Do Pugs Have Underbites? (Problems & Genetics)

do pugs have underbites

Although Pug underbites are typically comical and adorable, when you notice it in your own Pug it can be something that gives you cause for concern. This is particularly true when it comes to Pug puppies; new owners may not understand the background of the underbite, genetics, and how in some cases it can be problematic.

Do all pugs have underbites? Most pugs will develop a slight underbite as they grow older as a breed characteristic. In fact, it would be strange if your Pug has no sign of an underbite at all. American Kennel Club breeding standards states Pugs should have a slight undershot jaw or underbite.

For reference, an undershot jaw is when the lower jaw extends out slightly more than the upper jaw, creating the classic Pug underbite look that has become popular with owners. You can read more about it under the AKC’s breed standard documentation for Pugs.

Pug underbite overview

As a breed known for having several problematic health issues, nobody can blame you for being that little more protective over any perceived abnormality in your Pug; and this isn’t an unusual response when owners perceive a larger underbite than normal.

When should you be worried about your Pug’s underbite though? I spoke to my own vet friend, and here’s what she said to me:

“In the majority of cases, a small underbite should not cause any health problems for a Pug. The time it can become a problem is whether it’s interfering with your Pug’s ability to function normally; like eating, drinking, or their underbite causes injuries when chewing”

Pug underbite problems

Some owners will even be concerned at the first sign of just a little underbite in their Pug puppy. It’s understandable, as Pugs are renowned as having a wide range of dental issues.

pug puppy underbite
Some pug puppies will have underbites more pronounced than others.

For example, Pugs are more susceptible to tooth decay, they have a more compressed jawbone, their teeth are prone to overcrowding and they are also more likely to develop plaque.

Evidently, at-home dental care are regular trips to the vet are vital for your Pug’s oral health, but for the most part you shouldn’t worry about them developing small underbites.

Most Pugs are born with a level bite, which is where the upper incisors and lower incisors meet edge-to-edge. As your Pug grows, you can expect to see the development of a slight underbite. This is because a Pug’s lower jaw often continues to grow even after their upper jaw has reached development.

Do Pug underbites get worse with age?

Underbites in Pugs are only a problem if they start in puppyhood and continue to develop beyond what is expected.

If your Pug has a noticeable underbite as a puppy, you should keep a close eye on how it develops and take them to the vets if you believe it has become too pronounced.

This is because extreme underbites can lead to issues with eating and other kinds of jaw discomfort for your Pug.

Is the Pug underbite genetic?

Pugs with a pronounced underbite are also problematic if you were planning on using your Pug for breeding. With underbites being a genetic trait, they pass down from generation to generation. This faulty gene will, in turn, impact any litter your Pug produces.

The rest of this article will focus specifically on significant underbites and oral misalignments in your Pug. Although I cannot speak from a veterinary or medical standpoint, if you want to learn more about underbites in Pugs, keep reading.

What is canine malocclusion?

Occlusion is the clinical term used to describe how a dog’s teeth align with each another. Whilst ‘normal’ occlusion in most dog breeds is when the upper (maxillary) incisors slightly overlap the lower (mandibular) incisors, we have established that the opposite is true in Pugs.

For Pugs and other flat-faced breeds like Boxers or Shin Tzus, it is typical for the mandibular incisors to slightly overlap the maxillary incisors, which then causes a slight underbite. In other words, their abnormal mouth structure is commonly thought to be normal.

When a dog is diagnosed as having canine malocclusion, this usually means that they have abnormal teeth alignment. Typically, there are two kinds of malocclusion: dental and skeletal.

Dental malocclusion is when the teeth themselves are misaligned, whilst skeletal malocclusion occurs when teeth are misaligned as a result of an abnormal jaw alignment.

Although Pugs can have either, a reason malocclusion is more common in their breed is because they are born with a more compressed jawbone, with the upper and lower jaw often growing and developing at different rates.

So, a Pug’s underbite can be classified as a skeletal malocclusion, as the underlying issue is more often than not their abnormal jaw structure making it difficult for teeth to develop normally.

Medically, underbites are referred to as mandibular mislocution – a ‘type 3’ skeletal malocclusion. But it’s important to remember that this isn’t as scary as it sounds… each and every Pug is different, so if they have this condition, it will impact them in different degrees.

A lot of the time, Pug underbites don’t require any treatment at all.

However, it is important to treat underbites in your Pug if it causes them pain, unpleasant symptoms or difficulty in their everyday life.

You Might Like: I found the best videos and photos online of pugs smiling. If you’ve ever wondered how much this breed can grin, go check out these huge smiles!

Signs and symptoms

Apart from the obvious visual difference, there are several signs and symptoms that can help you to identify whether your Pug puppy has an underbite.

Crucially, these other symptoms can help to indicate whether the underbite is serious enough to be treated, which is especially useful if the underbite itself is perhaps too subtle to be noticed.

Common signs of underbites in Pug puppies include:

  • Periodontal diseases.
  • Difficulty chewing and picking up food.
  • Wear on the teeth.
  • Favouring larger chunks of food over smaller ones.
  • Mouth injuries.
  • Soft-tissue defects from tooth contact on the palate and floor of the mouth.
  • A build-up of plaque on the teeth.
  • Bone fractures.

Underbite treatment

Although typical underbites in Pugs don’t require treatment, there are options for treating more pronounced cases. Your vet may refer you to a specialist, extract some of your Pug’s teeth to avoid overcrowding or, as in more recent cases, give your Pug their very own ‘doggy braces’!

Oftentimes, however, prevention of these things is better than cure. If your vet offers your Pug dental x-rays, you should definitely take it up – they’ll be able to pick up on any underbites before physical symptoms develop.

You should also take care of your Pug’s dental hygiene at home, regularly brushing their teeth to reduce the build-up of plaque and tartar.

Handy Hint: With or without an underbite, Pugs can still give quite a nasty nip. When it becomes problematic, you should follow these tips on how to stop them biting you.


When it comes to Pugs and their underbites, nine times out of ten you really have nothing to worry about.

Most Pugs have a small underbite – with their facial/jaw structure being the way it is, a slight underbite is inevitable.

However, I am only speaking as a pet-owner. It is important to consult your vet if you have any concerns.

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This guide to whether all Pugs have underbites and the problems it can lead to isn’t the only piece of breed specific advice on DoggySaurus – you might also like these other Pug posts.

Marc Aaron

I write about the things we've learned about owning dogs, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips we've picked up along the way.

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