Superior Pointers - Fine Bird Dogs - Elhew Pointers


An undershot bite, where the lower front teeth are positioned ahead of the upper front teeth, is a cosmetic defect not uncommon in the pointer breed. “Even” front teeth, or a “level” bite, are also a defect, and often degenerate into an anterior cross bite as a dog matures. In a sound, normal bite, all of the upper front teeth slightly overlap the lower front teeth. When the upper front teeth are substantially ahead of the lowers due to the lower jaw being too short, the condition is known as an overbite, or sometimes referred to as “parrot mouth”. This condition appears to be relatively uncommon in the pointer breed. All of these abnormal conditions are cosmetic, non-performance related defects for which there are rarely any consequential health implications and are, therefore, of no consequence in a gun dog not intended for breeding.

An undershot bite is relatively common within the Elhew Pointer bloodline. Perhaps as many as a third of all Elhew Pointers exhibit this cosmetic fault. At kennels that use sires and/or dams not screened for this condition, the incidence in puppies produced is likely markedly higher. Kennels that use only sires and dams with normal bites will still occasionally produce an undershot pup, but the incidence of this defect is substantially reduced.

One of the reasons Bob Wehle bred to nine time Champion Red Water Rex in the late 60’s and early 70’s, was to reduce the incidence of undershot bites in the kennel. Rex, as well as his sire and dam, had a perfect bite in addition to great style and intensity on game. This infusion of Red Water Rex “blood” substantially reduced the rate of occurrence of undershot bites in the Elhew bloodline. The outcrosses in the 80’s to Guard Rail and Hook’s Bounty Hunter, and in the 90’s to Dunn’s Fearless Bud, while contributing positively to the performance characteristics of the bloodline, re-introduced the recessive gene for undershot bites. At the time of his death, Mr. Wehle was, once again, working to eliminate this cosmetic defect from the kennel.

Undershot bite is a persistent cosmetic defect not easily eliminated from the gene pool. It can surface after several generations of normal bites. Some breeders, focused primarily on functional conformation and performance characteristics, consider the manifestation of this cosmetic defect to be of no consequence and make no effort to qualify breeding stock to minimize its occurrence. They, correctly, believe that an undershot bite in no way diminishes an otherwise excellent gun dog. Over time, however, this cosmetic defect will predominate in their kennel. Other breeders, while equally committed to functional conformation and exceptional performance, also endeavor to eliminate undershot bites by using only completely defect free sires and dams. These breeders, who regard themselves as privileged custodians of the Elhew legacy, are committed to leaving the bloodline better than they found it. The elimination of this relatively common cosmetic defect is one obvious way to accomplish that goal.

As previously noted, an undershot bite is a purely cosmetic defect with virtually no health implications, that in no way negatively impacts gun dog performance. It is, nevertheless, a genetic abnormality, the incidence of which can be dramatically reduced in the near term- and ultimately eliminated entirely- by conscientious breeders. The prospective puppy buyer who anticipates breeding his dog, and who values a normal bite is, therefore, encouraged to acquire a prospect from a kennel that does not use either undershot sires or dams in their breeding program.