6 Week Old Puppy – Your Questions Answered

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Can puppies leave their mother at six weeks? We investigate

A six week old puppy is an adorable bundle of fun. He looks pretty sturdy and independent too and you may wonder if its okay to bring him home to live with you right now.

We’ll be looking at the pros and cons of adopting six week old puppies today and answering your six week old puppy questions.

Let’s start by zooming in on an average six week old puppy. Here’s one from my last litter. He looks pretty well grown doesn’t he!

Six week old puppy MurphyHow much should a 6 week old puppy Lab weigh?

How much a puppy weighs at six weeks old will depend on a number of factors. If his parents were bigger than average, then he probably will be too.

The chances are, he will weigh in at somewhere between 10 and 15lbs

If his parents were small, he might weigh less. Labradors from working lines are often lighter than their show or pet bred cousins

Hop over to our guide to puppy growth  to find out more about this fascinating topic

How many teeth do 6 week old puppies have

Your six week old puppy probably has a full set of baby teeth – if not, he will have a full set within the next week or two.

They are pretty sharp too, as you’ll discover when you get him home and he starts to play in earnest

He won’t start teething again – losing his baby teeth – for a few more weeks when he is around four months old.

We have a great guide to puppy teething where you can find out more.

Are 6 week old puppies weaned?

Many puppies are fully weaned onto solid food by about six weeks old.

They may still be suckling occasionally from their mother, but are no longer dependent on her for milk.

What do 6 week old puppies eat

Healthy six week old puppies don’t need milk supplements, a good quality raw diet or commercial puppy food is sufficient.

Good quality food is important for your dog’s health

This has to be divided into small portions fed at intervals throughout the day

You can find out more about what puppies eat in our popular puppy feeding guide

Your six week old puppy questions answered here
At six weeks old your puppy will need very frequent meals

How many meals does a 6 week old puppy need

Your breeder may be feeding your puppy and her brothers and sisters up to six times a day.

Looking after six week old pups is quite labour intensive as their little stomachs can’t cope with big meals. There needs to be an adult present throughout the day to cope with the constant feeding and de-pooping

By the time she is ready to collect at 8 weeks, your pup will be down to four slightly bigger meals a day

Do 6 week old puppies play?

Six week old puppies play a lot. They play with their mother, and most of all with their brothers and sisters

This play is very important as it teaches the puppies to be more gentle with their teeth and to get used to being jostled and bumped about by other living things

Why do 6 week old puppies sleep so much?

At six weeks, a puppy is still very much a baby and needs lots of deep sleep. At least 18 hours a day

Your puppy sleeps best in a big heap with all her brothers and sisters, or snuggled up against her mother

She uses that sleeping time to grow, mature, and develop her immunity

Are six week old puppies potty trained

By six weeks puppies are able to leave the nest or whelping box for bathroom purposes and know how to keep their sleeping quarters nice and clean

Some puppies will have got used to using newspaper or puppy pads to poop on and you’ll be able to make use of this when your puppy is ready to come home.

It’s not quite the same as being potty trained!  But it’s a start

Can 6 week old puppies leave their mother

At six weeks, a puppy needs his mother for play, contact and reassurance. He doesn’t need to be with her 24 hours a day, and she needs time away from her puppies each day.

But he isn’t ready to leave her just yet so you’ll need to be a bit more patient!

Hang on in there, you’ve only another couple of weeks to go, as puppies can be collected at about eight weeks old

Is it okay to bring a puppy home at 6 weeks?

But supposing there are exceptional circumstances? Is it okay to bring a puppy home at six weeks if you really need to?

Unfortunately, the answer is – it isn’t okay to bring a puppy home at six weeks. Even more importantly than his need for his mother, a six week old pup needs his litter mates.

So even if his mother were to tragically die, your puppy should still remain with his brothers and sisters for a short while longer.

