Cleft chins are an inherited trait that depends upon the dominant and recessive genes of both parents. Cleft chins are more common in European populations such as Germany, where rates reach approximately 10 percent in men.
Some evidence indicates that cleft chins are partially influenced by environmental factors. Modifier genes are also suspected for causing a cleft chin. Parents who both have the recessive gene for a cleft chin can produce offspring with cleft chins, although the probability is significantly lower than when both parents have the dominant gene. Most individuals have a chin that is somewhere between distinctly cleft and totally smooth.