How Many Teeth Do Dogs Have? The Answer to That and Other Questions About Dog Teeth

Here are the important facts to chew on when it comes to dog dental health.

A dog showing his teeth and smiling.
A dog showing his teeth and smiling. Photography ©DemureDragonfly | Thinkstock.

When it comes to dog teeth, you might have a couple of questions. Some of the most popular inquiries about dog teeth include — How many teeth do dogs have? How do you brush a dog’s teeth? And what else can you do to ensure your dog’s teeth are healthy? Let’s answer those questions and talk more about dog teeth and dog dental care in honor of National Pet Dental Health Month.

1. How many teeth do dogs have?

A dog getting his teeth checked out at the vet.
How many teeth do dogs have? Photography © vadimguzhva | Thinkstock.

Like humans, dogs have baby teeth as puppies. Due to their rapid development and maturity, they lose those baby teeth and have a full set of adult teeth by the time they’re six months old. Baby teeth are also called deciduous teeth. Like deciduous trees, which shed their leaves, the 28 teeth that puppies have and lose over the course of their first half-year are only temporary. The 42 that come in and replace them tend to last longer than human teeth because the shape of canine teeth and the tendency of dog food to be low in sugar, which means that cavities are a rare occurrence in dogs.

However, plaque and bacteria buildup can be just as devastating for dogs over the course of their lives. However, the 42 teeth that dogs have will be dependable for life with simple care and maintenance. Each February, veterinarians and dog health advocates everywhere promote National Pet Dental Health Month, but dental health for your dog should be a year-round concern. Dental disease in dogs is far too prevalent a cause of pain and suffering that can and should be avoided. Knowing the basics of dental care for dogs and dog teeth extends beyond knowing how many teeth dogs have.

2. How do you brush a dog’s teeth?

A dog getting his teeth brushed.
How do you brush a dog’s teeth? Photography ©JimVallee | Thinkstock.

We all know that dogs can be hesitant to submit themselves for regular baths, much less tolerate regular dental care. Veterinarians — like human dentists, of course — recommend daily brushing, which may prove impractical. Home care for canine teeth, though, is essential, and you should try to brush them at least once a week, or, at the very least, once a month. The earlier you start a dog on a regular dental care regimen, the more likely they will tolerate it. The first step is acquiring, or making, the right toothpaste. You should never use your own toothpaste on a dog — there are canine-specific toothpastes available at pet stores, or you can fashion your own from baking soda and warm water.

The same goes for toothbrushes. If you cannot get a toothbrush designed for dogs, a child’s toothbrush, smaller with soft bristles, will serve. Alternately, wrapping gauze around your forefinger and using that to massage the paste into your dog’s teeth and gums may prove more salutary to a dog unaccustomed to having a completely foreign object pushed around in his mouth. There are also special toothbrushes that fit over your finger, allowing you to pet and soothe a dog while you maintain secure control of the brush.

Since dental care for dogs is unusual or uncomfortable for them, acclimate them to the taste of toothpaste over the course of several days to a week, and to having their heads held as you examine their teeth and gums. A circular motion is recommended, along with brushing at roughly a 45-degree angle. The more quickly you can get through brushing your dog’s teeth, the less time your dog needs to be uncomfortable.

3. What else can you do to ensure your dog’s teeth stay healthy?

Oral care for dogs goes beyond brushing their teeth. A dog’s gums should appear pink and their teeth white; red, inflamed gums may indicate gingivitis, and yellowing or browning at the tops of canine teeth are the signs of plaque and bacterial buildup. Is your dog resistant to brushing? There are other options to make sure that the 42 teeth your dog has, the gums that cradle them, and the breath that emerges from his mouth stay fresh and clean, including chew toys and specially formulated foods.

Chew toys may seem to provide an innocuous way to keep your dog entertained, but they also serve important purposes for dogs who don’t have patience for dental care that isn’t administered under anesthesia by a vet. Look for chew toys that are safe and recommended for your dog based on age, size, and breed. Nylon, rawhide, and rubber toys are most frequently cited for the benefits they provide at keeping a dog busy, helping to remove buildup, and working the gums.

Additionally, there are dog treats readily available with ingredients that support dental health. Varying your dog’s diet to include hard kibbles that include dental supplements can be of great value to dogs that resist traditional brushing of all 42 of their adult dog teeth.

Share your experiences with dog teeth!

Every visit to the veterinarian should include a basic dental checkup, and that checkup should be scheduled at least once a year, particularly at and after age three. More than two-thirds of dogs develop preliminary symptoms of gum or dental disease by the age of three, making regular maintenance essential to your dog’s overall health. How do you and your dogs deal with dental health care? Do you have difficulty with brushing, but better luck with other methods? Share your tips and experiences in the comments!

Thumbnail: Photography ©DemureDragonfly | Thinkstock.

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16 thoughts on “How Many Teeth Do Dogs Have? The Answer to That and Other Questions About Dog Teeth”

  1. I was curious if you ever thought of changing the structure of your blog?
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  7. During my dog’s annual visit, the vet said his teeth were fine and didn’t need a dental cleaning. I brushed his teeth, gave him dental chews and an additive to his water. I bought split elk antlers as they were supposed to help keep the teeth white. A month after his annual, he had two loose teeth. Took him to the vets who put him under to remove the teeth. Received a call that he had a bacterial infection and more teeth had to be removed. He now has only seven teeth left – 4 canines and three molars. Even the vet couldn’t understand how it could of happened and so fast. She never saw anything like it. I believe it was the elk antlers.

    1. My dog just went thru the same thing. I brushed his teeth daily and used plaque wipes. He does have an issue with his tongue sticking out so as a puppy several teeth were pulled to help with his bite. Did not work so his incisors did need to be pulled due to pressure from his tongue. They were no longer vertical. Much to my surprise and the Doggie dentist was his bottom teeth had bad roots. His teeth were beautiful as were his gums but the bone was not. He has his top teeth minus 4 incisors and no teeth on the bottom except his canines because the dentist was able to save them with bone grafts. This just happened last week. So shocking. I have never had teeth issues with my dogs because I am so faithful with brushing but this time it did not help. So sad about it.

  8. I brush my dog’s teeth every night with a Waterpik toothbrush. It took me about a month with a regular toothbrush to get her used to it and then I was able to progress to the Waterpik toothbrush on high speed which she likes better than the low speed. I give her a treat when I am done.

  9. Me too!!
    Reading your story, sounds the same as mine
    My Shiba HATES dental hygiene even though I started him really early.
    What brand of dental stick do you give your fur baby? If it’s working, I’ll try the same

  10. I tried brushing my dogs teeth starting at a very young age to help her get use to it but she never did and then I eventually stopped trying to brush her teeth. What I use now and I think it helps seeing that I just got a clean bill of health from her vet including her teeth. I give my dog every other day a dental stick and a bully stick twice a week. It helps with her gums keeping her teeth white and no bad breath.

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