When Can Puppies Leave Their Mother – When To Take Your Puppy Home

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When can puppies leave their mother

When can puppies leave their mother? Is it safe to bring them home at 5, 6 or 7 weeks, or should you wait until they are 8 weeks old. Find out here.

You’ve booked your Labrador pup with a breeder – maybe even from before mom was pregnant. You just can’t wait for the exciting day you get to bring your puppy home.

Now you’re wondering when can a puppy leave its mother. Do you really have to wait a full 8 weeks. After all, your pup will be weaned at around 6 weeks old.

Most puppies go to their new homes between 7 and 9 weeks. There are very good reasons for this, which we’ll share with you in this article.

You’ll discover the various factors you need to consider carefully, in order to do the best for your puppy.

Let’s first take a look at what the kennel clubs recommend.

Kennel club recommendations for rehoming puppies

The Kennel Club (UK) and the American Kennel Club (AKC) both recommend that puppies are over 8 weeks old before being rehomed.

When can puppies leave their mother

Some people believe that pups can be rehomed as soon as they’re weaned at 6 weeks. The AKC explains that the additional two weeks allows the breeder to complete the weaning process and make sure that the puppy is properly settled on solid food.

From 6 – 8 weeks pups also still need to learn some important life lessons from their moms and littermates. We’ll take a closer look at this further on.

While the sale of tiny puppies is permitted in some parts of the world, it is illegal in others.

Legal limits on the age of puppies when sold

There are legal requirements governing the sale of puppies in some 25 states in the USA.

Most of these laws stipulate that puppies should be over 8 weeks old when they go to their permanent homes.

In the UK, law related to puppy breeding, and the age at which they may be sold, was passed in 2018.

“But, BUT”, you cry “my six week old puppy is already weaned!”

That may well be true, in so far as your puppy no longer drinks his mother’s milk.

So what is the purpose of this legislation and why is 8 weeks so important? Why do kennel clubs recommend puppies are not re-homed before 8 weeks?

These recommendations are based on a lot of solid research that’s been done over the years on dogs’ physical and psychological development.

This will become clear to you as we have a look at the answers to the questions “Can puppies leave mother at 5 weeks?” or “Can puppies leave mother at 6 weeks, or at 7 weeks?”

Can puppies leave mother at 5 weeks?

Puppies just start finding their feet and moving around at around four weeks. Mom starts spending less time with them to help them become more independent.

When they’re around 4 weeks old pups start transitioning to solid food but they’re also still drinking from mom for another week or two.

Their digestive systems are still immature and they need time to adjust to the solid food. And be protected from stress.

With younger puppies, three or four weeks old, the situation is even more serious – and your puppy may die. We get many sad letters here from people that have bought puppies this young and whose puppies are very sick

An interesting point is that if you see mom treating these older pups roughly while they’re suckling – grabbing them by their neck, snapping, growling of even standing up and dumping one – its is not just to wean them!

By five weeks puppies have a whole lot of teeth which can be nippy when they suckle and much of mom’s apparent bullying it to teach them to suck properly with their lips.

This is where the lessons not to bite hard start. If they don’t learn quickly they’ll go hungry. They’ll also tend to bite hard and hurt people when they’re rehomed at this young age.

But why can’t you take your pup home once they’re fully weaned at 6 weeks?

There are two issues here that need separating.

  • Can puppies leave their mother at six weeks
  • Should puppies leave their mother at six weeks

Can puppies leave mother at 6 weeks?

In some parts of the world it’s common for puppies to be rehomed at six weeks or even earlier. Six weeks is a popular age for many people to want to bring home their Lab puppy.

And breeders who sell very young puppies will often explain, quite truthfully, that their six week old puppy is already weaned.

But in much of Europe, Australia and North America, most pedigree puppies are not sold until they are around 8 weeks old. A few breeders may want puppies to be even older than this.

Physically puppies can and do leave their mothers this young, and even younger, though not all such very young puppies will survive.

Is it to do with weaning? Or is there some other reason. Let’s just go back to weaning first

Are puppies weaned at six weeks old?

If your breeder tells you your puppy is already weaned at six weeks old, they are almost certainly telling the truth.

Most breeders begin getting puppies used to solid food from around 3 to 4 weeks of age, and many puppies are indeed completely weaned off their mother’s milk at six weeks.

The six week old pup still has a very immature digestion and is vulnerable to stomach upsets.

It certainly isn’t a good time to uproot a puppy and add the additional stress of leaving the comfort and familiarity of his home.

