French Bulldog Teeth: Structure and Health Concerns

French Bulldog Teeth: Structure and Health Concerns

Although French Bulldogs are brachycephalic dogs (a complicated word, right?), they have 42 teeth. But before we explore French Bulldog teeth further, we’ll first spare you the hassle of googling the term ‘brachycephalic’. And no, it’s not a disorder. Brachycephalic dogs are those that have shortened muzzles, which make them have short skulls. The short snout gives them a flat-faced appearance. 

Notably, the fact that they have short skulls, yet also have the same number of teeth as even larger adult dogs, presents certain problems that affect their tooth structure. In long-snouted dogs, all these 42 teeth fit normally. 

However, in most French bulldogs (and other brachycephalic dogs), their teeth are wry, i.e., not in a straight line. But there are also some Frenchies whose teeth are in a straight line. For others, their underjaws are undershot, while for others, they aren’t. As such, French bulldogs’ dental structure isn’t a one size fits all kinda thing. 

The extensive scope of the Frenchies teeth as a topic and the lack of a centralized source where you can obtain this vital information about your pet compelled us to paint a clearer picture for you. Therefore, in this article, we include information that will help you understand your Frenchie’s teeth/dental structure. We’ll also include vital pointers on dental diseases and how to prevent them by observing high levels of dental hygiene. Welcome aboard.

Types of Teeth

Frenchies have 20 teeth on the upper jaw and 22 on the lower. Of these, there are 12 incisors, 4 canines, 16 premolars, and 10 molars.

Incisors

French bulldogs have 6 incisors on the upper jaw and another 6 on the underjaw. 10 of these teeth are small and flat, while 2, located on either side of the upper jaw are somewhat pointed. Frenchies use the incisors for scrapping and gnawing.

Canines

There are 2 canines on either jaw. They’re long and pointed. Also, because of the short snout in French Bulldogs, the canines and incisors are positioned in a straight line. However, as we’ll later see, this is only possible for Frenchies that have square and broad underjaws. French bulldogs use the canines to lock and tear meat/food.

Premolars

French bulldogs have 8 premolars on either jaw. They’re found behind the canines and have sharp edges. The dogs use them to chew and shred food and even wooden sticks while playing.

Molars

There are 4 molars on the upper jaw and 6 on the lower jaw. Molars are grinding teeth and the French bulldogs, therefore, use them to break down food into small pieces.

Frenchie’s Teeth Structure

Breed Standards

So crucial is the French bulldog teeth structure that breed standards, which include vivid descriptions of how regular teeth for this breed should look, exist. The standards also provide an elaborate outline of the ideal characteristics and appearance of the Frenchies. 

The primary purpose for such specifications is to provide a description of desired attributes against which dogs are judged in shows and competitions. 

Several bodies have documented these standards, among them, the French Bulldog Club of America and the French Bulldog Club of New South Wales and Australia. In this article, we combine these two standards, thereby providing a comprehensive outline of Frenchie’s teeth structure. 

And although we’ve used this approach, we must point out that there are many French bulldogs whose features don’t conform to the standards outlined by these bodies. As such, if your Frenchie happens to be an outlier, it’s not alone, many others have its traits only that this hasn’t been documented by a professional group.

Undershot Jaw

Perhaps the presence of more teeth on the underjaw could be an evolutionary reason why this particular jaw is longer. French bulldogs have a skeletal misalignment known as malocclusion. Specifically, they have what is known as class 3 malocclusion or mandibular mesioclusion.  In simpler terms, this is the phenomenon whereby the lower jaw is said to have an underbite, reverse scissor bite, or is undershot. 

In normal French Bulldogs, their lower undershot jaw is such that it projects in front of the upper jaw and is curved slightly upwards (Figure 1). This creates a setup whereby the lower incisors cover the upper incisors, laterally. It’s important to note that there’s no standard gap size in between these front teeth. Instead, the gap varies from one French bulldog to another, making it delimited. 

