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What are the Puppy and Dog Vaccinations?


Core puppy shots start at six to eight weeks old and protect and prevent new pups from high-risk, prevalent, or contagious diseases. Young dogs are most susceptible to rabies, distemper, parvovirus, and hepatitis and immunized against these infections in two-week vaccination cycles during their first three months.

Small, brown and white mixed breed puppy with blue eyes resting on grey and white striped bed spread after having dog vaccinations.

Vaccinations are some of the first boxes pet parents tick off a puppy preventative care checklist and will become an important part of routine veterinarian check-ups. Whether you’re adopting an adult dog or a puppy, be sure to consult with your veterinarian regarding which vaccines from the puppy shots schedule below would be appropriate for your pet.


To ensure your dog is safe against harmful tickborne diseases, it is always recommended that you ask a veterinarian questions about the essential inoculations for the region and/or state you live in or travel to frequently. Some diseases are zoonotic, meaning that they can be contagious for people.


Which shots are on a puppy schedule?

Pet parents are generally advised to immunize dogs against potential infections like Lyme, however scientific studies have found that pets can be easily treated for this infection with antibiotics and will make a full recovery.  Certain areas require less or specific types of shots by law, such as rabies.


Below is a guide to the vaccination that may be recommended, but always speak to your veterinarian about dog shots; which ones are essential or core vaccinations, and which injections are optional.


Age Core Vaccinations Non-Core Vaccinations
6-8 weeks Parvovirus
Adenovirus (Hepatitis)
10-12 weeks Parvovirus Distemper/measles combination
Adenovirus (Hepatitis)
Rabies Giardia
Leptospirosis (California only)
12-16 weeks Parvovirus
Adenovirus (Hepatitis)
Leptospirosis (California only)
Adopted dogs +16 weeks Core shots are given twice, 4 weeks apart
26 – 52 weeks Booster shots Lyme (in prevalent regions)
Every 6 months Bordetella
Every 3 years Revaccination Influenza

* Follow-up frequency for the rabies vaccine varies state-by-state


How much do dog vaccinations cost?

Vaccines are recommended by veterinarians based on a pup’s breed, age, health, lifestyle and medical history, as well as whether your dog lives or travels to states known for specific diseases. The price of inoculations will, therefore, depend on which core and non-core shots are required.


Most shelter and rescue groups include vaccinations in their adoption fee so that a newly adopted dog or puppy is ready to get off to a healthy start in their new home. Below is an estimate of dog vaccination costs to give you an idea of what to expect when discussing your puppy shot schedule with your veterinarian.


  1. Vaccines and routine care – 1st year: $100-$350 | Annual cost: $80-$250
  2. Heartworm tests – 1st year: $0-$35 | Annual cost: $0-$35
  3. Heartworm prevention – 1st year: $24-$120 | Annual cost: $36-$132
  4. Flea and tick prevention – 1st year: $40-$200 | Annual cost: $40-$200
  5. Distemper vaccination – 1st year: $20-$30 | Annual cost: $40-$60
  6. Rabies vaccination – 1st year: $15-$25
  7. Deworming – 1st year: $20-$50 | Annual cost: $80-$200


There’s a lot to learn about new puppies, you can find everything you need about bringing a new puppy home in Puppy Care 101. Get expert tips and news delivered to your inbox. Subscribe to the Petfinder Newsletter.


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