More reasons not to rehome pups at 6 weeks

But there are other, very important, reasons to leave puppies with their mother for a couple more weeks. And with their brothers and sisters.

Most of these have to do with their social and psychological development. This is when mom teaches her pups most of their doggy manners.

From 6 – 8 weeks puppies also really start playing with their littermates – and boisterously. They nip, bump and even roll each other over while they play.

All puppies bite. This is a normal part of puppy play.

But puppies have to learn how hard they can bite in fun, without actually harming anyone. And one of the most important ways that puppies learn not to bite is from their littermates.

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Much of this ‘no bite’ training takes place during the two weeks before the puppy reaches 8 weeks of age. This is when puppy play gets rougher and tougher and the puppies teach one another not to bite too hard.

During this time puppies also develop a sense of themselves and their bodies as separate from others. They also learn to accept and not become scared or aggressive when they’re physically touched and bumped.

Furthermore, much like 2-3 year old human toddlers, pups from 6-8 weeks start testing the limits of their own independence. And from their mom and littermates they quickly learn what they can and can’t do a social environment.

All of these are important lessons for the rest of the puppy’s life. You’ve probably heard that behavior problems are more common in puppies separated too early from their litter and this explains why.

When can puppies leave their mother?

Behavior problems in puppies separated from their mothers too early

A study published in 2011 compared reported behavioural problems in dogs rehomed at 4-5 weeks, with those who went to their new homes at 8 weeks.

The dogs who were separated from their litters early showed far more of the following behaviour problems

  • destructiveness
  • excessive barking
  • fearfulness on walks
  • reactivity to noises
  • toy possessiveness
  • food possessiveness
  • attention-seeking

You can learn more about the problems that can arise with puppies that are sold at five or six weeks old in the article “6 week old Puppy – Your Questions Answered

So when can puppies leave their mother? Can’t they leave at 7 weeks, once they’ve had some time for the lessons with their brothers and sisters?

Can puppies leave mother at 7 weeks

Must you really wait a full 8 weeks?

I understand that waiting can be tough. Seven weeks is not ideal, but probably won’t do any great harm other than possibly making biting harder and more difficult to stop.

Is that really worth an extra seven days in the grand scheme of things?

The truthful answer to the question “Can a puppy leave mother at 7 weeks?” is that the right age to bring home a Labrador puppy is 8 weeks. A couple of days early won’t hurt, but that is it.

With very small breeds, some breeders will want to keep the puppies for another three to four weeks after that.

The 8 week rehoming guideline has yet another useful purpose. It helps you to identify responsible dog breeders.

Puppies are hard work. Especially from 6 to 8 weeks of age when they’re messy, noisy, and growing fast.

It takes commitment to keep puppies during this period when many puppy buyers are desperate to collect their baby and take them home.

This commitment is a good sign that you’ve chosen a responsible and caring breeder. Their attitude will affect all aspects of your puppy’s early life in a positive way.

Anyone who is just breeding for profit is likely to want to move the puppies on to their permanent homes as quickly as possible.
When can you take your puppy home? We look at the right age to bring home a puppy and the best time for puppies to leave their mother

Reasons for rehoming puppies early

Of course sometimes there are exceptional reasons that mean a puppy needs to be brought home early.

For example, a death in the breeder’s family may result in a litter being re-homed early. But let’s be honest, situations like this are extremely rare

All too often, breeders who let puppies go to their new homes at six weeks old, do so for selfish reasons.

Incidentally, a common excuse given by breeders who are just churning out puppies for profit, and want to get rid of the puppies as quickly as possible, is that ‘the mother dog has died’.

This is rarely true, and in any case it isn’t relevant.

Because at this point, the puppy needs to be with his brothers and sisters, as much as, if not more than, he needs to be with his mother.

Please be patient and refuse if you’ve been offered a very young puppy for sale .

Also think very hard about whether or not this is the right breeder, and the right litter for you. Even if the mother has genuinely sadly passed away, your puppy still needs to be kept with his littermates.

If you’ve brought a puppy home that is less than seven weeks old, please have the courage to take your puppy back to the breeder. If everyone did this, breeders would stop abusing dogs in this way, because they wouldn’t be able to sell them.

Without legislation to protect these dogs, in many regions, the answer lies entirely in the hands of the buyer.

Finally, let’s look at the other end of the spectrum. Is it ever too late to bring a puppy home? Are some puppies too old to be adopted?

Is my puppy too old to bring home?

What happens if you have been offered an older puppy? One that is 10 or even 12 weeks old?