Image of a Fernch Bulldog with a normal underbite
Figure 1: Normal Underbite

For some Frenchies, however, the underjaw is straight (Figure 2) while in others, the incisors on the upper and lower jaws are level creating what we refer to as a normal scissor bite (Figure 3). But such dogs can be regarded as having an abnormality because it’s very normal for French bulldogs to have an underbite

Image of a French Bulldog with a straight underjaw
Figure 2: Straight Underjaw
Image of a French Bulldog with a scissor bite
Figure 3: French Bulldog with a Scissor Bite

Is the Underbite Problematic?

The underbite is usually not problematic provided your Frenchie can drink, eat, and clean itself without experiencing any pain or bleeding. It’s also not a problem if your dogs’ front teeth are exposed when it closes its mouth. 

Normal French bulldogs with underbites don’t have exposed teeth when their mouths are closed. This is because the facial and jaw structure enables the broad and thick flews to meet the underlip at the front, thereby covering the teeth.

In French bulldogs with a more pronounced underbite, however, the flews don’t meet the underlip and subsequently, cover the teeth. It’s therefore, not uncommon to see some Frenchies with exposed underjaw incisors. When it’s too pronounced, though, it inhibits grooming, drinking, and eating. You might also notice that your French bulldog’s gum/teeth are bleeding. In such cases, the underbite is said to have caused health problems. We’ll highlight some of these problems later on.

Square and Broad Underjaw

Normal French Bulldogs should have broad and square underjaws. But how do you know whether your pet has these two characteristics? Well, you’ll mainly look at the incisors. If your Frenchie’s incisors are straight/ in a straight line across the jaw, and not rounded, then it has a square and broad jaw. 

In a Frenchie whose jaw is narrow and doesn’t curve upwards (is straight), the incisors will project forward and will be seen when the its mouth is closed. This is also indicative of the fact that the teeth are rounded, i.e., they’re not in a straight line. 

Health Problems caused by Underbite

Whenever you observe your French bulldog having problems eating, drinking, or cleaning itself, or that its teeth/gums are bleeding, then you should automatically know that there’s a problem. The undershot jaw could result in the following health problems.

Tissue or Teeth Damage

There is supposed to be a gap between the incisors on the underjaw and those on the upper jaw. However, there are cases where there’s no gap at all. In such instances, the misaligned teeth are arranged such that the teeth on the lower and upper jaws rub against one another while the French bulldog chews. This wears out the soft tissue resulting in problems that require immediate attention. 

Infections and Diseases

The soft tissue’s wear implies that the teeth don’t have a protective covering. Additionally, the misaligned teeth could injure the Frenchie’s gum. The resultant wounds make the gums more susceptible to infections and diseases.

Malnutrition

The underbite may present difficulties in chewing because of the wounds in the mouth and the inability to get a hold of the food. The pain may be too much to the extent that the French bulldog is unable to eat and is, therefore, not continuously getting essential nutrients. If you don’t do anything about the underbite problem, your Frenchie may develop severe malnutrition. 

If you observe the first sign of difficulty, contact your vet

Dental Diseases in French Bulldogs

If there is no difficulty with regards to feeding, grooming, and drinking, then your French bulldog’s underbite isn’t problematic. But if you don’t make an effort to ensure that your Frenchie maintains dental hygiene, it could develop the following dental diseases:

Plaque and Tartar

Plaque is a coat that consists of bacteria, saliva, and food particles. Whenever your French bulldog is done eating, this coat will cover its mouth, forming a thin film. 

On the other hand, tartar refers to the yellowish coat that forms at the base of the crown (the exposed part of the tooth). Tartar also extends below the gum line. 

Plaque slowly morphs into tartar over 24 to 72 hours catalyzed by the salts that are present in the Frenchie’s mouth. Tartar portends trouble because it causes a buildup of bacteria; it has a higher affinity for bacteria than plaque. The bacteria multiply and cause other infections. Also, since tartar extends below the gum line, the bacteria could enter the bloodstream.

Tartar is particularly tricky to remove, unlike plaque. This is why observing high levels of dental hygiene is essential in order to nip plaque at the bud before it morphs into tartar.

