The German Shepherd Dog

Dentition of The GSD

DENTITION OF THE GSD   The jaws of a carnivore carry what are arguably its most important tools – the teeth. The jaws of all animals that are classified within Order Carnivora, including all dogs, cats, bears and weasels, both living and extinct, feature the hallmark of their order: the Carnassials. These teeth, designed for shearing meat, are the fourth upper pre-molars, and first lower molars, and are enlarged and flattened like blades to varying degrees, even in those Carnivora that retain omnivorous and even herbivorous diets. In the German shepherd dog as with the wolf, the carnassials take the form typical of the hyper-carnivora, carnivores whose principle diet is meat.

Skull showing gape

The teeth of a wolf tend to be large and very strong, with huge carnassials, and very long, thick canines or fangs. The incisors are lined up in almost straight lines between the fangs, and missing premolars are extremely rare. Of all the wolf skulls I have inspected, none showed missing teeth. The bite is always scissors. The formation of GSD teeth should be almost identical to that of the wolf. All domestic dogs characteristically show teeth that are reduced in size, particularly showing shorter fangs. In many GSDs bred with a longer, finer head than we want the teeth are small and widely spaced, with incisors lined up in a curve due to narrow jaw structure. The extreme form of this type of jaw structure can be seen in the collie.

Skull showing dentition, side view

Skull and dentition, front view

The ideal GSD head should be somewhat shorter and broader than a wolf, with a deeper stop and rounder eye. A long, broad back skull gives greater area of attachment for jaw muscles, and a slightly shorter jaw gives greater leverage and a powerful grip. A slightly convex curvature to the bottom of the lower jaw, and slight chin, gives plenty of room for the teeth to set deep roots. I have never seen a GSD with canines as long as a large wolf, but the teeth should be large and thick, close together with no spaces between them, and white and free of blemish. In general, the strength of the teeth seems to relate to the strength of bone. Big boned dogs will have stout teeth, and fine boned dogs will have more delicate teeth.A missing premolar won’t have any practical consequences for a dog, but more than that may indicate other problems, such as a narrowing or misaligned jaw. Incisors that don’t align or occlude normally would probably result in broken teeth in the wild, and should never be used for breeding, and double teeth might be a sign of genetic abnormality. Other conformation points give us a beautiful dog, but good teeth are a requirement of any normal carnivore, and the GSD should be no exception. They are essential for a working dog, are less vulnerable to breakage and premature wear and help maintain a healthy mouth. Care should be taken to keep the dog’s teeth clean with diet and regular veterinary attention.Upper and lower arcades

Correct scissors bite, Incorrect pincer or level bite

Overshot bite, missing 1st lower premolar, Undershot bite, double 1st lower premolar

Correct sissors bite, Incorrect wry or offset bite

There are 42 teeth, 20 in the upper jaw, 22 in the lower. They should be large and closely spaced.
The total count is:
Incisors:      6 upper and 6 lower.
Canines:      2 upper and 2 lower.
Premolars:  8 upper and 8 lower.
Molars:        4 upper and 6 lower.
Age of tooth eruption:
Incisors:       deciduous  4-6 weeks, permanent  3-5 months.
Canines:       deciduous  5-6 weeks, permanent  4-6 months.
Premolars:   deciduous     6 weeks, permanent  4-5 months.
Molar:                                                 permanent  5-7 months.


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