Bite Abnormalities in Dogs

Normal "scissor bite”


Malocclusions (bite abnormalities) are not uncommon in dogs and fall into 3 basic groupings:

  1. Class 2A malocclusions
  2. Class 3B malocclusions
  3. Class 1 malocclusions

Class 2A malocclusions are commonly known as overshot bites (i.e. the top jaw is too long).

Overshot bite


The effect of this is for the lower canines (& sometimes the lower incisors as well) to impact into the soft tissues of the hard palate.  This is quite painful when the dog closes its mouth and can eventually lead to formation of oronasal fistulae (holes through the top of the mouth into the nose).


Damage from lower canines


Treatment for deciduous (baby) teeth is to extract the deciduous lower canines at around 3 months of age.  For the permanent teeth, height reduction of the lower canines and pulp capping is often the best alternative.


Height reduction and pulp capping

3B malocclusions (undershot bite – bottom jaw too long) are often purposely bred for e.g. boxers etc. 

Undershot bite


This does not mean that they cause no problems.  Careful examination of the lingual (tongue) side of the lower incisors will commonly show damage from the upper incisors and can be treated by extraction of the upper incisors.

Damage from upper incisors


Class 1 malocclusions are when there is some malocclusion but the jaw lengths are correct.  These include anterior cross-bite, caudal cross-bite, base narrow mandibular canines, displaced teeth, overcrowding and rotated teeth.  All of these can occur with 2A or 3B malocclusions as well.


Anterior cross-bite

Base narrow mandibular canines

Overcrowding, rotated teeth and displaced teeth



An uncommon malocclusion (but one which is often talked about) is the wry bite.  This is where one quadrant of the jaws is too long or (more commonly) too short compared to the other three.  This will cause a major distortion to the jaw alignment and often results in an open bite as well.


Wry bite




All content copyright 2006 - 2018 Advanced Animal Dentistry. All rights reserved. No reproduction allowed without written permission.


Some Photographs copyright and courtesy of Dean Saffron.


Site developed and designed by Aaron Forsayeth.