Understanding Bulldog Underbite: Surprising Causes, Implications, and Care


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bulldog underbite

Bulldogs, with their adorable wrinkly faces and charming personalities, have become a popular choice for many. One distinctive feature that sets them apart is the Bulldog underbite.

In this article, we discuss Bulldog underbites, exploring their causes, implications, and essential care tips for Bulldog owners.

What is a Bulldog Underbite?

A Bulldog underbite, also known as prognathism, occurs when a Bulldog’s lower jaw extends beyond the upper jaw, resulting in the lower teeth protruding in front of the upper teeth. This unique dental feature is common among Bulldogs and is considered to be a breed-specific characteristic.

The Bulldog underbite is seen in many Bulldog breeds, including the English Bulldog, French Bulldog, and Boston Terrier. While it is considered a standard characteristic in these breeds, it can vary in severity from dog to dog. Some Bulldogs may have a slight underbite, while it may be more pronounced or noticeable in others.

Causes of Bulldog Underbites

A Bulldog underbite is primarily a result of selective breeding for certain facial features, which inadvertently led to changes in their jaw structure. Over time, this breeding practice has influenced the prevalence of underbites in Bulldogs.

This unique trait is not just about aesthetics – Historically, Bulldogs were bred for bull-baiting, a cruel and violent sport. The underbite was an advantage during these fights, as it allowed them to maintain a firm grip on the bull’s snout, even when the animal fought back.

Thankfully, these brutal practices have now been banned, and over time, Bulldogs have become gentle, affectionate dogs.

Implications of Bulldog Underbites

1. Dental issues

The misalignment of teeth in Bulldogs with underbites can lead to various dental problems. When the teeth don’t meet correctly, it can cause excessive wear on specific teeth, uneven pressure on the jaw, and potential pain or discomfort. These factors may contribute to issues such as malocclusion, which refers to improper positioning of teeth when the mouth is closed. Malocclusion can cause problems with chewing, leading to decreased appetite or difficulty eating.

Misaligned teeth can also create tight spaces between them, making it difficult to clean them properly. This condition can result in plaque and tartar buildup, leading to gum disease and potential tooth loss unless it is addressed through regular dental care and professional cleaning.

2. Respiratory difficulties

Bulldogs are brachycephalic breeds, which means they have flat faces and short noses. The combination of the underbite and the brachycephalic facial structure can worsen respiratory issues. The elongated soft palate, small nostrils, and narrowed airways make breathing more challenging for Bulldogs compared to dogs with longer snouts.

When Bulldogs engage in physical activities, particularly in hot or humid conditions, they are prone to respiratory distress. They may struggle to cool themselves down effectively through panting, which can lead to overheating and potentially life-threatening conditions like heatstroke.

3. Difficulty regulating body temperature

Due to their brachycephalic features, Bulldogs have difficulty regulating their body temperature efficiently. Dogs primarily cool themselves by panting, but the restricted airways and elongated soft palate in Bulldogs hinder their ability to pant effectively, making them more susceptible to heat-related illnesses.

4. Anesthesia risks

Bulldogs with underbites may be more sensitive to anesthesia due to their unique facial structure and airway anatomy. The risk of anesthesia-related complications can be higher in these dogs, so it’s not uncommon for veterinarians to take extra precautions during surgeries and procedures that require it.

5. Increased dental maintenance

Because of the dental issues associated with underbites, Bulldogs may require more frequent dental check-ups and cleanings than other breeds. Regular dental care, including brushing their teeth and providing dental chews or toys, is crucial to prevent oral health problems.

6. Selective breeding considerations

Responsible breeders should be aware of the implications of the Bulldog underbite and take them into account during the breeding process. Ethical breeding practices should focus on producing healthy Bulldogs with fewer potential health issues related to their unique features. Avoiding breeding dogs with severe underbites or other detrimental health conditions can help improve the overall health of the breed.

Health Considerations for Bulldogs with Underbites

1. Regular veterinary check-ups

Regular veterinary check-ups are paramount for Bulldogs, especially those with underbites. Routine visits to the veterinarian allow for early detection of any potential health issues, including dental problems, respiratory concerns, and other breed-specific conditions. A proactive approach to healthcare enables timely intervention, leading to improved outcomes and a better quality of life for your furry companion.

2. Dental care

As Bulldogs are predisposed to dental issues due to their underbites, diligent dental care is crucial. Regularly brushing their teeth helps prevent the buildup of plaque and tartar, which in turn reduces the risk of gum disease and tooth decay. Dental chews and toys designed to promote oral hygiene can also help to keep their teeth clean.

3. Proper nutrition

A balanced and appropriate diet is essential for Bulldogs with underbites. A diet that supports dental health, joint health, and weight management can improve their overall well-being. Your veterinarian will help you to determine the best diet for your Bulldog, taking into consideration their specific needs and potential health concerns. Check out our complete guide to nutrition in dogs.

4. Maintaining a healthy weight

Maintaining a healthy weight is important for all dogs, but particularly for Bulldogs due to their brachycephalic features. Being overweight can worsen respiratory difficulties and put additional strain on their joints. Regular exercise, in combination with a balanced diet, can help keep your Bulldog in tip-top shape.

5. Exercise with caution

While exercise is essential for Bulldogs, especially to prevent obesity, it should be approached with caution. Bulldogs with underbites may experience breathing difficulties, particularly in hot or humid weather. Avoid intense physical activity during the hottest parts of the day and monitor your Bulldog for signs of overheating or respiratory distress during exercise.

6. Addressing respiratory issues

Respiratory problems are common in Bulldogs with underbites, and it is essential to be aware of the signs of respiratory distress. If your Bulldog exhibits symptoms such as excessive panting, wheezing, or difficulty breathing, seek immediate veterinary attention. Providing a cool and comfortable environment can also help alleviate respiratory stress.

7. Avoid overexertion

Bulldogs with underbites may not be as physically capable as other breeds due to their unique anatomy. Avoid activities that involve excessive jumping or climbing, as it can strain their joints and worsen respiratory problems. Instead, consider in low-impact exercises that allow them to stay active without putting unnecessary stress on their bodies.


In conclusion, Bulldog underbites are a distinctive feature of these beloved companions. While they may come with some implications for their health, proper care and attention can help Bulldog owners manage potential issues associated with underbites effectively.

By understanding the causes, implications, and providing proper care, you can ensure that your Bulldog leads a happy and healthy life, showcasing their unique and endearing underbite with pride.


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