Puppy Vaccination Schedule: What Your Puppy Needs (& Why)

Just like humans, puppies need vaccines too!

In fact, there are certain crucial vaccines that need to be administered at different times in your furry friend’s life, in order to keep them healthy, happy, and living their best life!

In this article, you’ll learn all about the most important vaccines and why your pup needs them. You’ll also learn precisely when your pup will need to have their vaccines, using our handy and helpful vaccination schedule.


What Shots Do Puppies Need

Did you know that vaccines work the same for dogs as they do for you and me?

By triggering the production of antibodies, vaccines allow the body the chance to build up immunity to a disease, virus, or bacteria.

However, while vaccines are certainly effective, they do not make us immune to the possibility of contracting the illness we were vaccinated for—they just make us (and our furry friends) less likely to suffer severe symptoms.

Puppy Pro Tip: Core vaccines are those which are recommended for all dogs, regardless of lifestyle factors. On the other hand, non-core vaccines are not necessarily recommended for all dogs, and are evaluated on a pup-by-pup basis by your vet; non-core vaccine recommendations are based on factors such as: lifestyle, health conditions, location, risk factors, etc. 


Known to cause a highly infectious form of bronchitis in dogs, Bordetella is nothing to mess around with!

Some pups become so ill from the bacterium that they suffer from serious side effects, including vomiting, seizures, and (rarely) death. 

The good news is, Bordetella can be avoided! Simply ask your vet about the different options for vaccination—which usually include a nasal spray or a traditional injectable vaccine. While Bordetella is considered a non-core vaccine, it’s still an important one.


Canine distemper is a serious and contagious virus that affects your pup’s gastrointestinal, respiratory, and nervous systems. What makes distemper so contagious is the fact that it spreads easily through respiratory droplets in the air, as well as through shared water and food bowls that have been contaminated. For these reasons, the canine distemper vaccine is considered a core vaccine.

The symptoms of distemper are often on the serious side and range from coughing and vomiting, to diarrhea, seizures, paralysis, and even death. 

Because there is no cure for canine distemper, the best thing you can do for your pet is vaccinate them! 


While unrelated to human hepatitis, canine hepatitis affects your pup in largely the same way—by attacking the liver, kidneys, lungs, eyes, and spleen. The symptoms can range from congestion and fever, to vomiting, stomach swelling, and severe liver pain.

Like distemper, there is no official cure for canine hepatitis. Symptoms can often be managed in milder forms; however, more severe forms can be fatal. Because of the risk of fatality, this is considered a core vaccine. 


Parainfluenza can cause your pup’s upper airways to become inflamed and is one of the most common offenders in causing Kennel Cough (more on that below). Additionally, this is considered a core vaccine.


Much like tapeworms, heartworms can invade the body of canines and grow to extreme proportions—thus affecting your pup’s internal organs, namely their heart. 

This infection is insidious, as the early stages produce no symptoms. However, in the later stages of the disease, a heartworm infection can cause breathing difficulties and lethargy in your pup. 

While there is no official Heartworm “vaccine”, there is a preventative medication that your vet can prescribe. For the health of your pup, it is important to start the preventative medication as soon as your vet deems it appropriate to do so.

Kennel Cough

Also known as Infectious Tracheobronchitis, Kennel Cough is the all-encompassing name given to a set of symptoms that include dry, harsh coughing, and— occasionally—gagging, retching, and a loss of appetite. Rarely, it is fatal.

Kennel cough is often caused by either Bordetella, Parainfluenza, or both.

Kennel cough is highly contagious and can be transferred between dogs that are in close proximity. And while it isn’t typically fatal, we still recommend talking to your vet about the benefits of vaccinating for the diseases that typically cause Kennel cough. 


Caused by a bacteria that exists naturally in soil and water all over the world, Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease— (meaning, it can spread between animals and humans) —that can have severe consequences. 

Serious side effects include diarrhea, vomiting, fever, weakness, infertility, and even kidney and liver failure. 

Leptospirosis may be hard to detect, because some dogs don’t show outward symptoms—making this core vaccine all the more necessary! 

Lyme Disease

As with humans, canine Lyme disease is contracted through a bite from an infected tick. In dogs, symptoms of infection can include swollen lymph nodes, fever, loss of appetite, and even limping. 

