There is a lot of discussion as to when should a puppy be removed from its mother (also referred to as “dam”). One school of thought says eight weeks is fine. Another feels that 12 weeks is the best time.
It is important to stress that puppies learn a lot from their mother during their first few weeks. The longer a puppy gets to stay with its dam, the more time it has to develop traits and good habits that will help it in the short and long term.
Before one can determine when is the best time to remove a puppy from its mother, a pet parent needs to understand the different phases a dog goes through during the puppy stage.
For the first two weeks of life, a puppy cannot see or hear. It is all relying on its mother for food. Therefore, its chances of survival are strongly dependent on the dam.
In the event a puppy has lost its mother or the mother cannot produce milk, providing the pup with a milk replacer is a good alternative.
At two to four weeks, a puppy opens its eyes. It will also be able to hear. In addition, a puppy at this point in its development will start to crawl, stand and eventually walk. Again, it is highly dependent on it mother.
By the time a puppy is seven weeks old, it should be fully weaned and be able to eat solid foods. A puppy at this stage no longer needs to be nursed by its mother.
From four to twelve weeks, the socialization process really starts to take shape. A puppy at this point in its life cycle will learn to obey its mother, follow her commands, interact with siblings, and start interacting with humans.
While some breeders feel that it is all right to release a pup from its mother at eight weeks, most professional breeders strongly recommend that a puppy should be separated from its dam and litter at 12 weeks of age. By this time, a puppy will have been accustomed to feeding and grooming itself. Also it would have learned to socialize with other dogs, and the dog’s personality would have had some time to develop.
Another good reason to keep a puppy with its mother until 12 weeks is that by then it would have had the first of its two-stage vaccines. Thereby, helping the puppy build its immune system before it is adapted by a forever family.
In summary, whether you plan to adopt, purchase, or sell a puppy, you need to be aware of how important it is for the puppy to have a strong bond with its mother during the first 12 weeks of its life. If a puppy is taken away for its dam and litter before 12 weeks of age, it might not fully develop its socializations skills which are vital to ensuring a puppy grows up to become a well-behaved dog.