Are there any problems you need to look out for? The answer here is that if you have found a good breeder, there shouldn’t be any problems with adopting an older puppy

The main issue that can affect older puppies is lack of the next stage of socialisation.

The Labrador Handbook by Pippa Mattinson

After 8 weeks a puppy should be taken out and about to get him used to all kinds of different situations and experiences – and it’s hard work to do this properly with more than one puppy.

So, if your breeder has been left with two or three puppies, you need to check carefully on what he or she has done in the way of socialisation.

When can a puppy leave its mother – Summary

So when can puppies leave their mom? Eight weeks is a great age to bring your puppy home. The benefits are worth the wait.

Can puppies leave mother at 5 weeks? The answer is that they’re still far too immature, physically and psychologically, to leave their mother.

Can puppies leave mother at 6 weeks? Although they’re weaned, they still have many doggy lessons to learn from both their mom and their littermates.

Can puppies leave mother at 7 weeks? It likely won’t do much harm, but it will best for your pup’s future not to skip a grade in school.

Like so many aspects of puppy health and welfare, much hinges on whether or not you have found a good, responsible breeder. If you’ve done your research and picked your breeder carefully, none of these issues is likely to affect you.

This article has been extensively revised and updated for 2019.

References

  • AKC Staff. 2015. Best time to bring a puppy home from the kennel/breeder. American Kennel Club.
  • Anastasio, A. 2019. A canine mother’s love: how she encourages independence in her pups. American Kennel Club.
  • Lunchick, P. 2018. What is the best age to send puppies to their new homes. American Kennel Club.
  • Ozuna, M. 2009. Five week puppy syndrome. IACP Safehands Journal.
  • Pierantoni, L. et al. 2011. Prevalence of owner-reported behaviours in dogs separated from the litter at two different ages. The Veterinary Record.
  • The Puppy Contract. 2019. What are the laws about puppy breeding and what should I do if I’m concerned about the breeder? puppycontact.org.uk.
  • Wisch, R. 2017. Table of state laws concerning minimum age for sale of puppies. Animal Legal and Historical Center.

61 COMMENTS

  1. Hello!
    I came across your site while looking for information on caring for lab puppies. I have two young pups that appear to be labs or lab mixes (as they are much smaller than average) that my mother found abandoned on our families farm. No mother. No owner. No breeder. I took them to the vet and he estimated that they were about 5 weeks old. While I understand fully why you have no information regarding puppies younger than 6-8 weeks of age on your site, I’m curious about any advice you may have on caring for young pups who were abandoned.

  2. I like how mentioned resisting a three-week old puppy because he still needs his mother. My friend wanted to adopt a puppy of that age. After reading your article, it sounds like it will be better if she waits.

  3. Hi. I am in Spain and have found a breeder of border collies. He separated the pups from the mum at 4 weeks. They are next to each other in the kennel, but only occasionally together. The puppuies are all together being fed cows milk and kibble. I am a bit concerned , as the puppies dont look clean and happy. They are smelly too. I know the cows milk is not the best for them. I dont know if im overly concerned about things or i should walk away. I really want the doggy and the children are looking forward getting the puppy.is it very bad they were put aside from mum at 4 weeks and given cows milk? Their cage is only 6m2 , can they look dirty and not happy because lacjk of space? Should i walk away? I think in Spain they are not as responsible as in uk

  4. i do have a question we just breed our Red Bone Coon Hound and where told 6 weeks by our vet. so i continued to ask other vets because that’s something i haven’t heard of and they said for there size at 6 weeks and they should already be weaned from milk and mother by that time and be up and around on there own?

  5. My husband bought a lab for me on our anniversary. He is a lot older than me and not really experienced with dogs, we had a black lab for years who was taken to Labrador heaven during the Summer after many years of love and fun with us due to cancer.
    The breeder sold him a 3-4 week old pup, (we are pursuing a case against him) we had a few problems medically but seems well now with really good care from our wonderful vet.
    My question is, he keeps biting us, and badly. Is there anything we can do? Can we help him?
    The breeder makes me angry, it cost my husband a lot of money and took advantage of his kind nature. I hope we can help this beautiful Labrador can grow to be a wonderful companion.

    • One thing that has helped with biting puppies is to yelp REALLY LOUDLY and at a high pitch–just as a brother or sister would have done. Also, IMMEDIATELY stop playing, petting, paying ANY attention at all to your puppy. I will even turn my back to her.
      Your puppy wants to play with you and get attention from you more than anything and this seems to have worked really well for me.
      My little girl (who didn’t leave momma early but still needed to learn that I don’t have a thick layer of fur over my skin!) has gotten MUCH better VERY quickly!
      Now, all I have to say is, “no mouth!” and she stops.
      Be patient. Your puppy doesn’t WANT to hurt you but he just doesn’t know any better until you teach him.

