Bad bite, or malocclussion, is where the upper front/incisor teeth do not gently overlap the lower front/incisor teeth; in the correct bite, the upper teeth lie just in front of the lower ones when the dog’s mouth is closed. You can check this by gently lifting up the upper the lip and easing down the lower lip in the front. Occasionally a happy tongue will ‘escape’ and try to lick you but you can ask the dog not to ‘help’ and you will see how the teeth fit together. The correct form for a Clumber’s bite is as described, and it is the same in humans.

If the upper front/incisor teeth are set well forward from their lower counterparts, this is an OVERSHOT bite. The overshot (over jaw is shot or protendent) is fairly uncommon. In some cases the lower jaw will under go a growth spurt at about 10 months of age and the gap between the upper and lower incisors will diminish, but rarely completely disappear.

If the lower incisor teeth are set well forward from their upper counterparts, this is called an UNDERSHOT bite (the under jaw is shot or protudent), and is much more common. In fact, some purebreeds select for this type of bite. And of course you will see humans with ‘bites’ like this too.

A WRY bite is where the line of the upper incisors and the line of the lower incisors do not match, that is they are not parallel to each other. In Clumbers, sometimes, for a few months during growth, a bite may be wry and them straighten, but not always.

A sample of a correct/scissor bite in the breed, although in breeding I lean for a full depth scissor bite to avoid bite issues.

A correct bite, see above, ensures the dog has cutting action with the incisors, the canines or eye teeth are comfortably and neatly placed so as not to cause damage within the mouth but are available to rip into material, and the back teeth or molars are nestled against each other so they can crunch and shear almost like a pair of pinking shears. Hence, this is the type of bite all Clumber breeders should be careful to select for and attempt to breed into their population. However, this can’t always be done immediately, as with other breeds of dogs, there are several issues a breeder needs to consider when choosing to do a mating. So sometimes, a bad bite will turn up in a litter and these dogs are quite commonly offered to people interested in Clumbers but not interested in show ring competition.


If a bite is bad there is an increased risk of friction wear and tear on the teeth and also build up of plaque on the teeth. In the correct bite the teeth may touch but the closing or chewing action doesn’t cause vigourous grating of teeth against teeth, yet the crucnhing of well placed teeth agaisnt their counterparts does help reduce plaque build up.

So if your Clumber has a bad bite, these are two important things to watch for:

  • excessive or perilous wear of the enamel, which if damaged is prone to cavities, and like humans, eventually painful cavities
  • build up of plaque, which can lead to bad breath and provide a cosy environment for bacteria which can cause cavities also

If your Clumber has a pronounced bad bite, you will also need to watch how the teeth cut between 8 weeks of age and 12 months of age. The canine, or eye teeth don’t normally cut until about 6 months of age, and sometimes even later. The last of the molars usually cut between 8 and 10 months of age in Clumbers, but again this eruption may be delayed.

The canine teeth have the reverse pattern to the incisors, the lower one is forward of the upper one. As the canine teeth grow check to see the baby or deciduous ones fall away of their own accord. If left they can become entwined with the roots of the permanent ones and lead to dental complications. If the baby canines are still present at 6 months of age and the adult canines are about 1/3 of their adult size but the baby canines are still fairly firmly planted, then feeding a few bones over the next two weeks should work in flushing the baby teeth out. If not, consult your vet.

You need to also check that neither the upper or lower (more likely in this instance) canine teeth when nearly or fully grown are punching or penetrating the opposite jaw. The tips of the canine teeth should fit fairly neatly in line between the incisors and the molars. If the canine teeth are damaging the soft tissue of the mouth it is painful and leaves the area prone to infection, the teeth may need to be removed or possibly they could be trained into a better position. You will need to consult your vet about such a scenario. =

see here for information on inheritance