From three weeks old to six months old, your German Shepherd must navigate the three stages of teething – milk teeth growth, milk teeth loss, and adult teeth growth. Teething is a particularly uncomfortable time for your puppy and, unless you prepare, it can be a trying time for you, too.
A Puppy With No Teeth!
When a puppy is born, it has no erupted teeth – this means that the teeth are still underneath the gums but are not yet visible.
Puppies are born with no teeth because it makes nursing much easier on the mother, and puppies do not need their teeth to drink milk!
Milk or Deciduous Teeth Growth
Between three and six weeks old, your German Shepherd puppy’s teeth will begin erupting. By twelve weeks, they will have a mouth full of twenty-eight deciduous teeth!
Your puppy’s canine teeth and incisors (the front teeth) erupt first, followed by the premolars. Puppies do not have deciduous molars.
Your puppy’s new teeth are very sharp, and there are two main reasons for this –
- Firstly, a puppy’s jaw muscles are not yet fully developed, and sharp teeth allow for vigorous chewing that will strengthen those muscles.
- Secondly, as those sharp puppy teeth come in, they make mom reluctant to nurse, and the pups start moving on to eating solid food.
Milk Teeth Loss
Between twelve and sixteen weeks old, your puppy’s deciduous teeth will begin to loosen and fall out.
Your puppy’s incisors fall out first, followed by the canines, then the premolars.
Some puppies suffer from “persistent deciduous teeth,” where the milk teeth will not fall out. For these puppies, it may be necessary to surgically remove the teeth so that the adult teeth can come in.
When your puppy’s baby teeth start to fall out, you may notice a sour-sweet smell on their breath. This smell is not unusual and comes from opportunistic bacteria that thrive in your puppy’s mouth when baby teeth fall out.
There may also be a small amount of bleeding as your puppy loses their baby teeth, this too, is normal.
Other symptoms associated with the loss of puppy teeth include:
- Decreased appetite
- Excessive chewing
- Teeth falling out
- Depressed mood
Once your puppy loses their puppy teeth and has a set of adult teeth, these symptoms should resolve. If you notice ongoing symptoms even after your puppy’s adult teeth come through, it is a good idea to check in with your vet.
Most puppies swallow at least one of their milk teeth when they fall out, but the tooth should pass through their system with no problems.
Adult Teeth Growth
When your German Shepherd puppy is born, they already have tooth buds in the skull for their adult teeth. As the adult tooth buds push through the gums, they displace the deciduous teeth and cause them to fall out.
A dog’s adult teeth grow in the same order that the puppy teeth fall out (remember how we said the adult teeth push out the baby teeth?) So, your puppy will get its incisors followed by the canines, premolars, and molars.
By the time a puppy is six months old, they should have all forty-two of their adult teeth which include:
- Six incisors on the top
- Six incisors on the bottom
- Two top “canine” teeth
- Two bottoms “canine” teeth
- Eight top premolars
- Eight bottom premolars
- Four top molars
- Six bottom molars
Each tooth in your dog’s mouth has a unique function –
- The incisors are your dog’s grabbing teeth.
- The canine teeth are tearing teeth, and in the wild, dogs use them to tear meat apart.
- The premolars are shearing teeth, and in the wild, dogs use them to shear meat from the bone.
- The molars are grinding teeth, and in the wild, dogs use them to grind up food into smaller pieces before swallowing.
The third top premolars (those that are the furthest back) are unique and are named “carnassial teeth.” Carnassial teeth are exceptionally large, and where the other premolars and molars have two roots, the carnassial teeth have three roots.
In the wild, dogs use carnassial teeth to sheer meat from the bone. As pets, our dogs often fracture the carnassial teeth when chewing on something hard like antlers.
As your puppy’s adult teeth come in, they will seek relief from teething pain by chewing anything and everything. You can provide your pup with some relief by investing in teething toys designed for dogs. Many of these puppy teething toys can be frozen, which provides additional relief for inflamed gums.
Problem chewing is not uncommon when puppies are teething so you should take additional precautions to ensure that your home is puppy proof. Puppy proofing includes things like:
- Keep wiring and electrical cords out of reach or covered with cable covers.
- Install childproof latches on cabinets that contain harmful substances like kitchen cleaners.
- Set up a puppy playpen for when you cannot keep an eye on your puppy consistently – for example, when cooking dinner.
- Invest in a deterrent if your puppy is a serious chewer – try something pet-safe like Grannick’s Sour Apple Spray.
- Remind everyone in the house to keep personal possessions behind closed doors, so they do not get shredded!
- Never leave your teething puppy unsupervised – they will chew ANYTHING – including drywall and baseboards!
Once your puppy’s adult teeth come in, you should begin a regular brushing routine. Just like us, dogs get one set of baby teeth and one set of adult teeth, so you must care for those adult teeth properly.
Vets recommend brushing your dog’s teeth daily and three times a week at a bare minimum in addition to annual veterinary cleanings.
Conclusion / Summary
Your German shepherd puppy will go from no teeth to twenty-eight baby teeth to a set of forty-two adult teeth in just five months. During this period of change, you can help your puppy by soothing teething pain and by starting them early with a healthy dental routine for their newly grown adult teeth!