A burning question a lot of new owners tend to have – as they should – is that of when can puppies leave their mom.
It’s a legitimate, and really important, question.
Bringing a new puppy home is a delightful, wonderful thing to experience.
But if you’re not careful about doing it right, it can really cause your puppy harm.
While puppies are given away at all kinds of stages of their development, there is indeed a right age only beyond which you should consider separating them from their mothers.
Think about it…
You wouldn’t take kids away from their mothers before they are functionally adults!
Not if they’re in a good home and environment you won’t!
And while it’s true that puppies mature wayyy faster than us people, you can cause lasting damage doing it wrong.
So When CAN Puppies Leave Their Mothers?
The short answer?
Ideally not before they’re at least 8-9 weeks old.
And CERTAINLY not before 6 weeks of age.
That’s, of course, provided there aren’t extraordinary circumstances involved…like the death of the mother with no one else available to care for the puppies.
We’ve all heard stories of sick, abandoned puppies not much more than a couple of weeks old being taken in.
But those aren’t really common.
And suffice to say that puppy care in those circumstances is a delicate and challenging affair.
Certainly not one ideal for a new pet owner.
The worries over their health and hygiene aside, even figuring out how and what to feed 3 weeks or under is tricky.
On the other hand feeding puppies at 8 weeks or more is relatively a cinch…
With them you don’t have to worry about weaning!
But apart from their care, there are other issues involved with rehoming puppies when they’re too young.
It may well be illegal to buy or sell puppies younger than a particular age.
For instance, the answer to the question can puppies leave their mother at 6 weeks of age may be yes in a number of circumstances.
But in others, and specifically in some places, it can well be illegal.
It’s certainly true for a number of European countries, as well as states in the USA.
So when can puppies leave their mom? Not before what it says in the law!
But legality aside…and that’s saying something since if it’s law there’s bound to be a darned good reason for it…
Separating a puppy from her mother too early could lead to some developmental and behavioral problems.
Now that’s got your attention hasn’t it?
Why You Shouldn’t Rehome Puppies Before They’re 8 Weeks of Age
We often ask things like when do puppies open their eyes, or when they start playing around.
But we often don’t realise the real intricacies in rearing puppies from the moment of their birth.
Even at the hands of their mother!
Mothering a puppy involves the obvious love and care one would expect.
But in fact puppies learn a lot of social conduct as well in those first few weeks.
A lot of what your dog will grow up to be she has gotten from her experience playing and interacting with other dogs and her environment.
It’s not all genetics!
And a lot of good behavior is learnt from immediate family while puppies play around and fight with siblings, and get disciplined by their mother and other adults.
Puppies Learn How to Behave from Family
It naturally follows that puppies separated early from their mother or litter miss out on that.
Much like a child who drops out early from school – or is exclusively home-tutored – might have some trouble dealing with certain social situations.
Doesn’t sound so crazy does it?
So depending on when your puppy is separated from her family, she might be missing out on things like learning:
- not to bite hard during play
- how to play fair, and not too rough
- the social hierarchy or a pack and respecting pack leaders and elders
- through socialising with others how to overcome things like possessiveness, fear and attention seeking behavior
- about the environment through packmates to deal with fear of walking, strange noises etc.
Think about it!
These can be relatively really tricky to teach your puppy through training after bringing her home!
And, you guessed it…
Missing out on these experiences with her mother and siblings can lead to behavior issues as an adult.
Things like destructive behavior, aggression, fearfulness, and being possessive about food or toys.
So when can puppies leave their mom?
Ideally not before all this schooling!
You Understand Whether You Can Trust the Breeder Too!
Besides making sure your puppy is imbibing all the good behavior she can from her littermates, there are things you can learn too!
About your puppy’s breeder…
Essentially, whether or not your breeder offers – or insists – that you take your puppy home early shows his competence and commitment to the dogs in his care.
As you can imagine, raising newborn puppies is pretty hard work.
You can also probably imagine how eager most buyers would be to take their puppies home as early as possible.
So not giving up a tiny creature that needs a ton of love and care to a customer who can’t have her soon enough would need some good commitment and sincerity.
Too often breeders turn out to be wholly unconcerned about the puppies’ well-being and greedy to profit from them asap.
Or, probably worse, too incompetent or ignorant to know better – who knows how those kinds have raised their pups.
So insist on the right age up front while entering into a contract with breeders.
And make this a factor in deciding upon your breeder of choice besides inspecting their facilities.
So now you know when asking when can puppies leave their mom, breeders should know the right answer too.
We hope this post gives you a satisfactory answer to the question when can puppies leave their mom.
If you have any other insights from your own experiences raising your pup, do let us know in the comments below!