We research all brands listed and may earn a fee from our partners. Research and financial considerations may influence how brands are displayed. Not all brands are included. Learn more.

Published: Jan 11, 2024 7 min read

Vaccinating your new puppy can protect them from certain life-threatening and even fatal diseases and viruses. It also helps stop the spread of these illnesses to other animals and sometimes humans.

While some vaccines are recommended for all dogs, others may be recommended based on where you live, your dog’s lifestyle and your dog's risks. Keep reading to learn more about a typical puppy vaccine schedule, including what shots puppies need and when they should be administered.

Table of contents

Ads by Money. We may be compensated if you click this ad.AdAds by Money disclaimer
Embrace Pet Insurance — for when the unexpected happens
Personalize your pet’s policy to get the best for their needs and your budget. Get up to 90% reimbursement — just click on your state to get started.
HawaiiAlaskaFloridaSouth CarolinaGeorgiaAlabamaNorth CarolinaTennesseeRIRhode IslandCTConnecticutMAMassachusettsMaineNHNew HampshireVTVermontNew YorkNJNew JerseyDEDelawareMDMarylandWest VirginiaOhioMichiganArizonaNevadaUtahColoradoNew MexicoSouth DakotaIowaIndianaIllinoisMinnesotaWisconsinMissouriLouisianaVirginiaDCWashington DCIdahoCaliforniaNorth DakotaWashingtonOregonMontanaWyomingNebraskaKansasOklahomaPennsylvaniaKentuckyMississippiArkansasTexas
Get Free Quote

What shots do puppies need?

The necessary shots for your puppy depend on factors such as location and risk of contracting certain diseases.

The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) splits vaccines into the categories of core and noncore vaccines. The AAHA recommends all dogs be vaccinated for the core vaccines. The noncore shots may be recommended based on your puppy’s risk factors, which you can determine with your veterinarian.

Puppy vaccination costs are typically under $100 each, but it can vary by vaccine. Standard pet insurance doesn’t cover the cost. However, many of the best pet insurance companies offer supplemental wellness plans you can purchase for preventative care coverage that includes vaccines.

Core vaccines

The AAHA recommends all dogs have the following vaccinations unless there are medical reasons not to vaccinate:

  • Distemper combination - The distemper combination shot can include up to five vaccines in one, including canine adenovirus type 1 and 2, canine parainfluenza and canine parvovirus. However, it can vary based on what your vet offers. It may be abbreviated to DAPP, DA2PP or DHPP (the h standing for canine hepatitis).
  • Rabies - Most states require all dogs to be vaccinated for rabies because it’s a deadly zoonotic disease, which means it can spread to other animals and humans. Once contracted — which happens through a bite from an infected animal — it’s almost always fatal to infected dogs. The rabies vaccine protects your dog and limits the disease’s spread.

Noncore vaccines

The AAHA considers the following list of dog vaccines “noncore,” which means they may be essential for some dogs depending on your dog’s location, lifestyle and risk. Always consult your veterinarian for guidance on how to protect your puppy best.

  • Leptospirosis - Leptospirosis disease is caused by bacteria that can be found outside in water, plants and dirt. Infected animals can spread the bacteria through their urine. The leptospirosis vaccine (commonly called the “lepto vaccine”) may be recommended for dogs who often go outside.
  • Lyme disease - Ticks can carry Lyme disease and spread it to other animals and humans by biting them. The disease can be found across the U.S. but is especially common in the Northeast, Midwest and Pacific Coast.
  • Bordetella - Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria can cause a highly contagious cold-like infection, sometimes called kennel cough or canine cough. The Bordetella vaccine is usually recommended for dogs frequently around other dogs, such as in doggie daycare, boarding or groomers.
  • Influenza - Canine influenza — also called the dog flu — is another type of respiratory disease. The virus can spread between dogs, and severe cases can lead to pneumonia or death. Your vet may recommend the influenza vaccine for your puppy if they’re commonly in contact with other dogs.
  • Rattlesnake toxoid - Rattlesnake bites can be extremely dangerous for dogs due to the snake’s venom. However, a Crotalus atrox (western diamondback rattlesnake) vaccine can help increase chances of survival. The southwestern states are typically high-risk areas. The vaccine doesn’t make your dog fully immune, nor does it protect against all snake bites, but it helps your dog produce antibodies that help neutralize the snake’s venom.
Ads by Money. We may be compensated if you click this ad.AdAds by Money disclaimer
The best pet deserves the best coverage
Get up to 90% reimbursement on vet bills with Embrace — quality coverage tailored to your pet’s needs. Get a quote now.
Get Free Quote

Puppy vaccination schedule

Puppies can typically receive their first vaccinations as early as six to eight weeks old. Vaccines with multiple doses may be administered two to four weeks apart, and most require annual booster shots.

