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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Our breeder said underbites in Havanese are very common. Is that true? I felt like she was trying to warn me that ours might develop one (too soon to tell as they are only a couple weeks old) or if maybe they are common in her lines. I expressed that we really don’t want an underbite. She said her health guarantee does not cover underbites.

I have reference checked this breeder with the president of the local Havanese club, and another very highly regarded breeder recommended her to us. So I’m comfortable that the breeder is legit etc.
 

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I wouldn't say they're common at all. I would say they do pop up, but we always thought mostly from breeding pairs with significantly different shaped skulls, and in this case different length jaws. That's just speculation though.

I don't think we've ever had but a very few over 9 generations. In any case, they don't have any ill effect for the dog anyway, other than not doing good in the show ring.

We had a farm dog that lived into her late teens with an almost 2" underbite. She never had any problem eating.
 

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I wouldn't say they're common at all. I would say they do pop up, but we always thought mostly from breeding pairs with significantly different shaped skulls, and in this case different length jaws. That's just speculation though.

I don't think we've ever had but a very few over 9 generations. In any case, they don't have any ill effect for the dog anyway, other than not doing good in the show ring.

We had a farm dog that lived into her late teens with an almost 2" underbite. She never had any problem eating.
Tom and other breeders would know best, but I think you’re able to tell around 7-8 weeks if it looks like their bite is coming in well… ? Probably not with certainty, but I know that our breeder mentioned one of the pups had a slight underbite, and our pups was not ideal in that it was more even, but actually ended up improving into a normal scissor bite.
 

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Yes, you should be able to tell by then. I think if it's a really close reverse scissor, the percentages are high that it will correct itself. We've had a couple that were reverse scissor that became normal when their adult teeth came in. It's really not an issue for a pet.
 

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I think some breeders value good mouths and breed for them. Others just keep the good moths for show and breeding and pet out the rest. I know the Kings value good mouths, and so does the breeder of my girl, Panda. I aim to continue that.

This is another reason that choosing puppies from pictures at a couple of weeks old makes no sense. That said, as Tom said, minor abnormalities in bite or dentition will not affect the dog's value as a pet nor his health are are rarely, if ever, covered in the health contract. And yes, you SHOULD know in MOST cases whether the puppy's bite will be OK at 8-10 weeks. Dentition can still be a problem, because those problems often don't show up until the adult teeth come in. And bites DO occasionally go off later. But usually if they are good at 8-10 weeks they will remain good.
 

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Ursa might be an outlier, so take this as the story of someone who's only had one dog so far--nowhere near Tom, Karen, and even Lisa's experience.

Ursa came home at 9 weeks old with a normal bite and it took a number of weeks for her underbite to develop (at least enough for me to think about it). I was very attentive to her teeth at the time so I say with confidence that it took several weeks for me to notice it was happening.

I don't find dogs with underbites particularly charming (bulldog, shih tzu, etc) and it terrifies me to think I could have potentially chosen a different puppy had I known early on that my little sunshine would develop an underbite. I'm so glad I didn't know about it because she is just PERFECT as she is. 💖
 

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Ursa might be an outlier, so take this as the story of someone who's only had one dog so far--nowhere near Tom, Karen, and even Lisa's experience.

Ursa came home at 9 weeks old with a normal bite and it took a number of weeks for her underbite to develop (at least enough for me to think about it). I was very attentive to her teeth at the time so I say with confidence that it took several weeks for me to notice it was happening.

I don't find dogs with underbites particularly charming (bulldog, shih tzu, etc) and it terrifies me to think I could have potentially chosen a different puppy had I known early on that my little sunshine would develop an underbite. I'm so glad I didn't know about it because she is just PERFECT as she is. 💖

The reason that underbites CAN develop later, (and sometimes even potential show puppies are releases as pets later is that this happens) is that the lower jaw grows slower than the upper jaw. So a puppy with a SLIGHT over bite when very young will probably correct. A puppy with a level bite at 8-10 weeks (which is an acceptable bite in our breed, though I do not care for it) is suspect, in my eyes, and COULD turn into an underbite. But even puppies that Look like they have a beautiful bite at 8-10 weeks can go off. As Tom explained, I think, in THOSE cases, it is most often a case of mis-matched type between the parents in terms of jaw shape.

