Shar Pei Tight Lip or Tight Lip Syndrome
Shar-Pei pups often have a condition called “tight lip syndrome”. This is a common and congenital defect in which the lower lip pushes against the lower front teeth (incisors), or in more extreme cases extends to cover the teeth, and makes it difficult for the dog to chew. Whilst there is some disagreements between vets as to whether the soft tissue of the lower lip actually impedes bone growth or simply pushes against the teeth, the effect is that the lower teeth tend to angle backwards resulting in an underbite. Shar Pei Tight Lip Syndrome also increases the pressure on the jaw bone from both the front and the sides which often leads to a narrowing of the jaw (mandible) which can lead to misaligned teeth.
Shar Peis suffering from Tight Lip Syndrome are often brought to us suffering from painful ulcers on the bottom lip because they constantly bite themselves. It is rare for an underbite to cause a Shar Pei to be unable to eat as a result of the condition but in extreme cases this can happen.
To rectify Tight Lip in Shar Peis it is necessary to perform surgery, of which there are two options.Once identified surgery usually should be done when the dog is young – around 3 months of age.
One surgery involves removal of some of the skin of the chin. In this procedure the lower lip is pulled down to expose the lower incisors. When this is done a fold of skin is created on the chin. This fold of skin and the tissue beneath is removed.
The second procedure is a lip reduction procedure (cheiloplasty). Here the lower lip is separated from the chin so the lip can heal in a more normal position. The cut is left to heal naturally and so following this procedure the owner must run their finger around the created pocket between the lip and jaw on a daily basis until it has healed to prevent the two rejoining.
Correcting Shar Pei Tight Lip Syndrome will result in a much happier, healthier dog.