Puppy vaccine schedule: What dog vaccinations will your pup need and when?

Here’s everything you need to know about planning your puppy’s first shots and how dog vaccinations protect your pup.

Written by Alex Coleman & Brooke Bundy

— Medically reviewed by Dr. Dwight Alleyne

Updated January 19, 2024.


The essentials

  • Expect to pay around $150 for core vaccines — These vaccines are considered vital for your dog.
  • Mild side effects are common — When your pup gets a vaccine dose, you can expect mild side effects such as lethargy or a low-grade fever.
  • Keep track of your pup’s paperwork — Have a secure place in your home for storing your pet’s paperwork, including vaccination records.

You’ve got so many things to do when you bring home a new furry family member. One of the most important things to add to your list is getting your puppy’s vaccinations.

If you adopted your puppy from a shelter, likely they’ve already received some, if not all, of their necessary vaccines. If they have, you’ll receive their medical records in their adoption folder, which you’ll take to the vet on their first visit. You can then work with your vet to determine what vaccines or boosters your dog is due for next.

If you got your puppy from a breeder or if they haven’t received their vaccinations, your veterinarian will walk you through the vaccination schedule at your pup’s first vet visit.

Here’s what you need to know about puppy vaccine schedules and dog vaccinations.

Core vs. non-core vaccinations

Core vaccines protect your puppy against the most prevalent, dangerous, and contagious diseases. These essential vaccinations include canine parvovirus, canine distemper, canine hepatitis, and rabies. Non-core vaccines are vaccinations your dog’s vet may recommend based on unique factors such as your dog’s breed or where you live.

If you plan to travel with your pet on an airline, you will be asked to provide your pet’s vaccination record. In addition to the vaccines that are legally required or considered core vaccines,  some non-core vaccinations may be required to travel or board your dog. You’ll also need to keep a copy of your puppy’s medical records on file for future vet visits.

Core vaccinations for puppies 

While rabies vaccination is the only vaccine required by law in most states, all core vaccinations are essential to ensuring your pet’s safety and health. Here’s a list of core vaccinations that your dog can benefit from:

  • Distemper
  • Parvovirus
  • Adenovirus
  • Parainfluenza
  • Rabies

The DHPP vaccine is a five-in-one core vaccine that prevents distemper, hepatitis/adenovirus, parvovirus, and parainfluenza. Pet owners can consult with their vet to see if the DHPP vaccine is right for their pup; as getting this vaccine can reduce the number of vet visits your pup will have to make.

Non-core vaccines for puppies

While non-core vaccines are considered optional, your veterinarian may recommend one or multiple vaccines on this list based on your geographical location, your dog’s specific needs based on breed or health history, or your and your dog’s lifestyle needs.

For example, Texas experiences a large number of rattlesnake bites, so rural dogs are commonly inoculated with a rattlesnake venom vaccine to give them some life-saving time before they can get to the emergency vet.

Some common non-core vaccines include:

  • Bordetella
  • Canine influenza
  • Leptospirosis
  • Lyme disease
  • Coronavirus

Bordetella is considered a core vaccine in some areas because of its prevalence. I usually recommend Bordetella, Canine Influenza, and Leptospirosis, especially to dogs that will be around a lot of other dogs.

Dr. Dwight Alleyne

What a puppy vaccination schedule looks like

Dog vaccination schedules are not a one-size-fits-all for pups. Several factors determine which dog vaccines are necessary, including your dog’s breed, your geographical location, and your dog’s unique risk factors. A pup’s weight, health, and age are also taken into account.

Some pet parents get multiple shots in one visit to help reduce the stress their dog has to endure at the vet’s office. Some pups can tolerate this, though other pet parents may choose to reduce soreness and side effects for their puppy by spacing out the vaccinations. Your veterinarian can help determine the specific time frames that work best for you and your furry friend.

Seeing a typical puppy vaccination schedule on paper helps you keep track of when to call your vet for follow-up appointments. While it might seem like overwhelming rounds of vaccines, the immunizations your vet gives your puppy during the first few months of age prepare them for a healthy life.

