Just How Many Teeth Does My Dog Have Anyway?

March 4, 2020
Happy Black and Whilte Dog

Centuries of domestication of dogs has still not altered many of their anatomical features. Dogs are still well-equipped to survive in the wild, as they were before humans decided to tame them. Each part of a dog’s body structure makes it functionally adaptive to its surroundings and lifestyle. As a carnivore whose survival was based on hunting its prey, a dog’s mouth and teeth are of specific interest as they are perfectly structured to satiate their innate hunting nature.      

To ensure the best care to these furry friends, it is imperative that pet owners are aware of the structure of their mouths and teeth, which will be discussed in this article. 

How Many Teeth do Adult Dogs Have?

Adult dogs have a total of 42 teeth as opposed to when the 28 teeth they have when they are puppies. This difference occurs due to the distinction in milk teeth and permanent teeth, as is the case with humans. Once the 28 deciduous teeth fall, the permanent teeth grow out, which are more in number.

Dogs have the same basic four types of teeth. 

Incisors

Incisors are the set of teeth which occupy the front center position, on both sides of the jaw. Incisors are totally 12 in number, divided equally between the upper and lower side of the jaw. These teeth are multiple and small, and thereby assist the dogs in pulling and picking things up.

Canines

Canines are the sharp, pointed and long teeth, situated right beside the incisors. There are four canines in total, two on each jaw. They are the teeth used primarily for tearing things and may have served the purpose of killing their preys in the earlier days.

Premolars

The teeth next to canines are premolars, which are broader and lack the sharpness of the aforementioned sets. They are mostly used for chewing, tearing and biting and are helpful in consuming their food. There are eight premolars in each jaw, and 16 in total. Premolars can be seen when your dog fetches you the ball you throw.

Molars

Molars play the same role in dogs as humans. They help to chew food till it can be swallowed, and hence make the process of digestion easier. They are especially useful in chewing harder snacks. A dog’s lower jaw holds six molars and the upper jaw holds four, all of them situated beside the premolars.

Anatomy of A Dog’s Tooth

​From the above discussion, it is clear that the teeth of a dog are specifically suited to sustain its carnivore-like behavior and eating habits. The molars and premolars are equipped to crush even hard foods like bones. Incisors assist dogs in grabbing and catching their preys while canines can help tear down the smaller animals, making consumption much easier.

How Many Teeth do Puppies Have?

Like human babies, puppies also go through the stage of milk teeth formation and falling out, before their permanent teeth grow. The milk teeth are 28 in number while the permanent teeth are 42. Puppies begin to lose their teeth between 12 to 16 weeks and by four months, many of the permanent teeth start to show. During this time it's a good idea to have some ​good chew toys for your puppy around the house.

Anatomy of a Puppy’s Tooth

A puppy has 14 teeth on each of its jaws with no formation of molars, which is why it is advised to give them food that is easy to chew. It has 12 incisors, 12 premolars, and four canines, all of them divided between the upper and lower jaw.

​Growth of Permanent Teeth

Like mentioned earlier, within four months of time milk teeth begin to be replaced by permanent teeth. The process begins when the permanent teeth start to form underneath the gums, and with time, they begin to put pressure on the milk teeth, which finally give in and fall out. The permanent teeth then grow out with their crown emerging first.

This process is called teething and is an extremely uncomfortable and painful stage for your dog. During this stage you may notice that the dog tends to bite anything and everything in sight. As a dog owner, you can relieve some of its pain by providing it with soft chew toys and teething toys. You may consult your veterinarian to choose the perfect set of teething toys for your dog. This will also prevent your dog from damaging your household items.

Up until a certain point, a dog’s teeth can help you determine its age. For example, incisors of the milk teeth set are grown by six weeks and replaced by permanent teeth by 12 weeks. So a permanent set of incisors determines that the puppy is over four months old. After about six months, when your dog’s permanent teeth are set in place, you will not be able to determine its age.

In conclusion, a dog’s teeth go through two processes of formation- milk teeth and permanent teeth growth. Milk teeth are 28 and permanent teeth are 42, and the change in the set occurs between four to six months, which is also termed the teething stage.

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