Bichon Frise Underbite: All You Need to Know

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Bichon Frise Underbite: All You Need to KnowDo you suspect that your bichon frise has an underbite? Is the breed in general susceptible to this issue? What do veterinarians say about this condition? There are a lot of questions about underbites in the bichon frise that you might want snwered.

In this article, we will explore the topic of underbites in bichons frises and discuss some possible solutions.

What Is an Underbite and Are Bichons Frises Susceptible to Having It?

Not all underbites are the same, but the most common underbite found in dogs involves a misalignment of the jaw. Underbites, also called malocclusion, vary greatly in severity. They can range from a slight misalignment in a bichon’s bite to a fully protruding jaw.

Bichons frises are not particularly susceptible to underbites, although they do occur. Underbites more commonly affect small breed dogs with short muzzles. That is something to keep in mind for certain bichon frise crossbreeds.

How to Tell If Your Bichon Frise Has an Underbite

Underbites can range from extremely noticeable to too subtle to be certain. Many dogs may have very slight underbites, or overbites for that matter, that go undetected. It’s only when the problem affects how a bichon bites that we notice it.

In extreme cases, a bichon frise’s jaw will stick so far out that their lower front teeth extend in front of their upper lip. This underbite is always obvious at first glance. A slightly more subtle underbite might see your bichon frise’s bottom teeth locking just in front of their upper teeth. Even though the protrusion is not as extreme as the former, you will still easily notice the misalignment.

A bichon frise’s bite will be only slightly off in the most subtle cases. Here the bottom row of teeth locks too closely to the top row. Even though it is subtle, this kind of underbite can still cause your bichon frise some discomfort. Such a subtle underbite can be harder to spot.

Is Your Bichon Frise’s Underbite a Problem?

If your bichon frise’s jaw is misaligned, it means that their teeth are also misaligned. So, even while a bichon frise with an underbite may appear to manage to eat just fine, their bite will wear their teeth more quickly.

It would not be a big problem if dogs could grow an infinite number of replacement teeth. But, unfortunately, like humans, dogs only get two sets. The first is their puppy teeth, which they lose as they grow. The second set of teeth is their adult set, and that one has to last.

Unfortunately, the problem that arises from an incorrect bite is only the beginning. As bichon frises’ teeth wear down faster, they are more likely to experience various dental issues. These issues include dental diseases affecting other parts of the body. One of the most concerning consequences of dental disease is heart disease.

The inflammation caused by the dental disease significantly increases the likelihood that your bichon frise will develop heart disease.

In addition to the negative effects of the inflammation caused by dental diseases, they also make it easier for bacteria to enter the bloodstream. The bacteria can cause all sorts of systemic infections in the heart, liver, and kidneys. Once the infection takes hold in critical organs, the situation becomes life-threatening. If you suspect that your bichon frise has a dental infection, you must consult your vet immediately.

Of course, in some cases, the underbite can be so severe that your bichon frise will struggle to eat and drink. Often, it will result from a misalignment that also sees the jaw jutting somewhat to either side of the mouth. A bichon frise that struggles to eat and drink will require much care.

Aside from the serious health concerns, having an underbite will affect your bichon frise’s ability to participate in dog shows.

The bichon frise is very popular amongst people who participate in dog shows. Unfortunately, a bichon frise with an underbite does not meet the breed standard and won’t be allowed entry into most of them. However, a good breeder will disclose a bichon frise’s lineage, including any bias for having underbites.

Two Things That Can Cause Underbite in Bichons Frises

There are two kinds of underbites, neither of which are common in bichon frises. That said, it is not unheard of that bichon frises can suffer from either.

The first is the skeletal underbite, the most obvious of the two. That is where the lower jaw, or mandible, juts forward. The second type of underbite is dental underbite. In this condition, a bichon frise’s lower front teeth grow at an angle compared to the mandible. Subsequently, the bottom teeth rest in front of the upper teeth when the bichon frise bites down.

So, what causes these underbites?

Genetics

The primary cause of an underbite is genetics. The genes that cause either malformation run in bloodlines and get selected for some breeds. We know that it is an undesirable trait in bichon frises, if only for the sake of their health.

Ideally, a responsible breeder will practice selective breeding to minimize or do away with hereditary underbites. But unfortunately, a dog can have the genes responsible for an underbite without developing one. The genes get passed on, possibly for generations, without the underbite showing up. Then at some point, a puppy with an active version of the gene will suffer an underbite.

That is because the puppy has inherited a long-dormant epigenetic defect.

Injury

If your bichon frise suffered an injury that could have caused jaw fractures, it might be the reason for their underbite. When the jaw fractures go untreated, they can cause malformation. Therefore, the risk is highest in puppies and young dogs that aren’t yet fully grown.

Impact injuries can also affect tooth alignment. Again, it is common in puppies, where blunt force trauma fractures can misalign parts of the jaw. Even if the jaw itself heals correctly, the roots of the teeth can move and tilt, causing a dental underbite

How Can Your Bichon Frise’s Underbite Be Fixed

Unfortunately, it is practically impossible to fix if your adult bichon frise has a skeletal underbite. Fortunately, there are some methods of fixing or mitigating the problem in puppies. For example, a vet might recommend doggie braces to try and adjust the way your bichon’s teeth and jaw grow.

There is more hope for dental overbites. Depending on the severity of the underbite, your vet might remove any teeth that make it hard for your bichon frise to fully bite down.

Regardless of the treatment, a bichon frise with an underbite will always suffer some minor tell-tale signs of the condition. For dog show enthusiasts, that means that the pup will never grow up to be a show champ. But, for most owners, it isn’t a big problem.

Sometimes a vet will recommend that you take no action. If treatment is unlikely to work or might cause bigger problems, your vet could decide that it is safer to allow your bichon frise to learn to function with their condition.

Summary

There are two kinds of underbites that dogs commonly suffer. The first is the skeletal underbite, which sees the lower jaw protrude forward, misaligning the entire jaw. The second is called dental underbite, which occurs when the teeth in the lower jaw grow at an incorrect, forward-tilted angle.

The bichon frise rarely suffers from an undebite. It is likely because overbites are mostly genetic, and the bichon frise was bred carefully as a show dog for over a century. Underbites can get treated in bichon puppies, often with some success. However, they can lead to dental problems, posing a serious risk to your bichon frise’s health.

As a next step, you should read our guide to keeping a bichon frise’s teeth clean and healthy.