An underbite is a common yet often misunderstood condition affecting the jaws of various dog breeds. Specifically, in the case of French Bulldogs, this distinct characteristic adds personality but also raises questions about its causes and effects on their health. In this article, we’ve gathered the most crucial insights about the French Bulldog underbite, shedding light on what it is, why it matters, and how best to navigate it for a happy and healthy furry companion.
Let’s Start with the Basics: What Is an Underbite?
An underbite, often termed as malocclusion, is a condition where the lower teeth extend beyond the upper teeth when the jaw is closed. This phenomenon can be observed in various dog breeds, especially snub-nosed bully breeds like French Bulldogs and English Bulldogs. Because of the structure of these dogs’ skull, this feature is relatively common and is even recognized as part of their breed standard.
The severity of the underbite can vary from one dog to another: some may have a subtle misalignment, barely noticeable, while others might exhibit a more pronounced underbite. While it’s a defining feature of their appearance, it’s also crucial to consider its implications for their overall health. The underbite can influence how they eat, chew, and maintain oral hygiene.
Common Causes Behind Frenchie Underbite
Understanding the root causes behind the underbite in French Bulldogs sheds light on this prevalent characteristic among these beloved canines. Let’s explore the contributing factors.
Genetics play a dominant role in the development of an underbite among French Bulldogs: most of them simply inherit this physical characteristic from their lineage. As part of our breeding standards, we meticulously screen and exclude dogs with underbites from our program.
The breed history of French Bulldogs can also shed some light on the origin of this trait. Frenchies actually started as smaller-sized English Bulldogs who were later bred with other small dog breeds like terriers, and over several generations of breeding they slowly lost the underbite characteristic of English Bulldogs. However, Frenchies today still have a genetic predisposition to an underbite.
As we have mentioned, French Bulldogs are a brachycephalic breed, characterized by their short and compact facial structure. This skeletal configuration, particularly their short upper jaw, often leads to limited space for their teeth. The mismatch between jaw size and tooth placement contributes significantly to underbites in Frenchies.
Although this doesn’t concern Frenchies, it’s worth noting that in certain instances, dental issues can result in an underbite in dogs. Misalignments during the growth of adult teeth, especially if they emerge while the puppy still has baby teeth, can contribute to an underbite. Additionally, abnormalities in the jaw structure or the presence of crowded teeth can also play a role.
While genetic factors are predominant, an underbite can also be acquired in rarer cases. During the teething phase, if a puppy engages in excessive chewing or rough play, it might inadvertently affect the alignment of their teeth. In some instances, this behavior might contribute to worsening an existing underbite or causing a misalignment of adult teeth as they grow in. Other events, such as infections or trauma can also impact the growth of the face and jaw structure.
Signs and Symptoms of an Underbite
Now let’s see what are the key signs and symptoms that can hint at a French Bulldog underbite.
One of the most apparent signs is the visible misalignment of the jaws when your Frenchie closes their mouth. An underbite typically manifests as the lower jaw extending beyond the upper jaw, leading to the lower teeth being visible even when the mouth is closed.
Challenges in Chewing and Eating
Dogs with underbites might experience difficulties while eating or chewing. This can be due to the misalignment of their teeth, hindering their ability to chew food properly. You might notice your Frenchie taking longer to eat or facing challenges in biting and breaking down their food.
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Discomfort or Pain
In more severe cases, dogs with underbites might exhibit signs of discomfort or pain, especially when the misalignment causes friction or pressure between the teeth or gums. This discomfort can lead to behavioral changes such as pawing at the mouth or avoiding certain types of food.
Oral Health Issues
An underbite can contribute to various oral health problems. Gum irritation, bleeding gums, or even small cuts on the inside of the mouth can occur due to the misaligned teeth rubbing against the soft tissues. Bad breath is another symptom that might be present.
Health Implications of Underbites in French Bulldogs
Severe underbites in French Bulldogs can lead to several health implications that affect their oral health and overall well-being.
