Is it normal for a dog to have two sets of teeth? A Step-by-Step Guide

How many sets of teeth do dogs have?

As in humans, dogs have two sets of teeth in their lifetime. Puppies have 28 deciduous teeth also known as primary, baby, or milk teeth. Adult dogs have 42 permanent teeth, also known as secondary teeth.

When do puppies get their deciduous teeth?

Puppies are born without any visible teeth. The deciduous teeth start erupting through the gums around three weeks of age and typically by six weeks of age all the deciduous teeth are present.

A healthy mouth depends on healthy teeth. The ideal time to begin brushing a puppys teeth begins as soon as you bring your puppy home. The gums are sensitive when teeth are erupting so gentle cleaning during this time is important. Your veterinary health care team can help you determine the best products and methods of dental care for your puppy.

What problems are caused by persistent deciduous teeth?

The crowding that results from the persistent tooth and its permanent counterpart will increase the likelihood that food and debris will become trapped between the teeth. An increased tendency to accumulate food debris and plaque can lead to problems such as tartar deposits, gingivitis, and ultimately periodontitis. Additionally, if there is traumatic contact of teeth with other teeth or with the oral soft tissues there will be pain and infection. Teeth contacting other teeth inappropriately can lead to abnormal wear and weakening of the teeth with subsequent tooth (or teeth) fracture.

Occasionally, a persistent deciduous tooth can cause a dental interlock which may interfere with the normal growth and development of the jaws.

If the persistent deciduous tooth is a lower canine, the permanent lower canine is forced to erupt on the inside of the persistent deciduous tooth and as the permanent tooth erupts it will contact the roof of the mouth causing pain and damage which makes it difficult for your dog to eat.

Retained Deciduous Teeth. Dr. Dan explains puppy baby teeth.

Most puppies loose their baby teeth by six months old. The last teeth we see change are the canines, the fangs. Just like two-legged kids, the adult tooth should push the baby tooth out. Sometimes the adult tooth isn’t lined up quite right and both teeth remain.

In some cases, the tooth is just loose enough your vet can pull it in the office during a wellness exam. In other cases, the tooth may need a bit more work to get it out; these cases do best with anesthesia. It is common to pull these teeth when dogs get spayed/neutered.

Some dogs don’t get their baby teeth removed – either they were fixed young or the teeth were not noticed. These dogs are at risk of dental disease and having debris caked between the extra teeth. This leaves the dog at risk of early tooth loss.

Have your vet take a peek next time you are in the office – taking care of extra teeth early will head off some future problems.

As a practicing veterinarian, Dr. Cathy treated 80% of what walked in the door — not with expensive prescriptions — but with adequate nutrition. Now retired from private practice, her commitment to pets hasn’t waned and she looks forward to impacting many more pet parents through her books, research, speaking and consulting work. Learn more at