What is cleft lip/palate?

This is an opening in the lip or the roof of the mouth that occurs due to failure of normal fusion processes during embryonic development. Cleft palate and cleft lip may result from either hereditary or environmental causes (such as the use of certain drugs during pregnancy).

How is cleft lip/palate inherited?

Cleft palate is believed to be an autosomal recessive trait in the Brittany spaniel.  In the
English and French bulldog,
pointer, and shih tzu, the trait may be autosomal dominant with incomplete penetrance.

What breeds are affected by cleft lip/palate?

English and French bulldog, pointer, shih tzu, Boston terrier, Brittany spaniel, cocker spaniel, dachshund, German shepherd, Labrador retriever, miniature schnauzer, and Pekingese.

For many breeds and many disorders, the studies to determine the mode of inheritance or the frequency in the breed have not been carried out, or are inconclusive. We have listed breeds for which there is a consensus among those investigating in this field and among veterinary practitioners, that the condition is significant in this breed.

What does cleft lip/palate mean to your dog & you?

Affected pups are born with the condition. A minor defect will cause little or no problem, while a more severe defect will cause signs such as a chronic nasal discharge (that may include food), poor growth, aspiration pneumonia (from inhalation of food), or even death.

How is cleft lip/palate diagnosed?

Your veterinarian will diagnose these conditions on physical examination.

How is cleft lip/palate treated?

Mild problems may not require any treatment, but more serious defects will require surgical repair to prevent complications such as aspiration pneumonia.


Copyright © 1998 Canine Inherited Disorders Database. All rights reserved.
Revised: April 03, 2001.

This database is a joint initiative of the Sir James Dunn Animal Welfare Centre at the Atlantic Veterinary College, University of Prince Edward Island, and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association.