We’ve put together some fascinating information on puppy teething!
The process of getting new teeth is often a source of great interest in parents of both puppies and babies alike.
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All your puppy teething questions are answered in this complete and detailed guide to puppy teeth
And we’ve included a handy teething timeline and guide to puppy dental care.
How long does puppy teething last?
With human babies, we tend to associate teething with sleepless nights and grumpy infants.
In both cases, our main concern is ‘how long does teething last?” and “when is it going to stop”
Puppy teething timeline
- Birth – no teeth yet!
- 3 weeks baby teeth begin to come through the jaw
- 6 weeks most of the baby teeth are through
- 8 weeks all of the baby teeth are through
- 3 months your puppy begins to absorb the roots of his baby teeth
- 4 months baby teeth begin to loosen and fall out
- 6 months all baby teeth should be shed
- 8 months most puppies have all their adult teeth
Now let’s dig down a little deeper. In this article we’re going to look at the facts and fables that surround the question of teeth and teething in Labrador puppies.
We’ll be looking at what happens in the different stages of teething so that you know what to expect.
We’ll also look at what you can do to help this stage in your puppy’s development pass as peacefully and painlessly as possible.
How many teeth do dogs have as adults?
Labradors are lucky because unlike some of our modern dogs breeds they have a full sized jaw bone with plenty of room for their teeth.
So, it’s unusual to see a Labrador with crowded teeth and most adult labs have a perfect set of forty-two teeth, beautifully designed for crushing bones and for ripping and tearing up meat!
Just like people, dogs can have problems with their teeth – tooth decay is common and teeth can get broken. We’ll look at that a bit more closely below
How many teeth does a Labrador puppy have?
Like human babies, Labrador puppies are born without teeth. And like human babies the first set of (deciduous) baby teeth are lost during infancy and replaced by bigger, stronger grown up teeth.
When do Labrador puppies start teething?
That first stage in the teething process, the cutting of the first teeth through the sealed gum, is what causes our own human babies a bit of trouble, but it doesn’t seem to worry puppies too much.
He’ll have cut his first teeth between three and six weeks of age, when he was still with his breeder and his brothers and sisters.
So you won’t normally need to worry about that.
When do puppy teeth fall out?
Your puppy’s baby teeth will start to fall out at around four months of age.
This part of the puppy teething process is actually the second ‘teething’ stage, where the puppy loses his first baby teeth and replaces them with his permanent grown up ones.
Loss of baby teeth begins after the puppy is three months old, and by four months you’ll probably notice that your puppy has some teeth missing
How will I know my puppy is teething
Apart from cute little toothy gaps in his mouth, you’ll probably notice your puppy chewing obsessively on anything he can put in his mouth.
The chewing may help to relieve the discomfort in his gums, but you need to watch him carefully to make sure he is not swallowing bits of blanket or toys that have come apart.
Providing suitable chew toys is important and we’ll look at that in a moment.
Some people claim that their puppies are more irritable during teething but I have not personally found this to be the case.
How do puppies lose their teeth?
The process of losing teeth occurs because your puppy’s body reabsorbs the roots that hold the baby teeth in place.
Once the root is fully reabsorbed, the tooth becomes loose and is easily knocked out when the puppy eats or chews his toys.
Does teething hurt?
Because the root has been absorbed, teething probably doesn’t hurt your puppy very much, though his gums may be a bit irritated or sore.
Teething doesn’t seem to interfere with a puppy’s mood, his willingness to play, or his ability to sleep.
You can now buy teething gels to put on a puppy’s gums during this time. But a word of caution before you rush out to buy some.
Puppy teething gels
Some people understandably want to use puppy teething gels.
While putting something on a puppy’s gums may not make a lot of difference to the puppy, it feels good to be doing something to help.
However, we recommend you have a chat with your vet before using puppy teething gels. As opinions vary as to whether or not gels are effective or even harmful.
There’s blood in my puppy’s mouth!
Sometimes during teething, you’ll see a little trace of blood in your puppy’s mouth or on his toys.
As long as it’s only a small quantity, this is perfectly normal.
It simply means he has knocked one of his loose teeth out a bit roughly, before it was quite ready to fall out.
Why can’t I find my puppy’s teeth?
Most of the time, your puppy probably swallows his baby teeth along with his dinner, or while playing.
This won’t hurt him.
What are the best chew toys for teething puppies?
Without doubt, the most useful toys you can buy your teething puppy are Kongs.
Your puppy can then spend up to half an hour of bliss removing the frozen contents. This soothes his mouth and relieves boredom (another common cause of chewing)
You can buy lots of other chew toys but I find these to be the best.
When will my puppy stop teething?
Many puppies will be done with teething by about seven months and almost all puppies will have a full set of adult teeth at eight months old.