  6. Hi Pippa,

    I’ve looked into getting a golden retriever from a breeder. She said when the puppies are 7-8 weeks old they can go to their new homes. Does this mean this is not a good breeder?

    Thanks
    Tina

  7. We’ve got a beautiful chocolate lab who’s had eight gorgeous puppies, they are now 6 weeks old, they will not leave here till 8-9 weeks old, they have had beta puppy food moistened and blended three times a day since 4 weeks olds as well as a lactol milk feed morning and night along with water, they have now been separated from mum to get them used to not having her present and vice versa, they would still feed from her if they could but to be honest it’s me that’s taken the descion to step in as mum was giving me the “help” eyes… So I did, all puppies are fantastic even the dinky one survived and she is the most independent one !! All puppies have loving homes to go too, but will not leave until 8-9 weeks old, it is important that the hard and dangerous bit is done before they start there next chapter of life, I have them litter trained in there box, my next step is to crate train them and that way I know I’ve done everything I can to give them the best first steps to fun with there loving families. My beauty was crate trained from day one, and if she could she would still be in it now, they feel safe and secure in there crate and you know they can’t harm themselves while your not there. Love your dog as your dog sure loves you 🙂

    • Thank you for your information. I have old english female who breed with an akbash. She had 7the very large puppies. And i feel good about everything i have done with them to prepare for their new homes . Just as you said sad warn out mum so i had to lend a hand but they are so huge :). They will be very close to 9 weeks but we had to wait for a vet opening to have their shots done . This will be done on Saturday . My question to you is . Is it ok to allow them to go that day. The people who are buying them are asking to pick them up right after their shots ? Thank you

  8. Hi what it is i need some help if there is anyone out there that can help my Lab girl had 10 puppies on 1/08/2015 mum has taken mastitis twice now the puppies were four weeks past on Saturday,the mum is on painkiller,antibiotics and the vet has told me to seperate the mum from the puppies the puppies cry for there mum and mum keeps barking and pining,the puppies are already on solids and i have been feeding them every four hours do i only give them so many feeds per day what about during the night my husband well lets just say it was domestic violance when the puppies were just a few days old i am trying to mange my daughter is a very big help i am feeding them canned puppy food mushed up with lactol milk also puppies full meal mixer this morning i feel at the end of my tether i just need some helpful advice also the smallest pupiie born has a hare lip so i have been bottle feeding her around the clock i took a severe chest infection and i am very run down but i push forward for the sake of these beautiful puppies is there anyone out there who can offer any type of tips or advice i would be very grateful for any help or guidance what so ever thank you x

  9. Hi Pippa
    I am thrilled to have found your site today…I live in Bali and last week I rescued a labrador puppy,i think she is about 4 to 5 weeks old..I have to look after her as she was just left on the street..she is very sweet and placid although her little teeth are sharp and she tries to bite everything,I have been feeding her twice a day with boiled rice and mashed vegetables and a little puppy food…she seems very happy….she is going to the vet next week to be checked out..I am thinking to get a crate for her…I read that you dont give advice for puppies under 8 weeks and I can understand this….would it be possible for you to give me a yes or no on crating her.
    Thank You
    Kristine

  10. Hi…8 and 1/2 yrs ago my hubby and I were reeling from the lose of our 18month old black labs death…anemia and cancer took his life…we researched breeders, withe the help of a vet found one, (our dr. Requested we get a lab for our young son who was not able to talk….it worked wonders)., after his death we were driving in the back bush roads…we seen a sign….help, puppies need a home….my hubby said what harm could it do….well…we went in, and in the corner there was a mountain of little puppies….fast asleep….
    Here was a young mother of 3 little ones all under the age of 5yrs…
    The mother dog belonged to her ex hubby, who had just left on tour…leaving his dog with someone he trusted the mother of his children…
    anyways the female was 2 yrs old….She had given birth to 15 puppies all chocolate…She wanted nothing to do with the puppies….The whole 3 hours we were there the mother stayed on the couch….The male the father a chocolate lab was there….Both were easy going dogs…Very friendly. …seemed healthy….The vet had given her strict instructions…As to what to fed….how much to fed…When to fed them….and the woman was just so exhausted she just couldn’t keep it up….
    The puppies were born on NEWS YEARS DAY AT noon….well we offered to take one of the puppies…
    so we took the first puppy seemed to need the most cate. …he was only 28 days old….yes….we took him staight to our vet….explained who and where we got him….Our vet gave us the best advice…we did exactly what we were told….he is now 8 and 1/2 yrs old, perfectly healthy, we’ll adjusted, absolutely friendly…well rounded dog ever….
    about 6 months later we met the woman how we got our little from…we asked if she was able to find homes do them all….She said that…within days after we took our puppy home the puppies caught a virus….and she rushed them to her vet and one after the other they all died….we were so shocked we couldn’t believe it….She was so happy to hear that ours was alive and extremely healthy….
    mind you it was a lot of work with a puppy that young…we had to become the adult dog parents….
    to this day I thank God for being in the right place….to save one little life…I know and understand your point pippa…about not taking a puppy at a too early time….you are right….but just sometimes it is done for the right reason….Thank u

