Why do Rottweilers have a scissor bite? The answer is simple: so they can be "cut out" for the show ring. Humor aside, Rottweilers boast a unique bite that has usefulness beyond its cosmetic appeal.
Your Rottweiler does not need to have two pivoted blades in his mouth to have a scissor bite. A scissor bite basically means your Rottweiler's teeth meet together with the upper incisors staying right in front of the lower incisors and the premolars meeting in saw-tooth fashion. A good scissor bite causes the lower canines to comfortably intersect between the upper lateral incisors and the upper canines without touching either of them, according to All Pets Dental Clinic, a dental clinic for companion animals located in Weston, Florida.
If you are planning to ever show your Rottweiler in the show ring, make sure you count his teeth before entering. The Rottweiler standard calls for complete dentition. This means your beloved companion must have all 42 of his permanent teeth; in other words, 20 on top and 22 on the bottom. These teeth must also meet in a scissor bite with the upper incisors closely overlapping the lower incisors, according to ADRK, the General German Rottweiler Club.
While your Rottweiler could care less about having a beautiful smile, a scissor bite goes far beyond cosmetics. The way in which your dog's teeth align with each other is known as "occlusion." The normal occlusion in dogs is the scissor bite, and any deviation from the scissor bite is known as a malocclusion, says veterinarian Daniel T. Carmichael. Problems associated with serious malocclusion include trauma to oral soft tissues and teeth, trouble closing the mouth and grasping items and even problems eating. In the wild, a coyote or wolf with a malocclusion may have trouble killing prey and eating, says writer and trainer Norma Bennett Woolf.
If you are concerned about your Rottweiler puppy's bite, consider that a puppy's lower jaw develops until the puppy is about 9 months old and that the top jaw is also developing during this time. Your puppy's bite, therefore, is in transition until he reaches 9 to 11 months, according to Cheri Ruzich, breeder and owner of Donnerberg Rottweilers. During this time anything can happen: The bite may go from scissor bite to overbite, from scissor bite to underbite and from scissor bite to level bite. It is a good idea to have your puppy's teeth checked at 2 to 3 months of age for the early identification of any bite problems.
Because the great majority of malocclusions in dogs have a genetic basis, it makes sense for the American Kennel Club to consider them a fault and prohibit Rottweilers who have received restorative orthodontic treatment from entering in AKC dog shows. The objective of serious Rottweiler breeders is to selectively breed for good scissor bites and continue reproducing only specimens with acceptable bites. Specimens that do not conform to the standard are sold as "pet quality" dogs with a spay or neuter contract. These Rottweiler puppies are by no means inferior; they simply have some minor malocclusion fault that makes them ineligible for the show ring. While these bite faults are often barely noticeable to the inexperienced eye, they can certainly take a bite out of any show ring prospect.
Adrienne Farricelli has been writing for magazines, books and online publications since 2005. She specializes in canine topics, previously working for the American Animal Hospital Association and receiving certification from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Her articles have appeared in "USA Today," "The APDT Chronicle of the Dog" and "Every Dog Magazine." She also contributed a chapter in the book " Puppy Socialization - An Insider's Guide to Dog Behavioral Fitness" by Caryl Wolff.