What is it? Why is it important? What’s the ideal one supposed to look like?
Underjaw refers to the shape and degree of curve in the lower jaw. There are so many other parts of the dog we pay specific attention to, the underjaw might seem like it has little to no importance.
The underjaw is a very important part of the dog and one of the features that can make or break expression and can even affect the soundness of the dog if it is grossly mishapen.
How does this important part of head type go so unnoticed? Its a deeper level of dog knowledge and one of the parts of the head that can change the entire expression. When we begin learning about type, we learn that expression is one of the five components. We learn that type is what sets breeds apart in defiance breeds amongst other similar breeds. With the shorty bull being a composite breed, made from other established bull breeds, it must have its own definitive type. The under jaw is one of the features unique to the shorty bull and different from the ancestors used in the creation.
If you look at the side profile of the bulldog you should see that the curved under jaw that is very prominent. If you look at the French Bulldog the jaw is not nearly as prominent as the bulldog. And the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is completely different then the French Bulldog and the bulldog with much less upward curve to the lower jaw.
The ideal shorty bull should have a curved under jaw that clamps together when closed and the curve should be visible when looking at a profile of the head. When viewing from the lower jaw should be wide. The curve should be greater than the curve you see in a French Bulldog but less than the curve seen on an English Bulldog. Remember that the underjaw and the underbite are different parts. Too much curve in the underjaw results in a scoop and a lack of underjaw gives the expression of longer lips and when viewed from the front, it appears the dog has ‘no chin’ or just a tiny triangle of underjaw visible when ideally it should round out the bottom of the face when viewed by the profile.
If youve ever looked at a dogs head and said, “Theres something different looking, but i cant put my finger on it, it just looks different”? Its because we need to be looking at the head in parts and as a whole. The underjaw, the eye set, the eye shape, the nose, the fill on either side of the muzzle, the space between the ears, the prominent cheeks all make up the expression. A change in any of these features changes expression. These are the features that dedicated breeders “fine tune”. They are the very things overlooked by new fanciers and the things that affect a judges decision when both dogs are very close overall.
Hope this helps you understand the breed a bit more and gives you another thing to strive for in your breeding programs. The underjaw…one little piece that can make or break the whole dog.
Written by Jamie Sweet – BBC President July 29th 2016