Cleft Palate

Cleft Palate


This disorder results in a failure of the roof of the mouth and/or lip to fuse properly during fetal/neonatal development, often resulting in facial deformity.  Maternal prenatal exposure to toxins and/or poor diet may increase risk.


Symptoms:  Facial deformity of the lip/nose/mouth, inadequate sucking and swallowing in newborn puppies, sometimes with milk being passed out of the nose.  Pups often require tube feeding to survive.  Frequently other issues such as heart defects can occur with this problem. Fatality is common, particularly without supportive care and/or in the more severe cases.

Treatment Options:  Surgical correction can be accomplished or may not be required in less severe cases with supportive care such as tube feeding until the puppy is old enough to manage on it’s own, but often humane euthanasia may be the kindest option for more severely affected puppies which may also have other internal developmental issues.

Known Mode of Inheritance: Unknown in cardigans.  Identified as a Monogenic Autosomal Recessive trait in Boxers. Some evidence for environmental factors influencing severity.

Age of onset: birth

Breeds affected

  • Cardigan: yes
  • Pembroke: yes
  •  Other Breeds: yes, reported in many dog breeds and mixed breeds.

Incidence in Cardigans: Unknown


  • Cardigans: no
  • Other breeds: yes
  • Active?: yes

Registry: no

Tests Available: no
Research links:

Published papers and Articles:


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