Why Does Puppy Breath Smell So Good?

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By Bobbi Dempsey, Reader's Digest

Few things are cuter than puppies. These tiny balls of fluff are so sweet—literally, even they're puppy breath is a joy to inhale. This is just one of the things that make puppies such sources of joy.


Puppy breath and what causes it

"Puppy breath" is the term for that sweet-scented breath that many young puppies have. It's actually due to a combination of things. "It is true that most puppies have a certain 'sweet' odor to their breath," says Jerry Klein, DVM, chief veterinary officer at the American Kennel Club. "This sweetness is suspected to be a combination of mother's milk, the puppy's clean teeth, and the type of bacteria present in puppies' mouths during that time."


Chewing everything in sight

Anyone who has ever had a puppy knows they like to chew things—a lot. They will usually chew just about anything, including things we don't want them to chew, like our slippers, furniture, and random household items. "Like babies, the process of teething causes sensitive feelings of the gum and the need to help the teeth erupt," says Dr. Klein. "Gnawing on objects often helps and feels soothing to young puppies. Puppies are also full of energy and can get bored very easily; chewing is instinctive."

Klein says a puppy's teeth begin arriving within the first two or three weeks, and by around six weeks old, most puppies will have their full set of 28 baby teeth. Puppies will start to lose these tiny, razor-sharp teeth by around three or four months old, and by the age of six months, most dogs will have a complete set of 42 adult teeth.

While this nonstop nibbling can be cute sometimes, the novelty quickly wears off once they have destroyed a few of your expensive or important belongings. Most dog experts recommend having plenty of chew toys around, to provide your puppy with plenty of (approved) things they can chew.


Soft, fuzzy fur that's different than their adult coat

Another thing that makes puppies so irresistible is their super-soft fur that can often make them look and feel like fuzzy creatures. Puppies are born with a fluffy coat that is usually plush and soft. Over the next few weeks and months, they will gradually transition to their adult coat, which tends to have stronger, thicker fur. Breeds with double coats will also begin to grow their second layer of fur. This adult coat may be a different color or have different coloring patterns than their puppy fur.


Oversized feet and heads

Some puppies are born with gigantic feet (or in the case of pugs, heads) that seem way out of proportion to their relatively tiny bodies. This can make them look comical until the rest of their body has a chance to catch up and everything begins to even out.

What about the belief that you can predict how big a puppy will be as an adult by checking out the size of his paws? "The size of the paws can be an indicator of final size, but it can vary from breed to breed," says Dr. Klein. "A Fox Terrier often has small tight feet whereas a Tibetan Terrier—which is not really a terrier at all—is known for having large 'snowshoe' size feet that were beneficial in their native country for ease of moving in that type of terrain."


They have their own unique personalities

It seems like every puppy is a character of their own, with their distinctive traits and mannerisms. This is part of what makes them so special—and so cute. "Puppies can be as different as children," says Dr. Klein. "Some are talkers, others are quiet, and, like children, their behavior will be more active and possibly destructive than as adults," he says. "Be patient and have fun—puppies, like children, grow up too soon!"

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