French Bulldogs are one of the most desired pets out there due to their loving nature and enchanting look. The French Bulldog underbite is one of their most prominent features and while it’s quite adorable, it’s helpful for a Frenchie owner to be knowledgeable about this unique trait.
There’s lots to know when it comes to causes, potential health issues, and fixes of the French Bulldog underbite.
What is an Underbite?
An underbite, also known as malocclusion, is a familiar term when it comes to the appearance of a person’s mouth and canines can have one, too. In fact, several breeds are known to have underbites and the French Bulldog is one of them.
When teeth are not precisely aligned and the lower jaw protrudes further out than the upper jaw, the result is an underbite. When this happens, you can sometimes see the lower teeth coming up over the top lip.
Causes of a French Bulldog Underbite
There are several reasons that a French Bulldog underbite could occur. Sometimes it’s inevitable and you can usually expect a Frenchie to have one because of their breed and the way it’s been bred over time.
Dogs get traits from their parents just like humans do. Malocclusion, when teeth don’t fit together appropriately, is typically hereditary and passed on from parents. Several breeds are prone to malocclusion, or an underbite. French Bulldogs are one of these breeds.
A main reason for the French Bulldog underbite is that they are a Brachycephalic breed, meaning they have a small muzzle. Frenchies have a skeletal predisposition for having a short upper jaw which creates limited space for their teeth and leads to an underbite.
Many times, a dog develops an underbite because of the way their adult teeth grow in. If adult teeth start to grow while a puppy is still teething and hasn’t lost all baby teeth, a misalignment can occur and cause an underbite. Since it’s in their genetics, a Frenchie has a predisposition to having an underbite and it’s not a result of what happens during teething.
Acquired by Behaviors
Again, most French Bulldog underbites are due to genetics and skeletal makeup, but sometimes an underbite can be because of behaviors such as chewing and playing rough. If a puppy often chews or tugs with their teeth during their teething phase, their teeth may shift from their intended position or their already existing underbite could become worse. This is why it’s important to avoid rough play and to provide your pup with special puppy chew toys during their early stages.
How to Identify an Underbite
Sometimes an underbite is mild and barely noticeable. Other times, it’s much more evident. If your Frenchie has an underbite, you may easily spot the lower jaw coming out further than the upper jaw or that its lower teeth are visible even when its mouth is closed. You may also notice that it has some trouble chewing food, swallowing, or drinking. For an official diagnosis of malocclusion, your vet can perform an examination.
Potential Health Issues Related to an Underbite
While the French Bulldog underbite is a desired trait amongst many Frenchie owners as it adds to their captivating look, it also means your pooch could have an increased risk of health problems which this breed is already prone to.
Possible dental problems include:
Damage to mouth gums and tissue
A French Bulldog underbite can mean that it has misaligned teeth. This can damage the gums and soft tissues in the mouth and lead to discomfort and a higher chance of infection. It can also become painful for your pup.
Keep an eye out for a seeming pain or discomfort when its mouth is touched or when eating, blood coming from the mouth, unusual bad breath, and trouble with eating or drinking.
Chronic nasal infections can occur due to oronasal fistula, an unusual opening between the oral and nasal cavity that causes food, water, and saliva to travel from the mouth to the nose.
Signs of oronasal fistula include excessive sneezing and/or runny nose and bad breath.
Plaque and tartar build-up
Because a French Bulldog underbite means that all teeth fit into a smaller than usual space, they are close to one another so plaque and tartar can more easily build up since they can be in hard-to-reach places. If not taken care of, this can cause tooth decay and gum irritation.
Gingivitis or gum disease
If build-up on the teeth gets too bad, eventually bacteria will get under the gum and start to eat away the tissue and bone that holds the teeth in place. This can cause an infection such as gingivitis or gum disease.
If the underbite is very slight, serious issues are unlikely. If your pooch is able to eat and drink with no issues, there’s likely no need to worry. However, if it has more difficulty with chewing and swallowing, there may be a reason for concern. The good news is that you will notice if there seems to be an issue and you’ll know to contact your vet.
Fixes for a French Bulldog Underbite
Usually, a French Bulldog underbite is a cute feature and nothing to worry about. If you want to do something about it, there’s no magical quick fix and your vet won’t be willing to perform any major procedures if it’s simply a cosmetic issue. However, if the underbite really affects eating or causes severe dental issues, one or more of the following may be suggested in order to address complications:
Who knew that canines could get braces, too! The difference with braces for our furry children is that it’s for medical issues only, not for cosmetic fixes. If your vet decides that braces are needed and that your Frenchie is healthy enough for the procedure, it will undergo anesthesia for x-rays and the arrangement of braces.
Once braces are placed, your French Bulldog will have to go without chew toys and games like tug-of-war.
As mentioned, Frenchies have small mouths but have the same amount of teeth (42, to be exact) as any other adult canine. If specific teeth are causing an issue, a vet may recommend one or more teeth be removed.
Most of the time, teeth extractions are a simple process.
Since an overbite means there’s a misalignment, ball therapy can help with this and is a non-surgical route to take. During ball therapy, a Frenchie is encouraged to carry an appropriate-sized, smooth rubber ball in their mouth right behind the canine teeth. This applies force to these teeth and acts as a retainer with the goal of the teeth shifting to a more proper position.
If your Frenchie’s underbite is severe enough and their teeth become jagged, your vet may recommend filing their teeth down to reduce the chance of injury or other dental issues. This is typically not necessary.
Professional teeth cleaning
If there becomes too much build up on the teeth due to overcrowding, a vet may simply decide it’s time for professional teeth cleaning to avoid bigger oral problems.
Having pet insurance is always a helpful recourse if any of these or other procedures are required to keep your furry family member healthy.
Many times, medical assistance isn’t necessary or recommended by your vet to fix a French Bulldog underbite. However, there are simple tricks you can do at home to help the potential issues caused by an underbite such as the following:
Proper teeth cleaning
Since the main trouble of a French Bulldog underbite is plaque and tartar build-up, regular teeth brushing is key. This is something you should be doing with your pet anyways to ensure their teeth stay healthy and looking nice.
Dogs don’t typically jump for joy when it’s time to get their teeth cleaned, but you can turn regular teeth brushing sessions into bonding time. Make it a normal part of your routine so that it isn’t such a task to get your pup to cooperate.
Soft chew toys
As great as chew toys are, many times they can make dental problems worse. If an underbite is bad enough, you may want to stay away from hard toys especially if your puppy is teething. Of course, your Frenchie loves and deserves to play but providing a soft chew toy is sometimes the best option.
Soft dog food can also be good for a French Bulldog underbite. Mix water into your dog’s dry food, make homemade food with protein and carbohydrates (from grains and vegetables), or provide wet food.
While the causes vary, there are some possible health issues, and there are different ways to reduce problems, the most important thing to note about the French Bulldog underbite is that it’s very common. More times than not, you and your beloved Frenchie can carry on and let the underbite be. If you notice any mentioned problems, contact your vet.