We use cookies to optimize site functionality and give you the best possible experience. You consent to our cookies if you continue to use our website. Learn more.                                                       
The Papillon Information Center       
Your Subtitle text
Papillon Teeth
Teething | Dental Issues | Cleanings

This section is going to cover all of the elements involving Papillon teeth. This will give you information for both puppies and adults.

We will discuss:
  •     The expected growth stages and development of teeth
  •     Tips and Help to get you and your Pappy through the teething phase
  •     A healthy bite and jaw set
  •     Dental cleaning from home
  •     Tips to keep your Papillon’s teeth and gums healthy and strong
Growth and Tooth Development

Newborn Papillon puppies are born without any teeth at all. (They also have their eyes closed and cannot hear.  Rudimentary hearing and limited vision will be in place by just about 2 weeks.  These senses gradually develop and are in place by the age of 3 weeks (4 weeks for late bloomers).  A Papillon puppy’s teeth (the deciduous, milk teeth) will begin to grow in just around the 3 week mark.

They will have fully erupted by the age of 8 weeks.  Do keep in mind that this varies by puppy; no two Pappy pups will be exact.   Therefore, in general, when a person brings a new puppy home, which is usually at the 2 month mark, that pup will have a set of 28 temporary teeth.  If the set has grown in properly, there will be 6 incisors (there are the small teeth in the front of the mouth, 2 canines (these are the ones right behind the front ones, often referred to as the fangs) and  pre-molars (these are the pup’s back teeth).

These teeth are very tiny and they are very brittle.  Many owners assume that since they are soon to fall out, there is no sense in brushing them.  This is false and neglecting dental care can have negative consequences in 3 ways.

1st-Keeping the teeth clean means that the gums will stay clean. Healthy gums are the foundation for healthy teeth.  

2nd-  When an owner takes a few minutes each day to brush their Papillon puppy’s teeth, this gives the owner an opportunity to inspect the mouth and be able to catch any possible issues in the early stages. 

Establishing dental brushings as part of a regular grooming routine helps the puppy become assimilated to the feeling of having his mouth and teeth manipulated.  This is an important part of physical socialization (the process in which a puppy is exposed to physical elements which will become a normal part of his or her life).  Failing to offer this at a young age will only lead to an older dog that struggles to sit still and allow the owner to clean the teeth as needed.  (More on cleaning ahead).

The Age a Papillon Puppy Will Begin Teething

Toy breeds generally enter and exit this process a bit later than larger breeds.  A Pappy will begin to lose his milk teeth any time between 3 and 5 months old.  The process will be complete (i.e. your puppy’s insane chewing urges will end) between the age of 9 months and 11 months.

If the process goes well, the deciduous tooth will fall out quite easily.  Sometimes neither owner nor dog will notice; it may fall out into a pup’s food and be ingested. (This is not a major health concern, as it is so tiny).

Other times, the tooth will be hanging a bit and there may be a spot of blood.  In this case, it is best to gently tweeze the tooth out of the Papillon’s mouth.  Using a clean paper towel works well, since it gives you a good grip on a small, slippery tooth).

The root of that deciduous tooth will remain in the gum.  The permanent tooth will follow it up and set itself in place.

Papillon Tooth Problems

Retention- Very common with toy breed dogs is the issue of a deciduous tooth not falling out.  This is referred to as a retained tooth.

When a deciduous remains in place, it blocks the path of that permanent tooth erupting in its correct setting.
If not caught in time, the permanent tooth will erupt behind the milk tooth.   An owner’s job is to keep an eye out for any puppy tooth that appears to be retained.  The veterinarian will remove it (and the root) so that the adult tooth can grow into place.  Even if the adult tooth has begun to erupt out of alignment, with the removal of the deciduous tooth, it usually travels forward and sets itself in place.

Note:    It is very important that this removal be done by a reputable, experienced veterinarian.  Proper removal at home is not possible.  This is because even if an owner were able to pull the tooth (we have heard of some people using pliers!) it does not remove the root and therefore it will not aid in helping the adult, permanent tooth to move forward.

