Dog Behavior: The Issue of Puppies Being Removed Too Early From Their Littermates and Mom
Why Are So Many Puppies Taken Away So Early?
For some odd reason, this week I was contacted by two different people having problems with their puppies. One of them purchased two sibling female Boxer puppies at 6 weeks of age, and the other purchased a seven-week-old German Shepherd puppy a pet store. What do these two puppies have in common other than giving problems to their owners? The age they were adopted, and obviously, the sources of such puppies which are very questionable. The Boxer owner obviously got the siblings from a back-yard breeder (no responsible breeder would sell litter mate puppies, and worst of all, of such a young age!) whereas, the German Shepherd owner got her puppy from a pet store (which often are supplied by puppy mills and other obscure sources).
Removing Puppies Too Early Is Illegal!
What many dog owners don't know is that there are many pitfalls from adopting or purchasing puppies so young. Indeed, selling underage puppies is even illegal in several states. For instance, in the State of Illinois, no dog breeder or kennel operator can sell a puppy that is under the age of 8 weeks! There are many reasons why puppies earlier than 8 weeks should not be adopted out, and we will see some of the most negative implications derived from obtaining underage puppies.
Four Reasons Why You Shouldn't Get Underage Puppies
There are four main reasons why it is highly risky to purchase young puppies and we will look over these four important reasons. Failing to understand and comply with these reasons affects puppies, puppy owners and the general welfare of animals.
Reason Number 1: Protecting Puppy Welfare
One of the main reasons why it is illegal to obtain a puppy under the age of 8 weeks is the fact that many states want to combat puppy mills and other obscure organizations that supply puppies for business reasons. By making it illegal to obtain an underage puppy more ethical practices are encouraged focusing on the welfare of puppies.
Reason Number 2: Encouraging Proper Weaning
It is important for puppies to be sent to new homes once they are entirely weaned and no longer nursing Adopting a puppy at 8 weeks old, ensures puppies are on solid foods and ready for leaving their mom and embracing their new family. In that State of Kansas, for instance, not only it is illegal to sell a puppy under the age of 8 weeks but it is also illegal to sell a puppy that has not been weaned properly. Indeed, according to the Kansas Animal Health Department puppies must be completely on solid foods without nursing for at least five days before being ready to be sold.
Reason Number 3: Ensuring Proper Socialization
Puppies undergo developmental stages as they grow and some of these stages are very critical for the puppy's future well-being. In particular, the primary socialization stage which takes place when the puppy is between 3 to 5 weeks of age is very important as it teaches the puppy species-specific social behaviors. During this phase, puppies learn how to inhibit their bite and relate to their litter mates and mom. They learn submissive postures, to accept their mother's discipline and several other subtleties of being a dog. Removal from the litter at this stage may result in social problems and even inter-dog intolerance at a later age.
Reason Number 4: Preventing Behavioral Problems
A study conducted by veterinarians L. Pierantoni, M. Albertini and F. Pirrone found puppies removed from the litter around 30 to 40 days developed several behavioral problems when compared to puppies removed at 60 days (8 weeks old). The behavioral problems entailed food aggression, attention-seeking behaviors, destructiveness, reactivity to noises and more. These problems were more pronounced in puppies obtained from the puppy store.
As seen, there are many negative connotations worth keeping in mind. Potential puppy buyers must be aware of these risks and avoid breeders attempting to sell underage puppies. There is ultimately no good reason for giving a puppy away so early, other than wanting to make a quick sale and getting rid of a puppy that may be too much work for an unethical breeder.
Wondering the laws in your State in regards to selling underage puppies? Discover it here:
*Note: some breeds actually do best if adopted out after 12 weeks of age, this applies often to small dog breeds. For instance, the American Maltese Association Code of Ethics requires that breeders keep their puppies until 12 weeks of age.