two puppies looking up

Puppy Teething Explained

Last updated March 4, 2024

This article was reviewed by Pet Circle Veterinarian's Dr Josepha Cox, BBiomedSc(Hons) DVM and Dr Gillian Hill, BVSc (Hons).

You've welcomed an adorable puppy into your home, thrilled to begin a lifelong bond with your furry friend. But then it starts - the relentless chewing, the occasional whimpering, and yes, the occasional unexpected bite. Your furniture is suffering, your shoes are a gnawed mess and you're left wondering what's going on. Is this normal? Welcome to the puppy teething stage, a critical but often challenging period in your puppy's life.

Worry not! This comprehensive article will guide you through the murky waters of puppy teething. We'll provide a detailed timeline of what to expect, signs that your puppy is teething and actionable solutions to manage this phase successfully.

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The Basics of Puppy Teething

Teething is a natural, albeit sometimes trying, part of your puppy's growth and development. It's a period filled with chewed furniture, nipped fingers, and of course, those irresistible puppy eyes that make it all forgivable.

Understanding the basics of puppy teething will help you navigate this crucial phase with greater ease and fewer casualties (think: your favourite pair of shoes). Let's dive in!

When Does Teething Start?

The teething process usually begins when puppies are around 3 weeks of age. Before this, your puppy doesn't have any teeth because they are primarily nursing from their mother. But as they start to require solid food, their baby teeth begin to erupt to help them chew.

Do dogs lose their baby teeth?

Yes. Generally, all the baby teeth (also known as deciduous teeth) have erupted by 6-8 weeks of age and then begin to fall out at around 12 weeks of age to be replaced by the adult (permanent) teeth. 

Where did my dog's baby teeth go?

In preparation for the baby tooth to be shed, the roots of the baby tooth are resorbed, leaving the crown of the tooth to fall out. In many instances, you won't find this baby tooth crown, as many dogs will harmlessly swallow it during a meal, or it may be lost while chewing on a toy. You may notice a small amount of bleeding from the gums (or perhaps a few spots of blood on their toys) when the tooth falls out, however the amount should be very minimal.

In general, all the deciduous teeth should have been shed and the permanent teeth erupted by 6-7 months of age. 

Typically, the period between 3 and 6 months of age is when the most intense behaviours associated with teething are noticed. 

How Many Teeth Do Puppies Have?

Puppies are born toothless but eventually develop two sets of teeth over their lifetime.

Set One: The Deciduous Teeth 

Puppies have 28 deciduous teeth, also known as baby teeth or primary teeth. These teeth are generally sharp and pointed, making it easier for your pup to chew soft foods. Puppies do not have deciduous first premolars or molars, hence the difference in the number of puppy teeth compared to adult teeth.

Set Two: The Adult Teeth

Adult dogs end up with a total of 42 teeth, far more than the baby set. These are permanent teeth that should last your dog their lifetime if properly cared for. Dogs have 3 incisors, 1 canine, 4 premolars and 3 molars on each side of the lower (mandibular) jaw and 3 incisors, 1 canine, 4 premolars but only 2 molars on each side of the top (maxillary) jaw.

Each set has different types of teeth with specialised functions:

  • Incisors: These are the small teeth at the front of the mouth, used for nibbling, scraping and grooming
  • Canines: These are the pointed, longer teeth also known as fangs, primarily used for tearing food
  • Premolars: These are situated behind the canines and along the sides of the mouth. These are used for shearing and grinding food. Dogs have 4 permanent premolars on each side of the top and bottom jaws, however, they do not have deciduous first premolars, so puppies have only 3 premolars on each side of the top and bottom jaws.
  • Molars: These are not present in puppies but are in adult dogs. They are located at the back of the mouth and are used for crushing and grinding. 

Timeline of Puppy Teething

Understanding the timeline will give you a framework for managing your puppy's teething phase. Here's what you can generally expect:

  • 3 Weeks: Baby incisors and canines start to erupt
  • 4-6 Weeks: Baby premolars erupt
  • 6-12 Weeks: All 28 baby teeth have usually erupted
  • 3-6 Months: Baby teeth start to fall out and adult incisors and canines begin to come in
  • 5-7 Months: Adult molars come in at the back of the mouth
  • 6 Months: Most dogs have a full set of 42 adult teeth by this time

While teething can be a painful process for puppies, it's also a period where they learn a lot about their environment.

Chewing helps them understand their world, so make sure to provide appropriate chewing outlets to keep them - and your belongings - safe.

puppy with kong toy

Why Puppies Chew Everything

Chewing can be both a delightful and frustrating experience for new puppy parents. While it's adorable to see your pup engaged with a chew toy, it's less charming when they're munching on something important. Understanding why puppies have an almost insatiable urge to chew can help you mitigate the damage and guide them through this formative phase.

The Psychology of Chewing

Puppies chew for a variety of reasons, not all of which are related to teething:

Teething Relief

Chewing can provide relief from the discomfort of new teeth pushing through the gums.


Puppies are curious beings. Unlike humans, who explore largely through vision and touch, dogs primarily use their noses and mouths to learn about the world.