This helps him to develop bite inhibition and social skills

Let’s have a closer look at what puppies learn in those last two weeks that they normally spend with Mum and siblings before going to their new homes at eight weeks old.

Bite inhibition

The process of learning bite inhibition is a long one.  It begins whilst puppies are quite small and first learning to play with one another and with their mother.

And it carries on until they are several months old.

By the time you bring a puppy home at eight weeks,  however needle sharp you think his teeth are,  he has already learned a lot of bite inhibition from his mum and siblings.

Although you have to continue this process,  some of the hard work has already been done.

At nine weeks, my own young pup could crush the bone in a chicken wing in seconds,  yet never actually even drew blood when biting my fingers.  Although it still hurt, her Mother had already taught her to ‘pull her punches’,  yet she was actually capable of crushing the bones in my fingers.

If you take a puppy home at six weeks,  you will have to do even more of ‘Mom’s’ job and teach the puppy not to cause actual bodily harm when she bites.  This is not easy and has to be done in stages.

You cannot just punish the dog for all biting or it will not learn the vital skill of bite inhibition.  You can read more about bite inhibition here.

Bite inhibition problems are more likely with puppies that have been removed from their mother too early, and can be very difficult to manage if you have small children.

Touch tolerance

A puppy in the nest is being jostled constantly.  This is a normal part of growing up within a ‘litter’.

A six week old puppy still needs his littermates. But he'll soon be ready to come home
This puppy still needs his littermates to help him learn to play nicely.

Labrador puppies that are removed from this jostling experience too young may dislike being touched or bumped in certain parts of their bodies.

There is a potential for this to lead to behavioural problems, including aggression,  later in life.

Singleton puppies, and puppies re-homed too early need to be found a playmate of the same age and approximate size, so that they don’t miss out on this important stage in life. And that can be a challenge.

Resist the temptation

If a breeder asks you to take a puppy home at five to six weeks of age,  be very suspicious.

Only in the most dire circumstances should a breeder let puppies go this young. The death of the puppy’s mother is not a good reason for separating the litter at six weeks.

Bear in mind that some disreputable breeders will make up excuses to get rid of puppies when they get to this age.

This is the point at which the puppies are becoming both time consuming, messy, and expensive to care for. It is a full time job keeping them fed and clean for the next couple of weeks. But a responsible breeder will have prepared for that

Short of a personal disaster, no reputable breeder will normally request or permit a puppy to leave her premises before seven weeks of age,  eight weeks if you are an inexperienced owner.

Adopting puppies under 6 weeks old

You’ll find articles online, telling you how to care for a six week old puppy, what toys to buy etc. You won’t find one on this site because our policy is to discourage the practice of bringing puppies home before 8 weeks old.

Even more concerning is the practice of selling puppies at four or five weeks old, or in some cases, younger

It’s been five years since I first visited this topic, and wrote a much shorter version of this article, and I hope things are improving for puppies around the world

I don’t get quite so many letters from people outside Europe and North America who are desperately worried because the puppy they have purchased at three or four weeks old (yes really) is very, very, sick.

So perhaps breeding standards are rising.

But I do want to address one argument put to me recently. And it’s a valid one. I received a letter from a reader in India who felt I did not understand the situation there.

He told me that in many cases, breeders were so awful that puppies were most likely to survive if removed from them at the earliest possible opportunity. He felt – and I understand this – that by bringing his puppy home at five weeks old, he probably saved the puppy’s life.

The problem with this argument is exactly the same as the argument here in the UK or in the USA against buying puppies from puppy mills or pet stores, or out of the back of a van.

If you buy that one puppy – to ‘rescue it’ you are effectively dooming hundreds of other puppies to a similar squalid existence and poor start in life. And in may cases to an early death.

The breeder is only in it for money, so every puppy they sell, they will replace with another.

Short of dramatic changes in the law which are not going to happen any time soon, the only way to stop this horrible trade is to dry up the demand for poorly bred puppies. And that is really down to you, the puppy buyer.