  11. Visited our second Chocolate pup after a few weeks old with mum and again at 5 weeks. Picked her up at 7 weeks. This was from a well established caring breeder who kept her dogs as pets. No one could have loved her dogs more and we had no qualms in taking ours home at 7 weeks. She is a well adjusted, sociable loving dog anyone could want. Agree earlier than 7 weeks is a no go but there is no set rule as ‘8 weeks’

  12. Hi Pippa,
    Many years ago I was given a chocolate lab puppy who was just four weeks old – his mother had been killed by kids with an airgun, and his human parents were not breeders and had no other bitches to take care of him. I was pregnant and had bottles for the awaited baby. These I used to feed him the milk recommended by my vet – I no longer recall what it was. I assume you agree that in such a case there really is no option other than try to do the best for the pup? He became a deeply devoted, gentle and biddable companion who lived till he was 16.

  13. i wish that I had found Pippa sooner as her advice and books would have the first year of our Yellow Labs life much more fun for all of us.

  14. Hi, My Lab pup is 6 weeks old. What is the appropriate dry food for him? My breeder was giving him Royal Canin Starter for Giant dogs. Even I was giving him the same. One of my neighbours pointed out that she gave Maxi starter. I am now confused. Is there a problem? Pls help.

  15. I received a 6,5week old labbie today,and from what i can see is that they need to adapt to their new environment.Eating an drinking quite well for a puppy in a new homeSince not being with mom and the new family makes them be a bit more “active” and seeking attention from the person who actually sits still the most.It’s just who’ll be master of the bed tonight that’s going to be a problem tonight…….

  16. I read the article.but my situation is different I adopt a 2week old charming lab whose mother had died.i cant loose him..can anyone suggest some ways to look after him at this age(what to feed.. etc..)
    Pls reply

  17. Hi I am a breeder and have a litter of chocolate labs not all breeders believe in palming off there pups at an early age I have a family who are wanting to take my bitch at 6 weeks and to me is a def NO NO my puppies are reared in my home enviroment and have the freedom of the garden with my other adult labs to interact with them and my children yes some breeders are simply after the money but for me a happy puppy is a healthy puppy I do all I can to give them a good start in life and believe from 8 weeks onwards the puppy is ready to become part of a family my pups go wormed vaccinated and vet checked before leaving my home and yes they are hard work at times but nothing pleases me to see them content and their new families excited to finally take them home after visiting several times and believe a pup at 6 weeks and under is def not ready to leave its familiar surrounding at such a young age my puppies are my pride thanks:)

  18. Hello,

    I just took in a sweet black lab puppy. I had to guess at his age because of a language barrier (I was told 45 days) but the mother of the pups was very, very ill and completely unable to nurse or care for her pups. The owners knew the mother wouldn’t be alive much longer, so they looked for good families to take in the pups. I understand that professionally, it is ill-advised to release pups before the 8 week mark, but these pups would have been taken to a pound or dumped out in the country. I could not personally have that on my conscience. I love my animals as family and couldn’t say no.

    I just wanted you to understand that sometimes, circumstances make it difficult for pups to stay the full 8 weeks – this most definitely being one of them. I took him to the vet today and was told all is well, in two weeks he will be big enough for full vaccines.

  19. Hi! I found out a day after I purchased a lab puppy at 6 weeks old that it was illegal. I have a yellow make who weighs 3.5 lbs. The man told me that both parents were labs. My baby us very active and eats well. Can a lab that is six weeks old be only 3.5 lbs?

