Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, former veterinarian assistant, and author of Brain Training for Dogs.
The development of a puppy's teeth is an interesting process, as some phases have an important function in the puppy's development. The teething journey includes multiple phases, including milk teeth falling out and the eruption of permanent teeth.
If you are interested in the whys and hows of a puppy's teeth development, this article will provide you with something to "sink your teeth into." In this article you'll be learning about:
- The evolutionary reason why puppies are equipped with teeth that are so sharp
- What types of treats and bones you should purchase your puppy while he's teething
- The development of a puppy's milk teeth
- When to expect the eruption of a puppy's incisors, canines, and premolars
- When baby teeth start falling out and when the permanent teeth start growing in
- A cheap and easy way to give relief to teething pups and help their sore gums
- At what age puppies are expected to have finished teething.
- The function of a dog's incisors, canines, premolars, and molars.
- How to tell the age of dog by looking at its teeth
Why are Puppy Teeth so Sharp?
Why do puppies have such sharp teeth? One obvious purpose is that, back in time, pups needed some teeth in order to chomp on their very first samples of meat.
Speculation has it that the sharpness had two more specific purposes: starting the weaning process and aiding the pups in learning the basics of bite inhibition.
When the pups are growing, their teeth start irritating the mother dog when she nurses. It's totally normal, therefore, for her to start resenting nursing (and who can blame her!) and start moving away. Deprived from the milk bar, the pups will become naturally drawn to other sources of food, jump starting the weaning process.
In a similar fashion, those sharp teeth also irritate the pup's litter mates. They'll likely squeal and withdraw from play to teach the biting puppy to be less rough with his mouth.
Through trial and error, the pup eventually learns the basics of bite inhibition, (when I bite hard, good things stop) which needs to be continued when the pup plays with his new owners. Fortunately, despite being sharp, those puppy jaws are weak!
It's very important to point out that a puppy's teeth are very different than an adult dog's teeth and that they require quite different care. Don't just go purchase your young puppy any type of toy or any type of bone or treats!
Instead, look for treats and bones specifically designed for puppies. Read the labels and read if they're appropriate for your pet's age.
The following paragraphs will go over the teething phases from birth until the puppy grows its adult, permanent teeth.
Word of the Day
Diphyodont: any animal that gets two successive sets of teeth, initially the "deciduous" set, and afterward, the "permanent" set
The Development of a Puppy's Milk Teeth
Milk teeth are deciduous teeth, meaning that they're only temporary and will eventually start falling off and be replaced by permanent adult teeth. Puppies, almost without exception, are born without teeth.
Don't be surprised: puppies are born rather helpless. Indeed, they are blind, deaf, and barely mobile. This is because canines are categorized as "altricial" species which means they are not precocious as other animal species like cows and horses that are capable of seeing, hearing, standing up, and walking right after they are born.
After all, teeth aren't really necessary at this stage since the puppies are still successfully capable of suckling the milk from their mom without them
Timeline: Eruption of Milk Teeth
The puppy's milk teeth start coming in once the puppy reaches two to three weeks of age.
The first teeth to appear are the incisors, basically the middle teeth that are found on the top and on the bottom of the mouth.
The pup should have six incisors on the top and six incisors on the bottom for a total of 12.
At about 4 weeks, they'll also get their four canines, the sharp long teeth right next to the incisors both on the top and bottom.
These first sharp teeth start making the nursing mom uncomfortable, which is a natural phase meant to start the weaning process. Basically, when the puppy nurses at this stage, its teeth start irritating the mother's nipples, which causes her to become more and more reluctant to nurse.
Since she is more reluctant to nurse, the puppies start becoming more and more interested in other food sources. In the wild, they would eat the food her mom regurgitates for them after eating.
In a domestic setting, at this time, the puppies are introduced to puppy "mush," a slurry mix the breeder prepares for them. This weaning process now begins, and soon the puppies learn to eat more and more solid foods.
Any time between 3 to 6 weeks of age, the puppy will get, premolars basically the remaining teeth that grow behind the canines up to almost the back of the dog's mouth.
You should see three on the top and three on the bottom of each side. Puppies do not get molars as baby teeth. This is simply because they don't need them as they don't need to grind food at this stage.
So by the age of 6 to 8 weeks, a puppy should have a complete set of sharp, milk teeth which are comprised of 28 teeth.
These include: 12 incisors, 4 canines and 12 pre-molars. This means 14 teeth in the upper jaw and 14 teeth in the lower jaw.