The outlook for the adult female dogs used to produce those puppies is even worse, so please spare a thought for them too.

Buying a puppy from the wrong breeder just perpetuates bad breeding practices. The answer is to walk away and find someone that is breeding dogs responsibly.

Your two week wait!

So what can you do between the time your puppy is six weeks old and the day he is ready to come home?

That two weeks needn’t drag.  You can be busy getting your home and yard puppy proof, and buying essential puppy supplies, toys and bedding.

Dip into our Puppy Essentials list for ideas!

6 week old puppy – summary

A six week old puppy is often weaned and eating solid food. He is learning to be sociable and will enjoy it if you can visit and get to know him, but he isn’t ready to leave his brothers and sisters just yet.

Puppies collected at five or six weeks tend to have problems learning to play gently and may not be as well adjusted as puppies that leave home at the recommended age of 8 weeks

Breeders who offer puppies for sale at this age should be avoided as it demonstrates that they are either ignorant about good breeding practices, or that they don’t care for the puppies or for the female dogs that produce them. Either way, this is not the person you want to be responsible for giving your puppy the best start in life

Your six week old puppy questions answeredAgain, please, do think hard before bringing a young puppy home before he or she is eight weeks old.

The next two weeks will soon pass, and your puppy will be bigger, stronger, and ready to become a part of your family

More information on finding the right puppy

For a complete guide to choosing your new friend don’t miss  Choosing The Perfect Puppy.

Published in April 2017, Pippa’s new book covers every aspect of finding a the best breed of dog for your family and finding the very best breeder.

She helps you avoid puppy mills and other pitfalls along the way.

Choosing The Perfect Puppy takes all the strain out of making this important decision and is available worldwide.

26 COMMENTS

  1. My husband and I went and picked a puppy out, and we will be getting him in about 2 weeks, once he is 6 weeks old. I love what you said finding them a playmate, so that they start socializing at a young age. We have another dog, and I think he will be a good buddy for him, he is a very relaxed dog.

  2. Hi I have a breeder that’s wanting me take my pup at 6weeks they called today said that the puppy has been dewormed and had her shots today she’s only 4weeks old now I’m thinking she wants me to get her early so she doesn’t have to pay for the 6-8weeks shots. She said she has been away from her mother for a week and is eating and drinking fine I’m just wondering if I should wait until 8 weeks to get her or should I just take to the vet when I get her at 6weeks

  3. We found Labrador puppies for sale and they are supposedly not breeders. They want everyone to get their puppies when they turn 6 weeks old. They will not be vet checked so I am taking our puppy to the vet the next day. Any suggestions or concerns about getting her this early? She along w the other puppies are being kept in a barn. I have 2 small children and an 8yr old pug. Suggestions on training this early and chewing/biting? Thanks

    • Hi Michelle, the information you need is in the article above. You should not purchase a Labrador puppy at six weeks old for the reasons given and because it demonstrates that the breeder is not responsible. Your first task when sourcing a puppy is to find a responsible breeder. Good luck with your search.

  4. Good day,
    We are getting a lab puppy at 7weeks. Its in between too early and correct timing, so I hope this isn’t too bad?
    My question is this: Our pups mom did not give birth naturally and had to be rushed to the vet to help remove the pups. 4 of the 5 were still born, so our pup is an only child.
    I met him at 3 weeks(yesterday) and he is quite a big(fat) pup.
    I guess he did not have to fend of 4 brothers and sisters for milk/attention from mom!
    I would like to know how this will affect him in future?
    I want to take the best possible care of our new family member!
    Thank you

