Undershot Jaw In A Miniature Foal

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Oct 20, 2006
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For the first time ever i've had a foal born with a confirmation problem.

He has a slight problem with one of his legs which i'm not too concern at but his real problem is his jaw, that is undershot by a good half an inch.

Both sire & dam have a perfect bite. All previous foals by them have had perfect bite but this is the first time i've put these 2 together... and i get a foal with a bite problem.

The main thing at the moment is he is suckling well and it doesn't seem to be causing him problems.

What is the likely hood this will cause him problems in the future when it comes to grazing/eating hard feed?

How has this come about? Has this been passed from the parents? Or could it have caused by a problem... mare foaled early and has had a very unusal pregnancy for her... she aborted her first foal and was caught again by the stallion late (hence this chap is 3 months younger than the other foals)

What is the likelyhood this is genetic? (he will be gelded regardless) Would/could i get the same thing from crossing the mare and stallion again?

Is there a chance i could be looking at a minimal dwarf? (i already have one of them, but he's 4 and i've suppose i've only just noticed it! lol So couldn't even try and guess with a foal!)

Some pics. He's not even 24hrs old here so he's still a bit folded... but its the mouth..




I would not cross this mare and stallion together again. Minimal expression dwarfs are very hard to tell this young. Sometimes you have to wait for them to get some age on them before you know for sure. He does have some characteristics so I would watch him closely. His bite is off a lot so he could have some problems chewing when hes older.

Sending good thoughts for your foal

Rebreeding is a dangerous roll of the dice, You may want to have a dentist check his teeth early on. With a bite that far off they need more frequent dental care. I would also watch that leg, especially the hoof to see how it grows. Best wishes with him, he sure is a pretty boy.
Thanks for thr advice.

Excuse my inexperianced here but how come previous foals from each parent have been fine.... its only when i bred these 2 together... could this mean both parents have the possibly of producing foals with this sort of problem? (but it has just never come out?) Won't re-cross those 2 again.

At what age would you say to get his teeth looked at? Before he is weaned? Obviously i can look at the front teeth and see how they develop but can't look any further is to see if there is problems with the cheek teeth.

Farrier out in 3 weeks so will get him to check foals feet then anyway unless i notice him developing wrong.

Oddly enough i have another foal from the same stallion who is down on her hocks, not very badly but enough to get glue on shoes put on to bring her up..... vet/farrier have thought it was a nutrional thing.... however now this boy has problems... i'm wondering... as both the filly with the dropped heels and this new little boy are by the same stallion...

But yet all previous foals by him have been perfect....
It's my understanding that both parents have to have the dwarf gene to produce a dwarf. If the other horses that this mare and stallion were bred to didn't carry the dwarf gene, the foals would have been normal.
Don't be too quick to write this guy off, I have had two foals born with serious bite issues, both were normal by the age of 4 mths. The jaw can be pushed out of alignment by the position in the womb or by birth trauma. Given a bit of time it may well correct.

This is my opinion and some of my experience. I have seen some babies who are born undershot as you are describing who are straight by the time they are one month old. Others can be right on and go off as they get older in weeks old. The later case has been, of those I have seen a dental problem which can be corrected. If the teeth are too large/tall, which happens a lot in these little guys, they will catch on each other and slow the growth or either the upper or lower jaw causing them to "go off".

You need to have a GOOD EQUINE DENTIST look at your baby. Most dental problems can be corrected but must be done within the first six months of age as this is when they do the most growing.

I hope that your baby problem corrects itself and a lot of them do. Just keep a good eye on him and if still off in the next month or so call a good equine dentist to look at him.

He is a pretty boy and I sure hope it works out for you.


