Ask AKC: Weaning Puppies

American Kennel Club, Inc. (c) 2011

Dear Lisa: I am considering buying a Chihuahua from a breeder who is letting the pups go at 6 weeks old. I have always heard that puppies should not be weaned until they are at least 8 weeks. Should I consider a different breeder?
Every breeder has his or her own opinion about the best time to let puppies go to their new homes. Some go earlier and others go later. But the general rule of thumb is that puppies should go to their new homes in the 8-to-12 week-old age range.

Toy breeds, which are smaller than most dogs and very fragile at an early age usually stay with the breeder past 8 weeks. It is also important to note that most states have age requirements, usually 8 weeks, before puppies can be sold to the public.

There are many reasons to consider why a puppy would be let go before or after the normal 8-week time frame. Depending on the breed of dog and size of litter for example, most pups begin the weaning process, which is when the breeder begins to switch a puppy over from mother's milk to solid food - anywhere from between 3- and 5-weeks-old. It takes the puppy several days or even weeks to complete this transitional phase to only solid food. It is also a stressful time in the young pup's life and responsible breeders want to make sure that the pups are well on their way to eating independently before sending them to their new homes.

Before buying a dog, make sure you are comfortable with the breeder's decisions about your puppy. If you feel that the puppies are too young for your comfort level then I would find another breeder. A good breeder will become a mentor to you for the life of your best friend!


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