There’s enough to think about and keep track of when caring for a puppy—feeding, walking, training, housebreaking (and don’t forget playtime!)—that you might not give their teeth a lot of thought.
But in their first 8 months or so, puppies will develop two sets of teeth, and there’s more to caring for them than just making sure they don’t leave marks on your furniture legs.
Here’s all the information you need to know about those cute (and sharp!) little puppy teeth.
How Many Teeth Do Puppies Have?
In the beginning, none.
Like us, dogs are born toothless, but puppies quickly develop 28 “baby” teeth.
When Do Puppies Get Their Teeth?
Puppy teeth erupt [emerge from the gums] starting at about 2 weeks of age and are usually completely in by about 8-10 weeks old.
The incisors often come in first, followed by the canine teeth and the premolars, although there can certainly be some normal variation between individuals.
When Do Puppies Lose Their Baby Teeth?
Puppies develop and lose this set of “baby” teeth just like humans do. These teeth, sometimes known as “milk teeth” or “needle teeth” and referred to as “deciduous teeth” by vets, eventually give way to permanent “adult” teeth.
The first deciduous teeth are usually lost at about 4 months. The last baby teeth to fall out are usually the canines, which are lost at about 6 months old.
At What Age Do Puppies Get Their Permanent Teeth?
The permanent teeth start to erupt as soon as the baby teeth fall out.
The permanent teeth can start to appear at 2 months:
2-5 months: incisors
5-6 months: canine teeth
4-6 months: premolars
4-7 months: molars (these only come in as part of the permanent set)
When a dog is 7 or 8 months old, it should have all of its permanent teeth—a total of 42 adult teeth.
How Long Do Puppies Teethe?
Teething is a months-long process. It starts when puppies are around 2 weeks old, and their first baby teeth begin to come in, and the process usually ends at about 8 months of age when all the adult teeth have fully erupted.
During this time, puppies need to chew on appropriate items to relieve the discomfort associated with teething.
Chewing during a puppy’s teething period is also a way to explore their environment and relieve boredom.
How to Care for a Teething Puppy
If your puppy is still engaging in everyday activities like eating, drinking, socializing, grooming, and exploring, then discomfort isn’t really a problem.
If they aren’t doing some of these things and the pain or discomfort affects their quality of life, your puppy may need to see the vet.
There is little for the owners to do during the transition. The best thing is for you to supply good, safe chews so the dog can teethe on appropriate items.
Look for soft and flexible puppy teething toys that bend easily in your hand. If it is too hard to bend, flex or break, it is too hard to give to your puppy.
What to Do When a Puppy Starts Losing Teeth
We recommend letting the baby’s teeth fall out on their own and advise against trying to pull loose teeth out.
The teeth have very long roots; pulling a tooth can break a root, leaving part of it behind and leading to an infection.
However, something needs to be done in retained deciduous teeth, where the permanent tooth is coming up in the same space that a baby tooth is still occupying.
If the baby tooth remains in place while the adult tooth is coming in, this causes a disruption in the location of the adult tooth, causing an occlusion problem (a bad bite).
There is also a risk for periodontal disease, which occurs very quickly when crowding.
When a retained deciduous tooth is present, you should schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to remove the baby tooth.
How to Take Care of Puppy Teeth
We recommend getting your puppy used to you touching its mouth early on. Raise their lips and touch their gums and teeth in a slow, playful way.
This will make it easier for you to introduce a dental care regimen and recognize any oddities or problems with their teeth or mouths. It’ll also prime your pup for their veterinarian’s oral examinations.