  20. Hello,
    I am currently the mother dog to 4 lab pups that were rejected by their mum, on Sunday the pups will be 4 weeks old, mummy dog had 8 babies, one was stillborn and 3 unfortunately were not strong enough to make it, but I have 4 beautiful little labs to look after, any info you can give me about the next weeks would be wonderful, I am currently weaning them from bottles, as I’ve had enough of doing it and they don’t seem to interested suckling on the bottles, but they don’t really want to lap either, I am currently also giving them some tin puppy food with warm water and the dog replacement milk mixed all up and mushy that seem to be ok with.. having never dealt with pups this young before and all info would be greatly appreciated

  21. We got our puppy at 7,5 weeks old. He started at the beginning of his life with much problems. The bitch had a troublesome delivery. 3 were born normal, 4 with a Caesarian section. After a week the bitch got mastitis. She got so ill she had to be treated with antibiotics. These antibiotics were harmful for the puppy’s and therefor they were separated from their mother. They were hand fed with goat milk. The mother was not able to go back to the litter. After the goat milk they were fed with soaked kibble and liver pastry. After 2 month we had the puppy, I heard the mother of this litter had hypothyroidism. Are there things that we can expect with our pup, and can we expect problems with the upbringing, and of course the hereditary of the hypothyroidism? For example he can bite very hard in the tail of our older lab. He doesn’t know his strength!

    Annemarie from the Netherlands

  22. We had puppies 2 years ago June 2. I told everyone that the puppies could not go home till 8 weeks. Unfortunately we had no choice but to compromise with the people of the stud dog and let their pick go home at 7 weeks. They tried telling me that because he was going to be a service/companion dog that it was unacceptable that I wouldn’t let them take him at 5 or 6 weeks. We finally agreed on 7 but I still felt that was to soon.

  23. Hi
    As a breeder of Chocolate Labradors I am of the opinion that puppies should not be allowed to leave their mum or their sibblings before they are 8 weeks old. When they are weaned from their mum and on solid dry food, their mum still plays an important role. She can be allowed longer time with the pups once her milk has dried up, and will play with them, discipline them. But it is the role of the Breeder that is more important to get the pups ready for their new homes, beginning basic training, socialising the pups, getting 1st vaccinations and arranging insurance with companies like Pet Plan that give 4 free weeks insurance. Selling pups before 8 weeks is not in my opinion recommended as they are still too young and need to interact with their sibblings and mother. Also important for the breeder to ensure that the new owners are given guidance on how to look after a puppy, the do’s & don’ts, encouraging dog training immediately after the pups have had their 2nd vaccination at 12 weeks. Training of a pup starts asap as the first 20 weeks is the most important time in the life of a pup. The first 8 weeks is down to a breeder, from there on in for the rest of the dogs life 12-15 years its all down to the owner. A good dog is one where the owner has been properly trained a bad dog is down to one thing an owner that has not been bothered to get trained. Dog owners need to be trained in order to be able to train and continue to train a dog. In my experience this is where it all goes wrong, the 8 week to 1st year of a dogs life. A good breeder can only set the dog up for life but its the owner that is the key to a happy obedient dog. Don’t blame the dog it’s almost always the owner who is to blame.

    • I fully agree re the training side. I work for a behaviourist and trainer and we see far too many dogs of all breeds that are experiencing problems through a lack of socialisation when they were puppies. All too often the dog ends up using aggression as a means of dealing with other dogs because it does not know how else to approach them. In a good puppy training class owners should be able to get an insight into how their pup is developing and how it is likely to develop as time goes on, as well as starting on basic training. The pups should have a chance to play together in carefully supervised groups that ensure that no one gets overwhelmed or bullied. We always say that our job is training the owners. They train their dogs, and a good owner will continue with training for the whole of a dog’s life.

  24. pippa i agree puppies should be with mom till 8 weeks and in some cases even longer but i have taken responsibility for a 3 week old black lab little girl and i dont know what to feed her for sure jist formula or mix with wet food im at a loss this sweet girl lost her mom she was hit by a truck and the people that owned the dog was gonna kill the pups if they didnt get homes she was the last one left so i took her i couldnt bare the thought of her dying like that please help me

    • Hi Ashlee,
      How terribly sad that a nursing bitch (or any other dog) should be given access to a road. Unfortunately everyone that asks for help with three week old puppies tells me that the mother is dead. 🙁 It is very upsetting but I do explain in the article why I cannot condone the provision of information which enables people to purchase and rear such young puppies. If a bitch dies, the care of the orphaned puppies is the responsibility of the breeder and the puppies should not be sold until they are eight weeks old and thriving. Your local vet is the best person to assist you. Good luck with your puppy, I hope she survives.

