Three skulls of captive-raised female endangered red wolves (Canis rufus) exhibited severe malocclusion of the jaws. Cranial and dental abnormalities (including crowding of upper toothrows, and an extra tooth behind the lower left M3 in one of the three mandibles) were also evident. Ratios of alveolar length of maxillary toothrow to maximum width across the outer sides of crowns of P4 were significantly different (p=0.008) compared to unaffected skulls. Significant differences were also evident when ratios of maximum width across inner edges of alveoli of P1 to alveolar length of maxillary toothrow and maximum width across outer sides of crowns of P4 were compared between the two groups. Although the three skulls all exhibited malocclusion, the abnormality expressed itself differently in relation to the effects to each skull. Captive inbreeding may increase the probability and frequency of expressing these anomalies, although inbreeding coefficients calculated for the wolves expressing malocclusion were not considered high (0.0313-0.0508). A wild female red wolf specimen captured in 1921 in Arkansas also exhibited the malocclusion, although not as severely as in the captive females. This demonstrates that this trait was present in wild populations prior to, and not a result of, the captive breeding program.
Additional publication details
Cranial and dental abnormalities of the endangered red wolf (Canis rufus)