Broken Tooth –  Since a Papillon’s milk teeth are very brittle, it is not uncommon for a tooth to break.  This can happen from common everyday elements such as eating dry kibble or chewing on a toy.  Not only can this cause discomfort for a puppy, it can (and often does) lead to infection. When a tooth breaks, an abscess (infection) often forms at or near the root tip.  An owner will not see this, as it is in the jawbone.   A puppy will feel pain and this can manifest as refusal to eat, reluctance to eat, increased whining,  crying and/or avoidance of toys.  This is treated by removing the chipped tooth, a thorough cleaning of the socket and antibiotic medication to fight the infection.

Papillon Puppy Teething

Right alongside with housebreaking, teething can be a hurdle that owners are relieved to jump over and have out of the way.

One must remember that a puppy does not have control over his chewing urges.  Erupting teeth not only cause discomfort, it also causes the gums to become very itchy. There are many ways that owners can help:

Keep your Pappy safe – Your keys, a coin, a hairpin and a toy.  What do these all have in common?  They are all objects that a puppy will chew on to try and relieve his discomfort and itching.  The first 3 can be choking hazards.  Please keep your house puppy proofed.   We encourage owners to include the entire family in doing this.  Younger children can be summoned to play a ‘game’ of ‘clean up’ for the puppy.  

Every floor of every room should be examined for any potential chewing or mouthing.  Wrap up and secure electrical wires, keep shoes and other personal items out of reach during the teething phase and routinely check all flooring and accessible areas for small objects that can be mouthed and inadvertently swallowed.

Have a stockpile of toys – Cheap $1 toys will not last long with a teething Papillon.  Opt for high quality, well-made toys that encourage chewing.   Included in the selection should be toys that are meant to be frozen and chilled to offer extra relief to sore gums.

Ice Cubes-  Ices cubes can be your best friend when your Pappy is teething. Some Pappy puppies will go right for a plain ice cube .  Others will need a bit of encouragement – you can add a bit of low-salt or no-salt broth to filtered water, freeze it and then offer tasty iced treats.  If given to a puppy on a clean linoleum floor, it can offer lots of fun, distraction and relief.

Use this as an opportunity to train -  When a Papillon is teething, an owner may say the word ‘No’ a lot.  Make it count! And use this as a time to train your puppy what the word means.  Here are the steps:

1. Have a chew toy ready (Keep a small basket of toys in every room that you and your Pappy are normally in)

2.  Keep a good eye on your Pappy

3.  Any time that your puppy goes to chew on something (like the leg of your sofa or that shoe that you forgot to stash up high), clap your hands to get his attention.

Say the word ‘No’ firmly.   (But do not shout it)

5. Offer to trade the object for the chew toy.  If the object is fixed (table leg, etc.) encourage your Papillon to come to you for the offered toy.

6. Give lots of happy praise when your Pappy mouths the toy.

Repeat praise often to reinforce the good behavior

Note: Praise and reward work much better than negative reprimands

If Your Papillon Uses Your Hand as a Chew Toy

Does your Papillon bite and nip at you?  While aggressive biting is a behavioral issues, chewing and nibbling on you can be attributed to teething problems if your Pappy is indeed in the process of losing and growing his teeth.  If this is not addressed, it can become a bad habit that stays with an older dog.  Even if your Pappy is nibbling lightly, do not allow him to do so, as a hard, quick snap can soon follow.   Some Papillon puppies can be so demanding and so seemingly out of control with this issue, that the best way to handle it is by the following method:

Know that your attention means the world to your pup.   Your Pappy looks nothing like a wild dog, but the canine instinct to be in a pack remains strong.  You are your Pappy’s pack leader.  If your puppy realizes that he has lost your attention and is being ignored, this sends a very strong message.  It is similar to a warning that says, ‘Continue that and you may be banished from the pack!’.  A dog will almost immediately reverse his or her behavior.  And this can all be accomplished in a very calm and quiet way.

2.  If your Papillon teethes on your finger, hand, foot, etc.  Say ‘No’ firmly.

3.  Remove yourself.  It will not help to place your puppy in a crate.  This works best if the pup can move around so that he or she can gain the full sense of what is about to happen.