As we've said, there is nothing "wrong", physically, with these puppies. And if it's mild, you can't even see it without opening their mouths. They don't necessarily look "bulldogish" But I do think that the buyer should be told about it at 8-10 weeks if it is apparent then, and be allowed to pass on the puppy and their deposit returned if they do not want the puppy. I would do the same with a puppy with an undescended testicle or an umbilical hernia. Both of these are easily corrected, common "baby dog problems" that do not affect the "pet quality" of the dog at all. but they should be fully disclosed. And breeders who are producing them more than once in a great while should be looking at why and trying to remove the reasons for them cropping up.
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The reason that underbites CAN develop later, (and sometimes even potential show puppies are releases as pets later is that this happens) is that the lower jaw grows slower than the upper jaw. So a puppy with a SLIGHT over bite when very young will probably correct. A puppy with a level bite at 8-10 weeks (which is an acceptable bite in our breed, though I do not care for it) is suspect, in my eyes, and COULD turn into an underbite. But even puppies that Look like they have a beautiful bite at 8-10 weeks can go off. As Tom explained, I think, in THOSE cases, it is most often a case of mis-matched type between the parents in terms of jaw shape.

As we've said, there is nothing "wrong", physically, with these puppies. And if it's mild, you can't even see it without opening their mouths. They don't necessarily look "bulldogish" But I do think that the buyer should be told about it at 8-10 weeks if it is apparent then, and be allowed to pass on the puppy and their deposit returned if they do not want the puppy. I would do the same with a puppy with an undescended testicle or an umbilical hernia. Both of these are easily corrected, common "baby dog problems" that do not affect the "pet quality" of the dog at all. but they should be fully disclosed. And breeders who are producing them more than once in a great while should be looking at why and trying to remove the reasons for them cropping up.
This is such a helpful explanation about how underbites can occur later. I’m also glad to hear it’s ‘ok‘ to pass on a puppy if it develops an underbite.
 

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This is such a helpful explanation about how underbites can occur later. I’m also glad to hear it’s ‘ok‘ to pass on a puppy if it develops an underbite.
It is always, always, ALWAYS OK to pass on a puppy you feel is not right for you, no matter what the reason. It is your money, you are the consumer, and you are making a 15 year commitment. HOPEFULLY, unless you are jerking the breeder around, the breeder will give you your deposit back. I can’t think of a reason I wouldn’t give a deposit back, just to maintain good will. But even if the breeder is nasty and won’t return your deposit, FAR better to walk than to make a 15 year mistake over $500. (Which is $33 per year, and makes it sound pretty silly, when you think about the costs of KEEPING the animal for that long…)
 

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My Shadow has an underbite despite being bred from a GCH father & CH mother. His legs are straight and he has a beautiful coat and the most wonderful temperment. He loves everyone from the moment he meets them. He is a very easy dog-no barking, no whining, never a nasty moment, not a destructive bone in him.
I love him despite this minor flaw. Well, and then there is the car sickness!
 

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You will definitely love the puppy regardless! And I promise you, even a Havanese w an underbite won’t look like a shit tzu (nothing against them, but I’m not a huge fan of that look either) because they have the same gene as bulldogs and pugs etc that makes them ‘short faced.’ My puppy’s face is on the small side for a Havanese as far as I can tell (her facial features are very petite) and doesn’t have quite the same soulful look of my older guy because of it, but I think they’re both adorable!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
I get it, @Silk Dog! While it is definitely true that there is no perfect dog and no guarantees, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying you prefer not to have an underbite. I also don’t like the look of underbites. Won’t affect the love of course but just a personal preference (that we can’t control). I also hope for straight legs to lessen the likelihood of joint issues (although of course I know other health or joint issues can crop up regardless). It’s all a leap of faith, and it’s still ok to have preferences and hopes. All of these preferences are part of the reasons people choose one breed over another.
 

