more severe condition that puts them at risk of various health problems.
Let’s take a look at some of the health problems that are commonly associated with underbites:
Dogs with underbites will have more difficulty with chewing and swallowing food due to the misalignment of their teeth.
Misaligned teeth can also cause damage to gums and the soft tissues inside the mouth cavity which is accompanied by blood in the dog’s saliva and abnormally bad breath. This can cause a lot of discomforts and makes the dogs more vulnerable to infections.
Dogs with underbites will often have more issues with slobbering as they have to breathe with their mouths open all the time. Their airways will also be compromised by the deformities of their skulls.
Dogs with very severe underbite might develop a condition called Oronasal Fistula in which a hole forms between the dog’s mouth and nose. This condition can cause severe pain for the dogs and makes them more vulnerable to nasal diseases and infections.
What Can You Do If Your English Bulldog Has Underbite?
If your English Bulldog has underbite, the most important thing is to identify whether this condition is causing your dog discomfort.
As mentioned before, some dogs might have a mild condition that’s nothing to worry about, while others might have a more severe condition that causes significant problems. So, you need to be on the lookout for signs that your dog is in pain or struggling with its condition in order to be able to provide the help needed.
Regardless of how severe your dog’s underbite condition is, it’s generally recommended to keep them away from chewable toys as it can make their condition a lot worse. It’s also recommended to switch them to a diet of foods that can be chewed and swallowed more easily.
Are Underbites Permanent?
If the underbite is caused due to misalignment of teeth, then the condition might not be permanent as the misaligned teeth will sometimes self-correct as your dog grows up. However, keep in mind that the alignment of a dog’s teeth is usually permanent once the dog reaches about 10 months old.
If the underbite is caused due to the facial structure of the dog such as in the English Bulldog’s case, then it’s likely to be permanent as these dogs were made this way through selective breeding.
Is Medical Treatment Required for Underbites?
To determine whether medical treatment is required, you need to take your dog to a veterinarian to have the underbite examined.
Your veterinarian will be able to assess the severity of the condition and either recommend a treatment or let you know that no treatment is required.
Medical treatments for underbites include removal or filling of problematic teeth, applying canine braces, or oral surgery. All of these treatments can be invasive and extremely expensive, so make sure they’re completed only at the recommendation of a trusted veterinarian
Also, even if your veterinarian did not recommend treatment, you still need to keep an eye on your dog and look out for any signs of pain or discomfort that might escalate into a more serious condition.
What Are the Dog Breeds That Can Develop Underbites?
Any dog breed can develop underbites, but it’s much more common in some breeds including Boston terrier, Pomeranian, Pekingese, Shih Tzu, King Charles Spaniel, Pug, and Lhasa Apso. These breeds have certain genetic characteristics that make them more prone to underbites such as flat faces and short muzzles.
What Is the Best Food for Dogs with Underbites?
The best food for dogs with underbites is any kind of food they would be able to chew and swallow easily. You can feed your dog soft food such as chicken broth, ground vegetables or simply soften the dog’s kibble with water. It’s recommended to serve the dog’s food in tilted bowls that are specially made for dogs with underbites.
How Much Does the Treatment for Underbites Cost?
The treatment for Underbites costs between $1,500 and $4,000 on average. The cost varies depending on the severity of the dog’s condition as some dogs might only need to remove a few teeth while others might need oral surgery with anesthesia. There is also the additional cost of regular visits to the vet throughout the process.
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