This article was updated on April 29th, 2023
Veterinarians use many physical clues to try to accurately estimate a dog’s age. One thing that we examine is the dog’s teeth. In this article, we will review what teeth can tell you about a dog’s age – with pictures of teeth by dog age.
Can you tell a dog’s age by their teeth?
At young ages (less than one year) the number and position of teeth that have erupted can pinpoint a dog’s age fairly accurately. In older dogs, we use the dog’s overall appearance, along with other physical cues (muscling, joint mobility, graying of hair, lenticular sclerosis in the lens, skin elasticity, and breed) to form an opinion. On the teeth, we observe tartar accumulation, wear, and staining. Though these things can give us some idea as to how old the dog may be, many things can make it difficult, especially if the dog has recently had a dental prophylaxis cleaning.
Pictures of dog teeth by age
3-4 Weeks Old
Deciduous (“baby”) incisors erupt and canines are seen around 3 weeks:
This is the age to begin at-home dental care such as brushing, to get the puppy used to the procedure. Below is a picture of a 5-week old Jack Russell Terrier puppy:
4-12 weeks old
Deciduous premolars erupt at this age. The puppy may experience mild discomfort.
12-16 weeks old
During this time period, adult incisors begin to erupt and push the deciduous ones out. Pet parents may see an increase in chewing behavior and find baby teeth in bedding or food bowls.
Adult canine teeth should have fully erupted. This is an easy way to determine a dog’s age by counting back 6 months to their birthdate when the canines have fully erupted:
All of the permanent teeth behind the canines (premolars and molars) will erupt (5-7 months). This can be a time of intense chewing for a teething puppy.
All 42 permanent teeth have erupted and should be clean and in good condition (adult stage).
2 to 4 year old
Mild tartar accumulation on the teeth has occurred and you may see mild wear on the surfaces. This is the age to start yearly veterinary dental exams, and if needed, prophylactic cleanings.
5 to 10 year old (2 pictures)
At this age, tartar accumulation has increased and there may also be gingivitis present. Gingivitis is a common gum disease that results in redness and swelling of the gums around the base of the teeth. According to VCA Hospitals, “over 80% of dogs over the age of three have active dental disease.” The dog may also have graying of the hair around the muzzle. Almost all dogs will require dental care during these years to maintain the health of their teeth.
As dogs get closer to the beginning of their senior years (7-10 years), tartar accumulation on the teeth becomes more and more evident (assuming no dental care), as shown in the picture below:
10+ years old
Senior dogs whose teeth have not been professionally cleaned will have more tartar accumulation, more wear, and gingivitis. Teeth will often become painful and even loose as the roots are damaged. These dogs often also have graying hair, loss of muscle mass, and cloudy eyes.
Especially prominent in small dog breeds, older dogs whose teeth have not been properly cared for may experience severe dental disease. This disease can lead to heart, liver, and kidney failure and must be addressed immediately.
Best ways to remove tartar in dogs: read our veterinarian’s article.