Following the right puppy shot schedule by properly spacing apart multiple injections can help build up your dog’s long-term immunity to certain diseases and viruses, according to Dr. Dawn Filos, a small-animal veterinarian with a website (drdawnthepetvet.com) and an upcoming book.

Dr. Filos says, “Their immature immune systems need vaccines to help them fight disease as the protection they are born with from their vaccinated mothers wears off. This happens in stages, and the vaccine protocol is designed to keep them protected in the short term and then long term from infectious diseases that the vaccines are designed to fight against.”

The tables below include puppy vaccine timelines and dosage recommendations for core and noncore vaccines. This can vary based on your dog’s age, environment, health and the vaccine specifics (such as manufacturer and contents). Your vet can determine the best vaccine schedule for your puppy or adult dog.

Core puppy vaccines


Initial dosage schedule


Distemper, adenovirus, parvovirus and parainfluenza (distemper combination vaccine)

3 doses, 2-4 weeks apart (if puppy is older than 16 weeks, 2 doses may be recommended)

1 year after the last dose, 3 years after that


1 injection once puppy is at least 3 months of age (or as required by state law)

1-3 years (depending on initial vaccine received and state law)

Noncore puppy vaccines


Initial dosage schedule



2 doses (starting when puppy is at least 12 weeks old), 2-4 weeks apart

1 year after the last dose

Lyme disease

2 doses, 2-4 weeks apart

1 year after the last dose


Dosage depends on the vaccine type, consult your veterinarian

Annually or as needed

Canine influenza

2 doses, 2-4 weeks apart

1 year after the last dose

Crotalus atrox (Western diamondback rattlesnake)

Dosage and schedule depend on dog’s size and exposure risk, consult your veterinarian

Boosters depend on dog’s size and exposure risk, consult your veterinarian

Puppy vaccine schedule FAQs

How often do puppies need shots?

The frequency of your puppy’s shots can vary by vaccine type. Some require multiple doses two to four weeks apart to build up immunity. Annual booster vaccinations may be required after that.

At what age do puppies get shots?

Puppies can typically start receiving shots around six to eight weeks of age. Your veterinarian can determine when to start vaccinating your puppy and what vaccines they should receive.

Should I vaccinate my dog?


Whether you should vaccinate your dog for various diseases and viruses depends on their risk. Rabies is the only vaccine required by law, but veterinarians will recommend others based on your dog’s lifestyle and location.

Vaccinating your dog protects them against various illnesses that can cause serious health complications and even death. It can also limit expensive vet visits and treatment if your unvaccinated dog is infected with one of the viral diseases. Discuss your questions with your dog’s veterinarian.

How many rounds of shots do puppies need before going outside?

Veterinarians typically recommend waiting until your puppy receives three rounds of shots before going outside and being around other dogs. Ask your veterinarian for their opinion before taking your puppy outside (such as to dog parks or other areas).

Summary of Money’s puppy vaccine schedule

A puppy’s specific vaccine schedule can vary based on where they live, the puppy’s health and other factors. Their first year will include initial vaccinations with multiple doses, and all subsequent years may consist of boosters to stay protected. Pet parents should discuss it with their veterinarian, who can help determine when to start shots, what shots to administer and what potential side effects can happen.

The AAHA lists of core and noncore vaccines are as follows:

  • Core vaccines: Distemper, adenovirus, parvovirus and parainfluenza (distemper combination vaccine), rabies
  • Noncore vaccines: Leptospirosis, Lyme disease, Bordetella, canine influenza, Crotalus atrox (western diamondback rattlesnake) toxoid

Vaccinating has numerous pet health benefits to protect your puppy against serious and sometimes fatal diseases and viruses. While pet insurance doesn’t cover vaccines, supplemental wellness plans typically do. If you want protection, shop around to compare coverage and costs from pet insurance providers.

Ads by Money. We may be compensated if you click this ad.AdAds by Money disclaimer
Embrace offers reliable coverage for your pet’s needs
With Embrace Pet Insurance, you can customize your policy for quality care within your budget. Also, get up to 90% reimbursement on your vet bills. Click below to get a free quote today!
Get Free Quote