If left untreated, Lyme disease can lead to neurological disorders in your furry friend. However, ticks don’t live everywhere, meaning pups in certain locations won’t necessarily need this vaccine.

There are antibiotics which can be administered if diagnosed quickly; however, if you have already received the vaccination, your pup has a much better chance of quick recovery. 


If you’ve ever adopted a puppy, you may be familiar with Parvovirus. Parvo attacks the gastrointestinal tract and can lead to fever, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea. Because Parvo causes extreme dehydration in dogs, it can become fatal as early as 48-72 hours after contracting it. 

Unfortunately, once Parvo is contracted, there is no cure. The serious symptoms— combined with the lack of a cure for Parvo— are a part of what makes it a core vaccine.


If you love dogs as much as we do, chances are you’ve probably heard of rabies. Canine rabies is one of the most serious diseases your pet can get—it invades the central nervous system and eventually leads to death if immediate treatment is not administered.

The good news is, the rabies vaccine is considered a core vaccine and as a result, most states have regulations requiring rabies vaccines to be administered regularly; simply talk to your vet to learn more.


Puppy Vaccination Schedule

We know your puppy’s health is a top priority, which is why we put together this handy and helpful vaccination schedule! 

You’ll notice that you see the same vaccines under various different age categories, that is because certain vaccines require multiple rounds of doses, in order to be fully effective. 

6-8 weeks

  • Bordetella vaccine
  • Distemper vaccine
  • Parvovirus vaccine

10-12 weeks

  • DHPP (this is a cluster vaccine that includes vaccines for Distemper, Parvovirus, Parainfluenza, and Hepatitis)
  • Leptospirosis vaccine
  • Bordetella vaccine
  • Lyme Disease vaccine (if applicable)

16-18 weeks

  • DHPP vaccine
  • Rabies vaccine
  • Leptospirosis vaccine
  • Bordetella vaccine (if applicable)

12-16 months

  • DHPP vaccine
  • Rabies vaccine
  • Leptospirosis vaccine
  • Bordetella vaccine (if applicable)
  • Lyme Disease vaccine (if applicable)


Adult Dog Vaccination Schedule

Every 1-2 years

  • DHPP vaccine
  • Leptospirosis vaccine
  • Bordetella vaccine (if applicable)
  • Lyme Disease vaccine (if applicable)

Every 1-3 years

  • Rabies vaccine


Vaccination Pricing

The price of vaccinations for your pup will vary based on where you live; simply put, certain states and cities are more expensive than others. But don’t fret! The costs may not be as high as you think.

On the lowest end of the spectrum, prices for an initial package of all Core Vaccines may cost around $75, while more expensive locations may charge upwards of $200 or more. If you decide to add on some non-core vaccines as well, you’ll pay a little more.

The good news? Even if your first round of vaccines ends up costing closer to $200, that is still significantly less than the thousands you could end up shelling out in emergency vet fees if your precious pup were to become ill as a result of being unvaccinated.

Remember, as the old saying goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry!

Worried about pricing? At My Golden Retriever Puppies, we are committed to providing healthy, quality Golden Retriever pups with loving homes like yours! If you’re wondering how much are golden retriever puppies, our pups are ready to take home at only 8 weeks old and come equipped with all initial shots and documentation. So what are you waiting for? Let’s get you paired with one of our loving pups today!


Puppy Vaccination Schedule Frequently Asked Questions


I’m not sure if my dog is up-to-date on shots, what should I do?

If you’re unsure about whether or not your pup is up to date on their vaccines, talk to your vet—they will be able to look at your pup’s records and let you know whether or not you’re due for any additional vaccines. 


Does my dog need all of the available vaccines?

In order to keep your pup healthy, happy, and thriving, we recommend getting them all of the necessary core vaccines, as well as any non-core vaccines your vet deems appropriate. 

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

When it comes to taking your new furry friend out into the world, the safest bet is to wait until your pup has had their first three rounds of vaccinations (around age 16-18 weeks). However, we recommend consulting with your vet, as your pup may be okay to do certain things outside before then!

Galen has been connecting quality Golden Retriever breeders with loving families since 2012 and is the founder of My Golden Retriever Puppies. He and his wife have four children and love spending time together, traveling (lived oversees for 4 years), enjoying the outdoors and connecting Golden families.