What’s the Best Age to Adopt a Puppy?

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Want to adopt a puppy? There are many factors that go into deciding the “perfect” age to bring home your new puppy. And to muddle the waters, opinions on the best age to adopt a dog vary too!

However, here is something most veterinarians and breeders seem to agree on. 7 to 8 weeks of age is the prime time for a puppy to meet its new family.

But first.

You need to pick the right pet. That’s right!

Before adopting a new pet, make sure that it is the right one for you and your family. Do some prior research about the specific needs of the animal before you make that move.

Is a Puppy the Right Pet for You?

Here are some questions you should ask yourself before getting your new pet:

  • How long will this amazing pet live?
  • What does the animal eat? Can you afford it?
  • What type of exercise and how much of this exercise does the pet need?
  • How big will the pet become?
  • Can you afford veterinary care for the pet?
  • Do you have the time and everything else required to properly care for and clean up after this new baby pet?
  • What type of habitat does this pet need to be healthy?
  • Are pets allowed in your apartment or condominium?
  • Are there young children, older people, or people with weak immunity who will be around the pet or be required to care for them?

Assuming you’ve done your homework, and you’ve decided that a puppy is the ideal pet for you…

Then you should be aware that the best age to adopt a dog is always beyond 7 to 8 weeks old. That’s because those first 7 to 8 weeks are a crucial time in a puppy’s development. Pups need to be with their mother and littermates during that time.



According to the American Kennel Club, “Separating puppies from their mothers too soon, as well as weaning too early, can have unwanted effects… From 3-to-6 weeks, puppies are in an early socialization period, learning to be dogs. Through their mother and littermates, puppies begin to learn appropriate play behaviors. They also learn rudimentary impulse control and bite inhibition from the feedback of their siblings and mother. A puppy separated prior to 6 weeks may miss out on some of this early learning.”

Separating puppies from their mothers too soon, as well as weaning too early, can have unwanted effects

American Kennel Club

The Best Age to Adopt a Dog – What Our Experts Said

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Here at Pet Connection, we’re always on the lookout for the best ideas and practices for you and your pets. So we consulted 4 experts – vets, dog breeders and dog lovers to find out the best age to adopt a dog. This is what they said:

#1. Ideally, puppies should stay with their mothers and littermates until they are 10 weeks old – Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM

Ideally, puppies should stay with their mothers and littermates until they are 10 weeks old. Most puppies have completely transitioned to eating solid food by 8 weeks of age, but they still need to learn many socialization lessons that are best taught by their mother and littermates. Puppies who are separated from their mothers and littermates at a young age can have problems with respecting boundaries. They may not know how to read another dog’s body language well or understand how hard is too hard when it comes to play biting. 

Puppies as young as 6 weeks of age are often available for adoption. At this age, they may need help transitioning to solid food. Mix a high-quality milk replacer in with some canned or softened dry puppy food to make a gruel, and offer the mixture four times a day. Over the next two weeks, gradually mix in less milk replacer until the puppy is eating solid food and drinking water. 

Socializing puppies between the ages of 8 and 12 weeks of age is vital because this a time when their experiences can have a permanent effect on their personalities and outlook on life. Expose your puppy to many different environments, animals, and people during this time, but make sure that all their interactions remain fun. Exposing puppies to a variety of positive experiences during this time will help them become adults who are comfortable in all types of situations. 

Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM, has practiced in Virginia, Wyoming, and Colorado. She is also the author of numerous articles, short stories, and books, including the Dictionary of Veterinary Terms, Vet-Speak Deciphered for the Non-Veterinarian. She serves on the advisory board for Pup Life Today

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#2. The best age to adopt a dog is between 7 and 12 weeks of age. Puppies adopted too early can suffer from behavioural issues – Jen Jones

The best age to adopt a puppy is between 7 and 12 weeks of age. This allows the time puppies need to socialize with their mother and littler, and is also around the time puppies have successfully weaned from their mother. 

Puppies who are taken from their mother and littermates too soon can suffer from behavioral issues for the rest of their lives including anxiety, stress, increased aggression towards other dogs, an inability to tolerate discipline, barking, excessive licking, and more. 

