Pet parents may wonder about their dog’s normal anatomy, physiology, and function. This may include questions about their teeth if they get baby teeth, when they may lose them, and about their adult teeth. A particular interest “how many teeth do dogs have” is a common question.
First, what are teeth? Teeth are hard calcified tissue (dentine) covered by enamel that develops inside the mouth and are anchored to the upper and lower jaw bones. The upper jaw bone is called the maxilla and the lower jaw bone is the mandible. There is a row of teeth on each the upper and lower jaw bones.
Each tooth consists of a crown and root (or roots). The crown is the part that can be seen in the mouth and the root or roots are located under the gum line and are covered with gums and bone (figure 1). Learn more about the structure and function of the teeth, gums, and tongue.
Figure 1. Plastic model of a dogs mouth. The crown of the tooth is the part that can be seen in the mouth below the gums and the roots, or in some cases roots, is located under the gum line.
The function of dog teeth is to acquire food and to break it down into small pieces once it enters the mouth. The different type of teeth (figure 2) provide different functions. For example, the sharp fang teeth (the canine teeth) allow a dog to tear food. The front teeth (the incisors) generally bite food, and the rear teeth (premolars and molars) help grind, break down or mash the food.
Figure 2. Plastic model of a dogs mouth indicating the location of the incisors, canines, premolars, and molars.
Dog Tooth Development
Dogs are born without teeth. At approximately 21 to 30 days of age, puppies will begin to get their baby teeth, also known as the deciduous or temporary teeth. When these teeth begin to break through the gums, it is referred to as the teeth erupting or teething phase. This can be painful or uncomfortable. The exact age may differ amongst breeds and can even vary within puppies of the same litter. Learn more about this and when the individual teeth come in this article: Do Dogs Have Baby Teeth.
Just like with people, eventually, the baby teeth fall out and are replaced with the permanent teeth. Dogs’ exact dentition may vary with the breed and even differ between dogs within the breed. Most dogs will end up with 42 adult or permanent teeth.
How Many Teeth Do Dogs Have?
Dogs will develop teeth in the front, sides, and back of the mouth. The types of teeth include:
Incisors – The teeth that develop in the front are called the incisors. There are 6 incisors on the upper and lower jaw.
Canines – Just behind the incisor teeth are the canine teeth. These are the sharp “fang” teeth. There is one canine tooth on each side of the set of incisors. There are two upper canines and two lower canine teeth.
Premolars – The premolar teeth sit behind the canine teeth and generally consist of 4 teeth on each side.
Molars – The last set of teeth in the mouth are the molars. They sit just behind the premolars and generally consist of 2 teeth on the upper jaw and 3 teeth on each side on the lower jaw.
Figure 3. Dental exam label commonly used in veterinary practices. The Upper is for the upper jaw and lower for the lower jaw. R = right, LL = left. I = incisions, C = canine, P = premolars, M = molars.
Do Dogs Have Wisdom Teeth?
Humans have wisdom teeth, but dogs do not have wisdom teeth. Wisdom teeth are an extra set of molar teeth that come in sometime between the ages of 17 and 22. They can aid chewing, however if there isn’t enough space in the mouth or if they are in the wrong position, they can become impacted.
When Do Dogs Get their Permanent (Adult) Teeth?
The eruption of the permanent teeth in dogs is as follows:
- Central: 2-5 months
- Intermediate: 2-5 months
- Corner: 4-5 months
- 5 months
- First: 4-5 months
- Second: 6 months
- Third: 6 months
- Fourth: 4-5 months
- First: 5-6 months
- Second: 6-7 months
- Third: 6-7 months
3 Common Diseases of the Teeth in Dogs
There are a number of diseases that affect the teeth of dogs with the most common being the following:
- Tooth root abscesses – A tooth root abscess is an infection that occurs around the tooth root. They most commonly develop in the upper fourth premolar. A classic sign on physical examination is an accumulation of pus around the root of the tooth. Tooth root abscesses can create a draining tract beneath the eye or on the cheek that can break open and drain. A common presentation of a tooth root abscess is a painful facial swelling that develops on the check and breaks open draining pus. Learn more about Tooth Root Abscess in Dogs.
- Gingivitis – Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gum surrounding the tooth. Learn more about Gingivitis in Dogs.
- Periodontal disease – This is an inflammation of the tooth’s support structures, including the associated gum ligament and bone. Learn more about Periodontal Disease in Dogs.
Additional Articles on How Many Teeth Dogs Have
- Dog Teeth Cleaning: Who Should Do It?
- Is Your Dog’s Gum Color Bad?
- Dog Teeth: What You Should Know
- Do Dogs Have Baby Teeth?
- Tooth Root Abscess in Dogs
- What is a Dental Cleaning or Prophy in Dogs?
- Structure and Function of the Mouth, Tongue, and Teeth in Dogs
- How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth
- Dental Products for Dogs
- Retained Puppy Teeth
- Complicated Dental (Tooth) Fractures in Dogs
- Uncomplicated Dental (Tooth) Fractures in Dogs
- Attrition (Worn Teeth) in Dogs
- Gingivitis in Dogs
- Periodontal Disease in Dogs
- Teeth Chattering in Dogs
- My Dog’s Breath Stinks: What Are the Causes of Bad Breath?
- Why Does My Dog’s Breath Smell Like Fish?
- Try These Home Remedies for Your Dog’s Bad Breath
- Here’s How to Cure Your Dog’s Bad Breath
- What Causes Bad Breath in Puppies?
- Retrobulbar Abscess in Dogs