Attention Seeking

Sometimes, puppies chew to get attention, especially if they realise that chewing something forbidden gets a reaction.


Puppies are bundles of energy and need mental stimulation. Chewing can be a self-entertaining activity.

Natural Instinct

Wild canines chew to keep their teeth clean and to exercise their jaws. While domesticated dogs no longer need to hunt, the instinct remains.

Breeds Prone to 'Mouthiness'

While all puppies chew, some breeds are particularly prone to being 'mouthy':

  1. Labrador Retrievers: Known for their love of holding and fetching objects, Labs often explore through chewing.
  2. Golden Retrievers: Similar to Labs, Golden Retrievers are natural retrievers and thus often enjoy carrying things in their mouths.
  3. German Shepherds: As working dogs, they like to keep busy. When they're not, their energy can translate into mouthiness.
  4. Bulldogs: These dogs have strong jaws and tend to enjoy using them.
  5. Bull Terriers: Staffordshire Bull Terriers and American Staffies can be avid chewers if not given proper outlets.

Signs of Teething in Puppies

Differentiating between 'normal' chewing behaviour and teething discomfort can be tricky. However, there are signs that suggest your puppy may be specifically dealing with teething pains:

  1. Increased Drooling - teething often leads to excess salivation.
  2. Swollen or Red Gums - check your puppy's gums regularly. Inflammation can be a sign of new teeth coming in.
  3. Smelly breath - The eruption of adult teeth can cause inflammation and temporary crowding in your pups mouth until the baby teeth are shed. The extra crowding and increased pockets of inflammation provide extra places for food and bacteria to hide leading to an odour.
  4. Reluctance to Eat - some puppies may shy away from food due to the discomfort in their gums.
  5. Constant Chewing - while puppies are naturally inclined to chew, excessive chewing might indicate that they are trying to relieve teething pain.
  6. Whining or Restlessness - unexplained fussiness can also be a sign that teething discomfort is bothering your pup.

How to Manage Puppy Teething

Teething can be a trying time for both puppies and their owners. As your puppy navigates this crucial developmental stage, it’s essential to offer appropriate support. Here's how you can help manage your pup's teething period more effectively.

Recommended Chew Toys

Finding the right chew toys can make all the difference, here are some highly recommended options:

Home Remedies for Puppy Teething

Along with specific teething toys, some household items and foods can also work wonders:

  1. Frozen Blueberries or Green Beans: These are small and easy for a puppy to handle, offering a nutritious option that can also soothe their gums.
  2. Frozen Washcloth: Dampen a washcloth, twist it into a stick-like shape, and freeze it. Your pup can chew on this for relief.
  3. DIY Frozen Kibble Toy: Soak your pup's kibble in water, place it in a puppy KONG or similar toy, and then freeze it for extended chewing fun.
  4. Crushed or chipped ice: Some dogs simply like crunching on ice. Be careful using ice cubes, as these can lead to tooth fractures in the delicate puppy teeth.

Always supervise your pup closely when introducing them to new chews, toys or treats to ensure their safety.

Take responsibility

As teething is a natural process, puppies can and will chew on whatever they can get their little mouths onto. It's our responsibility as pet parents to remove any valuable items from their reach and guide their attention to appropriate chewing outlets such as those mentioned above. 

When to Consult a Vet

Your vet will routinely check your pup's teeth during health and vaccination appointments to ensure they are shedding and erupting as expected. As most puppy vaccination appointments finish around the 16 weeks mark, an additional dental check around 6 months of age (at around the time of desexing) is a great idea to help to pick up any oral health problems such as retained puppy teeth.

There are also other instances when you should seek professional guidance:

Persistent Pain

If your puppy seems to be in constant discomfort despite trying various teething aids.

Irregularities in Tooth Eruption

If you notice teeth coming in crooked or not falling out as they should (known as 'retained deciduous teeth'). Take a read through our article on Puppy Dental Problems for more information.

Infection Signs

If your puppy's gums appear red, swollen and more inflamed than what would be expected, this could be a sign of infection.

Dietary Issues

If teething affects your pup's ability to eat.

Behavioural Changes

Excessive irritability, reluctance or pain when handling the mouth, aggression or withdrawal may indicate a deeper issue requiring vet intervention.

vet checking a puppy's teeth

Caring for Your Puppy's Dental Health

Good dental health is essential for a dog's overall well-being, affecting everything from digestion to disease prevention. While teething is an important milestone, it's just the beginning of your puppy's dental journey. Here's how to care for those growing chompers throughout your dog's life.

Regular tooth brushing is key to preventing these problems. Starting at a young age, use pet-specific toothbrushes and toothpaste to make the process as comfortable and safe as possible for your pup. Combine the brushing routine with treats and positive reinforcement to make it an enjoyable experience and aim for consistency by brushing at least a few times a week, although daily would be ideal!

Understanding the teething process and knowing how to manage it can ease the experience for everyone involved. With the right toys, some DIY remedies and an understanding of when to consult professionals, you'll be well-prepared to help your puppy through this important developmental stage.

Further Reading

New Puppy Guide

Best Treats for Puppies

How to Stop Your Puppy from Biting

How to Stop Your Puppy Crying at Night