Puppy Vaccinations and Shots: Important Vaccination Schedule for Your Dog

6 min read



By T. J. Dunn, Jr. DVM


The first few months in a dog’s life are his most formative. He’s meeting his human family for the first time and learning how to interact with the world around him. But just as important are the steps you take to address his physical health through vaccination.


While some vaccines are required by all dogs, others are more specific to your dog’s lifestyle and the area in which you live. Find out which shots your puppy should receive, how much vaccinations cost, what a standard puppy vaccination schedule looks like, and why vaccinations are so important for your dog.


When Should I Vaccinate My Puppy?


It’s best to get your puppy examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible. During the examination, your veterinarian will look at your dog’s medical and vaccination history. If the breeder or shelter has recently vaccinated your puppy and your veterinarian is confident that it was done properly, a schedule for follow-up vaccinations will be made based on your pup’s particular needs.


According to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), puppies should be vaccinated every two to four weeks between the ages of 6 and 16 weeks with the final puppy vaccines given no earlier than 16 weeks of age. All puppies should receive the core vaccines of canine distemper, adenovirus 2, canine parvovirus, parainfluenza virus, and rabies virus.


“During this critical time, maternal antibody from the mother can interfere with a long-term immune response, so the idea is to keep boosting until the pet's immune system is capable of creating its own long-term protection,” says Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, San Diego veterinarian and author of All Dogs Go to Kevin.


Other vaccines that are considered to be non-core or optional—for example Bordetella, Lyme disease, and leptospirosis—should be administered based on what you decide with your vet, says Dr. Lisa Lippman, a veterinarian in New York City. Important factors include your dog’s lifestyle, breed risk factors, and where you live.


“Kennel cough is good for breeds that have flat faces, who are more at risk for serious infections like pneumonia,” Lippman says, and also for dogs who have a lot of contact with other dogs. “Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection carried in the urine of mammals that dogs contract if they come in contact with standing water that an infected animal has peed in. That, along with Lyme disease, is a vaccination that’s good for dogs who might spend a lot of time outdoors.”


What Are Multivalent Vaccines for Puppies?


A multivalent vaccination contains different vaccine antigens in a single dose, which means it will vaccinate against more than one microorganism or two or more strains of the same microorganism, Vogelsang says.


Multivalent vaccinations are given for convenience, so that your puppy doesn’t need to be poked repeatedly, and are used by a majority of vets. A common multivalent vaccine that is recommended by the AAHA is DA2P, which vaccinates for canine distemper, adenovirus 2 (which also protects against adenovirus 1 that can cause canine hepatitis), and canine parvovirus. This vaccination may also be given as DA2PP, which vaccinates for all of the above in addition to parainfluenza, according to Emmy Award-winning veterinarian Dr. Jeff Werber.


Some of these combination-vaccines can include “L” for leptospirosis, which is a non-core vaccine, according to the AAHA, and should be administered based on the risk of exposure in each dog, says AAHA senior communications manager Kate Wessels. Canine coronavirus also used to be part of some combination-vaccines, but veterinarians no longer recommend it. Multivalent products are safe when produced by a manufacturer, but multiple vaccines shouldn’t be mixed in one syringe unless specified on the label, Wessels adds.


Puppy Vaccination Schedule at a Glance


The following is an example of a vaccination schedule that could be a good starting point for many dogs, although you should work with your veterinarian to establish something more specific to your pup’s needs. Keep in mind that other vaccines (e.g., canine influenza or rattlesnake venom) may be recommended for some individuals.




7 weeks      


If needed: Intranasal Bordetella (kennel cough)

10 weeks    


If needed: Lyme disease, leptospirosis

13 weeks


If needed: Lyme disease, leptospirosis

16 weeks    

DA2PP, rabies

1 year later    

DA2PP, rabies

If needed: Bordetella, Lyme disease, leptospirosis


Featured Breed


Lancashire Heeler

Featuring Molly
Although small, the Lancashire Heeler became known as a cattle herder when it originated in Great Britain. This dog is small but full of energy, making a great family pet. This small...