Welcoming a new pet into the family can be simultaneously exciting and terrifying. Pet owners often think that adopting a small puppy is easier, but others feel guilty about separating puppies from their nursing mother dogs.

So, when can puppies leave their mum? It’s in everyone’s best interest to learn and respect that age.

Keep reading to find out when it’s the right time to adopt a puppy and why. Here’s what we’ll cover:

Why Is a Puppy’s Separation From Its Mother Stressful?

Puppies are like human babies. Just imagine separating one from their mother right after being born. Besides the emotional trauma, that can have physical consequences because the mother didn’t get to nurture and feed her babies. 

Some people may think that puppies are too young to understand and feel, but they’re wrong. Every future pet owner should know how long puppies need to stay with their mum before adopting one.

Waiting Is Important

We know that you’re excited and can’t wait to get your puppy home. After all, you got all the new puppy owner essentials, stocked your shelves with food, and you’re ready to go. 

But is the puppy ready to come live with you? 

Here are a few reasons why you should wait a couple of weeks before adopting a puppy.

Switching From Milk to Solid Food

Mother milk is crucial for the puppy’s health. But how long do puppies drink milk from their mother?

Puppies will drink milk until solid food is introduced to them, and the weaning phase usually starts between three and five weeks of age.

When puppies are born, the main food source should be their mother’s milk. The nutrients in it will help them grow strong and healthy. Even the suckling gives the puppy comfort and a sense of bonding with its mom.

Emotional Needs

Puppies that leave their mother and litter too early will show behavior problems sooner or later. The first thing you’ll notice in emotionally deprived puppies is their lack of confidence around other dogs and people.

They might also have difficulties bonding with their owners and display aggressive tantrums with uncontrollable biting. That’s why the best age to take a puppy home is when it knows how to behave like a dog, and the puppy will learn that from its mum and litter.

Law Enforcement on Adopting Puppies

In some US states, the law determines the right time to take a puppy away from its mother.

In 22 out of 26 states with law enforcement about puppies, the legal age to sell, adopt, or import a puppy is eight weeks. In contrast, Maine, Virginia, and Wisconsin allow puppy adoption at seven weeks of age.

The Most Common Puppy Age for Adoption

The best age to get a puppy from a breeder or shelter is at 10 weeks. That’s when puppies eat alone, are aware of their existence, and can adapt well to new situations. Also, their mobility is better, and they no longer depend on their mothers.

Development Stages of a Puppy at 6–8 Weeks

If you observe litter development, you’ll see that the crucial changes in puppies’ lives occur between 6 and 8 weeks of age. During this period, puppies learn how to play, recognize faces, and distinguish aggressive from friendly behavior. A 6-week-old puppy cannot function without a mother.

Why 10 Weeks Is the Best Age for Puppy Adoption

At 10 weeks of age, puppies became aware of their surroundings and of themselves. They’re more independent and obedient, which is essential for you as a pet owner. 

Many breeders and adoption centers give their puppies at 8 weeks of age, but the two-week wait will do wonders for puppies’ mental and physical health.

So, how long do puppies need to stay with their mum? No less than 10 weeks.

Adopting a 12-Week-Old Puppy — Is It Too Late?

You should know that there are differences in adopting small and large breeds at an older age. Some breeders keep the puppies until 12 weeks for several reasons. 

Toy breeds like Labradoodle puppies or French Bulldog puppies need more time to develop and feel fully independent. So, a few more weeks with their litter will help them grow stronger.

In contrast, adopting a large breed puppy at 12 weeks can be somewhat tricky. By that time, the puppy is stronger and more of a troublemaker. If your personalities don’t match at first, bonding will be more difficult once you bring the puppy home. That’s why you should consider how old a puppy is before adopting it.

Puppy Behavioral Problems Because of Premature or Late Adoption

When can puppies leave their mum? We recommend waiting until the puppy is 10 weeks old. Getting it too early can cause the same damage as adopting a full-grown puppy. 

Let’s see what behavioral issues can occur because of late or premature adoption:

Early Adoption Consequences

Disrupting the weaning process and separating the puppy from its litter can be devastating to its physical and mental health. 

Early adoption can make a puppy unable to recognize a friendly animal or people. Also, there’s the risk of sibling syndrome in puppies, leading to underdeveloped communication and cognitive skills.

Late Adoption Consequences 

Adopting puppies older than 10 weeks can be difficult for the dog and the owner. 

Older puppies are already used to certain surroundings and faces, so it can be very hard to accept a new home and people. This can be a valid cause of stress and anxiety in puppies.

So, how old are puppies when they can leave their mum? They should be mentally and physically mature enough for adoption.

Separation Anxiety Is a Real Thing

Dogs remember a lot, so the experiences from their early life can leave a mark on their behavior. So, if you separate weaning puppies from their mother at 6 six weeks of age, they’ll likely face difficulties adapting to their new life

Separation anxiety in newborn puppies is common. Still, the good news is that there are ways you can help them overcome this obstacle. But first, let’s clear out the most common symptoms of separation anxiety in puppies.

Common Signs

The first few days after adopting a puppy are usually the hardest, no matter how old a puppy is. And separation anxiety can manifest in any breed. The most common signs include:

  • The puppy doesn’t have a sleep and eating routine.
  • It’s afraid to be left alone, even for a short period.
  • The puppy seeks attention all the time.
  • It displays aggressive behavior and excessive barking.
  • The puppy bites for no reason.

Every puppy can behave differently when entering a new home. Some breeds, like the Labrador Retriever and Australian Shepherd, are more likely to experience separation anxiety. But don’t rely on that. 

How to Help Your Puppy to Adapt

Even if pet owners know exactly when puppies are ready to leave their mum, sometimes pups need a little more love and care to get over the separation. Here are some things you can do to make your fur buddy feel welcomed in your home:

  • Spend more time with the puppy.  Make the puppy a priority and introduce it to family members.
  • Feed the puppy with healthy and nutritious food. Who wouldn’t cheer up with delicious food on their plate? Plus, feeding the puppy with healthy food would make it stronger. Remember that the puppy can feel confused and anxious in the first few weeks, so having calming treats for stressed puppies is a great idea.
  • Establish a relaxing grooming routine. Instead of going to a professional groomer, try bonding with your pup through simple activities like bathing or massaging. All you need is a gentle shampoo for puppies and a lot of cute rubber dog toys.

Everything gets easier once you bond with your pup. The adaptation can be exhausting for both of you, but love and understanding go a long way.

Wrap Up

So, when can puppies leave their mum? After going through the puppies’ development stages, we learned that the best time to separate them from their canine family is when they’re 10 weeks old

Impatient pet owners should know there are consequences of early and late adoption, so they should give puppies time and space to stand on their own feet. In the first weeks, puppies must spend more time with their mother and litter to grow healthy and strong.

Once you bring the puppy home, give it all the love in the world.

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