Shih Tzu With Underbite [In-Depth Guide]

Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.

The Shih Tzu is a small, toy-sized dog breed that is known for its long, flowing coat and cute, smushed-in face.

While the Shih Tzu’s face is often one of its most appealing features, some Shih Tzus are born with an underbite, which is when the bottom teeth protrude in front of the top teeth.

This is probably a big concern for dog owners just like yourself, and no surprise if you want to know more about this condition.

In this blog post, we will cover everything you need to know about Shih Tzus with an underbite, from potential problems they might face to how you can care for them.

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What Does an Underbite in Dogs Mean?

When a dog’s teeth, whether baby or adult, do not fit together properly, it is referred to as canine malocclusion, commonly known as an underbite.

It might be challenging to tell whether a dog has malocclusion because, unlike human bites, canine bites are inconsistent in appearance.

Your pet may have a malocclusion if there is unusual tooth-to-tooth or tooth-to-soft tissue contact.

Additionally, if this malocclusion is not addressed, this touch could hurt your pet and have negative effects on its long-term health.

Is It Normal for Shih Tzus to Have Underbites?

Shih Tzus are not meant to have overbites or underbites according to AKC standards, but puppies frequently start off with these, and as their teeth settle over time, they develop an even bite.

This condition is quite common among this breed but it normally does not cause them too much trouble.

They are not alone though, as you would sometimes also see Cavalier King Charles Spaniels with underbite too, just like a few other small breeds such as Yorkies and Pekingese.

Even larger dog breeds, such pitbulls and boxers, are not exempt.

Can an Underbite Be Bad for Shih Tzus?

In dogs, an underbite isn’t always a bad thing.

This dental condition, which some puppies are born with but pose no health hazards provided their teeth are in good shape, is not harmful.

An underbite, however, could result in serious concerns if your dog already has severe dental abnormalities or needs oral surgery.

Due to the fact that they do not communicate like humans do and instead use their lips to only eat and bark, underbites do not usually affect Shih Tzus adversely.

Unless it affects a dog’s ability to feed correctly, an underbite is typically not a problem in dogs.

Doggy says, consider reading this too: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Yelps When Being Picked Up?

What Problems Can an Underbite Cause to a Shih Tzu?

Dogs with an underbite can range in severity, with some having a moderate case and others having a more serious one.

Within the mouth of an individual dog, it can also vary from one side to the other.

Your Shih Tzu may experience a number of problems from an untreated underbite, including:

  • Inability to properly eat
  • Tooth crowding or misalignment (malocclusion)
  • Problems with dentition as your dog ages (the roots may grow into each other)

Are Underbites in Dogs Genetic?

Yes, underbite in dogs is a genetic condition that can be passed down from one generation to another.

The dog’s parents had an underbite and passed it on to their offspring.

If you have a dog with an underbite, it is important that you take good care of their teeth because they can become decayed and infected easily if they are not properly cared for.

In fact, some people who have dogs with an underbite end up getting them extracted because of tooth decay or other dental issues.

If you are getting a new puppy from a breeder and notice this condition, you should speak to them and consider your options – whether to pick out a new one or to continue with the one you chose.

A breeder who is ethical should not continue using the parents for further breeding programs.

Doggy says, you might be keen to read this too: Bumps on dog lips

Can a Shih Tzu’s Underbite Be Fixed?

Can a Shih Tzu’s Underbite Be Fixed?

Rest easy, as most of the time, an underbite doesn’t need to be fixed.

However, if this problem is putting the animal’s health at risk, professional assistance from your veterinarian is certainly necessary.

Besides your vet, there might also be specialists in canine dentistry, but they are likely going to cost a lot more.

Potential solutions may include removing the problematic teeth, canine braces, and corrective surgery after establishing the extent of the condition and the areas impacted.

Other techniques include moving secondary teeth, interceptive orthodontics, and crown modification.

When to Seek Treatment for a Shih Tzu With an Underbite?

An underbite may not need treatment and is generally not considered a dangerous condition.

However, there are some situations where if left untreated, it could make your dog uncomfortable and result in other health issues.

Here are some crucial details you should be aware of:

  • Observe your dog’s behavior and biting tendencies, and let your veterinarian know if anything seems off.
  • If your dog is in pain, he or she could not respond well to contact (like when you try to pet their head), rub their head against the walls or with their paws, have trouble picking up or chewing food, or rub their heads against things.
  • Malocclusion can result in abnormally bad breath, persistent drooling (which can occasionally contain blood), or excessive slobbering when eating.
  • Difficulty in accepting large treats or chewing larger toys
  • Unable to eat hard food (like kibble) as they cannot access their molars

How Much Does It Cost to Fix a Dog’s Overbite?

Since each dog may be different from the others, it is difficult to estimate the exact cost.

As a general rule, tooth extractions might cost anywhere from $100 or more per tooth.

Depending on which tooth needs to be removed, this can go up to $350, and these estimates do not include other fees such as cleaning, hospitalization, and anesthesia.

Prices for crown modifications range from $1500 to $3000 per tooth.

The price for dental braces would probably range from $2500 to $5000.

The recurring expenses for prescription drugs, doctor visits, and testing must also be taken into consideration.

In the end, a veterinary orthodontist will be the best resource to provide you with a more precise estimate.

How to Care for a Shih Tzu With an Underbite?

Shih Tzus that have an underbite may require additional at-home preventive dental care.

Although chews and mouthwashes are helpful, regularly brushing your dog’s teeth is always the best choice.

It will be advantageous to train your dog to accept daily dental cleanings if he has an underbite.

Take note that since human toothpaste includes fluoride, which is hazardous to dogs if swallowed, use veterinary toothpaste instead.

Additionally, the majority of dogs dislike the minty scents of human toothpaste.

Instead, you can get dog-friendly flavors of veterinary toothpaste, including beef and chicken.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Will my Shih Tzu’s underbite get worse over time?

Most of the time, an underbite does not get worse over time and most dogs with this condition are able to live a full life without any difficulties, except maybe having a few awkward photo shoots.

Do underbites correct themselves in dogs?

This misalignment problem may occasionally self-correct as the dog develops. Underbites are typically observed in breeds with more pronounced muzzles. The majority of little dogs, however, who display symptoms as puppies, are likely to have an underbite forever.

In Conclusion: Shih Tzu With Underbite

Before buying a puppy, it’s crucial to get to know the breeder.

Be sure to meet the litter and be on the lookout for any potential issues.

Even if there is no guarantee that you will locate a dog that exactly meets your requirements, there is no doubt that your chances are improved by performing some preliminary research first.

If you do have a Shih Tzu with an underbite, please be a good dog parent and continue to give it all the love and care in the world!

Continue reading other dog care tips such as why is your dog scratching her spay incision with her hind leg, ingrown dog whiskers, what to do if a dog ate string from rope toy, and many more!

You’ve made it to the end, but I hope it’s not the end of our journey. We want to hear your voice! Share your thoughts, problems, suggestions, or anything related to your dog in the comments section. And don’t forget to join our newsletter today too.

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Zack Keithy
Zack Keithy

Hey, I'm Zack, the Chief Editor here. I was formerly a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a good 6 years before moving on to greener pastures. Right now, I am still heavily involved in dog parenting duties, and it is my desire to share all our knowledge with fellow dog owners out there! Connect with me on LinkedIn, or read more about Canine Care Central!

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