* And his legs. I am assuming this baby is just born? It may take a few days for him to come good on his legs, but keep him where he can run and play and use them. This is the best way for them to develope their legs. If you have another foal for him to run and play with, that is even better. Your vet is probably correct on nutrition. A good feeding program is a must!
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I have a colt that was born with his bite off. He does not seem to have any problems eating the grain, grass or hay. The dentist told me that his bite problem is a genetic trait. His bite is off in his jaw. The dentist & I believe it was due to his sire & dam being 1/2 brother & 1/2 sister. Carl told me that he is definitely not a dwarf. They will never be rebred to each other again. The dentist can do things to help his bite as much as possible. The main problem as he grows, is that his teeth will grow into his palette if they are not taken care of as he grows. We are having his teeth done every 3 to 4 months as Carl suggested.

There is hope to improve the bite to the extent of making it easier for him to eat by keeping his teeth done. Also, if he is like my colt, he does not seem to have a problem with eating. He is currently a yearling & he is doing great otherwise.
Thanks for all the advise. Certainly put my mind at rest that this isn't the end of the world for this boy.

Vet saw him today and said to re-check in a few months when his teeth start coming through.

Lucky as we have a very good EDT at our vet pratice as well so will get him checked by him next time.
I owned an Arabian mare for 21 years that had a significant underbite. Yes it is usually genetic.

As others have said regular dental care will make a huge difference in his bite and his ability to properly eat.
Don't be too quick to write this guy off, I have had two foals born with serious bite issues, both were normal by the age of 4 mths. The jaw can be pushed out of alignment by the position in the womb or by birth trauma. Given a bit of time it may well correct.
stormy is right - sometimes the jaw settles back in line and the bite goes back to normal as the foal grows.
I agree with both Stormy and MizBeth..........

We've had foals born where their gums line up to a perfect bite, and later they go "off"....... I used to get very upset. Now, I've noticed it's sometimes part of their growth spurts.......just like when a youngster will go "butt high" and then their front end will eventually catch up. Their jaws can do the same.

The important thing is to keep an eye on it and make sure there isn't any other problem brewing (such as caps or hooks) which will need some dental work.
Don't be too quick to write this guy off, I have had two foals born with serious bite issues, both were normal by the age of 4 mths. The jaw can be pushed out of alignment by the position in the womb or by birth trauma. Given a bit of time it may well correct.
I agree have seen and heard this several times now too.

So don´t give up just give it time.
This is interesting as I had a colt born here (my first ever, also) beginning of April, who was quite badly undershot.

Of course when they are born you have a very good view of how bad it is as there are no teeth, and I could see clearly that the jawline was off, nothing to do with teeth (I checked to see if he had back teeth, too)

Anyway, no way it made any difference as what was I going to do, send him back (if only we could swap them!!) so I left it be and stopped worrying about it.

I did, however, keep a log of what it was doing, with illustrations, so I had reference points for the future.

He is now four months and the mouth, as of today, is perfect...BUT he is booked in to be gelded as he is sold, and I would not sell a colt with this problem, entire.

I do actually believe that, irrespective of it coming right or not (and it may yet go off again) he would throw the predisposition to the problem onto his foals.

So, snip/snip seems the best way to me...best for him as well.
I too have had foals born with "off bites" that correct themselves in short time, and have even had one born with a good bite that went off, and had it come back on and stay on!
Anything that would go off and stay off, would not remain nor get sold for breeding. We sure don't need anymore of that in this breed.
I had a filly born last year that had an offbite and when she was weaned her bite came back and now as a yearling is dead on. He is a cutie and I would give it some time!
Thanks for all the input. It has at least put my mind at rest that this guy might make someone after all..... but also set firmly in my mind is what ever he'll make... will be as a gelding and he'll be here till he is weaned and gelded.

The idea of keeping a photo record is a good idea... something i'll do so i can keep an eye my self if it is correcting slowly... if this did come right then maybe he could be a show gelding...? As he's got pretty markings...

Unfortantly also noticed something else odd in this little chap... those front legs that look a bit more bent than the back ones tend to shake a little bit.... more after he's been wizzing round but can't say i've noticed this is any previous foals....

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