We’ve all seen those funny photos of gnarly looking Chihuahua’s giving a toothy grin being shared on social media. In some of the images, it looks like the teeth are all fighting for a place in the Chihuahua’s mouth, other images show Chihuahuas with missing teeth.
Because of this I think a lot of people wonder how many teeth Chihuahuas have, as the teeth can look quite random in appearance – there’s a good reason for this which I will explain further down the page.
Before I get into the details on possible dental problems for Chihuahuas, let’s get the most common question answered first.
How many teeth do Chihuahuas have?
Adult Chihuahuas have 42 health teeth made up of incisors, canines, premolars, and molars. However, as they get older, some teeth can fall out through decay or play.
Chihuahuas have very small mouths and jaws, which can sometimes give the impression they have more teeth than other dogs do.
Chihuahua puppies start off by growing milk teeth, just like human babies. But Chihuahua puppies only have 28 milk teeth in total which will eventually fall out and get replaced by the permanent 42 adult teeth by 8 months of age.
Handy Hint: Read more about Chihuahua milk teeth and when to expect them to fall out in this guide. It also contains a little information on how to help them with teething.
Chihuahua teeth chart
In the image below you can see a Chihuahua teeth chart which shows how the different types of teeth are arrange and placed in the mouth.
Given that Chihuahuas have 42 teeth (or should do at least), how are they divided up between the different tooth types?
It might surprise you to hear that they have very similar position and functions to our own teeth. Here’s how it all breaks down dentally:
Incisors: 12 teeth in total
The incisors tend to be the smallest teeth in the Chihuahua’s mouth. Placed at the front of the jaw, incisors are primarily used for scraping. For example, the dog can use them tear meat away from a bone, or to remove gunk from their hair.
Chihuahuas have 6 incisor teeth on top, and 6 incisors on the bottom of the jaw.
Canines: 4 teeth in total
These are the long pointy teeth you will often see prominently displayed in photos of Chihuahuas baring their teeth. They are fang-like in appearance and are placed behind the incisors and are used for tearing meat apart.
Chihuahuas have 2 canine teeth on the top and 2 canines on the bottom of the jaw.
Premolars: 16 teeth in total
Placed just behind the canines, the premolars are used for shredding meat and food. When you dog uses these teeth, he will typically be chewing with the side of his mouth in a shearing motion.
Chihuahuas have 8 premolar teeth on the top, and 8 premolars on the bottom of the jaw.
Molars: 10 teeth in total
Placed right at the back of the Chihuahua’s mouth, the molars are used to break down harder and tougher foods, like kibble. Molars are flat on the top, meaning they can grind up and chew most food types.
Chihuahuas have 4 molar teeth on the top, and 6 on the bottom of the jaw.
Did You Know? I published my findings into how hard a Chihuahua’s bite force is. There are some almost unbelievable statistics on how many people die each year from Chihuahua attacks.
Chihuahua teeth problems
And now for the crux of the matter on why people often wonder how many teeth a Chihuahua has… it’s because they are prone to teeth problems, meaning they won’t always have the full set of 42.
Before I explain more about the common Chihuahua teeth problems though I wanted to put one common misconception to bed; dogs cannot regrow their teeth. When a Chihuahua loses a tooth, it will not grow back – you need to take care of your dog’s teeth just like you do your own.
Handy Hint: I’ve written an extensive guide to help you better understand your Chihuahua puppy’s teething stages.
Are chihuahuas prone to dental problems?
Chihuahuas are very prone to dental problems which is why you will often see photos and memes of the breed without a full set of teeth and gaps where a tooth is missing.
According to a quote I found online from a Chihuahua breeder on the Purina Pro Club website, it’s not uncommon to find a dog of this breed with no teeth at all due to dental problems:
“Plaque leads to tartar, or calculus, which is a primary concern in the breed. We’ve noticed there are certain lines in our breeding in which tartar build up leading to periodontal disease is more prevalent than others. We’ve had 14-year-old Chihuahuas that still have all their teeth, and others that have lost all their teeth by 3 or 4 years of age.”
They go on to say that periodontal disease is the number 1 health problem in Chihuahuas. Dental issues are a big part of this breed’s life, but why?
Why do Chihuahuas have bad teeth?
In 1994, the Journal of Veterinary Dentistry published research into dental issues in dogs. They found that out of 1,350 dogs studied, periodontal disease increases as a problem the smaller the breed of dog.
Chihuahuas in particular are in the high-risk category for dental problems and will often have bad teeth due to their size,
Handy Hint: Read this guide which details how you can know when your dog is suffering with toothache.
The reason for Chihuahuas having bad teeth is related to their size, but why does size matter?
It’s all down to the size of their jaws and heads. Chihuahuas are a toy breed and have shorter snouts and a cramped jaw space. This leads to an increase in plaque and tartar building up, meaning more decay, and more teeth being falling out over time.
The cramped jaw is also a reason why people look at photos of Chihuahuas and think they have more teeth than most dogs. It’s because they are all fighting for space in the smaller jaw bones.
Preventing tooth loss in Chihuahuas
If you own a Chihuahua and want to prolong the lifetime of their teeth, it’s imperative that you follow a rigorous dental hygiene routine. This should include aspects such as:
- Regular veterinary visits for oral and dental examinations.
- Periodic professional teeth cleaning.
- Brush your Chihuahua’s teeth at home with a dog dental kit (view on Amazon).
- Regular check your dog’s teeth and gums at home.
How often should you brush your Chihuahua’s teeth?
Vets recommend that your brush a Chihuahua’s teeth a couple of times a week. As well as the home regime for dental care, you should also take your dog to have a professional teeth clean every 12 months.
It’s so important, as many dogs, and Chihuahuas in particular, will suffer with dental issues by the time they are 2 years old without proper cleaning and care.
Chihuahuas have just as many teeth as any other adult dog, with 42 being the complete set. However, due to the dental problems this breed is prone to, not all Chihuahuas will manage to hold on to the full set… which is why you will often see Chihuahuas with missing teeth.
Want to read more?
For more information on this breed, you might also like the following guides:
- Why does my chihuahua puppy bite my feet so much?
- How many puppies do Chihuahuas have on average?
- How old are Chihuahuas when the open their eyes as puppies?
Image used in header by D.Shankbone, from Wikipedia: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Killer_Chihuahua.jpg