  5. […] Neha…Looking at your other questions…you are 19 years old and this is your first ever pet and you have no idea how to care for it, and your mother is not pleased about you having one! A recipe for disaster. You have now obtained a pup from an unscrupulous breeder that should still be with its mother and siblings and needs even more care than is usual. Why oh why did you go and do this. Your best bet is to take the pup back to the breeder and tell them you do not want a pup until it is 8 weeks old. Chances are it has never been wormed or even properly weaned. This pup is under a lot of stress and will sleep most of the time. He needs warmth and company and no you must not leave him alone at night or even during the daytime. He needs feeding on good quality puppy food made mushy with warm water at least 4-5 times a day.Little and often is best for him. If you are adamant on keeping him then have him in a box or crate next to your bed at night so as you can put a hand down to comfort him when he cries. Get up and take him outside to relieve himself at least once during the night. Puppies are really hard work and even more so at this tender age. Read up on the internet on how to care for young puppies and their needs, vaccinations and worming etc. Read this;>>>http://www.thelabradorsite.com/collectin… […]

  6. Hi Pipa! My 4 months old lab as lost a tooth while playing with a rope, ( the rope is suitable for dogs). Is one of the front peaked…..I don t know if its normal or not. Can you help me? Thank you so much.

  7. I have a yellow labrador puppy 2 month old. His nose is slightly brown on edges and remaining is black. Is it a problem or normal. He is very active and healthy and weigh around 4 Kgs much heavier then other siblings.

  8. I got a lab mixed with a cur yesterday. It’s a female and she is 6 weeks old. I’ve brought her around a lot of people and she is very quiet. With me she plays and stuff but bites alot. Any way I can help out with that instead of punishing her. And also , she won’t drink water. I’ve given her milk and she’s drank that. I gave her some moist food from Petco and she’s eating that. I got her puppy formula but she won’t drink it. Any ideas on what to do ?

  9. pippa i got labrador puppies at 3 weeks….i made a big mistake……..now n feedin him with cows milk……..will it engh?…….plz help me out

  10. Hi there! I understand that this page is for labs but I feel this is relevant. I was puppy hunting with my fiance and found a beautiful little boy (we’ll call him Dexter) The owner is not an experienced breeder and the litter was an accident. They were going to just get rid of the pups (AT 3 WEEKS OLD) to a shelter or who nows where. I Rescued one pup and even offered a small amount of money to encourage them to keep it with the mother and the other pups till they are of age. He is now 7 weeks old and I’m concerned with how he is being handled. REMEMBER I rescued him. the other dogs will go to a shelter at 8 weeks. I want to know if at 7 weeks it is better to bring him home and have control over what he eats and his experiences or if another week in an unpredictable environment is worth it. Please note that there is no cruelty at its current home. Just an unprepared accidental breeder who got in over his head.

  11. Hi, My name is Sarah,
    My puppy Alfie is now 4months old nearly 5 months, he is a Labrador crossed with a German Sheperd, he’s such a clever little character! His Mum is the German Sheperd and his Dad is the Labrador. When I first got him he was 5 weeks (nearly 6 weeks old) old due to his mother abandoning them and was becoming aggressive towards the liter. When he was 5 weeks old we had to feed him his milk every 4 hours, i’m not going to lie it was hard but you get used to it and the routine/very early mornings become easier to handle. Its just absolutely amazing watching them grow and develop and the little things they do what make them unique. He’s no trouble at all, and thats quite rare to say with a puppy, he is crate trained also. He used to nip quite a bit but what puppy doesn’t, this website helped a great deal in dealing with it and cutting it out for good and now he hardly does it. He’s going puppy training at the end of the month just to top up his training and my knowledge so I can be the best for him as he’s so mentally alert I need to think of new things for him so he doesn’t get bored aswell. He loves his walks, I follow the 5 min walk for every month etc and he loves it! Cant wait to take him for long walks on the beach or in the forest, he’s so good on the lead already so with the puppy training he will be even better at it. He gets plenty of my time which is great for both of us, my partner works full time so i’m at home with Alfie and I work a few hours in the mornings but my mum only lives just down the road so if need be my mum will let him out in the garden.

