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Find information on animal health topics, written for the veterinary professional.

* This is the Veterinary Version. *

Dental Development of Dogs

By Dana G. Allen, DVM, MSc, DACVIM, Professor and Chair, Department of Clinical Studies, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph ; Lisa E. Moore, DVM, DACVIM ; Carlton L. Gyles, DVM, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Department of Pathobiology, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph ; Sharon Patton, MS, PhD, Professor of Parasitology, Department of Biomedical and Diagnostic Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee ; Andrew S. Peregrine, BVMS, PhD, DVM, DEVPC, DACVM, Associate Professor, Department of Pathobiology, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada ; Thomas W. Swerczek, DVM, PhD, Professor, Department of Veterinary Science, University of Kentucky ; Ben H. Colmery, DVM, DAVDC ; James G. Fox, DVM, MS, DACLAM, Professor and Director, Division of Comparative Medicine, Massachusetts Institute of Technology ; H. Carolien Rutgers, DVM, MS, DACVIM, DECVIM-CA, DSAM, MRCVS, Senior Lecturer, The Royal Veterinary College, University of London ; Jörg M. Steiner, DrMedVet, PhD, DACVIM, DECVIM-CA, AGAF, Associate Professor and Director, Gastrointestinal Laboratory, Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A & M University ; Sofie Muylle, DVM, PhD, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Morphology, Ghent University ; Walter Ingwersen, DVM, DVSc, DACVIM, Specialist, Companion Animals, Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd, Vetmedica ; Stanley I. Rubin, DVM, MS, DACVIM, Clinical Professor, Department of Veterinary Clinical Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ; Sharon Campbell, DVM, MS, DACVIM, Manager, Pharmacovigilance Regulatory Affairs, Veterinary Medicine Research and Development, Pfizer Inc.

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Each species of animal has its own unique type of teeth, depending on what type of food the animal normally eats. For example, a meat-eating animal such as a cat has quite different teeth than a grass-eating animal such as a horse. However, all domestic animals have 2 sets of teeth during their lives, as humans do: a set of deciduous (“baby”) teeth that fall out, and a set of permanent teeth that develop later.

Most dogs have 28 deciduous teeth and 42 permanent teeth. The deciduous teeth begin to erupt at 3 to 5 weeks of age, while permanent teeth usually begin to appear at around 4 to 5 months. All permanent teeth are present by the time the dog reaches 7 months of age (See table: Canine Adult Dentition, see Canine Adult Dentition).

Estimation of Age by Examination of the Teeth

In species with relatively short incisors, such as dogs, age determination of young animals using the teeth is only somewhat accurate and is mostly based on the time at which each tooth erupts. For the majority of large adult dogs with normal teeth and jaws, veterinarians can examine wear patterns on the teeth and give an estimate of age. Determining the age of small and toy breeds by examining the teeth is more difficult.

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* This is the Veterinary Version. *