Wondering how old your puppy is? You can estimate its age by looking at its teeth! Puppy teeth usually fall out and are replaced with adult teeth at around six months of age. In this blog post, we’ll walk you through how to figure out your puppy’s age by taking a look at its teeth. Keep reading to learn more!
It’s easy to tell a puppy’s age when you know their actual birth date. For rescue dogs and puppies adopted from shelters, it is often not possible to determine their true age. Many veterinarians and veterinary staff rely on a dog’s teeth in order to approximate their age. For adult dogs, it can be hit or miss, but for puppies, estimations can be fairly accurate!
Puppies who are younger than three weeks old will have no teeth at all. Puppies who are younger than two weeks will still have closed eyelids. By the time puppies are four to five weeks of age, their incisors start to erupt. These are the tiny, single-rooted teeth that appear in the front of the mouth. The next set of teeth, the premolars, begin to show around four to six weeks of age. The canine teeth, which are fang-like, start to come in shortly after that, at around five to six weeks.
In general, puppies that are six to eight weeks old should have evidence of all their puppy teeth starting to develop. By the time a puppy is eight to ten weeks old, all puppy teeth should be fully erupted. Puppies should have a total of 28 teeth once all their puppy teeth are present.
There are some situations where development is delayed, and some puppy teeth can become impacted. Delayed tooth eruption can negatively impact the formation of adult teeth as well, so it is important to talk with your vet if your puppy’s teeth haven’t fully developed. This is also the case if your puppy’s teeth are not developing in the proper direction. Teeth that occlude the palate or the lips can cause oral trauma, trouble eating, and pain.
Here is a chart to help you better understand which teeth we are talking about in the section below:
Permanent tooth development
When the permanent teeth get ready to erupt, they help push the puppy teeth or deciduous teeth out of the way. This is usually signaled around 12 to 13 weeks of age, when excessive teething and chewing start. The permanent incisor teeth will appear around 14 to 15 weeks of age, followed by the premolar teeth around 17 to 20 weeks of age. The canine teeth are next at 18 to 20 weeks, and molar teeth are the last to erupt at five to seven months.
It can take many weeks for the permanent teeth to be considered fully erupted. In most cases, a puppy will be seven or eight months old before all permanent teeth are developed and settled. The average older puppy and adult dog will have 42 permanent teeth. Dogs with shorter mouths and brachycephalic faces may develop fewer teeth.
Some dogs may retain some of their deciduous teeth. This can be problematic because it can cause adult teeth to erupt at incorrect angles and can cause crowding around the teeth. This makes it easier for tartar and calculus to build up in between tooth spaces. Also, misaligned teeth can cause trauma to the palate and lips. Retained teeth should be extracted as soon as possible.
Sometimes, teeth can become impacted and may not erupt correctly. Whenever a tooth is “missing” or looks like it never developed, dental x-rays are important to make sure the tooth isn’t impacted. When impacted teeth are left intact, they can cause dentigerous cysts. Dentigerous cysts are openings in the bone surrounding an impacted tooth. They can become painful for dogs. Treatment involves surgical removal of the cyst and impacted tooth, best performed by a veterinary dental specialist.
Information on dental care
Since puppies lose their deciduous teeth, regular brushing is not something that is stressed by most veterinarians. However, it is best to start this at an early age because it is part of training to get used to routine dental care for when a puppy is older. Routine brushing and the use of oral hygiene products can delay the accumulation of plaque and tartar, and it can help prevent the development of periodontal disease. For more information on dental care in dogs, please visit the link for this article.
Aging dogs beyond 6 months
While looking at the teeth can help age a dog fairly accurately up to 6 months, going beyond that is more of an estimate and based on the condition of the teeth. This can include the amount of discoloration of the teeth, or wearing of the teeeth. This is not the most accurate of methods, but if a dog has pearly white teeth, you can generally say the dog is between 6-18 months old. If it is slightly yellow, but there is no evidence of worn down molars or canines and no serious dental disease, it is likely between 18 months to 2 years old.
Dogs can be accurately aged up to 6 months of age. Puppy teeth begin erupting around 4-5 weeks of age, and the permanent incisors start coming in at 12-13 weeks. The premolars come in around 17-20 weeks, and the permanent canines come in around 18-20 weeks. Older puppies to adults have 42 total teeth if they have all their teeth erupted – which means they are at least 6 months old! Anything beyond that is based on wear and tear on the teeth and should be considered a rough estimate.
Lastly, now that you know how old your dog is, you might enjoy checking out how big your puppy will get with our puppy growth calculator.