Used for gripping, ripping, grinding and tearing. Your dog’s teeth have many different but important uses when it comes to efficient digestion.
But how many teeth does your dog have?
Is it 32 like us humans? No. Or how about 59 like a Hyenas? No. 0? Definitely not. In fact, you may as well call a toothless dog a tree (due to it having more “bark” than bite”)!
The answer is 42. On average, a matured dog has a total of 42 dog teeth.
A dog’s teeth are just as important as ours. From when they are young pups, suckling on their dam’s glands for milk, to matured dogs using them for puncturing prey, they have many practical uses.
It is important for us dog-parents to understand the basics of dog teeth, general oral development and correct oral hygiene so that you can have a healthy and happy dog with lots of licks and kisses – minus the extreme bad breath!
Dog Teeth: The Basics
You may have seen your dog’s teeth when they are growling at a suspicious object or when they are gnawing on their favourite treat.
But, they are in fact one of the most anatomically important features in terms of healthy digestion for your dog. Which is why as an owner, it is important to understand the basics.
How Many Teeth Do Dogs Have?
A fully matured dog has a total of 42. This is made up of 10 molars, 16 pre-molars, 4 canines and 12 incisors.
Puppy teeth are known as deciduous as they are only temporary for the first six months of puppyhood, whilst, matured dog’s teeth are known as permanent and will by fully formed by seven months.
|Puppy (Deciduous)||Adult (Permanent)|
|Incisors||From 3 to 6 weeks||From 3 to 5 months|
|Canine||From 5 to 6 weeks||From 4 to 6 months|
|Premolars||From 6 weeks||From 4 to 5 months|
|Molars||From 5 to 7 months|
Adult dog teeth are permanent and therefore the correct care and maintenance of oral hygiene is especially important to prevent decay and disease.
Remember, your dog doesn’t use a knife and fork like we do to eat, therefore their eating utensils are essentially their teeth.
Dog Teeth Anatomy
A dog has four distinct and specialised types of teeth. Each type designed to suit a specific purpose. Together a dog’s dental anatomy is designed to suit its’ dietary needs as a carnivore.
Types of Dog Teeth
The canines are long, pointed and sharp and resemble Dracula’s infamous fangs.
Your dog primarily uses their canines when they are holding onto objects such as food in their mouth. These teeth keep a nice firm grip on the object and can easily puncture objects.
In total your dog has four canines. Two at the top of their mouth (maxillary) and two and the bottom of their mouth (mandibular).
The incisors are the small ones you see at the front of your dog’s mouth. Unlike the canines, they do not look scary at all.
Your dog’s incisors serve as little scrapers and are used for small biting motions such as nibbling or the carrying of objects.
In total, there are 12 incisors in your canine’s mouth. There are six incisors at the top of their mouth and another six at the bottom of their mouth.
The premolars are located at the side of your dog’s jaw, right behind the canines.
The premolars are mainly used for chewing.
Have you ever seen your dog tilt his head slightly when eating or chewing on something? Well then, you have seen him use his premolars.
Fun fact: The 4th premolar is known as the Carnassial tooth, and is your canine’s largest tooth!
Your dog has 16 premolars in total. Eight are located at the top of the mouth and the other eight are located at the bottom
The molars are flat and hidden deep in your dog’s mouth. They are located behind the premolars.
Molars are used for the grinding and breaking down of large particles such as kibble, bones and hopefully not pieces of your shoe.
Did you know that a mother uses her molars to cut her puppies umbilical cord so that it can crush the end of the cord in a manner to reduce post-natal bleeding.
In total your dog has ten molars. Four at the top of their mouth and another six at the bottom.
Puppy Teeth: The Beginning
They are present in “puppyhood” and are only temporary until your puppy is ready for their adult teeth. Now, let’s find out more…
When Do Puppy Teeth Grow?
Your puppy is born deaf, blind and toothless too. The only senses your puppy has at birth are taste and touch. At three weeks old, your puppy’s first set of temporary (puppy teeth) begin to erupt.
How Many Teeth Do Puppies Have?
Once your puppy is two months old, all 28 of their first set of teeth should be present.
When Do Puppies Lose Their Teeth
Your puppy will begin to lose his first set of teeth when he is just three months old, most should be gone by the time your puppy is four months old. Adult canines begin to erupt during this time frame too.
Finally, at just seven months old, your puppy should have their full set of mature permanent teeth.
How Can I Care For A Teething Puppy?
