If you are the proud owner of a baby puppy, you’ve likely been on the receiving end of a few love bites while your pooch undergoes the teething process. Teething occurs when adult teeth begin to erupt through the gumline. In order to make room for the permanent adult teeth, the baby teeth must first give way. Some of them fall out rather innocuously, and you may find a lost tooth on your floor; other become loose, break free, and are swallowed. But some owners do note that there seem to be fewer baby teeth than adult teeth. Just how many teeth does a dog have when fully grown?
The Facts about Baby Teeth
A puppy’s baby teeth are extremely sharp, so it is no wonder that owners are looking forward to them being replaced with their adult version! Puppy teeth begin to make an appearance around the age of five to six weeks. This initial set of teeth lacks the molars necessary for grinding as puppies usually eat a softer diet until they begin the weaning process. Most typically, at around four months of age, puppies undergo the transition from puppy teeth to adult teeth which is referred to as teething. The puppy’s initial set of teeth are often referred to as “milk teeth,” and consist of 28 teeth in total.
The teething process does not always occur seamlessly, and for a time, it is sometimes possible to see what appears to be a double row of teeth: the baby teeth with the adult teeth pushing to come in. Most often the adult teeth will force the puppy teeth out in order to make room for them. Occasionally, a tooth will stubbornly refuse to move which can lead to retained baby teeth. Retained baby teeth typically need to be extracted by a veterinarian to prevent future problems with overcrowding of the mouth and possible infection.
The Adult Teeth
When the adult teeth come in, your puppy will now have a total of 42 teeth. It is at this time that your puppy receives his molars.
Where do these additional teeth go?
Your puppy’s new set of teeth include six teeth that are called incisors. There are six on the top and six on the bottom. To find them in your dog’s mouth, simply look for the large front teeth which appear like fangs, and you will find them located between them. To the opposite side of those large fang-like teeth, you will find pre-molars. It is these teeth that help your dog rip pieces of food to eat. At the very back, are the large molars, and these teeth assist your dog with grinding up his food into easy to eat pieces.
The transition from puppy teeth to an adult set takes time. Experts agree that by the time a puppy is approximately eight months of age, the adult teeth should all be in place.
Does the Process Always Go Smoothly?
Some dogs pass through the teething process with no problems at all. Others experience teething as late as eight months of age. Typically, Mother Nature removes the puppy teeth at the right time, allowing the adult teeth to take root. Occasionally, veterinary intervention is required in the case of a retained tooth, but in general, teething is a natural process that occurs when the conditions are right for each puppy.
Tips for Teething Puppies
Teething is very painful for puppies. You may notice your dog is constantly chewing on things; many of them things you wish he would leave alone! You can help your puppy deal with teething pain during this time and also save your shoes and furniture in the process.
If necessary, make use of a pet chewing deterrent spray such as Bitter Apple. You can spray this product on any item you want kept free from your puppy’s little chompers. Bitter Apple is a safe and effective tool. It essentially coats an object in a thin layer of a mixture that tastes bitter. Most dogs dislike the taste and begin to associate chewing the item with something that is unpleasant and simply avoid it altogether.
But keeping your valuables safe from chewing is only half the battle to helping your puppy. There are many different toys on the market today which are safe to put in the freezer. You will find them at high quality pet retailers and sometimes at veterinary clinics. They are most commonly made of rubber. Simply store the toy in the freezer until it is nice and cool then give it to your puppy to play with. The coolness of the chilled rubber is soothing on your puppy’s sore gums. If you want to kick things up a notch, you can fill the toy with any number of tasty things such as cream cheese, peanut butter, liverwurst, or other treats. Then pop it in the freezer to chill. In a few hours, your pup has a toy that feels and tastes good to a teething puppy!
Bones and chew toys are also great for helping keep a puppy’s mind occupied, and his teeth productively engaged. If you opt to buy bones, be sure to choose ones that will not splinter.
Many people like to make use of products designed to numb the gums during teething. They are most commonly manufactured for use with babies, but they are safe to use on your dog as well. Consult your veterinarian as to what the recommended amounts and frequency should be.
Teething is also an excellent time to begin working on an important skill known as bite inhibition. The easiest way to do this is by teaching your dog to take things with a soft mouth. Begin by teaching the “leave it” command. To do this, you simply put a treat of equal value in each palm. Close both hands and present them to your dog. Then open one hand. When your dog approaches the open palm, you tell him to “Leave it.” If your dog still persists in approaching, close your palm. When your dog sits calmly in front of you and is longer attempting to take the treat, you can then reward him with the treat from your other hand. This command is an important tool for every dog to have. The ability to leave something alone when asked to could save your dog’s life.
During the bite inhibition stage, it is important that your dog understand that his teeth hurt when they connect with skin. Part of teaching this involves alerting your dog that puppy nips that are painful to you. You can teach this to your pup simply by saying, “Ouch!” when he is a little too rough during play. As an added teaching tool, you should also take a hiatus from playing until your puppy settles and is able to use his mouth appropriately. Over time, your puppy will learn that mouthing is not appropriate and taking items and treats with a soft mouth is desirable. The unwanted behavior will, over time, become less frequently seen in your interactions with him.
How Many Teeth Do Dogs Have?
To answer the question more directly, baby puppies have 28 teeth which are later replaced by 42 adult ones. If your pooch is about to start losing his baby teeth, follow some of our tips to help soothe the pain and keep your clothes and furniture tooth mark free!