When Do Puppies Stop Teething? Everything You Need to Know
A new puppy can be a handful. That’s especially true during the arduous teething process, when growing and losing teeth can result in destructive chewing and biting. All young dogs go through teething and all puppy owners need to learn to manage the process. Teething can be frustrating (not to mention painful), but dog people shouldn’t let it scare them away from purchasing or adoption a pup of their own.
At What Age Do Puppies Stop Teething?
For pet parents contending with their puppy’s teething process, it can often seem like this frustrating period will never end. Don’t worry, teething is, in fact, just a temporary (and necessary) nuisance for you and your young pet. Dogs typically grow their full set of adult teeth by the time they reach six to eight months of age. The precise timeline may vary based on your dog’s size and breed. PetMD notes that small breed dogs, including dogs from the Toy group, often take longer to grow both sets of teeth. However long it takes, there’s plenty you can do to keep your pup comfortable and safely address behavior concerns.
Puppy Teeth and Adult Dog Teeth
Like humans, puppies lose their initial set of teeth (sometimes called baby teeth) at a young age before growing a new set of permanent teeth.
Your Puppy’s Baby Teeth
Puppies are born without teeth, but grow a set of 28 deciduous teeth during their first several weeks and months. Baby teeth are pointy and sharp, earning them the nickname “needle teeth.”
- Incisors: These teeth are used to grasp and pierce food and scrape bones clean. Puppies with full sets of baby teeth have 12 total incisors, six in their upper jaw and six on the bottom of their mouth.
- Canine Teeth: A puppy’s initial set of teeth includes four canines at the front of the mouth, two on the top and two on the bottom. These sharp teeth are used to tear food (or furniture or human skin). Watch your hands around these sharp puppy teeth.
- Premolars: Located in the back of your puppy’s mouth, these teeth help your pup to grind food and shear through it. Puppies have six upper premolars and six lower ones.
Your Dog’s Permanent Teeth
Once they’re finished teething, dogs have 42 adult teeth. That’s ten more than humans! One new type of tooth joins incisors, canines, and premolars.
- Molars: Four molars on the top of a dog’s mouth and six on the bottom help to grind and crush food for safer ingestion.
Puppy Teething Timeline
Dogs begin to grow their first baby teeth much more quickly than human babies do. As a result, you might miss on the earliest stages of your puppy’s teething process.
Puppies are still nursing when their first set of baby teeth begin to emerge from their gums. Incisors typically emerge first around three weeks of age. They’re soon followed by additional milk teeth, the canines and premolars.
All of your puppy’s baby teeth will have grown in by the time they’ve reached eight weeks of age. Take a look inside your puppy’s mouth and you’ll see 12 incisors, 12 premolars, and six canines.
Around week 12 is when most breeders will begin to send young puppies home and shelters will begin allowing pet parents to adopt. It’s also around this time that a puppy’s permanent adult teeth begin to grow in and force baby teeth out. Watch out for sharp, rice-sized teeth around the house.
Between the ages of six and eight months, a dog’s full set of 42 permanent teeth will gradually emerge. An adult dog’s teeth include 12 incisors, four canines, 16 premolars, and 10 molars. Permanent teeth typically appear in the same order that baby teeth did, with molars emerging last.
Surviving Your Puppy’s Teething Stage
Living with a teething puppy isn’t always a good time, but this time period doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Check out these tips for avoiding conflict, keeping dogs comfortable, and reducing damage around the house.
- Offer puppy chew toys: For pet parents, one of the worst things about bringing home a puppy is all the inappropriate biting and chewing that comes with teething. While it’s possible that bite inhibition lessons with a professional dog trainer are your best option to stop puppies from chewing on furniture, human skin, household objects, shoes, clothes, and other inappropriate targets, this support may not be necessary in all cases. With a little effort and the right resources, you may be able to stop your pet from doing too much damage on your own. Just be sure to offer plenty of durable chew toys and mental stimulation.
- Don’t use negative reinforcement: Scolding or punishing a puppy is no way to discourage a nip or redirect destructive chewing. A more positive way to survive puppy chewing is by rewarding good behavior with treats and praise. Remember, negative reinforcement doesn’t work for other pet owners, and it won’t work in this instance. Loud noises and harsh treatment will only lead pets to engage in unwanted behavior with more enthusiasm.
- Puppy-proof your house: Slight rearrangements to your house can provide for an amicable, low-stress teething process. With the help of baby gates, for example, you can keep puppies out of off-limit areas and avoid excessive damage.
- Talk to your vet: If teething continually thwarts your efforts, reach out to your vet for additional guidance. They may be able to recommend puppy training resources or suggest novel ideas you’ve never considered. Don’t wait to reach out. Your vet is an ally in pet care and you share a common goal: keeping your pet happy and healthy at each life stage.
Choosing Appropriate Toys for Your Puppy
Not all puppy chew toys are created equal. Read our guide to puppy chew toys before taking a trip out to the pet store.
