By the time puppies are around 2 weeks old, their first set of teeth begin to emerge. Here’s what you need to know about your teething pet.

By Doug Jimerson
August 24, 2020
Credit: exies / Getty

Newborn puppies are born toothless. That’s because, like other mammals, a puppy's only source of nourishment for their first weeks of life comes from their mother’s milk. And you don’t really need (or want!) teeth for that.  

When Do Puppies Start to Get Teeth?

By the time puppies are around two weeks old, their first set of teeth begins to emerge. Called milk, needle, or deciduous teeth (in humans we call them “baby” teeth) this first set of teeth starts with incisors. Then canines come in, and finally, premolars fill out the complete set of puppy teeth. 

By the time a puppy is 8 to 10 weeks old, she will have a mouth full of 28 teeth, perfect for her transition from a liquid to solid diet. Your puppy will physically be ready for this transition, and so will Momma Dog since the more sharp teeth her puppies have, the less likely Mom will be to put up with nursing them. 

When Do Puppies Lose Their Baby Teeth?

This early set of sharp-as-a-tack puppy teeth will begin to fall out when the puppy is between 4 and 6 months old. Timing varies by breed; some smaller breeds tend to hold on to their baby teeth longer. But once most dogs are 7 to 8 months old they will have traded their first set of chompers for a set of 42 permanent adult teeth. 

During this process of trading puppy teeth for the adult version, puppies experience teething, just like human babies. “Puppies explore the world through their mouths,” says Zazie Todd, PhD and author of Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy. “So you must puppy-proof everything,” she says. Todd recommends chew toys as a way to channel a puppy’s need to chew (as opposed to having her gnawing the legs of your kitchen chair). Giving a puppy a toy to replace destructive chewing is a positive way to change her behavior.  

Monitoring the Process

As your pet sheds his baby teeth you may find them randomly in your home. But just as often, your pup will swallow them with his food. Sometimes, you’ll even be able to see the adult tooth coming through the gum and pushing the baby tooth out. And, on occasion, when the baby tooth refuses to leave, you may need to have your veterinarian help remove it so it doesn’t inhibit the growth of the adult tooth below. Do not try to pull a baby tooth on your own; they can have long roots that could break off in the gum and cause problems. 

Teething Time

Because a dog has two sets of teeth that come and go within a relatively short period of time, your puppy will seem like he’s teething constantly. So be sure to provide plenty of soft and flexible, puppy-appropriate items for your little guy to chew on. This will help relieve his need to chew and will help preserve your woodwork and furniture. “The most important thing to know [about teething] is that your puppy needs chew toys,” Todd says.