Puppy teething is a lot like baby teething in humans. This means that teething can be quite painful for your puppy and may additionally cause the unwanted chewing and gnawing of a range of objects… anything from shoes to the leg of your table.
There is no way around puppy teething and it is a natural occurring process which consists of your puppy’s baby teeth falling out to make room for the permanent ones.
They may drool a lot more than usual and be slightly crabby but be understanding of your pooch. They are not meaning to cause you any harm and they aren’t trying to annoy you.
If you see them nipping and chewing on unsuitable objects, then try redirect their focus onto something else – perhaps a chew toy? There is also teething gel available which may help with any discomfort associated with teething.
Puppy and Dog Teeth: What’s The Difference?
There are real differences in puppy and adult teeth which coincide with a puppy transitioning from a newborn to a full grown adult dog.
Firstly, puppies don’t have molars. There is simply no need as their puppy diet doesn’t consist of the breakdown of large particles.
Additionally, they have a role in the weaning process. When the puppy’s teeth get too sharp, the mother will no longer be willing to put up with the sharp nips and pinches and the puppy will need to find different sources of food. This itself is an important weaning developmental milestone.
Puppies also use their jaw and teeth to learn and understand their bite pressure; known as bite inhibition. This occurs through play fighting with siblings or even by nipping at their mother, who will definitely tell them off when they are too rough.
Adult’s canines and molars are more specialised for a mature dog’s diet, as they have molars, and are used to kill, chew and grind their prey.
Dog Dental Hygiene
How to Brush Dog Teeth
Brushing a dog’s tooth may sound like a bad idea for fun, but, it has actually been proven to be one of the most effective ways to improve canine oral hygiene as well as prevent and reduce any developing oral health issues.
Ideally dog teeth cleaning, is best done daily. A brush a day keeps the plaque away. However, this is often impractical and tricky so here are a few tips:
- Start as a puppy during socialization, get him used to the sensation of rubbing your fingers along their gum line at an early age.
- Begin brushing only once a week, and then slowly increase this to two then three times a week.
- Use positive conditioning and associate a positive outcome with the task so that your pup will not be hesitant.
- Don’t force your dog down in any position. Sit next to them, pat them, relax and then try. If your dog begins to feel stressed then stop, relax, and try again later.
Using Chew Toys and Food
Chew toys are now available for your pup which are designed in a special way to reduce plaque and tartar build up.
Chew toys may also be a way to help for the pain. So go on, splurge and buy your dog a toy which you and them will both love.
Not all chew toys are designed to benefit canine oral health, there are a select few available at your local pet store which will actually make a difference. Avoid toys made mostly from metal, or other abrasive materials which may lead to unwanted tooth fractures and therefore, unwanted vet bills. Try toys made from rubber, nylon or rawhide.
Dry kibbled diets also provide benefits for oral hygiene as they can help reduce plaque build-up too WHILE your dog is eating. Carrots and broccoli are a good substitute too.
Dog Dental Gum Disease
Canine periodontitis is a bacterial infection which develops in your dog’s mouth. It begins from a build-up of plaque. This plaque then mixes with saliva and hardens becoming tartar. When tartar and plaque spread under the gum line it may lead to periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease can lead to severe problems such as tooth loss, or even bone loss. It is the most prevalent oral disease in the canine even though it is highly under-diagnosed.
Although this disease is common, it is in fact preventable with the correct oral hygiene care and maintenance.
As a dog-lover/owner, it is therefore your responsibility to keep your dog’s pearly whites in pristine condition and ensure that your canine friend receives any oral treatment which may be needed straight away.
Dog Dental Gum Disease Symptoms
Identifying any gum disease symptoms as early as possible is key. Early detection prevents any deterioration which may occur to your pup’s oral health.
If in doubt, always call your local Veterinarian. However, common symptoms include:
- Gingivitis: redness and swelling of the gums
- Receding gums
- Excessive drooling
- Halitosis: bad breath
- Tooth Loss
- Loss of appetite
Remember, gum disease can actually be prevented so good oral practice is extremely important and will reduce any unwanted discomfort for your four-legged friend. You will also reduce any horrible vet bills (you can spend the money on a new toy for them instead).
It is now up to you to go out and keep your dog’s oral health in check.
Go out, buy that tooth brush, buy that chew toy, buy those special dental treats and ensure a high level of oral hygiene for your dog to keep healthy gums.
A puppy’s teeth are important too so following each developmental stage in your puppy’s life will ensure your dog is on the right track to a healthy life and nobody likes bad breath now do they.
What’s your dog’s favourite dental chew toy? Tell us below.