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How Many Teeth Do Dogs Have? Asked & Answered - PawSafe

How Many Teeth Do Dogs Have? Asked & Answered

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

how many teeth do dogs have

How many teeth do dogs have? This is an important question when caring for your dog’s dental health. Knowing what’s normal and what’s not, you can decide whether your dog needs to see a veterinary dentist for issues like missing teeth, snaggle teeth, or more.

No matter the size, breed, or shape, one thing is consistent among all do

gs: their teeth. Dogs’ teeth enable nourishment and their overall health and well-being, and they should receive adequate dental care by using dog mouthwash, for instance.

While all dogs have the same number of teeth, some smaller and brachycephalic breeds have overcrowded teeth, directly influencing their dental health. Knowing your dog’s mouth anatomy lets you know when your dog’s teeth are in good condition.

How Many Teeth Do Puppies Have?

Puppies have 28 deceptively cute but sharp baby teeth, eventually falling out to make room for adult permanent teeth. These deciduous teeth start growing at about three weeks and fall out again between when the dog is between three and six months. A puppy’s first teeth should be replaced by permanent adult teeth by six months.

Any puppy teeth that haven’t fallen out by the time adult teeth erupt need to be removed by a vet. Adult teeth are permanent, so any dog that loses one due to injury or illness, such as periodontitis, may need tooth implants.

Teething that lasts from three weeks to six months is a painful process for puppies. This explains the infamous puppy biting and nipping, which typically fades away after six months.

A puppy’s gums are sore during teething, so they chew on everything in sight to relieve themselves of this discomfort. Giving them toys and occasional frozen treats like filled KONGs helps ease teething discomfort.

Puppy Teeth Growth Chart:

Birth to 2 weeksNo teeth
2 to 4 weeks12 Deciduous incisors begin to emerge
3 to 4 weeks4 Deciduous canines begin to emerge
4 to 6 weeks12 Deciduous premolars and molars erupt
6 to 8 weeksAll 28 deciduous teeth should have erupted
3 to 3.5 monthsIncisors teeth begin to fall out and be replaced with 12 adult incisors
4 to 6 monthsCanines fall out to make way for adult teeth
5 to 7 months10 permanent molars and 16 premolars replace puppy molars

Do All Dogs Have 42 Teeth?

Adult dogs should have 42 teeth, but some dogs have missing or broken teeth, causing fewer teeth. The Chow Chow is one unique breed with two extra adult teeth bringing the number up to 44. Some dogs’ teeth get entrapped by gum muscle or bone, causing them not to grow all teeth leading to fewer teeth.

Other breeds like Matese, Poodles, Yorkies, and Pomeranians are susceptible to snaggle teeth when adult teeth grow over the deciduous, resulting in more teeth. However, for most breeds, except the Chow Chow, a healthy dog’s mouth should contain 42 teeth, regardless of size.

Teeth are sensitive body parts whose health entirely depends on dog owners. Sticking to a consistent dental care regimen of brushing your dog’s teeth at least twice weekly prevents dog cavities and tooth loss.

Breaking Down the Dog’s Mouth: What Do the Different Teeth Do?

All the different teeth in a dog’s mouth serve a specific purpose when a dog is feeding. Incisors, canines, premolars, and molars grow in that order and are all sized and shaped differently to perform their various functions listed below. 

  • Incisors: biting and nipping

A dog typically has 12 incisors, six at the top, six on the bottom jaw, and one root. These small teeth at the front of a canine’s mouth nip and bite, such as scraping meat from a bone. Dogs also use these teeth to self-groom, groom another dog, and grab food. They also use incisors for cobbing.

  • Canines: tearing, gripping and shredding

These sharp, long pointed teeth are a hallmark a dog’s mouth, so much so that the word canines refers to dogs and their canid cousins, like wolves too. Dogs have four canines, two on each jaw, and they use them to tear food apart, such as meat from a bone. They also puncture and hold on to by locking onto an object in the mouth.

  • Premolars: grinding and chewing

These are 16 premolars, located behind the canines, and eight on each jaw. Dogs use premolars to grind and chew food. Your dog also chews their toys and other items using the premolars when you see them using the side of their mouths.

  • Molars: grinding and chewing

Molars are the biggest, furthest teeth in a dog and are 10, four on the upper jaw and six on the lower. These heavy-duty teeth are used for grinding hard foods such as bones and don’t develop in puppyhood until the adult teeth erupt.

How Many Teeth Does a Dog Need to Eat?

All 42 canine teeth have a role in eating, but dogs can still eat even if they miss a couple of teeth. Some dogs lack several chompers but can still feed like their full-teethed canine buddies, although it will take some adapting. 

Many toothless dogs lead a completely everyday dog life once they and their owners adapt to the situation. Some parents of toothless canines introduce wet food to their diet and soften kibble with warm water or chicken broth, although they can still chew unsoftened kibble with their hard palates.

Dogs lose their teeth for multiple reasons like injury, canine periodontal disease, or old age. Periodontitis is the most common cause of tooth loss in dogs, and it affects over 80% of dogs above three years. It’s best to extract highly damaged teeth before they cause further pain to your pooch.

How Many Teeth Do Small Dogs Have?

Small dogs have 42 adult teeth by about 6 to 7 months, like their fellow bigger canines. Because so many teeth fit in a tiny mouth, small breeds such as Chihuahuas have overcrowded mouths. Teeth overcrowding increases susceptibility to dental issues due to bacterial buildup in the mouth.

Due to the increased susceptibility to dental issues in smaller breeds, proper dental care is essential. Brushing your dog’s teeth at least twice weekly and giving it dental chews reduces the risk of dental issues like periodontitis due to tartar buildup.

Small dogs also need more frequent dental vet visits, at least bi-annually, to keep their mouths healthy. Brachycephalic dogs like Pugs also have overcrowded teeth and face the same dental risks as smaller dogs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How many teeth do dogs have in the front?

Dogs have 12 teeth in the front of their mouths called incisors, six on the top jaw and six at the bottom. They use these teeth for nibbling, biting at food or other objects, and self-grooming or grooming each other.

How many teeth do dogs have at the bottom?

Dogs have 22 teeth at their bottom jaws. This is more than the 20 teeth on the top jaw because a dog has more molars on the bottom jaw, six compared to four on the upper jaw. These large, flat-surfaced teeth grind and chew food. 

Final Thoughts

Dogs have 42 teeth as adults and 28 deciduous teeth as puppies. Puppy teeth start growing at about 2 to 3 weeks, and they fall off to make way for permanent teeth, which should have all erupted by six months. This is the uncomfortable process of teething which causes them to chew on everything.

A dog’s teeth are sensitive and need regular brushing at least twice a week to prevent plaque and cavities. Small breeds like Chihuahuas have overcrowded mouths, increasing susceptibility to bacterial accumulation and dental issues. Some dogs lose teeth but can still feed normally after some adapting.

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe

Author

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.