Why do my dog's teeth chatter?

Updated November 21, 2016

If you have a dog whose teeth chatter you might think it's cute or even funny, but if you don't know exactly why it is happening it might be worth a visit to your veterinarian. While much of the time chattering teeth is nothing to worry about, in some circumstances it is very serious. Knowing for sure what is causing the chattering will allow you rest easy when it does happen, or know when to take action if it is something serious.

The Breed

The breed of your dog may explain some of the teeth chattering. Cocker Spaniels, Maltese, and Bichon Frise have all been linked to a neurological condition called multisystem neuronal degeneration. This condition can cause chattering teeth as well as shaking in certain parts of the body or shaking throughout the body. These dogs need veterinary treatments, which will likely include anti-seizure medication.

Possible Seizure Disorder

In some cases seizures may be the cause of teeth chattering. A dog that will suddenly start chattering its teeth may be suffering from focal motor seizures, which are also referred to as partial seizures by some. Unlike full body seizures, the dog will stay fully conscious during the seizure, with only the face or the mouth being involved. Because of the limited scope of the seizure, many people never connect the chattering with a potential seizure disorder, which is why it is so important to see your vet if any teeth chattering occurs.

Size of the Dog

Some dogs are known to suffer from chattering teeth more than others. Dogs such as Italian Greyhounds, Chihuahuas, Jack Russell Terriers, and Miniature Pinschers have all been reported to suffer from chattering teeth. Some believe that it is purely a result of excitement while others believe that it has more to do with the thin skin and short hair of the breed not enabling them to keep their body temperatures stable.


Excitement in all breeds may cause teeth chattering. Many dogs get so excited and so happy before a car ride or walk that they begin moving their upper and lower jaw together. This is often a habit that forms very early on in life and continues whenever excited. For others there are a number of types of excitement that causes the chattering teeth: Some dogs will chatter their teeth when scared or even when put into a situation in which they are mating.


After checking with your veterinarian to ensure that a health problem is not contributing to the teeth chattering, or even if it is, you need to check your dog's mouth regularly. Checking the dog's mouth will ensure that teeth are not being broken or cracked. If you do happen upon a cracked tooth, make an appointment with the vet immediately.

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