The Development of Adult Teeth in Puppies
As mentioned, those puppy milk teeth won't last forever. They will eventually start falling out. This is why they're also known as "deciduous teeth" a term used to depict things that fall out, such as trees who lose their leaves in the fall, which are known as "deciduous trees".
At around 8 weeks, the puppy's first adult teeth will start pushing the milk teeth out of the way. This is when they start falling out.
Consider yourself lucky if you're capable of finding an occasional baby tooth in your pup's water bowl or on the ground. In many cases, puppies will just swallow them.
This is a good time too see the vet, just to make sure the teeth are growing normally. Sometimes a baby tooth may fail to fall and the adult tooth may grow abnormally beside it. In this case, the vet will need to remove the baby tooth.
The vet will also check that the bite is normal and closes correctly as per the breed's standard. Malocclusions (bad bites) can be caused by retained baby teeth. In some breeds, however, this is the standard. The rate at which baby teeth fall out will vary from puppy to puppy, so this is a general guideline.
- The first baby teeth to fall out are the incisors which start falling out when the puppy is 3 to 4 months of age (12 to 16 weeks).
- The adult incisors should come in by the time the puppy is 5 months.
- The canine teeth will then fall out around the fourth month (16 weeks). Finally, the pre-molars will fall out at around 6 months.
At this stage, the puppy will have lost all its 28 teeth, but should have a complete set of 42 adult teeth by the age of 8 months.
At this point, the puppy should have 22 teeth in the lower jaw, and 20 teeth in the upper jaw.
The 42 teeth include:
- 12 incisors
- 4 canines
- 16 premolars
- 10 molars
Respectively, there should be 6 incisors, 2 canines, 8 pre-molars and 4 molars in the upper jaw, and 6 incisors, 2 canines, 8 pre-molars and 6 molars in the lower jaw.
So let's recap the whole puppy baby teeth falling out phases:
- Baby teeth remain for only 3 to 7 months.
- The incisors are the first baby teeth to fall out at approximately 3 to 4 months of age. These should be replaced by the adult incisors by the time the puppy is 5 months old.
- Next, are the canine teeth which fall out around 4 months.
- Finally, the pre-molars are the last to fall out at around 6 months.
- The canines, all the rest of the pre-molars and molars should erupt when the puppy is between 4 to 7 months.
- When puppies get their adult teeth they gain an extra four premolars and ten molars. This adds up correctly since the puppy baby teeth are 28. So 28 + 4 + 10 = 42.
- Puppies should have a complete set of 42 adult teeth by the age of 8 months.
So What Are the Functions of Those Teeth?
In a domestic setting, Rover's long fangs and complete dentition may appear unnecessary and a tad bit intimidating; however, if you take a look back, you'll notice that these teeth had many important functions.
- The incisors were used to rip meat and scrape it off of bones. They also helped the dog remove burrs and other debris from their fur.
- The canine teeth were meant to inflict stabbing wounds to their prey.
- The premolars allowed dogs to rip meat away from bones.
- The molars were meant to grind and crush which is something a puppy doesn't need to do while on a mushy, soft diet. This explains why molars aren't included in a puppy's baby teeth. There's a reason why dogs have 4 molars on top and 6 on the bottom. These extra molars help Rover in crushing bone.
Teething Relief for Puppies
It's normal for your puppy to be chewing a lot during the teething phase. While there are toys for teething puppies, sometimes something as simple as a clean wet wash rag put into the freezer and offered to the pup can bring relief to those sore gums.
Tell-tale Signs of Age
Turns out, horses aren't the only animals that you can determine their age by looking at their mouths. For the most part, veterinarians can estimate a puppy's age by looking at the eruption of the baby and permanent teeth. They can also tell the age of adult dogs to a certain extent by looking at the wear and tear of the incisors.
How to Tell Age of Puppy by Looking at Permanent Teeth
- Eruption of Permanent Central Incisors : 2 - 5 months
- Eruption of Permanent Intermediate Incisors: 2 - 5 months
- Eruption of Permanent Corner Incisors: 4 - 5 months
- Eruption of Permanent Canines: 5 months
- Eruption of Permanent First Premolar: 4 - 5 months
- Eruption of Permanent Second Premolar: 6 months
- Eruption of Permanent Third Premolar: 6 months
- Eruption of Permanent Fourth Premolar: 4 - 5 months
- Eruption of Permanent First Molar: 5 - 6 months
- Eruption of Permanent Second Molar: 6 - 7 months
- Eruption of Permanent Third Molar 6 - 7 months
Information from Dr. Hardaker
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
Question: My puppy has no front bottom teeth. What is the cause?