  25. hi,
    we were planning to get a lob which was 4 weeks old, but after reading this article i’m gonna wait 12 more days coz my family and i are all so excited and coudnt wait….

    what do u think about her seperation age is this age i mentioned above is good for him.

    • I totally agree with pippa. We have bred our labs twice and both times kept them till they were 8 wks old. I was going to release at 6 but after researching about labs I found that 8 wks is the earliest. Yes they are on their own with food and off the mamma but between the 6 and 8 wks they learn soo much from their mamma and siblings. We had the advantage of daddy being on the premise and he even corrected them when needed. It is soo very important to wait till that 8 wk mark. And as a responsible breeder you shouldn’t allow them to leave any earlier. They get their 6 wk check up and then you should have them get their 8wk shot. Both breeder and buyer need to be responsible on this. Our buyers were encouraged to come and visit and we even called them by their names once the buyers knew what they wanted to name them. Our buyers couldn’t be happier with their crazy loveable labs. All 17 puppies have had great reports as I keep in contact with them all. Anything short of 8wks does not benefit the puppy. They need their mamma and siblings at least till then very important. We were first time breeders and everyone I talked to on breeding who was legit and caring of their dogs said no sooner than 8 wks. Research whatever breed you decide to buy or breed yourself and learn what is the best for them not for ourselves

  26. Hi,
    I am adopting a 38 year old white lab from it’s owner, it’s mother has been sold as the puppy’s were 35 days old, sadly this happens a lot in egypt, do you have any tips on what to feed him? Should I feed him normal puppy food or still feed him milk?

  27. I have put a deposit down on a chocolate lab…and the breeder says he will be ready to come home on the 2nd of September…he was orn on the 15th of july(7weeks)….is that ok for the pup to come home then?

  28. i just brought a puppy lab last week, he’s almost six weeks old..
    i observe him, he’s active and i give him food and water at the right time everyday..
    he’s active when he’s awake and love’s to play..

  29. Hello,

    I should have found this page before i got my puppy. He is only 6 weeks old and the so called vet (i am angry now) said that it was ok. He has only been staying two days with me so far, but apart from this that i cannot change. Can you please let me know what i should keep in mind, like when should i train him , because of course he relieves himself everywhere now:), and can i leave him alone while i am at work? Thank you 🙂

    • Check out the puppy section Megi, use the link at the top of the page, it is full of articles on feeding, house training etc. As to leaving him alone, it depends how long you work for, but for the first few weeks he needs someone with him much of the time. You can’t leave a young dog alone all day.
      Pippa

  30. When i purchased my Blacky, she was only 10 weeks old, and she was the little baby of her mother, means last baby…. And he have smaller size than other puppies… But now he was very active for running and other activities … Now she is 4 months old. And is there any problem in future for her look?? Somebody says she does not get a proper size like other labs?i feed her home made food(rice with fish curry or chicken curry ) and some dry food…and one question more she have small knot / hump on top head what is that??

  31. Hey! I just got my puppy and its 4 weeks. The mother died 10 days after the birth.. He is 1.100 kg black lab .. Should I be worried??vet said everything is ok ..

    • Sorry to hear that your puppy’s mother has died. In this situation, it is normally best for the pups to remain together with the breeder until eight weeks old, as the puppies benefit from being raised with their siblings. Presumably your breeder is advising you, but don’t hesitate to go back to the vet if you are at all worried. Good luck and best wishes. Pippa

  32. My 19 month old Lab was nine weeks old when we brought him home and to us, this was ideal . Mum had lots of time out whilst the pups played in a massive pen which was kept clean and warm , they also had interaction with the breeders children and her other two dogs . I felt that Sam was ready to leave but had learned valuable lessons on play , sociability and interaction with other dogs and people . I find it shocking that some pups can leave their Mum and siblings at such a young age.

  33. Pippa,
    Shocked to hear that you were put in such a situation. 20 days! Unbelievable ! Puppies need time to learn how to be dogs. Interaction with their littermates, with Mom, with the breeder, with the family cat, are all part of the foundation upon which the new owner will build their new companion. Bite-inhibition is one of the most critical skills Pup will learn in the time spent with littermates. Responsible breeders should hardly be unaware of this aspect of Pup’s development, and the social consequences of their decision to ignore it.