  12. Hi Pippa, I am currently waiting on a puppy of my own and am suppose to pick it up the third week in December. It is not a labrador but a Siberian Husky. After coming across you article online I have become very concerned. The breeder that I have purchased him from requires the new puppy owners to pick their puppies up at 6 weeks old. Her website states that she has been a breeder of Huskies for 15 yrs. and that she will not hold a puppy past pick up date unless there is an emergency situation. She also has people who have puppies in this litter that have come to her before. I have already paid the non-refundable deposit for this puppy and will have the time to give it all the special attention that it requires. Should I just take the loss and find another breeder? Will he really be that damaged it i do get him at 6 weeks? I have done my research on this breed and have found that they can be aggressive if not properlly trained right so I am a little scared now that this can cause many problems in the way he turns out.

    • Hi there Cara
      This site is for and about Labradors but much of what is written here applies to all breeds of dog.
      If there is some particular reason why Siberian huskies should be adopted at six weeks I am not aware of it. Nor can I imagine what reasonable ground for such a requirement might be. But that does not mean I would discount it out of hand. If I were buying an unusual breed like this, I would consult with the breed clubs in the first instance.
      I am sure that you have already done your research, but this is the UK Siberian Husky Club’s page of minus points for those thinking of owning a Siberian Husky. It does not mention early adoption as being necessary. Here is a page from the American Club, again, it does not mention early adoption.
      The fact that someone has been breeding for 15 years and has return customers, does not make them a good breeder. It does not make them a bad breeder either. I would however be very suspicious of the six week requirement and in your position I would be consulting with the Kennel Club and Siberian Husky Club in your region for advice first thing on Monday morning.
      Good luck with your decision, and I hope you get some good advice. Pippa

  13. Hi Pippa I sent you an e-mail before about my friends buying a Labrador puppy. Not only did they visit and were all in with and handling the puppies at 2 weeks old but they have just shown me recent pics of the puppy they chose being bathed at 4 weeks! I am beginning to think that they have made a mistake and the breeder although knows all about the health issues in breeding but really doesn’t know much about behaviour and how it is important that the puppies get the best start possible.
    My friends have set their site high in that they want a Labrador the same as my Holly, as she is very well behaved and is a dream to own. I bought Holly at 9 weeks old, I never got to view the pups until they were six weeks. She came from a man who was very experienced in breeding gun dogs and took part in the sport. He also practised as a dog behaviourist. I actually asked for his expertise when picking Holly as a puppy and as a result a got a big healthy puppy who was easy to train with his guidance. he has now retired but I keep intouch with him. Not sure that my friends pup is going to have such a good start.
    Pauline x

  14. As a hobby breeder of 7 years experience and a dog owner for over 20 years, I found your article on collecting puppies early very interesting. However, I am concerned that you missed one of the most important reasons. In the UK it is against the law (Welfare of Dogs Acts 2004) to remove a puppy from the breeder, it’s place of rearing and the dam before the puppy is 8 weeks old.
    Please keep up the good work
    Victoria

    • Hi Victoria,
      Thanks for your comment. I can’t find a 2004 act on google. The
      1999 act
      does state that a keeper of a licensed breeding establishment must not sell a puppy before 8 weeks.

      But I believe that most breeders are not licenced ( it defines a licenced breeding establishment for dogs as one where its keeper is licensed under the 1973 Act.)
      So presumably the law does not apply to the vast majority of breeders that are hobby breeders, and this means that these breeders can legally let puppies go at any age they choose?

      Pippa

      It is an interesting subject. Does anyone have any more information on this? Or a link to a more recent Act?

      • I knew a breeder (an amateur, not a registered breeder) who insisted on keeping his puppies until they were 12 weeks old. I have a lovely Black Lab now who is a great friend but was more difficult to train than the Boxer I bought from that breeder years ago. I wonder what your view is on this issue as his stated reason was to ensure they had learned a lot from their mother before leaving home, and it seemed to work well.

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