Answer: The front bottom teeth are called incisors. The incisors are the first baby teeth expected to fall out at approximately three to four months of age. These should be replaced by the adult incisors by the time the puppy is five-months-old.
Question: My puppy is 5 months. She has 2 rows of front top and bottom teeth. Is this normal?
Answer: This sounds like retained baby teeth. The sooner you can have this corrected, the better. Here's article about retained baby teeth in dogs; https://pethelpful.com/dogs/Retained-Baby-Teeth-in...
Question: My puppy had a perfect scissor bite at 8 weeks. He just turned 6 months old I noticed today his bottom canines are about half way grown but it looks like they are just touching the edge of the jaw. Is it possible it will correct itself as the teeth grow?
Answer: This is difficult to predict because it depends on whether the issue has to do with mandible and skull growth or the teeth not aligning correctly. In general, if the issue is due to teeth not aligned correctly, it's unlikely that things will change as the dog matures. If it's a matter of skull/mandible growth, there may be hope considering that based on what breed you own, the skull may continue to grow until the pup is 18 months old. If you are planning on showing your dog or are concerned about malocclusion problems, it may be worth consulting with your vet and getting a referral with a veterinary dentist who could tell you much more on heredity, prognosis, and possible treatment options.
Question: How much should my puppy sleep?
Answer: Puppies like babies tend to sleep a lot as they have a lot of growing to do! How much they sleep ultimately depends on how old they are. Young pups still nursing pretty much sleep 90 percent of the time and the rest is spent nursing and crawling. At around 4 weeks pups start getting more active and you may therefore watch them start playing too. As they grow, they'll do several play sessions, then their batteries seem to discharge and so do a big nap and then back to playing. A 12-week old pup can be awake a lot longer than an 8-week old pup, so yes, age is a factor.
Make sure your puppy has opportunities to sleep during the day. Some puppies need some help to fall asleep soundly. Create a quiet environment and remove stimulation for a while. Covering the crate with a blanket can help. A tired puppy can turn cranky, so if your puppy is misbehaving a lot, it could be he's just super tired and in need of a nap.
© 2013 Adrienne Farricelli
kennnya on September 02, 2020:
my baby girl is acting very sad, she is four 1/2 months. i notice shes in pain and playing around she hurt her self, also i notice her bottom tooth are a bit loose, is this normal ? for how long this will last?
i'am worried, please advice
LaDonna Hampton on August 10, 2020:
My puppy is losjng the sharp bottom teeth. One is laid over and seems to be sticking in his gums. I am sure he isnt the 1st. He allows me to try to pull it. Keeping his mouth upside down pulling back. How can i help him or atleast get his pain relieved so he can do it?
Amala Joseph on July 26, 2020:
My puppy is 8 months old unfortunately it lost one of its canine teeth.will it regrow? Can something be done if it won't regrow?
Brittany Pryor on June 29, 2020:
Hello. I have a female Dachshund she turned 8 months old 3 days ago. I’m getting a little worried about one of her bottom canines. She has lost her milk teeth and has gained every other permanent tooth back with the exception of the one canine on bottom. I don’t see a hole there. I don’t see any white under the gum. Is it possible it will come in van puppies be late at gaining their teeth? I am just worried to death.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on April 24, 2020:
At 12 months, this is most likely a permanent tooth unless he has retained baby teeth (when baby teeth fail to fall out and grow along with the permanent tooth).
Karen on April 24, 2020:
My Belgian malinouis is 12 months he has chipped his front top tooth and now it’s wobbly, is that his baby teeth or an adult tooth. Thank you for any help
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on April 05, 2019:
Sounds like the process is late. Pups can vary from the norm sometimes when it comes to dental development. This is more common in toy breed puppies. Sometimes, if you got your pup from a pet store, they may have not given you the accurate age. And then there are cases of hereditary issues with some dogs missing teeth. It may only be affecting the milk teeth and the adult teeth may come in later. The best answer can be given by your vet. An x-ray may reveal whether those incisors are erupting or not.
Kate on April 02, 2019:
Have am 8 eeek old puppy...as yet boyyom front incisors havent broken through...what do you suggest we do please?
sherina on January 02, 2019:
my shihpoo is 5 months and from what i can he still has all his baby teeth should i be worried?