- Safe chew toys should be durable enough to withstand aggressive biting and chewing without breaking apart. Toys that are easily torn apart could present choking risks and leave you with plenty of clean up on your hands. Something like a KONG could be your best option. Unlike plush toys, hard, rubber toys like the KONG will retain their shape and structure for a long time. Even serious chewing from a dog’s permanent adult teeth is no match for truly durable toys.
- If your dog has a taste for peanut butter or chicken broth, the best way to redirect their chewing could be with foods like these. Please your pup’s palate with a dog toy filled with peanut butter, broth, or other favorite flavors. They’ll forget all about inappropriate chew toys like shoes!
- Teething rings and other toys for human infants are often freezable. Their cool temperature makes these toys especially soothing for sore gums. Many pet toys are freezable too. Just make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid inadvertently irritating your dog’s mouth with an excessively cold chew toy.
When to Call the Vet
It’s normal for the teething process to cause pain and discomfort, as well as occasional swelling and bleeding of the gums, but these issues could point to a serious problem. Consulting your veterinarian throughout the process is always a good idea. It’s a necessity if you notice persistent issues like these:
- Cracked or broken teeth: Call the veterinary dentist if you notice damage to either of your dog’s set of teeth. Damage to teeth can expose vulnerable nerves, potentially leading to infections and severe discomfort.
- Excessive bleeding: A bit of bleeding is to be expected as teeth begin to grow in and sharply point through the gums. If you notice a lot of bleeding, however, your dog could be experiencing complications. Watch out for droplets of blood on your puppy’s chew toys.
- Inflamed or bleeding gums: While discomfort is a normal part of this developmental stage, excessively swollen, bloody, or inflamed gums should raise a red flag. They could be a sign of underlying periodontal disease requiring immediate veterinary attention.
- Tartar and plaque buildup: Brown tartar on a young puppy’s teeth should definitely raise your eyebrows. This could indicate the start of potentially serious periodontal disease.
- Two teeth in one spot: If two adult teeth are occupying the same spot in your dog’s mouth, immediate extraction may be necessary to avoid a misaligned jaw and additional complications later in your puppy’s life.
- Loose adult teeth: A puppy’s baby teeth should loosen and fall out throughout the teething process, but a loose permanent tooth is cause for concern. If teeth are unexpectedly falling from your puppy’s mouth, they have recently experienced facial trauma or are suffering from advanced periodontal disease.
A Normal Canine Bite
Your dog’s teeth and jaw are among the most crucial parts of their body. They not only use their teeth for chewing and eating, but for grooming as well. An abnormal bite (a condition called malocclusion) can affect a dog’s ability to use its mouth and can lead to additional complications throughout their life.
Here’s what a typical canine bite should look like:
- Lower canine teeth sit in front of the upper canine teeth
- Upper incisors sit over the lower set of incisors
- Upper premolars fit easily into the lower premolars
While certain dogs (including brachycephalic pooches like the Bulldog) always have misaligned jaws, most dogs should fit the description outlined above. If your dog’s bite looks unusual (or you notice any warning signs) contact a veterinarian or a veterinary dentist for support.
Keep Your Puppy’s Teeth and Mouth Clean
Congratulations, you’ve made it through the painful process of puppy teething. Keep in mind, however, that the teething phase is just the beginning of you and your dog’s dental health journey. The good news is that there’s plenty you can do to safeguard your pet’s dental health and help them thrive throughout their lives. During your initial veterinary visits, your pup’s doctor will conduct a thorough examination of their teeth, gums, and mouth.
At home, it’s your responsibility to brush your dog’s teeth regularly and offer plaque-fighting foods and treats. A general rule of thumb holds that the sooner you introduce your dog to oral care the easier it will be to administer throughout their life. Start by carefully feeling around your puppy’s baby teeth with your thumb. Putting your hands in and around your puppy’s mouth will help them get used to the sensation and better tolerate both dental examinations and brushing later in life. They may never have a great time at the dentist, but being proactive can keep oral care from becoming a serious hassle for you both.
Make sure to use a toothbrush and toothpaste that are specially designed for a dog’s teeth. Human brushes and pastes are lacking in necessary ingredients and could potentially harm your dog.
What Else Do You Need to Take Care of a Puppy?
Pet owners, do you have everything you need to welcome a puppy home?
- ID tags
- Puppy food and treats
- Food and water bowls
- Collars and leashes
- A crate and a bed
- Cleaning products
Check out our list of essential pet care items to make sure you’re prepared for the responsibilities of pet ownership.
Protect Your Puppy and Pet Care Budget
Just because you’ve checked all those common puppy necessities off your list doesn’t mean you’ve got everything you need to care for a growing pup. Don’t forget to consider enrolling them in a pet insurance policy. Depending on the provider and policy you select, you may be eligible to get money back on dental emergencies and even routine care.