Is a K9 Malocclusion Genetic?

by Victoria Lee Blackstone
    The boxer is one breed with a genetic predisposition for malocclusion.

    The boxer is one breed with a genetic predisposition for malocclusion.

    George Doyle & Ciaran Griffin/Stockbyte/Getty Images

    Puppies typically have 28 baby teeth and 42 adult teeth. Unfortunately, many dogs develop bites that do not allow for proper fit, leading to underbites, overbites, level bites, open bites and crossbites. These are all examples of malocclusions, the misalignment of teeth. Outside causes can contribute to malocclusions, and genetics plays a role in many cases.

    Genetic Links

    Genetics are responsible for tooth bud position; malocclusion can pass from mother to puppies. For example, tooth overcrowding is common in small breeds, and overcrowding and underbites are common in brachycephalic breeds, such as boxers, Boston terriers, pugs, bulldogs and other short-snout breeds. Lingually displaced mandibular canines occur when the lower canines push into the hard palate. Outside factors can contribute to this condition, but genetics plays a large role, especially in German shepherds and Rottweillers. Mesioversion of the maxillary canines, also known as lance canines, causes the upper canines to point forward. This condition is common and genetic in Shetland sheepdogs. Because of a probable genetic connection to malocclusion, removing affected dogs from the breeding pool is recommended.

    Photo Credits

    • George Doyle & Ciaran Griffin/Stockbyte/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Victoria Lee Blackstone is a horticulturist who propagates heirloom and native plants for her nursery. She has authored research-based scientific/technical papers, plant care sheets and magazine and newspaper articles. Blackstone studied botany and microbiology at Clemson University and is a former University of Georgia Extension Master Gardener Coordinator.

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