Puppy teething can feel endless when you are in the thick of the heavy biting and chewing stages, but in reality their baby teeth start to fall out around 4 months old and should all have been replaced by their adult versions by 8 months old. That doesn’t mean that those weeks of canine carnage don’t drag on! Fortunately, there is plenty you can do to make the process smoother for you both.
- Puppy teething timeline
- When puppies start teething
- The best toys for teething puppies
- Does teething make puppies ill or aggressive?
Puppy teething can make biting worse, but your puppy also bites in play and he needs to learn to be gentle with his mouth. Chewing is also a natural behavior for teething puppies. It probably helps to relieve 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.
This puppy teething guide tells you what to expect from your puppy’s teeth, and when! We’ve got advice on dealing with nipping and chewing, a handy teething timeline, and help with puppy dental care. As well as suggested toys for teething puppies.
How long does puppy teething last?
With human babies, we tend to associate teething with sleepless nights and grumpy infants. With puppies, our concerns tend to focus more on biting and destructive chewing behavior. In both cases, our main concern is ‘how long does teething last?” and “when is it going to stop?” To answer that question, here’s a quick timeline for you to refer to as we go.
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. Let’s take a look inside a Labrador’s mouth and see just what there are in there.
How many teeth do dogs have as adults?
Labradors are lucky. Unlike some 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. Most adult labs have a beautifully designed set of forty-two teeth. This is a perfect mouthful 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. These are replaced by bigger, stronger grown up teeth. Labrador baby teeth don’t include molars. This means your puppy will only have twenty-eight teeth until he cuts his grown up ones.
When do Labrador puppies start teething?
That first stage in the teething process involves the cutting of the first teeth through the sealed gum. It’s what causes our own human babies a bit of trouble, but it doesn’t seem to worry puppies too much.
In addition, this phase is pretty much over once you collect your puppy at eight weeks old. 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. At this stage your pup loses his baby teeth and replaces them with permanent grown up ones. Loss of baby teeth begins after the puppy is three months old. 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. 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. However, 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
Understandably, some people 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. You might also come across a cracked tooth. This may need to be seen to by a vet to avoid the risk of infection. Infection can be quite painful.
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. You may occasionally find a baby tooth, which you can keep as a memento, but they are tiny and quite hard to spot!
What are the best chew toys for teething puppies?
Without doubt, the most useful toys you can buy your teething puppy are Kongs. You need to fill the hollow center with mushy food and freeze them. 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 diarrhea 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. In other words 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.
Over the next few months, your pup will lose his baby teeth and grow his adult replacements. This is the equivalent of what happens to older school-aged children, not 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. A small, sick puppy can become seriously ill very quickly. Have a look at our ‘when to call your vet’ information. Don’t hesitate to ring your vet if you are at all worried about your puppy’s health.
Dental problems in puppies
It is unlikely that teething alone will upset your puppy’s tummy or give him a fever. However, 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 snugly 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. 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.
Different Types of Misalignment
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.
If you see brown plaque on your puppy’s teeth, or maybe very sore looking gums, this may be cause for concern. Periodontal Disease is a common and sometimes severe problem in dogs. Just like in human, dental hygiene is important in dogs!
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 tend to 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. However, biting (and growling) is an important part of puppy play, that is often mistaken for aggression.
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 litter-mate 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. Let’s summarize the teething process now, by putting the stages into a timeline.
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. It’s up to you 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 gets 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
Your puppy may need dental treatment at some point in his life. For example, he may break a tooth. Therefore, 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.
The Labrador Site Founder
Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.
She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program
Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website