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How Many Shots Do Puppies Need?

One of the first things that all new owners need to worry about is getting their puppy his necessary shots. 

To keep your puppy as healthy as possible, he'll need a series of shots over the first year of his life. 

How many shots do puppies need? 

The answer to that question depends on several factors.

Your puppy will need several vaccinations that are crucial to his health; local laws and regulations require certain vaccines

Your veterinarian will be able to tell you what vaccinations are required and are essential to the health and well-being of your puppy.

Unfortunately, some veterinarians will recommend that your puppy get every vaccination that is available for him. 

Make sure to research: 

  • which vaccines are required for dogs in your region
  • which vaccines would be beneficial for your pup to get
  • which ones your new puppy may not actually need

Over-vaccinating dogs is a severe concern and something you should be worried about.

For more information on the science behind this topic, check out our article on preventing over-vaccination in dogs.

How Many Shots Do Puppies Need?

Puppy Vaccines

Vaccines contain antigens that help prepare the immune system to fight disease. 

Antigens look and act like the organisms that cause disease but don't actually cause it. 

The body's exposure to the vaccine mildly stimulates the immune system.

If the body was exposed to the actual disease, the immune system would recognize it. 

The body would either be able to fight the disease entirely or at least be better prepared to fight it.

 Because of the antigens that were already there, the illness is much less severe than usual.

While vaccines are essential to your dog's health, not all dogs need to be vaccinated against every disease. 

Your dog's age, medical history, travel habits, and daily environment will determine which vaccines suit him.

Core Vaccines vs. Non-Core Vaccines

Core vaccines are considered necessary for all dogs. 

Your veterinarian will probably recommend these vaccinations as a bare minimum for your puppy. 

The four core vaccines are:

  • parvovirus
  • distemper
  • canine hepatitis
  • rabies

Some veterinarians also recommend vaccines for kennel cough, Lyme disease, and leptospirosis.

Still, they are not considered to be core vaccines for all dogs.

Consider these other non-core vaccines if your dog is continuously exposed to these diseases.

For example, if your dog stays in a kennel facility or goes to doggy daycare regularly, the kennel cough vaccination makes sense.

ALSO: 10 Things You Must Know About Dog Vaccines


vaccines for puppiesPuppy Vaccination Schedule

How many shots do puppies need?

That's actually a 2-part question.

While they may only need 4 vaccinations, they'll require more than 4 shots.

Your puppy will get his first shots at 6-8 weeks old.

Some veterinarians give a combination vaccine, while others give each shot individually.

How Many Sets of Shots Do Puppies Need?

Here is a look at the most common puppy vaccination schedule:

Age Core Vaccines Non-Core Vaccines
6 – 8 weeks Distemper, measles, parainfluenza Bordetella
10 – 12 weeks DHPP (Vaccine for distemper, adenovirus, [hepatitis], parainfluenza, and parvovirus Coronavirus, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme Disease
12 – 24 weeks Rabies
14 – 16 weeks DHPP Coronavirus, Leptospirosis, Lyme Disease
12 – 16 months Rabies and DHPP Coronavirus, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme Disease

Your dog needs a DHPP booster annually or biannually and a rabies booster every 1-3 years, depending on the laws in your area and/or your veterinarian's recommendation.

So, how many shots does a puppy need?

A lot!

It's best to discuss with your veterinarian so they can answer the question, “How many sets of shots do puppies need” before you even bring your puppy home.

This way, you will be prepared, and you can make arrangements to set up the appointments in advance.

It will also give you time to include these vet visits in your budget.

READ NEXT: What is Over Vaccination in Dogs & How To Prevent It?

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Guide on How Many Shots Do Puppies Need

Samantha’s biggest passion in life is spending time with her Boxer dogs. After she rescued her first Boxer in 2004, Samantha fell in love with the breed and has continued to rescue three other Boxers since then. She enjoys hiking and swimming with her Boxers, Maddie and Chloe.