Monday, January 17, 2011

Ask the Vet, with Dr. Pat:
Using Teeth to Age a Dog

by Pat Bradley, DVM
© Elizabeth G, reader copyright on file
How Old is Oreo?
The Spiderman in back...
Dear Dr. Pat:

We just recently adopted another toy poodle and he's very energetic, clumsy, and is teething. The rescue is "sure" he is 2, but when we brought him to the vet they said there is no way he's even a year old. I know there is no exact way to find his age, but is there some way I can get an estimate? Maybe his teeth or something? 

Thank you, Elizabeth

Dear Elizabeth:

Ahhhh poodle teeth. Teeth are definitely the most accurate way to tell a dog’s age. Before I talk about poodles specifically, let me talk about teeth in general.


  • 6 weeks: baby teeth start coming in well
  • 6 months: all baby teeth have fallen out; adult teeth start coming in
  • 1 year: all the adult teeth are in and look perfect and white, like they just came off the showroom floor. (You might even see that sparkle, like when Captain America smiles).
After this, we can only guess by the amount of stain, tartar and wear:

  • 1-2 years: a little brown stain, mostly on back teeth and the large canines
  • 2-3 years: a little tartar, especially on back teeth
  • 3-5 years: moderate tartar and staining on back teeth, some on front teeth
  • 5-7 years: moderate-severe tartar and staining
  • 7-10 years: wear showing on incisors (those little gnawing teeth in the front)
  • Over 10 years: severe tartar and wearing and staining on most teeth.

You can see why it's not uncommon to have people give estimates that are wildly different. What’s the difference between a “little stain” and “moderate stain”? How many dental cleanings has this “unknown dog found wandering in the street” had in the past?

Now specifically to toy poodles, who are almost in a class by themselves. For many of these little guys, their adult teeth never got the message that they were supposed to keep working for the life of the dog. They act like they're supposed to take early retirement and fall out like the baby teeth did.

Personally, I believe the teeth of toy poodles are in cahoots with the tooth fairy. Someone has to keep her employed while the rest of us are taking better care of our teeth.

But let’s get back to your new dog. If he’s “teething”, he’s definitely under a year of age. But it’s also possible that you’ve adopted a new family member who just loves to chew on things. In any case, make sure you give him plenty of safe, healthy chew toys, and lots of love -- no matter how old he is.


Have a question for Dr. Pat? You can reach her at

For a personal consultation about your pet's needs, visit Holistic Veterinary Services. To read Dr. Pat's other articles, visit herArchives page.
Dr. Pat's opinion or advice does not replace an actual exam with a veterinarian

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Sugar the Golden Retriever said...

Woof! Woof! Thanks for the information. Will check out Dr. Pat's site.
Happy Monday. Please read my current blog post n send us your mailing information via email. Golden Congrats. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar

Lizzi said...

What a cute pair. I wonder what crazy lady owns those two??

Carrie, with Tanner and Oliver said...

Stand up and be counted, momma Lizzi. You're doing a great job. Keep up the good work.

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