Because puppies are just the cutest bundles of furriness in the world, it's tempting to want to take them home and "mother" them when they're at their youngest and most adorable (and until you witness the pooping and chewing). But their real doggy-mum also adores them and there are reasons (and, by George, we're going to tell you them!) why your mini-man's best friend needs to be a certain age before he becomes part of the family.
Dam, Not Damn
First off, if you do any reading on this subject you'll come across the word "dam" a lot. Don't be alarmed. Breeders don't swear a lot and they do give a damn. A "dam" in the doggie world is: "A female parent of an animal." So now you know. No more damn confusion!
One Question, So Many Answers
Ask anyone how old a puppy should be when they leave their mom (dam) and you'll get a range of different answers. Why? One of the reasons is the fact that, physically, a puppy can be weaned from about 3 weeks of age and started on solid puppy food. But up until 3 weeks, it's vital that the pup receives the dam milk; it has antibodies in it to help immunise against disease, as well as essential nutrients for healthy growth and bone development.
The food facts are that at 3weeks it's okay to start weaning a puppy from its birth mother, but there are things they learn with their dam that make it important to keep the bonding going for longer. (By the way, if you happen to be looking after brand spanking new puppies, check-out Caring for Newborn Puppies). So, what are the other things that happen in a newborn puppy's life? Well, their life-skills, behaviour and personality become holistically shaped if they spend that special, extra time with their dam-mom.
When puppies are small, their dam will lavish individual quality time on them; grooming them, feeding them and making them feel welcome in the world. This transfers a sense of well-being to the pup. Puppies who don't get this can be needy and afraid when they're out and about in the big blue world and this insecurity can sometimes (unfortunately) last forever.
But seriously, there are great early learning life-skills for a pup in its first months on earth, especially about the ins and outs of touching, resources and attention, and getting to know how to connect with other dogs and where the doggie ground-rules of behaviour are drawn. These are all things that will help them grow into a fine, even-tempered, well-adjusted icon of adult dogginess.
How Old Is That Doggie In The Window?
So, "What's the answer to the dam question already?!".
How old should a puppy be before you whisk him home for a lifetime of love? Well, we recommend that he spend at least 12 weeks of his new life with his doggy-mommy. For those with the intention of importing a pup into the UAE, the law states that a puppy of 4 months of age can be legally imported into the country. But a note to the wise here, as there are unscrupulous characters (who knew?) who will actually "fudge" a doggie date of birth in order to get smaller and cuter puppies into the system - less than ideal for their health and well-being. Most good quality dog breeders (and really, if you value your animal - and we know you do - you'll go for the top-dog breeders) only allow puppies to leave their dam at between 12 and 16 weeks of age.
Phew! If, after all that, you're ready for the love and mayhem of a puppy, from 12 weeks is the time to take your little life-changer home and introduce him to the family.
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