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God. Now I have to worry about prospective puppy having an underbite, as well as malformed legs, bad temperament, etc. Havanese with underbite is really a Shih Tzu. Anxiety increasing.
A puppy of ANY breed can have something wrong with it! These things come with the territory when you are dealing with a biological entity. But you tip the odds in your favor to a huge extent by buying your pup from a reputable breeder who does their best to avoid these problems. Tom King has told you how rare these problems are in their puppies. My puppies had none of these problems. The litters that my adult dogs came from had none of these problems.

Do your homework on the breeder! That will avoid most of the problems.
 
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My Shadow has an underbite despite being bred from a GCH father & CH mother. His legs are straight and he has a beautiful coat and the most wonderful temperment. He loves everyone from the moment he meets them. He is a very easy dog-no barking, no whining, never a nasty moment, not a destructive bone in him.
I love him despite this minor flaw. Well, and then there is the car sickness!

Yes, I should say that a minor underbite is the LEAST of problems! It will not interfere AT ALL with the enjoyment quality of a pet!!! You can always say "no" and simply not accept such a puppy, but if that is all that is wrong with it, and you are not looking for a show/breeding animal, you would probably be passing up a wonderful companion!!!
 

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I get it, @Silk Dog! While it is definitely true that there is no perfect dog and no guarantees, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying you prefer not to have an underbite. I also don’t like the look of underbites. Won’t affect the love of course but just a personal preference (that we can’t control). I also hope for straight legs to lessen the likelihood of joint issues (although of course I know other health or joint issues can crop up regardless). It’s all a leap of faith, and it’s still ok to have preferences and hopes. All of these preferences are part of the reasons people choose one breed over another.
An underbite is cosmetic. CROOKED legs COULD affect the long-term health/soundness of the dog, but not always, and it depends on the degree. MANY Havanese have front feet that turn out a bit at the carpus (wrist)a bit. So many that I'd say there are probably more that do than don''t. Remember that even among show/breeding dogs, there are no "perfect" dogs. Don't get SO caught up with straight front legs that you pass up a perfectly nice puppy that turns out a bit in front, and end up, instead, with a puppy built like a Dachshund, because you don't know how to evaluate overall conformation, and have only fixated on "straight front legs". Remember that if a puppy has REALLY TOP conformation, you may not be offered the puppy, because the breeder may choose to keep the puppy for themselves, for their breeding program.

Here is a soaped front end of a puppy that I know as an adult dog. His legs are quite straight, but he deviates quite significantly at the carpus on both front legs. He is a pet. Not a show dog. He goes on LONG hikes with his owners, who are both marathoners. He is a very, VERY sound little dog. He has a wonderful disposition and is the light of their lives. They would have made a big mistake if they had turned him down over this.
Dog breed Dog Felidae Carnivore Gesture


So I guess my point is, be careful, in your search for the "perfect" puppy, that you don't pass up on the "BEST" puppy for you! Because I guarantee you, that these people would tell you that this little dog IS "the best dog". And, as you can see from this soaped photo, his owners went into his purchase with their eyes wide open.
 
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Thanks for the responses. I believe my first Havanese, Pablo, was show dog material--- and headed there but for a quirk of history. Pablo was perfect in the sense he fit the standard to a T. His good looks were not the reason I loved him so. Yet I was proud of his beauty. Call me superficial and vain. I am Cuban and want the breed to be perfect. It's a matter of pride. And I don't think a pet should be second class to a show dog. I also don't think my new pup will match Pablo in the looks department, but I hope he does not have a health issue or anything that deviates from the Havanese standard. I've seen too many deviations in the breed.
 

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