4.  Completely ignore him.  This means no looks, no words. Nothing.

5.  Make sure he notices.  He will pace, bark or whine.  Wait 5 minutes.  Slowly allow interaction.  If your puppy nips again, repeat. 

6.  You will be successful if you remember that you CAN outlast your puppy.  Put time and effort into this.  Do not give up. Also, remember that training is not done overnight and there may be hiccups. BUT, when an owner takes the time to train a younger dog, this leads to a happy well trained adult dog.

Proper Bite Set

Per the AKC standard, the proper bite set of the Papillon is a scissor bite. A scissors bite is where the incisor teeth in the upper jaw are in contact with but slightly overlapping those in bottom jaw. This also produces a 'scissor' like appearance.  Therefore, the Papillon will not have an overbite (the upper teeth protrude out over the bottom row) or an under-bite (the lower teeth protrude out over the upper row).

Correction of Over or Under Bite - Minor misalignment may not cause a problem. However moderate to severe misalignment can.  A dog may have trouble eating and teeth may be more susceptible to breaking.  If a puppy has major misalignment, it will usually not be resolved when the adult teeth erupt, as it involves the placement of the jaw.  Issues such as this should be brought to the attention of the veterinarian. If caught between the ages of 2 and 3 months old,  procedures can help to fix this issue.

Misaligned Teeth | Overcrowding – As touched on above in Growth and Development, a misaligned deciduous tooth should be removed.  Overcrowding can be fixed by removal of some teeth.  With adults, is cases of excess tooth wear, discomfort and/or soft tissue damage, orthodontic braces, bands or retainers can help resolve issues.

Why Papillon Dogs Need Dental Cleanings

Canines, in general, will develop a growth of plague and tarter that is rarely completely removed by chewing.  This builds and causes tooth decay.  Infection often then sets in and leads to tooth loss.  Therefore, all dogs should have their teeth brushed.  BUT, the Papillon is one breed that needs this even more so.

This breed has a tiny mouth and the lips are set tightly to the teeth and gums.  This means that chewing on toys will not remove as much plague as with many other types of dogs.  

The Papillon should have regular at-home dental cleanings, preferably once per day to avoid gum disease and/or infection. Signs of this are:
  •     Bad breath
  •     Red and swollen gums,
  •     Yellow-brown crust of tartar around the gum line
  •     Discomfort, pain or bleeding when gums are touched
  •     Reluctance to chew hard foods or toys

Here are some tips that can help you keep your Papillon’s teeth healthy and clean:

1. Never use human toothpaste.  Since dogs can’t rinse and spit, your Pappy will swallow the paste which can be toxic.

2. Use a quality canine toothbrush and canine toothpaste.

  Don’t expect your Papillon to sit nicely for you on Day 1.  It is a process for a dog to get used to having his mouth manipulated.  Begin young, when your Pappy has his deciduous, milk teeth.   Have your Papillon safe in your lap (be sitting on the floor) and simply rub your finger along each tooth and along the gum line.  Give praise when he allows this.

4.  Gradually move on to using a small canine finger brush or toothbrush, but without paste.

5.  Once your Pappy is compliant with this, move on to using a dab of paste.

6. Do this at just about the same time each day (since dogs are such creatures of habit).  Choose a quiet, relaxed location.  Never rush – Your Papillon will pick up on your mood.  Give great praise when the session is over.

Tips to for Healthy Papillon teeth and Strong Gums

  • Choose quality toys
  • Brush your Pappy’s teeth each day - It helps to choose a specific time to do this, such as every morning before work or each evening after dinner.  If you miss a day, be sure to get right back on track the following day.
  • Bring your Papillon for a professional dental cleaning 1 time per year.
The veterinarian will be able to clean areas that are hard to reach at home and will be able to do a comprehensive scraping for tarter that brushing did not remove (Owners can choose to scrape at home, but are still encouraged to bring their Pappy for examinations to catch any dental issues in the early stages).
  • If you notice a problem, bring it to the attention of the vet as soon as possible for the best chance for successful treatment.
  • If you offer a moist dog food or if you home cook (recommended for this breed), be sure to offer healthy snacks (baby carrots are fantastic as are homemade treats – recommended as they contain no artificial coloring or additives).