If you’ve ever owned a puppy or an adolescent dog that still mouths, you may think that your dog is nothing but teeth. From the tiny needle-like nips you get from a pup to the vice-like grip of an older dog tugging on a toy, dogs’ teeth are powerful. But how many teeth does a dog have?
Different types of teeth
Adult dogs have 42 permanent teeth, and puppies have 28 baby teeth. In comparison, most human adults have 32 teeth (not counting wisdom teeth), and babies have 20 milk teeth. It’s not surprising that ours seem a little inadequate when compared to our dogs’ fantastic fangs.
Once your dog is fully grown, he will have four different types of teeth;
At the front of your dog’s mouth, set in between the four large, pointed teeth are the incisors. They are relatively small teeth and don’t look too dissimilar to our teeth. There are 12 incisors in total, 6 in the upper jaw and 6 on the bottom. These are the teeth that your dog would use to groom himself with and are also helpful for pulling meat from bones.
The four big pointy teeth slightly to the side of your dog’s mouth are the canine teeth—2 on the top and 2 on the bottom. Also called fangs, these are the teeth used to bite and for holding onto something and are the culprits when things (like footballs) get punctured.
Located just behind the canine teeth, dogs have 4 premolars on each side, both on the top and the bottom of their mouth. This makes a total of 16 sharp-edged teeth designed for chewing and shearing. The fourth upper premolar tooth is the largest in your dog’s mouth and is called the carnassial tooth. Its unique shape and surface make it a perfect design to hold and tear at food.
These big teeth at the back of your dog’s mouth are the ones designed to crush things—10 teeth, 3 on each side on the bottom and 2 on each side on the top. With a flat surface, they are perfect for grinding meat and bone.
When do puppies get their adult teeth?
A puppy starts to develop their baby teeth, also called deciduous teeth, at around three to four weeks of age. Their teeth grow quickly, starting with their incisors, then the canines, and eventually the premolars.
They will grow 28 teeth in total, which doesn’t include molars as these are only present in adult dogs, and they will lose most of these by the time they are 6 months old. Puppies will most likely go through a teething stage as teeth start to erupt, so it’s best to hide anything you don’t want to be chewed!
Can a dog’s teeth re-grow?
I’m not sure where this myth came from, although it seems to have been around for a long time. Dogs can’t re-grow their adult teeth once they lose them. Like us, dogs only have two sets of teeth in their lifetime, baby teeth and adult teeth.
Once a dog has its complete set of adult teeth, then that’s it. If a tooth is cracked or lost, it’s gone for good. That’s why good oral hygiene is essential, and brushing your dog’s teeth is a great idea.
Can teeth tell me how old my dog is?
Once your dog has all his adult teeth, it’s challenging to tell how old he is just by looking at them. With most owners aware of the need to look after their pet’s oral health, many dogs have very white and healthy teeth even into old age.
After six to seven months of age, your dog will lose all their baby teeth and have a complete set of permanent teeth. As tooth condition varies a lot depending on diet and care, it’s unlikely that you will guess their age based on the state of the teeth alone.
If your dog is young, however, then it is possible to estimate their age based on a timeline of when the dog’s teeth typically erupt:
|Tooth Eruption||Baby Teeth||Adult Teeth|
|Incisors||3-6 weeks||3-5 months|
|Canine||5-6 weeks||4-6 months|
|Premolar||6 weeks||4-5 months|
Do dogs get cavities?
Tooth cavities are rare in dogs. Their tooth shape, lack of sugar in their diet, and different mouth bacteria generally mean that their teeth do not suffer in the same way that ours do.
However, food debris can gather around the gum line, which may lead to problems with infections, causing the gums to recede and periodontal disease, and ultimately to the loss of teeth.
If a cavity is identified, it can be filled in much the same way as a cavity in our mouth, although, for the veterinarian’s safety, a dog will be anesthetized!
If you have an adult dog that you are struggling to persuade to open its mouth, then there are other ways that you can help to manage their dental health – although brushing is best. Dental chews specifically designed to help clean our dog’s teeth and gums are a good alternative.
You will be spoiled for choice if you look for tasty chew treats that fight plaque and tartar. There also additives to add to your dog’s water bowl that manages bad breath and reduces plaque and tartar.
If you are concerned about the state of your dog’s teeth, you can get them professionally cleaned. Ask your veterinarian for details, and they can either do it themselves or recommend someone that can.
How many teeth does a dog have?
When you have 42 teeth, dental hygiene is essential. Dog’s teeth should be brushed regularly to keep them healthy, but despite this, most dogs don’t get their teeth brushed at all. One of the reasons our dog’s teeth go untouched by brush or paste is that many of them don’t enjoy the experience. If you do have a puppy, it’s a good idea to get it used to a daily brushing as early as possible.
If you have never attempted to brush your dog’s teeth before, then here is a great video that shows you how. With the proper technique and encouragement, you may be surprised that it is good for your dog’s dental hygiene as well as the bond you have with your dog.