A lot of people think that this phase will signal the end of the puppy chewing phase, but this isn’t necessarily the case.
This is because there are reasons other than teething for the enthusiastic chewing that so many Labradors seem to have.
Does teething cause diahorrea or fevers?
There are a great many claims for the effects of teething in children, from fevers to rashes and upset tummies.
These claims, tend to be associated with that first stage in teething, when the baby goes from no teeth at all, to a set of deciduous teeth.
This stage is over in puppies, before you bring your own puppy home.
What happens to your puppy during the next few months, is the equivalent of what happens to older school aged children who lose their baby teeth and grow their grown up replacements. It is not the equivalent of what happens in human babies.
If in doubt contact your vet
In addition to this, there is little or no evidence to suggest that teething causes anything other than teeth in puppies, so if your puppy is unwell, don’t put it down to teething.
It is really important not to delay veterinary attention to small puppies that are not well, as a small, sick puppy can become seriously ill very quickly.
Have a look at our ‘when to call your vet’ information, and don’t hesitate to ring your vet if you are at all worried about your puppy’s health
Dental problems in puppies
While it is unlikely that teething alone will upset your puppy’s tummy or give him a fever, there are problems that puppies can have with their teeth.
The first is to do with the structure of the jaw. The second is to do with the position of the teeth as they grow through the jaw.
Misaligned puppy jaws
Your Labrador’s bottom teeth should fit snuggly just behind his top teeth in what we call a ‘scissor bite’.
If you are looking for a puppy to raise as a working retriever, or for the show ring, this is something worth checking for.
Occasionally you’ll find a puppy with a slight overbite, but this isn’t a big issue health wise, as long as it isn’t so severe that the bottom teeth can scratch against the top palate. There are also other more unusual types of misalignment which you probably won’t come across.
Sometimes teeth that look slightly misaligned will level out when the adult teeth come through, and vice versa. It isn’t always easy to tell
Retained baby teeth
Sometimes, some of a puppy’s baby teeth stubbornly refuse to fall out.
Have your puppy checked by your vet if you think he still has some deciduous teeth left in his mouth at six months old.
Retained baby teeth can impede the growth of the adult teeth and cause problems for your puppy later on.
The power of puppy teeth
Despite a lack of molars puppies still have powerful jaws and very sharp teeth.
From an early age, puppies are learning to harness that power and not to use it when playing or interacting with other dogs and people.
This is a process called bite inhibition. It’s a good idea to read up about this process as you need to work with your puppy to fine tune his bite in order to ensure he never harms anyone.
Does teething cause biting in puppies
Puppies do bite a lot when they are teething. But the teething itself is not the only cause.
Loosening teeth may irritate your puppy’s gums and he may chew and bite more during this stage to attempt to relieve the irritation.
And small puppies often bite too hard because the process of bite inhibition that we talked about earlier is not complete.
They have learned how hard to bite their furry littermate and mother, but not how hard to bite on human skin.
Teaching this is one of your roles. And it can be a painful time that you’ll be glad to see the end of.
Looking after your puppy’s teeth
A puppy that is fed a sensible and appropriate diet, and never given sugary food or drinks, is unlikely to suffer from tooth decay.
But once his adult teeth come through, it is a different story. His permanent teeth have to last him the rest of his life and you need to take care of them.
If you feed your dog anything other than a completely raw diet, you’ll probably need to clean his teeth for him.
It’s a good idea to start this from a very early age, so that your puppy get’s used to it and doesn’t struggle. You’ll find lots of information to help you and a useful video, on this page.
Handling your puppy’s mouth
Because your puppy may need dental treatment at some point in his life, he may break a tooth for example, he must be happy to have his mouth examined.
This is something you can start when he is really small. Get him used to having his lips lifted up, and his teeth examined now, using food as a reward.
You’ll find it much harder if you leave it until he is older.
Your puppy’s baby teeth are exchanged for adult ones during the first six month of life.
Puppy teething can make biting worse, but your puppy also bites in play and he needs to learn to be gentle with his mouth.
You can find lots of information to help him with that in our section on biting.
Chewing is also a natural behaviour for teething puppies and probably helps to relief some of the discomfort in the puppy’s mouth. It also helps the puppy to shed those teeth that are loose and ready to come out.
Chewing in Labradors is not restricted to the teething phase, so do check out our tips and advice on chew toys, on teaching your puppy what he can and can’t chew, and on stopping your puppy or young dog from chewing up your favourite things.
You’ll find them in this article:
More information on puppies
Published in April 2014, the Happy Puppy covers every aspect of life with a small puppy.
The book will help you prepare your home for the new arrival, and get your puppy off to a great start with potty training, socialisation and early obedience.
The Happy Puppy Handbook is available worldwide.
puppy teething was originally published in 2015 and has been revised and updated for 2016