What is a “full mouthed” dog?

labrador with partridge

labrador with partridge - Credit: Archant

When someone refers to gundog as being “full mouthed”, what does it mean? Our gundog vet Vicky Payne explains

Q: I recently saw an advert for a Labrador stud where it said he was ‘full-mouthed’. What does this mean and how important is it in a stud dog? I’ve never seen this in an advert before.

VICKY PAYNE replies: An adult dog should have 42 teeth, but in some dogs not all the teeth are present. On the continent, and in showing classes, it is considered important that a dog has a full set of teeth, as well as a correct ‘bite’ (i.e. the teeth line up correctly with no over-bite or under-bite).

Most commonly, one or two of the small premolars are missing and this won’t adversely affect how a dog works. However, if a dog is missing several premolars – the large molars, for example – or any canine teeth, he may struggle to carry game correctly.

Missing teeth can be an inherited condition, so while having a full mouth isn’t as important for a breeding dog as a good hip score, it is reassuring to know a stud dog has a full complement of teeth.