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How Many Teeth Do Dogs Have, and Can They Lose Them?

Do dogs have the same number of teeth as we do? And do they lose their puppy teeth just like we lose our baby teeth? Here’s a breakdown of how many teeth dogs have as puppies and adults, and whether it’s normal for dogs to lose their teeth.

How Many Teeth Do Dogs Have?

Adult dogs have 42 permanent teeth, but the number of teeth in a dog’s mouth changes as they grow. The age of eruption of permanent teeth in dogs is between 3–7 months of age. Their upper jaw, called the maxilla, has 20 teeth. A dog’s lower jaw, called the mandible, has 22 teeth. In total, dogs have more teeth than we do (humans have 32 teeth).

How Many Teeth Do Puppies Have?

Puppies are born without teeth, and it’s not until they are 3–4 weeks old that their puppy teeth start to erupt. By 3–5 months of age, they will usually have all 28 of their puppy teeth. However, some dogs (particularly toy and small breed dogs) tend to take longer to develop puppy and adult teeth.

Types of Dog Teeth

Each type of dog tooth—incisor, canine, premolar, and molar—serves its own function. Here’s a breakdown of what each type of dog tooth does and where these teeth are located:

  • Incisors: The teeth in the front of a dog’s mouth are called incisors. The top and bottom jaws have six incisors each. Dogs use their incisors mostly to grab objects, like food, but they are also used for scraping or nibbling food and grooming as well.

  • Canines: The canine teeth are the longest teeth in the front of the mouth. Dogs have four canine teeth, which are well-developed and slightly curved to better tear or puncture objects and food.

  • Premolars: Just behind the canines are the premolars. Adult dogs have 16 premolars—eight on the top jaw and eight on the bottom jaw. These chewing teeth are used for shearing through and grinding up food.

  • Molars: Molars are the teeth in the back of a dog’s mouth. They can look a lot like premolars. There are four molars on the top jaw and six on the lower jaw. Molars are used for grinding or chewing food into small pieces to make it easy to swallow and digest.

Can Dogs Lose Teeth?

Puppies typically begin losing their teeth when they’re 3–4 months old, as their larger adult teeth start growing in. However, aside from the transition from puppy teeth to adult teeth, it is not normal for a dog to lose teeth. If you notice your dog is losing their adult teeth, call your veterinarian. Adult dogs losing teeth is a sign that something is wrong.

Common Reasons for Adult Dogs Losing Teeth

  • Periodontal Disease: The most common reason for a dog to lose teeth is because of advanced periodontal (dental) disease in their mouth. Without proper dental care, like at-home brushing and veterinary dental cleanings, periodontal disease leads to diseased gums and decaying teeth. The natural process that your dog’s body goes through to reject a decaying tooth is uncomfortable and painful. In severe cases, it can lead to life-threatening infection. Dental disease has also been associated with systemic effects on organs including the heart, liver, and kidneys. The bacteria in a dog’s mouth can result in infections elsewhere in the body if they become severe.

  • Trauma: Your dog’s teeth can be lost through trauma, whether it’s caused by chewing something inappropriate or if they sustain an injury to their mouth. Some of the most common items that can cause fractures or loss of teeth are made from dense mineral or bone material. To protect your dog’s teeth, it is best to avoid giving your dog things such as beef bones or pork bones, as this material can be too hard and commonly results in fractures and tooth damage. Instead, consider dental chews or treats for your pup.

  • Tooth Decay: Dogs’ teeth are prone to decay and wear-and-tear at a much faster rate than our own, which is partly because they use their mouths for more than just eating and drinking. Dogs use their teeth to pick up, carry, and chew items. In addition, a lot of items pass through a dog’s mouth, like slobbery toys, hair, dirt, feces, and food. All of this can take a toll on the health of their teeth. Some dogs (especially small breed dogs and Greyhounds) experience tooth decay at an extraordinarily fast rate, potentially requiring many teeth to be extracted (removed) by a vet throughout their lifetime. To treat decayed teeth, your vet will likely recommend a professional cleaning be done under general anesthesia with the extraction of any diseased teeth. This is a very common procedure for animal hospitals. A dog’s mouth is much more comfortable when decaying teeth are removed. Dogs can even eat perfectly well without teeth, if needed.

How To Prevent Tooth Loss in Dogs

Keeping your pet’s mouth healthy is important to their overall health and quality of life. If you notice that your dog is losing teeth, has loose or wiggly teeth, or has progressively worsening breath, set up a consultation with a veterinarian as soon as possible. Don’t wait until your pet is not eating to get a dental consult with your veterinarian. Use your pet’s annual exam as an opportunity to discuss your dog’s teeth and overall dental health before there’s a problem.

Real-World Perspective

Case Study: Bella's Dental Journey

Bella, a 5-year-old Dachshund, started losing teeth unexpectedly. Her owner, Emily, noticed Bella’s breath had worsened and she was reluctant to eat her favorite treats. Upon visiting the vet, Bella was diagnosed with advanced periodontal disease. The vet recommended a professional cleaning and the extraction of several decayed teeth. Post-surgery, Bella’s quality of life improved significantly. She was more energetic, her breath was fresher, and she resumed eating her favorite foods without discomfort. Emily learned the importance of regular dental check-ups and daily teeth brushing to prevent future dental issues.

Q&A Section

Q: Is it normal for adult dogs to lose teeth?A: No, it is not normal for adult dogs to lose teeth. If your dog is losing teeth, it could be a sign of dental disease or trauma. Consult your veterinarian for a thorough examination and treatment plan.

Q: How can I prevent my dog from losing teeth?A: Regular dental care is key to preventing tooth loss. Brush your dog's teeth daily, provide dental chews, and schedule regular veterinary dental cleanings.

Q: What should I do if my dog has bad breath?A: Bad breath can be an early sign of dental disease. Schedule a veterinary appointment to have your dog's teeth examined and cleaned if necessary.

FAQ Section

Q: Do dogs have wisdom teeth?A: No, dogs do not have wisdom teeth.

Q: Are dogs born with teeth?A: No, puppies are not born with visible teeth. Their baby (deciduous) teeth will erupt between 3–4 weeks of age.

Q: How many teeth do small dogs have?A: Small dogs have 42 teeth. All adult dogs, regardless of size, have 42 permanent teeth—20 on the top and 22 on the bottom.

Q: What are retained teeth?A: When puppy teeth do not fall out on their own and stay in your puppy’s mouth, they are called retained deciduous teeth. This can lead to overcrowding, abnormal positioning of adult teeth, and increased susceptibility to dental issues. Your veterinarian will likely recommend removal of these teeth surgically to prevent future problems.


Understanding your dog's dental health is crucial for their overall well-being. Adult dogs have 42 permanent teeth, while puppies have 28 baby teeth that they lose as they grow. Regular dental care, including brushing, providing appropriate chews, and scheduling veterinary cleanings, is essential to prevent tooth loss and other dental issues. If you notice any signs of dental problems, such as bad breath, loose teeth, or reluctance to eat, consult your veterinarian promptly.

For more tips and resources on dog dental care, visit Ensuring your dog's dental health will help them live a happier, healthier life.

How Many Teeth Do Dogs Have
How Many Teeth Do Dogs Have


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