When Does a Puppy Lose Their Teeth? Everything You Need to Know

Puppies are like babies; their body will undergo various changes similar to that of a baby on its way to adulthood. One of these changes is the loss of baby teeth. But when should you expect your puppy’s baby teeth to fall out?

Generalities About Baby Teeth in Puppies

Dogs have two sets of teeth, just like humans – deciduous (baby or milk teeth) and permanent. Puppies have 28 deciduous teeth and 42 permanent teeth, while humans have 20 baby teeth and 32 permanent ones.

When the puppy is 2-3 weeks old, the first baby teeth – the incisors – begin to erupt; they are followed by canines and premolars. The molars do not appear in this early stage of development. At about six weeks of age, all of your puppy’s baby teeth will have erupted.

Puppies’ baby teeth are longer and thinner compared to the permanent ones that fill all the spaces in your dog’s oral cavity. Every owner who had a puppy can tell you that baby teeth are extremely sharp. Be very gentle when playing with your puppy at this stage of its life, as it may scratch you or break its teeth.

When Will My Dog’s Baby Teeth Fall Out?

Puppies’ baby teeth will start to fall out in the first 12-30 weeks of their life. By the age of six months, all permanent teeth have erupted.

You may not get a chance to see any baby teeth fall out because puppies either chew or swallow them. There is a good chance that the baby tooth will fall out when your puppy eats. However, if you notice your puppy shaking its head as if it has something in its mouth, you may be seeing a baby tooth falling out.

If your puppy has swallowed its baby teeth, don’t worry because ingested baby teeth will not cause any harm to your pet.

You also don’t have to worry about your pup bleeding too much when losing its teeth. Bleeding that occurs when baby teeth fall out is minor. Most of the time, you won’t even notice that your puppy’s gums are bleeding. You will rarely be able to see small blood spots on its favorite toy.

Why Do Puppies Have So Sharp Teeth?

Puppies’ teeth are very sharp like miniature swords. There are several reasons why their baby teeth have this shape. First of all, puppies’ baby teeth have this shape because they are inherited from the wild ancestors of dogs. When puppies stopped consuming their mother’s milk, they did not receive a bowl of food from anyone and had to fend for themselves and procure their food. Their teeth were sharp to be able to skin and chop the meat they were going to eat.

Another (theoretical) reason why puppies’ milk teeth are so sharp is that they make the weaning process easier for the puppy and mother. If you felt pain when your puppy nibbled on your ankle, imagine how painful it is for the mother to have her nipples bitten with those sharp teeth. Because of possible pain, it is normal for the mother to initiate the weaning process.

When this happens, puppies will learn pretty quickly that they need to start looking for other food sources. This lesson comes naturally during the weaning process. Fortunately for today’s puppies, the foraging stage has turned into discovering a bowl full of puppy food.

Sharp teeth also play a role in biting control. The pain they cause dogs and people teaches them how to control their biting. Puppies cannot realize how hard they bite and how painful their bites can be when playing. They will realize this when their owner or playmates start to avoid them or make noises to express their pain when playing together. Puppies learn how to control their biting over time. This happens when they start to associate that the moment they bite, the play stops.

Fortunately, your puppy’s jaw is not strong enough to sustain serious bites, so you are out of danger.

What Changes Do Puppies Go Through When They Change Their Teeth?

Losing baby teeth in puppies may seem like a relatively easy process. But this does not mean that it is that simple for your pup.

As in the case of humans, puppies feel when their baby teeth fall, and permanent ones erupt – a process that can be unpleasant.

During the teething period, puppies will eat less and tend to chew (anything) more often – teething is a painful process, and chewing objects eases their pain.

Even if the permanent teeth start to develop, puppies can continue to chew, being an opportunity to discover the textures around them.

By giving your puppy a suitable chew toy, you will help develop its sensory experience and will help your puppy learn how to orientate in the environment.

It is important to be as prepared as possible for this stage in your puppy’s life. No one wants to see their dog suffering, nor for them to chew on objects or furniture.

What Are the Best Toys for Chewing?

A chew toy must meet several characteristics:

  • Quality material – avoid plastic or rubber toys that can break into small pieces because dogs will swallow them.
  • Matching the size of your puppy’s mouth– avoid toys that are too small, as your dog can choke or swallow them. Also, toys that are too large won’t be too interesting because your pet won’t be able to grab them with its mouth.
  • Suitable chewing texture.

During the teething process, you will want to switch to toys made of a harder material as your puppy’s jaw strength will increase.

How to Determine Your Puppy’s Age by Its Teeth

When you buy a puppy from a licensed breeder, you will know its exact age. But animal shelters or animal welfare organizations cannot provide accurate information about the age of the dogs they have in their care. Here are the factors used to determine teeth age in dogs:

  • The appearance and wear of baby teeth incisors
  • Changing certain groups of teeth
  • Wear of tooth tips
  • Teeth falling out

You can estimate the age of a young dog by analyzing the baby teeth’ incisors. They are small in size and typically bluish-white. In addition, they are pointed and have bat-shaped crowns.

Puppy’s ageTeething
3-4 weeks oldMilk incisors eruption
1- 2 months oldMilk incisors growth
2 – 3 months oldMilk incisors separation
3 – 4 months oldMilk incisors lobes wear
4 – 5 months oldMilk incisors changing
5 – 6 months oldBaby teeth changing
6 – 7 months oldAll permanent teeth have erupted

Are There Any Common Dental Problems in Puppies?

Puppies have very few problems with their teeth. It is rare for a puppy to have a serious dental problem that requires surgical intervention.

Some small breeds and dogs with short noses (brachycephalic) tend to keep some of their baby teeth (usually the upper front teeth) when the permanent ones erupt – this can lead to teeth misalignment, a weak bite, and discomfort. Food can get stuck between baby and permanent teeth and, in time, will lead to periodontal disease.

In this case, surgical intervention is recommended to remove the baby teeth. This procedure is usually performed when the dog is sterilized.

Bottom line

Changing baby teeth to permanent teeth is just one stage of your dog’s development. Although it seems an easy process, it is quite painful for your puppy.

When the time comes to change its baby teeth to permanent teeth (around the age of 5-6 months), your puppy will eat less and start chewing on objects it shouldn’t. To ease its discomfort, buy your puppy chew toys.

Photo of author
Dr. Lulia Mihai, DVM

I am a veterinarian from Romania with a Master's degree in pets' pathology and a PhD in pets' cancer. I have experience in researching (I wrote various academic articles for international journals) and writing academic and blog articles. I started writing about pets over 3 years ago and made it a full-time job. I have a bunch of pets and I think they are lucky to have the vet at home. I like to educate people about everything there is to know about pets - nutrition, training, behaviour, diseases, you name it! I've written hundreds of pet articles in these 3 years.