For this reason, avoid buying from breeders who offer puppies younger than 7 weeks, as this could be a sign of an irresponsible breeder. 

Jen Jones is the founder of Your Dog Advisor, a leading blog for dog owners. She is a professional dog trainer and behavior specialist with more than 25 years of experience. Jones has worked with many of the world’s leading dog behaviorists and volunteers frequently with local animal shelters and rescue groups. Her training style emphasizes positive reinforcement, and force-free / fear-free training techniques. 


#3. There is only one rule: Never separate a puppy from its mom and littermates before the age of 8 weeks – Panne Robin

There is really only one rule, and that is to preferably never separate a puppy from its mom and littermates before the age of 8 weeks. In many countries, it is even illegal to separate a puppy earlier than that, and many vets and experts recommend waiting until the puppy is 10-12 weeks old, if possible. 

The reason for this is that a puppy learns essential social skills from their siblings and, most of all, from their mother. Separating a puppy too early can lead to behavioral issues and an inability to socialize properly with other dogs. With this in mind, for those wanting a young puppy, the ideal age to separate the pup from its mom is at approximately 10 weeks old, but separation at 8 weeks old is still the norm for many breeders and at many shelters. 

Panne Robin, is a Managing Editor and writer at IggySays, an upcoming dog website. Robin has also written for another big dog website for several years previously.

Things to Consider Before You Adopt

Now we know the best age to adopt a dog and bring home your new adorable puppy. But before you make that move, here are 6 things to consider.

Six things to consider before you adopt – Johnna Devereaux

#1. Understand that life as this pup knows it just drastically changed from the kennel to your home. 

#2. Provide a safe space (or two) where the pup can go in the beginning (like an appropriate sized crate). One can be placed in the central part of the home and the other in a more quiet area. 

#3. Never force your pup to go into the crate or safe area but make it very inviting so the pup enters of its own will (think treats, blankets, toys, etc) and leave the door open so they can enter (or leave) freely.

#4. Provide long-term appropriate chews (like bully sticks in a bully buddy) to help them relax. Chewing releases serotonin that relaxes them! Bow Wow Labs, Inc. has developed a new product, Bully Buddy that will ensure your dog is safe while chewing on the much-loved bully stick treat. Bully Buddy is a durable, easy-to-use, veterinarian-vetted, and dog-approved device that tightly secures bully sticks, preventing dogs from choking on the tail-end of the treat. The tightening screw keeps bully sticks secure, and dogs can really appreciate this feature as opposed to working their paws to keep a loose bully stick in place. Learn more here.

#5. Give the dog 3-4 weeks to break out of their shell, become familiar with their new surroundings/routine, and to trust you. (They’ve been failed by humans before if they’re in a shelter!) 

#6. Manage your expectations—not all dogs came from a good home the first time around and they need time to learn that you are going to be their furever home—trust them, love them and treat them kindly! They’ve been through a lot! 

Johnna Devereaux is a certified Clinical Pet Nutritionist and has been a small business owner for over a decade. Devereaux is the founder of Fetch RI, a holistic pet boutique and supply retail store.

Your Turn – Best Age to Adopt a Puppy

There are many reasons why many would consider adopting a puppy. However, before you make that decision, there are so many things to think about.

One of the major considerations is the best age to adopt a dog. And I hope that our experts have shone some light into this important area.

Have you recently adopted a pup? When did you adopt?

Are you considering adopting a puppy? What do you consider the best age to adopt a dog?

Why not join the conversation by leaving a comment below?

Pete Hudson-Smith is Associate Editor of Pet Connection and a Contributing Editor at Astute Copy Blogging. He is an animal lover. When he’s not writing, his two golden retriever corgis, Coco and Molly keep him busy.

Please note: We reserve the right to delete comments that are either offensive or off-topic.

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7 thoughts on “What’s the Best Age to Adopt a Puppy?

    • Hi Kuntala,

      I’m delighted you found our article helpful. Good luck with getting a pet dog for your son.

      Please come back and tell us all about it 😉

      And thanks for stopping by.

      Cheers,

      Pete

  1. There really are so many things to consider when buying a pet. I think a puppy is a wonderful addition to a family, but the family has to be wonderful for the puppy too. 🙂