WOOF, are you looking to get a puppy? These days, people want puppies as young as possible so they can lengthen the bonding time. Such demand has paved the way for breeders and pet stores to charge ridiculous prices for puppies – the younger the puppy, the higher the price tag. As puppies get older, they lose their market value. Every single day that a puppy isn’t sold equates to a larger loss of profit. For breeders, selling puppies as young as possible is the goal. However, as the potential dog pawrent, you should NEVER consider getting a puppy before 8 weeks unless you’re adopting from a shelter or legitimate rescue organization or have somehow found young feral puppies on the street.
When it comes to breeding dogs either for “fun” or for sale, one thing is for sure – with hundreds of millions of stray, abandoned, neglected, abused, and euthanized dogs, this world just doesn’t need another dog. Even if you have a home for all the puppies that you’ve deliberately bred, you are still contributing to the dog homelessness issue and potentially taking the home away from a homeless dog in dire need. If a breeder advertises puppies before 8 weeks for sale, please walk away and do NOT consider it. Separating puppies from their mother before the 8-week minimum can be truly detrimental with irreversible consequences.
8 Reasons Why You Should NEVER Get a Puppy before 8 weeks:
*again, the only exception is if you’re rescuing!
#1 They are NOT fully weaned
The recommended time frame for getting a puppy is when they’re 8 to 12 weeks old, and no less than 8 weeks. The reason is simple – it takes a full 8 weeks for puppies to be completely weaned. The “weaning” process occurs when puppies switch from their mother’s milk to solid food (e.g. kibble/dog food), which typically begins at the 3rd to 4th week and takes at least several weeks to complete. Even if the mom starts growling at them towards the end (a sign that she’s setting boundaries, which is a normal part of the weaning process), the puppies still need to stay close to her for 8 weeks to transition successfully. Puppies must become fully accustomed to taking solid food without nursing for some time (e.g. at least 5 days) for the weaning process to be considered accomplished. Any breeder who’s willing to sell you a puppy earlier (even at 5, 6, or 7 weeks) is simply NOT a responsible breeder and has no regard for a dog’s well-being.
#2 They are NOT properly socialized
During the first 8 weeks, puppies learn about social ranking, order, and rules from interacting with their littermates. Those who get more milk from their mom establish dominance while the ones who get less become more submissive. One of the most important lessons that they learn from their mother and littermates is that biting is not welcome – simply based on the reaction they get from their mother or littermates for biting too hard. Learning social hierarchy and rules is especially crucial during the last two weeks of the weaning process (weeks 6 to 8) through social interaction with littermates. Studies have shown that puppies who are removed from their mom and littermates too early tend to be more fearful, shy, and anxious when they become adults. Puppies who are removed from the litter too early tend to have a more difficult time coping in their new homes. Yet it only becomes more stressful when they are transferred to a pet store where the social interaction is even more limited.
#3 They are prone to health issues
Based on innumerable studies, puppies who are not properly weaned are likely to suffer from more health issues compared to the ones that stay with their mom for at least 8 weeks. Puppies who are separated too early from their mothers are generally malnourished and suffer from a weakened immune system. Due to such negative findings, the 8-week minimum has become a gold standard for separation from the litter. ARF, it’s no rocket science and you certainly don’t need to rely on studies to understand the reasoning behind it. This is pure logic – it is in the best interest of puppies to receive as many nutrients as possible from their mother’s milk, which will then provide them with a solid foundation for good health. It’s the same concept with humans – babies who were nursed by their mom develop a stronger immune system than the ones who weren’t. Simply put, it’s not safe for a puppy to leave his or her mother and littermates before 8 weeks. If you want a healthy puppy, then please you must wait.
#4 They need the time to bond with their mother
When puppies get to spend more time with their mother, they learn to receive love and protection (and, of course, food) from her. As puppies see their mother as the pack leader, they also learn A LOT from her during these 8 weeks – from discipline to social skills. Once puppies are properly weaned, they become more independent through the direction and support of their mother who encourages self-reliance. Sadly, a fearful mother will produce fearful puppies while a calm mother will produce calm puppies. Therefore, it’s NEVER a good idea to get a puppy from online or a pet store (where they’re supplied by evil puppy mills that breed dogs in horrific, deplorable conditions and treat them like pure commodities). Dogs who are forced to live in overcrowded, filthy, tiny wire cages (or even smaller windowless breeding boxes) are prone to breed fearful, anxious puppies with a host of health issues.
