Have you ever noticed that some dogs have a unique and adorable dental quirk known as an underbite?
This condition occurs when the lower jaw extends slightly beyond the upper jaw, creating a small misalignment in the bite. While this may raise concerns for some, most of the time, an underbite is harmless and purely cosmetic.
In fact, many people find these dogs even more lovable!
But what really causes a Maltese underbite and does it have any implications on a dog’s health and well-being? Let’s take a quick look.
Common causes of a Maltese underbite
Genetic factors play a significant role in the development of underbites.
For example, Malshis (which are simply a mix between Maltese and Shih Tzu breeds) often inherit the underbite trait from their Shih Tzu parent.
Another potential cause is improper tooth eruption and development. If the adult teeth don’t grow properly or if there’s overcrowding in the mouth, it can result in a malocclusion where the lower jaw protrudes slightly forward.
Other less common causes include dental issues like gum disease or trauma to the mouth during puppyhood which can result in an underbite later on.
Can an underbite affect your Maltese’s health?
While most cases of Maltese underbites don’t cause significant problems, it’s important to point out that that’s not always the case.
The underbite can affect the dog’s bite force, making it hard for them to grip and hold objects. This can impact their ability to play with toys or engage in activities that require a strong bite.
Some dogs can also find it challenging to chew their food properly. As a result, they may suffer from malnutrition or struggle to maintain a healthy weight.
To diagnose an underbite, you’ll have to consult a veterinarian who specializes in dental health. The vet will perform a physical examination of the dog’s mouth and jaw to assess the severity of the condition.
X-rays and other diagnostic tests may also be conducted to get a more detailed view of the teeth and jaw structure.
If an underbite is detected, orthodontic treatment may be recommended. This could involve using braces (!) to gradually shift the position of the teeth. However, this option may not be necessary for every dog.
For more severe cases, your veterinarian may discuss the possibility of surgical intervention to correct the underbite.
Surgery is usually considered a last resort and is only recommended when the underbite causes pain or discomfort or significantly affects the dog’s ability to eat or drink.
Alternatively, lifestyle changes may be recommended to manage a Maltese underbite.
This can include dietary modifications such as switching to a softer or smaller food, as well as avoiding hard chew toys and keeping a regular teeth brushing and dental check-ups routine.
Maltese underbite is typically not a major health concern. It can be caused by genetics, dental issues, or even trauma and may require careful monitoring and management in some dogs.
Treatment options include lifestyle changes to help manage the condition, orthodontic treatment, or surgery for severe cases.