Dear AKC: I have a four month old Golden Retriever who, it seems, was born with a mouth full of razor sharp puppy teeth. A lot of people tell me the teeth will be replaced by permanent teeth at three and four months old. This hasn't happened. When does this normally take place? -- Tooth Fairy Troubles in Tucson
Dear Tooth: Puppies do have very sharp teeth, especially when you feel them grabbing at your naked ankles in a friendly game of "look at me." Just like humans, dogs have two sets of teeth, puppy and adult. The puppy teeth appear at about three weeks old. Because puppies don't eat a lot of hard food when they are young and still relying on mother's milk for nutrition, they don't have any grinding molars.
At around four months of age -- and it can vary from breed to breed and even from dog to dog -- the 28 puppy teeth are replaced with 42 adult canine teeth, which include the molars. You will see six incisors on the top and bottom (these are the smaller front teeth located between the large fang-like canines). On the other side of the canines (fangs) along each side of the dog's mouth you have smaller pre-molars for ripping and tearing, and rounding out the line-up are the larger molars in the back for grinding.
One thing you may not have noticed about your puppy is that the adult teeth may be coming in behind the puppy teeth and you just don't see them yet. When the adult teeth come in they will push out the little puppy teeth. Sometimes, a puppy tooth will stubbornly stay in place even when the adult tooth is fully emerged behind it. To remedy the situation, you might have to go to the vet and have the baby tooth extracted.
I've had puppies who took as long as eight months to lose all their baby teeth. So don't despair, Mother Nature will soon work her magic and push those razor sharp teeth out. And don't be surprised if you don't find them when they fall out. Puppies have a tendency to chew and swallow them without much fanfare.