Have you ever sat watching your furry friend chomping on a chew toy and wondered about your dog’s hard-working dentition? After all, our dogs don’t just use their teeth for eating, their gnashers often grip onto toys for a game of tug, or help them carry their favourite stick around the park.
Although we know our dogs use their teeth for almost everything, not many of us know how many teeth dogs have, how many sets of teeth to expect, and what each type of tooth is meant to do.
If you’re pondering how many pearly whites your pooch has, or whether you should expect to find puppy teeth falling out on the floor, read on to find out all you need to know about your dog’s teeth.
While most dogs definitely have more bark than bite, our furry friends pack in plenty of teeth! An adult dog should have 42 teeth in total, and that number of gnashers should stay the same their whole adult life.
Even though our dogs are usually much smaller than we humans are, they have far more teeth than we do. Humans only get 32 teeth, and that’s only if you’re lucky enough to have all your wisdom teeth.
Just like our own teeth, your dog’s 42 adult teeth need to last them a lifetime, and they won’t grow back if they lose them or have them removed.
Because your pooch’s pearly whites have to last their whole life, it’s important to brush them regularly to keep them clean and healthy and have yearly dental check-ups with the vet, just like how you look after your own teeth. You want those gnashers to be gleaming when your pooch gives you a big cheesy smile.
All dogs will have the same number of teeth, regardless of their breed and size. Whether you’ve got a tiny Chihuahua or a massive St Bernard, every adult dog will have 42 teeth.
Some individual dogs might be missing a tooth or two after losing them during illness or an accident, or because they were extracted by a vet. For instance, a dog with severe gum disease might have some teeth removed to treat the condition.
It might seem surprising, but puppies only have about half as many teeth as an adult dog. Although at first, your puppy won’t have any teeth at all.
When puppies are first born they are blind, deaf, and toothless. Just like human children, puppies develop a set of deciduous teeth, or milk teeth, which will eventually fall out and be replaced by their adult teeth. They have 28 milk teeth in total, and they will begin to emerge when your puppy starts teething from 2 weeks old. All 28 puppy teeth should be present by the time they reach 8 weeks old.
However, your pup won’t have those teeth for long because almost as soon as their milk teeth emerge, they’ll start falling out again.
Puppies start teething again any time after they are 8 weeks old, which means by the time you bring your new puppy home you might find a few little teeth on the floor (although most puppies accidentally swallow their loose baby teeth).
At 10-12 weeks old, your puppy’s deciduous teeth will start falling out and be replaced by adult teeth. It’ll take a few months for their set of sparkling new gnashers to grow in properly. A puppy’s teeth tend to fall out from the front first, with the molars at the back usually being the last to fall out and be replaced by adult teeth. If your puppy doesn’t lose all their baby teeth for some reason, they will need to be removed by a vet.
Once your puppy is about 6 months old, they should have lost all their baby teeth and have all 42 of their permanent adult teeth.
To find out more about what to expect from puppy teething, take a look at our puppy teething guide.
Dogs will have two sets of teeth in their lifetime. The first is their deciduous teeth, or “milk teeth” which they’ll have for a few months as a puppy. These teeth then fall out and make room for your dog’s permanent adult teeth. If your dog loses an adult tooth, it will not grow back. Your pooch’s teeth are for life, so they need looking after!
Dogs have four different kinds of teeth in their mouths. These are incisors, canines, premolars, and molars. These are the same kinds of teeth we humans have, and they do a similar job when your pup is munching through their dinner.
However, you’ve probably noticed that your dog’s teeth look nothing like your own. A pooch’s canines are much more fang-like for a start, and their molars aren’t square and flat like a human molar. So why do dog’s teeth look like they do, and what’s their job in your mutt’s mouth?
A dog’s incisors are the small teeth right at the front of their mouth. These teeny teeth only have one root. Dogs have 12 incisors in total, with 6 on their top jaw and 6 on the bottom. Incisors are used for picking things up or for scraping and nibbling. For example, your dog will use their incisors to groom themselves, nibbling away any bugs or dirt stuck in their fur, but they will also use their incisors to nibble and scrape meat off a bone.
Canine teeth are so named because dogs have a pretty impressive set! The proper name is “cuspids”, but everyone calls them fangs or canines and they are the unmistakable long teeth towards the front of your dog’s mouth, between the incisors and premolars.
Your dog uses their canines to puncture, grasp, and hold things, as well as for tearing apart their food. Your dog should have 4 canine teeth, that’s 2 in their bottom jaw and 2 in the top.
The premolars are the smaller, almost triangular-shaped teeth behind your dog’s canines. These are the most abundant teeth in your pooch’s mouth and they should have 16 of them. That’s 8 premolars in each jaw, and 4 on each side of their mouth.
Premolars are used to shred and chew food, and their triangular shape makes them very useful for cutting food apart. When your dog chews a toy, they tend to use the side of their mouth and use their premolars.
A dog’s molars look very different to a human’s. Unlike our flat molars which are great at grinding up grains and vegetables, a dog has quite sharp and triangular molars. They are still used for chewing their food and breaking it up into smaller pieces, they’re just not evolved for grinding food like human teeth. A dog’s premolars and molars look quite similar except their molars are usually much bigger.
Unusually, a dog’s molars aren’t divided equally between their jaws. They have ten molars in total, with four on their top jaw, and six on the bottom.
The best way to protect your pooch’s pearly whites is to simply brush their teeth every day or every other day with a toothbrush and dog-safe toothpaste. Regularly brushing their teeth prevents all kinds of problems from banishing dreaded doggy breath, removing plaque and tartar, and preventing gum disease.
You can also buy special dental chews and toys which will help to clean your doggy’s teeth, but they aren’t as effective as regular toothbrushing. They can still make a great addition to your routine and help keep on top of managing your mutt’s oral health!
As well as regular brushing, your dog should have routine dental check-ups just like how you have to visit the dentist once a year.
Routine oral checks with the vet are important because many problems, like periodontal disease, can go unnoticed in their early stages and symptoms only start to show once the condition becomes more severe and irreversible. Infection and disease in the mouth can also spread to other areas of the body, making early intervention and prevention even more important. Prevention is the best medicine, especially with your pooch’s irreplaceable teeth!