  34. I am a dog fosterer on the Greek Island of Zakynthos and spend my time caring for puppies and bringing them on to a point where they can be re-homed. Could not agree more with your attitude. I regularly deal with puppies that have been placed in a bin at hours old – I have the knowledge but the work involved is huge and involves you with 24 hours a day. I am extremely fortunate that I have an alsation cross dog who loves pups and if I do the feeding – he will do the loving, keeping warm and cleaning. Pups are best with their mums until they are at very least 8 weeks – they should leave when they are fully weaned and investigating the world around them. Take them before – you give yourself heartache and all too often the pup has a death sentence.

  35. Hi Pippa
    We got our dog from the breeder at 8 weeks and a day old but when we visited at 5 weeks to choose the puppy we were going to take they had already been separated from their mother because the breeder said they were hurting her by trying to feed so were kept outside in a shed with a heat lamp and brought in in groups of two or three or individually I think to socialise etc but were kept away from their mother. I was never tempted to take the puppy at this point because I knew i wasnt meant to and the breeder was only ever going to be letting them go at 8 weeks but I can imagine it would be quite easy if you didnt know any better, to ‘feel sorry’ for the puppy and having fallen in love with it want to somehow ‘rescue’ it. Obviously tjat’s not right but people just don’t have the information and experience that they need. i come across a lot of dog owners who describe their buying experiences and they are often quite shocking but none of them have been anything other than people desperate for a dog in their family who just don’t have the right information. As a first time dog owner I had done loads of research but still it didn’t seems to be enough and I things I had a general feeling were odd or worried I asked the breeder about (as diplomatically as possible) but they got quite defensive and we were nearly not able to have a puppy because the breeder thought we ‘weren’t ready’ to be dog owners. It all got very awkward but thankfully I think the owner of the stud dog who was very experienced intervened on our behalf and we managed to reassure the breeder that we were just trying to do the right thing. Through research we had thought that it was right to ask questions but it really didnt go down very well and the fact that we had rung the breeder’s vet (as advised) didn’t go down well either. Now I’m sure there were lots of things we did wrongly and sure this will be pointed out, but it is very difficult sometimes to walk away when you have gone so far down the line or when you have been disappointed before. A previous breeder had turned us down at the last minute because we hadnt asked ENOUGH questions during the pregnancy. I think there needs to be still more information for buyers about not just the age to take puppies but about how to speak to breeders and when to walk away if you have concerns. I still don’t know if my concerns were valid or not. There are certainly lots of articles about taking puppies at 7 weeks and it can be hard to know who to listen to. We went with the advice of the kennel club in the end but there is plenty of bad press about them too so it can be very difficult to know which information to trust. I wish breeders were more approachable and didn’t assume all buyers were terrible people (which was the impression we got from a few) but realised that actually most people have the best intentions but just haven’t been through the process before and are trying their best to follow the (sometimes very mixed) information available. I am glad that you have made the point about age so clearly and in your ‘Rachael’s story’ talked about the puppy buying process. I didn’t come across any of your sites till my dog was about 6 months old and if (when) I ever get another dog I’ll be confident about what I’m doing but everyone has to have a first time and I feel sorry for people trying to make sense of the information out there who are trying to do the right thing but have been misinformed.

    • When I collected my now 10 week old bitch, at 8 weeks, from a well- known breeder with a number of decades experience behind her, she stated that the litter hadn`t seen their mother for 2 weeks. Judging from Fern, who is trying to bite everything, including me, it appears to have been a blessed relief for the mother. Can I deduce from this that this is common practice.

  36. 6 weeks is far too young. 10 -12 weeks is ideal for the puppy. It is only the breeder that has had enough at 6 weeks………….give your puppies a chance…and be fair to the pups.

  37. In my opinion I feel the right time for a lab puppy to leave mum should be 6 weeks of age no younger and no older.
    By 6 weeks the bitches have truly had enough of the puppies biting there teats and we strat to feed at 2 to 3 weeks so the puppies are up and running at full pelt by 6 weeks.
    The new owners can only do for the puppies what we have done regards feeding. And I also feel a good bond is made at 6 weeks as they are ready for human interaction.
    I would never take a puppy away from mum before 6 weeks. And I think 8 weeks is far too long and not good for the poor bitch.

    • Even though we start to supplement mother’s milk with puppy food at 4 weeks and the pups are usually completely weaned by 6 weeks the pups learn to get along with other dogs by playing with their siblings and parents. Puppies learn bite inhibition by being bitten. A bond with humans is formed best at 6 weeks, that is true but you are doing the pup a disservice by making it hard for him to get along with his own species when you remove him too early. I encourage my new owners to come and play with their new puppy often between 6-8 weeks. The bond starts before they go home and all of the puppies benefit from meeting new people, big and small. A well socialized puppy is a happy puppy.

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