Damage to Gums and Teeth
Underbites in French Bulldogs can lead to issues related to dental health. The constant contact and rubbing of teeth against the gums due to the misalignment can result in irritation, inflammation, or even damage to the gums, leading to discomfort and potential bleeding. Additionally, the irregular positioning of teeth might cause wear or damage to the enamel, increasing the risk of tooth decay and fractures.
Plaque and Tartar
French Bulldogs with underbites often struggle with excessive plaque and tartar buildup. The close proximity of teeth due to the misalignment creates challenging areas to reach while brushing, leading to the accumulation of plaque. Over time, this plaque hardens into tartar, increasing the risk of tooth decay and gum irritation. Tartar, especially when it forms below the gum line, can cause further complications, making regular dental care crucial for maintaining oral hygiene.
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Misaligned teeth create spaces that easily trap food particles and bacteria, elevating the risk of gum infections. The difficulty in cleaning these areas due to the uneven teeth alignment increases the likelihood of plaque buildup, leading to gingivitis or more severe periodontal diseases. Persistent gum infections can cause discomfort, bad breath, and if left untreated, may result in more severe oral health complications.
An oronasal fistula is a potential complication of an underbite where an abnormal passageway develops between the oral and nasal cavity. The misaligned teeth or constant pressure on specific areas of the mouth can lead to erosions or ulcers, resulting in an opening between the mouth and nasal passage. This condition can cause issues such as difficulty eating, nasal discharge, sneezing, and even chronic nasal infections, requiring veterinary attention for proper treatment.
Is It Possible to Cure an Underbite?
The potential for completely curing an underbite in French Bulldogs often depends on the severity and underlying causes. In most cases, especially those linked to genetic or skeletal factors, completely altering the jaw structure or teeth alignment may not be achievable without invasive surgical procedures.
For mild cases or those related to dental issues, orthodontic treatments might assist in improving the alignment to some extent. Braces or similar orthodontic devices could aid in gradually shifting the position of the teeth, although this approach might not entirely eliminate the underbite.
However, it’s crucial to note that many vets prioritize the health and comfort of the dog over cosmetic corrections. While procedures might address cosmetic concerns, the primary focus remains on enhancing the dog’s well-being and reducing potential health risks associated with the underbite.
Owners should discuss available treatment options with a qualified veterinarian or veterinary dental specialist. They will provide insights into what’s feasible for their Frenchie’s specific case, considering factors like age, severity of the underbite, and the dog’s overall health. Remember, each dog’s situation is unique, and the recommended approach can differ accordingly.
Care Tips for French Bulldog Underbite
Providing optimal care for a Frenchie with an underbite involves some attentive measures aimed at maintaining their oral health and comfort.
Regular Dental Check-ups
Schedule routine vet visits to monitor the underbite’s progression and address any arising dental issues promptly. Professional cleanings help manage plaque buildup and assess potential complications.
Implement a consistent dental hygiene routine. Brush your Frenchie’s teeth regularly using dog-friendly toothpaste and a suitable toothbrush. This practice helps minimize plaque and tartar accumulation, crucial for dogs with underbites.
Appropriate Chew Toys
Opt for soft or gentle chew toys to avoid aggravating the underbite. Select toys that promote oral health without causing strain on the jaw or teeth. Avoid hard toys that might worsen dental problems.
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Offer a well-balanced diet that caters to your Frenchie’s nutritional needs. Depending on the severity of the underbite, soft or moistened food may aid easier chewing and swallowing.
Observation and Prompt Action
Regularly observe your dog for any signs of discomfort, bleeding gums, or changes in eating habits. Promptly address any concerning symptoms by consulting with your vet to prevent potential complications.
If you’d like to learn more about Frenchies, join our Facebook group called TomKings Frenchie Family to read our Frenchie parents’ experiences.
The article is based on the expert knowledge of the TomKings Puppies team who have been breeding French Bulldogs for 10 years on their farm. All the pictures in the post belong to them and their customers, and show puppies from their breed. Check their available French Bulldog puppies, or if you have any questions or comments let us know below the article.