#5 They tend to have behavioral issues
When you’re getting a puppy before 8 weeks, you may feel like it’s easier to establish a bond. BUT, the truth is that a puppy who has been separated from the mother too early tends to have more behavioral issues. Excessive barking, aggression, reactivity (e.g. to noises or strangers), biting/nipping, housebreaking/potty training difficulty, destructive behavior (e.g. chewing), resource guarding (or the opposite – food passiveness), and attention-craving are all problematic behaviors that have been indisputably exhibited more in dogs who were not properly weaned compared to those who stayed the full 8 to 12 weeks with their mother.
Sure, all dogs can react differently, and some may fare better than others. However, the chances of having a dog with issues are a lot higher when they’re removed from their mother too early. Of course, positive reinforcement training is still involved whether you get a puppy at 6 weeks or 12 weeks. Therefore, you must come prepared for additional time, training, energy, and patience when you bring home a puppy who’s been weaned way too early.
#6 They tend to have psychological issues
Besides behavioral issues, puppies who are separated from their mother before 8 weeks are likely to exhibit social anxiety, social discomfort, fear of the outside world (e.g. on walks), poor communication skills, and lack of confidence. As their mother provides food, love, comfort, security, and protection, early separation will only lead to a timid dog with psychological issues.
#7 It’s morally WRONG
Removing puppies from their mother before 8 weeks is not only a lose-lose situation for everyone (the puppies, the mother, and YOU the dog pawrent who has to deal with the puppy’s behavioral and psychological issues – behavioral issues is one of the main reasons why dogs are surrendered and abandoned every year), but it’s also morally WRONG. Again, unless these underaged puppies were rescued or found as ferals or strays, you should NOT be getting a puppy before 8 weeks – PERIOD. Puppies and their mother will cry for days once separated – the psychological and emotional impact will only exacerbate when removed before the 8-week minimum. Ideally, the mother should stay with her puppies for 8 to 12 weeks to establish a healthy and stable foundation. If you’re a mother, you should be able to empathize. Would you want someone to forcibly remove your newborn baby from you? My guess is NO. Because dogs grow much faster than humans, the first few months of the mother-puppy bonding time is critical.
As a responsible dog-loving citizen, you should NOT increase the demand for unethical practices exercised by irresponsible breeders and evil puppy mills that are motivated only by financial gains. Breeders who only see dogs as commodities producing fat paychecks will sell puppies before 8 weeks to meet the demand. The younger the puppies, the more these immoral businesses can charge. In addition, they save food, time, and money for those additional weeks when puppies are sold early. All in all, breeders are doing this because YOU are willing to buy.
Do the right thing. Don’t support unethical practices.
#8 IT’S ILLEGAL (in many states)
Do I need to bark more? Even if you didn’t know it was illegal and mistakenly purchased a puppy under 8 weeks, you still participated in illegal activity. Moving forward, please educate yourself and spread awareness!
*Maine – at least 7 weeks
*Virginia – at least 7 weeks
*Wisconsin – at least 7 weeks
If a breeder is willing to sell you a puppy before 8 weeks, you must WALK AWAY. Never trust a breeder who’s advertising underaged puppies. Please do NOT buy a dog online (e.g. Craigslist, Facebook) – these places are flooded with irresponsible, money-hungry breeders and pet stores trying to make a quick buck without regard for the mother and puppies’ well-being. If the seller refuses to let you visit the facility and meet the parents, you must recognize that something is not right. It’s a RED FLAG. Most likely, the puppy came from a puppy mill. And, puppies from pet stores almost always come from puppy mills. As a rule of thumb, you must visit the breeding facility or home AND meet the parents of your new puppy. If you see a bunch of dogs living in cages, on the ground, or in a crowded and filthy environment, please leave immediately.
Rescue is always the BEST breed
Ultimately, rescue is, paws down, the BEST breed. With dog homelessness being a global issue, buying a puppy only supports breeding. Again, this world does NOT need another dog. Stray dogs, street/feral dogs, and shelter dogs are ubiquitous in the world, even in the ones with the most progressive animal rights laws. In the U.S. alone, 6.5 million companion animals enter the shelter every year – 3.3 million dogs and 3.2 million cats. A shocking 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized (yes, they are KILLED) every single year. These numbers skyrocket when looking at global homelessness. When you rescue, you save a life. From puppies to senior dogs, you can adopt and make a pawsitive impact! As a rescue Yorkie, I can only bark that rescues rock!
ARF, hope you now understand why you should NEVER get a puppy before 8 weeks! For health, behavioral, psychological, and ethical reasons, you should NOT consider getting a puppy under 8 weeks old. And, don’t forget to ADOPT, DON’T SHOP.
Markin’ it up,
Roger Wellington a.k.a. The Doob