Puppy’s Age Core Vaccines Non-core Vaccines
6-8 weeks Distemper, parvovirus Bordetella
10-12 weeks DHPP or individual vaccines for distemper, adenovirus, parainfluenza, and parvovirus Influenza, leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme disease if recommended by a vet
16-18 weeks DHPP or individual vaccines for distemper, adenovirus, parainfluenza, parvovirus, and rabies Influenza, Lyme disease, leptospirosis, Bordetella based on lifestyle
12-16 months DHPP, rabies booster according to state laws Coronavirus, leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme disease if recommended by a vet
Every 1-2 years DHPP, rabies booster according to state laws Influenza, coronavirus, leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme disease based on lifestyle
Every 1-3 years A 1- or 3-year rabies booster vaccine as required by law. None


Vaccinations at one year and beyond

At around 16 weeks old, your dog completes their last round of puppy vaccines. Unless you opt for a non-core vaccine, you’re usually set until their first birthday. At that point, your dog will be due for a DHPP booster.

Depending on your state’s laws, rabies boosters are typically required when your pup reaches one year old, then every three years if the three-year vaccine is available. If not, they’ll be due for a rabies booster every year at their annual checkup. Call ahead to see which shots your dog requires.

The DHPP vaccine booster is typically administered every year or once every three years after the initial vaccines. Bordetella, leptospirosis, influenza, and Lyme disease boosters can be administered annually if you and your vet decide these are good choices for your pet.

Titer test

Dog owners may opt to give their dog a titer test, which measures your dog’s immunity to determine which vaccines are necessary. However, the rabies vaccination is not optional for a titer test as it is required by law across the majority of the United States.

How much do puppy vaccinations cost?

On average, each vaccine costs between $25 and $50. This doesn’t include any exam fees. If you’re looking to save money, you might want to try to schedule some of their shots at a vaccine clinic that doesn’t charge an exam fee like a traditional veterinarian’s office would. Additionally, some veterinarian clinics may offer a wellness bundle or a discount on multiple vaccines.

Pet insurance doesn’t typically cover vaccines since they’re considered a routine wellness expense, but some plans do. Always check with your provider to see what they might cover before you go.

What diseases do vaccinations protect against?

Core vaccines protect your pet against common, contagious, and dangerous diseases. Non-core vaccines may be optional, depending on your pet’s risk. Let’s take a look at some of the diseases that are addressed in your puppy’s vaccine schedule:

What are common vaccine side effects in dogs and puppies?

Just like in humans, your dog may experience mild vaccine side effects  . For example, dogs usually feel tired after receiving their shots. A low-grade fever or mild allergy symptoms such as watery eyes may occur as well. It’s fairly common for dogs to experience soreness at the injection site and have a lower appetite for a couple of days.

Call your veterinarian immediately if you notice any signs of a severe adverse vaccine reaction, such as seizures, collapse, or if more than 24 hours have passed without your pet eating or drinking.

Scheduling your puppy’s first rounds of vaccines may seem daunting, but your local vet’s office will be happy to help. Dog vaccines are essential for protecting our furry friends against a host of devastating, preventable diseases. In some cases, they may even be mandated by law, such as the rabies vaccine.

If your dog has an unknown medical history or if you’re unsure where to start, ask your vet for advice. They’ll catch your dog up with the necessary vaccines to protect them from infectious diseases and help you stay on track when they’re due again.

Frequently asked questions

What is the proper vaccine schedule for a puppy?

Your new puppy needs to go to the vet every 4 weeks between the time they’re 6 and 16 weeks of age to receive all of their core puppy vaccines. Afterward, you’ll need to consult your vet for any additional vaccinations that they might recommend.

How many weeks between 1st and 2nd puppy vaccination?

Puppy vaccines are usually given at least a couple of weeks apart from each other. Preferably, you should wait about three weeks between rounds of vaccines, but your vet may recommend more frequently if they’ve fallen behind.

How many shots do puppies need before going out?

After your puppy’s third round of vaccinations, between 16-18 weeks, it’s safe for them to go to public places like the dog park and interact with unfamiliar dogs.

My puppy’s vaccine schedule is off. Will we have to start over?

No, you’ll just need to schedule an appointment with your vet as soon as possible to catch your pup up with the necessary vaccines.

How is the vaccination schedule for dogs determined?

The American Animal Hospital Association determines the recommended schedules for core and non-core vaccinations and booster shots for puppies and adult dogs.

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