Considering getting a loveable pup with an overbite?
Do not fret because you can get that pup and manage their condition or even correct it depending on the age of the dog.
What is an Overbite?
An overbite, in simple terms is misaligned teeth.
It can happen in humans and most animals but for dogs, the upper jaw is longer than the lower jaw with a noticeable gap in between the dentition.
Dentists popularly call it a malocclusion but there are other names you can come across like overshot jaw, over jet or parrot mouth.
But they all point to the same thing: misalignment.
The reverse of the overbite is the underbite which is when the lower jaw is longer than the upper jaw.
It is erroneously called an overbite, it can cause similar problems and needs to be treated just as well, depending on how severe it is.
Causes of an Overbite in Dogs
The cause of the overbite is mainly hereditary or genetics, but normal bite dogs can have puppies with overbites.
Some breeds of dogs are predisposed to having overbites due to the shape of their heads.
Dogs with long and narrow muzzles are more likely to have their upper jaws grow longer than the lower ones.
This covers a wide range of breeds including:
- German Shepherds
- Dobermann Pinschers
- Afghan Hounds
- Basset Hounds, etc.
One thing to note is they are not bred with overbites; they can have normal bites and overbites can be corrected if caught in time. (If you are curious dogs with short faces and wide muzzles are more likely to have underbites.)
Other causes of overbites include milk teeth not falling out and the growth of permanent teeth pushing beneath, also tartar and plaque build-up.
Signs of an Overbite Problem
An overbite can cause dogs to have problems eating, favoring bigger food pieces they can get in their mouth and chew, ignoring smaller bits.
This leads to one of the symptoms to look out for: food falling out of their mouth regularly while chewing.
In severe cases their ability to bite, chew and swallow is impaired.
They may find it hard to pick up toys and feeding times are messy.
Also, in severe cases, the lower dentition can cut into the upper jaw gum or bore a hole through the soft palate into the nasal cavity.
There can be mouth bruising, bad breath and periodontal problems.
Go for a Younger Pup with an Overbite
Getting a dog with an overbite you should consider the age of the dog.
If it is a puppy, chances are they will outgrow the overbite.
They are born with shorter lower jaws to aid nursing, but it grows out with age and as they start to eat solid foods.
Therefore, it is important to keep up with Vet appointments.
Only a Veterinarian can determine the extent of the overbite and catch it in time for corrective measures or advice more time for natural correction.
1. Six weeks
If the overbite is still visible at over six weeks old a Veterinarian may remove some lower teeth to allow the lower jaw to grow, they are just milk teeth and will be replaced by permanent ones.
2. Sixteen Weeks
Past sixteen weeks braces and other tooth modifications are considered.
It works better at that age till about eight months.
3. Eight Months
After eight months it is more of a challenge to the dog and interventions can take longer.
The older they are the longer they have to wear braces.
Removing teeth maybe be the last resort to alleviate the worst of the symptoms if the overbite is severe.
With that would come dietary and lifestyle changes.
If over 10 months old and hereditary causes are confirmed for the overbite, some owners and breeders opt for neutering or spaying so as not to pass down this problem.
Managing a Slight Overbite
A dog can live with a slight overbite which is just cosmetic, not needing invasive correction which can be costly.
Unless you want a show dog, a slight overbite is not a problem.
You can tell when it is a slight overbite by checking your pup’s teeth often to see changes and observing them for signs of being in pain by rubbing its head.
But ideally, a Veterinarian can verify this for you, and you can get started making your dog comfortable.
Managing dogs with slight overbites include:
- Not playing tug-of-war games or any games that put a strain on the mouth and exacerbate an overbite.
- To curb messy mealtimes and make sure your pup can get to every bit of his food, consider size of food pieces for their convenience,
- And look online for specialized bowls that allow him/her to maneuver without the bowl moving around and spilling contents.
- Do not forget to maintain proper and frequent dental hygiene, this can help to reduce tartar and plaque build-up which can contribute to it.
You can get a dog with an overbite.
If the pup is young enough, it can be caught early and corrected.
It is important to get a Veterinarian to do a thorough check-up and possibly X-rays if needed, as more severe later cases can cost more to treat.
But if you cannot keep up with frequent check-ups or afford more expensive procedures, it may not be for you.
And the good news is if you are looking at getting an older dog it is unlikely to have a severe overbite as the cases are rare which is evidenced by the limited material in this area.
Slight overbites can be managed with your help as an alternative.
All pups need love, even those with an overbite.