Gum disease

The buildup of plaque and tartar causes gum disease. Two types of gum diseases can affect your French bulldog. These include periodontal disease and gingivitis.

Gingivitis causes the gums to become swollen. In extreme cases, the gums bleed. Gingivitis only affects the gums, but when left untreated, it transitions into periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease is more severe and affects the teeth and its roots. It also affects the supporting structures inside the gums, causing fragile teeth. 

Abscess

Poor dental hygiene creates an environment where bacteria thrive. When your French bulldog has a damaged or cracked tooth, these bacteria enter and cause an infection in the root.

All these diseases are pretty scary. You might have even inspected your Frenchie after reading about them. But it doesn’t have to get to the point where your dog is in pain. There are many measures you can use to prevent these dental diseases.

How to keep your French Bulldog’s Teeth Healthy

We continue to emphasize that you should ensure that your dog’s dental hygiene is high and acceptable. But how do you do this?

Brush your Frenchie’s teeth

This is the easiest way to clean teeth. It’s also guaranteed to prevent the dental diseases we’ve mentioned above. There are several pointers that you should note before you start brushing your French bulldog.

  1. The first few brushing session won’t be a walk in the park since your Frenchie won’t be accustomed to the process. Training is, therefore, vital.
  2. You should use the right toothbrush and toothpaste. Never use human toothpaste to brush your Frenchie’s teeth because fluoride is poisonous. Instead, use products meant for dogs.

Use toys and dental treats

Some toys, especially those made from tough rubber slowly clean the dog’s teeth, and gently at that. Alternatively, you could use dental treats and chews, e.g., bones and biscuits. These objects will keep your dog’s mouth active. 

Research has shown that actively chewing reduces plaque buildup by about 70%. Additionally, these objects reduce bad breath because they prevent the accumulation of food particles between teeth.

However, you should limit the use of edible dental treats since they add to the daily caloric consumption from the food. If you don’t regulate their usage, your dog will progressively become overweight

Serve Quality Food

A healthy diet provides vital nutrients to keep teeth and bones healthy. 

Use dental water

Dental water is preferred for Frenchies that exhibit resistance whenever you want to brush their teeth. This water doesn’t have taste or smell, and your French bulldog won’t even notice it. You should administer dental water by mixing it with your pet’s drinking water.

Additional Facts about French Bulldog Teeth

Teeth Chattering

There’s absolutely nothing to worry about when you hear or see your French bulldog chattering its teeth, unless it’s prolonged. Chattering is quite normal, and, depending on the situation, it indicates several things.

  1. Your Frenchie is anxious about something or is anticipating something.
  2. In male French bulldogs, chattering shows that they’ve found a female on heat.
  3. Your dog is excited.
  4. Your Frenchie is analyzing a scent. Did you know that dogs can taste a smell? They have a duct that connects the nose to the area behind the upper incisors. As such, whenever they’ve smelled something, they’ll start chattering to induce the sending of the scent molecules to the mouth.
  5. If the chattering is prolonged, then it’s an indication of an underlying neurological or dental issue. As such, when you make this observation, visit your vet immediately.

Teeth Grinding

French bulldogs grind teeth whenever they’re experiencing pain. This is particularly so for Frenchies that have a pronounced underbite. Other causes include stress. However, when grinding is accompanied by symptoms such as staring into space and biting air, then this is a sign of neurological problems such as seizure. 

When the grinding is moderate, then it’s okay. But excessive grinding is a health problem known as bruxism. If your French bulldog grinds its teeth excessively, visit your vet who should prescribe treatment. 

Conclusion

It’s normal for French bulldogs to have underbites. But if you observe that their undershot jaws make eating, grooming, and drinking problematic, then this is a sign that you should visit a vet. Surgery may be necessary in such cases. If your Frenchie doesn’t exhibit any other issues, do ensure that its dental hygiene is top-notch to prevent dental diseases.

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I'm Sara, an animal enthusiast and proclaimed dog lover. All I write comes from reading and reading about the various topics I'm interested in.