Missytippy on December 30, 2018:
Hello. I have a 6 month old puppy. She is a cockerpoo. Just recently i have begun to be able to hear her teeth sliding over one another when she closes her mouth (when she is settling). She isnt grinding her teeth but the sound is similar. Im worried that she may have malalignment. Could this go as she matures? Thank you.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on December 27, 2018:
If dark the teeth are either covered in tartar or these are devitalized teeth that are in the process of dying and falling out. I recommend seeing the vet.
Melissa k shanks on December 23, 2018:
Hi my name is melissa i have a little female 4 year old maltese cross the front of her top teeth are very dark and loose she banged her mouth on the leg of a table a month ago she lost one of them but im worried about the others and she has a couple of teeth that are yellow i give her treat bones to chew on and other treats can u help me please
April on March 09, 2018:
I found a puppy or so we think. Vet says he is 16 months old. Catch is he has grown 3 inches in height and gained 25 lbs. I have been reading it appears his premolars aren't completely in yet still work in progress there he chews constantly working on this and his lower gum behind the premolars is about an inch of no teeth yet on both sides. Was wondering if someone could give me an idea on his age not sure vet is correct.
Shy Best on January 25, 2018:
I adopted an American Bulldog and they say she is a 1.5. My question is she has most of her bottom teeth but two of her canines at the bottom are not fully erupted. Can you tell her age. Thank you in advance.
Bell on November 26, 2017:
i have a litter of pups 8 wks old one of the pups canine tooth is going behind the upper tooth and has made a hole we go to the vet in a few days they are standard poodles is this common? Will it be ok? Your Comment...
DJ on August 07, 2017:
I have a 71/2 week old puppy who's teeth have yet to come in. Should I be concerned in regards to this? The puppy is happy and thriving. She is eating regular puppy food and is eliminating her waste regularly. She is actually gaining weight and height.
All of the rest of the liter have their teeth they have come in and are at various stages.
Kevork on April 30, 2017:
I have 11 month german shepherd and his lower premolars teeth have 3 of each side Instead of 4 is this normal ???
Mpenn on March 27, 2017:
My corgi just made 10 months and her upper and lower incisors just behind the canines have erupted but not yet fully grown in yet. Should I just keep an eye on them or should I start thinking about taking her to a specialist?
S R on March 14, 2017:
Puppy Accident - Suggestions please
A stray puppy, about 4 months old, met with an accident. She's got her front leg fractured and upper right canine tooth missing. Her lower right canine is also shaking. She has been given basic treatment and POP wrapped around her leg.
1. Will her canines grow back? She's about 3.5 to 4 months now.
2. What can be done for the shaking lower canine tooth? Will she be able to eat properly?
3. What kind of food/medication(in general) can help with strengthening the teeth and healing completely?
please share your thoughts. Would really appreciate it.
firstname.lastname@example.org on January 03, 2017:
I hoping you can answer a question for me. I have a six yr pitbull and at 5wks her #704 and #804 teeth were extracted, I'm just wounding why.
lalita on December 26, 2016:
athena on December 08, 2016:
Hello - It looks like my puppy's first incisor fell out but it is just an empty hole. I did see that it the incisors come in at about 5 months and the deciduous incisors fall out around 3-4 months so is it ok that the tooth fell out without a visible replacement coming in?
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on November 14, 2013:
Good to hear those teeth came out as they were supposed to, retained baby teeth can turn out being a problem, thanks for the votes, kind regards!
moonlake from America on November 14, 2013:
The vet told us if our puppies baby teeth didn't come out we would have to bring him in and have them pulled but thank goodness they did come out. Voted up on your interesting hub.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on June 13, 2013:
Mandy Jones, baby teeth fall out at random times. The incisors are the first baby teeth to fall out at approximately 3 to 4 months of age.
Next, are the canine teeth which fall out around 4 months.
Finally, the pre-molars are the last to fall out at around 6 months. Hang in there!
Mandy Jones from Hampshire, England. UK on June 12, 2013:
My Staffy is 14 weeks and chews like mad! I was wondering when to expect his baby teeth to fall out!
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on June 12, 2013:
Happy to hear you found it helpful, thanks for stopping by to comment~!
Mandy Jones from Hampshire, England. UK on June 12, 2013:
Helpful information, thank you!
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on April 25, 2013:
Happy to hear this hub helped you out Pet Artist! I once attended art classes for people portraits and we had to study anatomy a lot, both skeleton and bones and it really helped!
Pet Artist on April 25, 2013:
I am pet painter, but this article gave me something to think about when capturing new details in my paintings. Every detail counts in clearly portraying a dog, and your article made a lightbulb come on in my head. Thank you! I'll be making some studies of dog teeth at various stages of their life this weekend!