How to Diagnose and Treat an Overshot Jaw in a Dog?

Pet Food


March 21, 2022

Overshot refers to a jaw that is longer than the lower jaw and protrudes over it. When the lower jaw is longer than the upper jaw, it is called an undershot. Dogs that are impacted by either type of malocclusion may experience trauma, discomfort, and eating issues.

When it is detected early enough in your puppy’s development, the misalignment may just be a temporary problem that resolves over time. Treatment of an overshot dog depends on how severe your pet’s overshot jaw is.

Why Do Malocclusions Occur?

The term “malocclusion” refers to the misalignment of teeth. Malocclusions can be skeletal or dental. Teeth that are misaligned due to an irregular jaw length are called skeletal malocclusions. A dental malocclusion, or malposition of the teeth, occurs when the jaw lengths are normal, but one or more teeth are out of alignment (malpositioned teeth).

A non-functional or traumatic condition occurs when a dental or skeletal malocclusion causes harm to other teeth or the oral soft tissues, necessitating therapy. The following are some of the treatment options:

  1. Extraction
  2. Removing the offending tooth or teeth
  3. Creating additional space for the malpositioned tooth

Overshot Jaw Symptoms And Diagnosis

If your dog’s jaw is overshot, you will see a variety of symptoms. A dog with this type of malocclusion will have difficulty closing its jaws. Other common signs and symptoms are:

  1. Excess salivation
  2. Redness in the mouth and ulcers in the mouth
  3. Scratching of the face
  4. Having difficulty chewing food and keeping it in their mouth while chewing
  5. Lip and soft tissue trauma
  6. Worn teeth
  7. Pain

Whenever you notice that your dog’s jaw is abnormally shaped (upper jaw extending over lower jaw, or vice versa) or that it has difficulty chewing, you should take it to your veterinarian right away.

During this session, your dog will be given a physical examination to confirm that the symptoms you’ve described aren’t caused by anything else. A veterinarian should be able to detect your dog’s jaw misalignment from the outside.

Following this initial examination, your veterinarian is likely to sedate your pet in order to undertake a full oral examination. This will aid them in doing a thorough examination of your dog’s cranium and malocclusion, including the placement of the teeth to the teeth on the opposite jaw. The location of the upper and lower incisors with each other is usually the focus of these examinations since this can help determine what form of malocclusion your dog has.

It is also possible to show signs of overshot jaw issues, such as areas damaged by teeth striking such spots, cysts, or abscesses. Also, your veterinarian may take a dental X-ray to assess the severity of your pet’s overshot jaw and determine the most appropriate course of treatment.

Possible Causes of an Overshot Jaw

Inheritance is a frequent cause for overshot jaws, as families tend to pass these malocclusions from generation to generation. This could also explain why dolichocephalic breeds are more susceptible to the condition. Dolichocephalic dogs such as border collies, German shepherds, Afghan hounds, and Great Danes have long heads and narrow faces.

Abscesses, cysts, and tumors are all possible reasons for an overshot jaw. These growths can occur in your dog’s top jaw and readily expand over the lower jaw, giving the appearance of a larger region. A veterinarian should be able to detect these abnormalities during the physical examination and oral examination.

In most cases, you’ll be able to detect these lumps and bumps on your own. If these conditions are the cause of your dog’s condition, they will most likely have other symptoms as well.

Treating an Overshot Jaw

Treatment for an overshot jaw is mostly determined by your veterinarian’s diagnosis. If your veterinarian discovers that the overshot jaw is the consequence of mild malocclusion, they will classify it as a cosmetic issue and forgo surgery.

If your veterinarian determines that the issue is serious, he or she may prescribe surgical intervention to correct the problem. In cases where your puppy’s teeth are impeding its jaw development, teeth extraction is a good option. When these teeth are removed, the jaw can expand normally.

It is important to highlight, however, that this course of treatment does not ensure the expected recovery.

It is best to have your dog’s overshot jaws treated with oral surgery if it’s older and experiencing trauma symptoms such as pain, difficulty eating, and mouth cuts. During the procedure, your dog may have stubborn teeth removed, their teeth relocated so that they fit properly, or space created for their misaligned teeth.

Among the orthodontic alternatives to surgical procedures are dental braces, tooth spacers, and crown reductions. Again, the choice between the two is largely determined by the severity of the problem.

Cysts and abscesses will be surgically removed. Your veterinarian will obtain samples of any suspicious growths for laboratory testing to rule out the possibility of malignant tumors. If your dog is diagnosed with cancer, more tests and treatment may be required to ensure that they recover quickly and safely following surgery.

Recovery of Dogs with Overshot Jaws

Your dog’s recovery time largely depends on how quickly the problem was diagnosed and treated as well as the severity of the problem. The sooner you identify an overshot or undershot jaw, the higher the chances of your pet quickly recovering. The benefits of orthodontic treatment usually outweigh any side effects, so your dog can live a happy and healthy life even with the condition.

How to Avoid an Overshot Jaw in Dogs

Genetic predispositions account for most overshot and undershot malocclusions, so you can avoid them entirely by selecting breeds that aren’t prone to them. When you adopt or buy a puppy, make sure that you’ve done your research and homework.

It would be a good idea to ask the breeder for health certificates of the parents of the puppies you are interested in. Of course, you should be able to see the mother, but the father is frequently a stud dog who may or may not be present. A reputable breeder, though, will have his photos.

Buying dogs from bloodlines with inherent genetic disorders is not only unfair to the dog and their quality of life, but it is also unfair to you because it may result in a lot of unneeded vet expenses.

If you spot a malocclusion on your puppy while it’s as early as 8 to 12 weeks old, the problem will most likely correct itself as your dog grows. Tooth extraction may be necessary in some circumstances to release the jaw and allow for normal growth.


You and your dog may be bothered by an overshot, but with proper care and treatment, it can be lessened or entirely corrected, preserving your dog’s oral health. You can take your dog to the vet to help resolve the issue before it becomes irreparable.