Separating a puppy from its mother too early is never a good idea. Not only will they not have been weaned, but they will be denied the vital presentation and understanding of the world provided by their mother. In the wild, mothers would rarely leave their cubs apart from them. They are usually separated at a time when the dog has been sufficiently nourished physically and cognitively to be able to survive the environment well. Domestically, where threats from predators are few and resources are abundant, cubs can be separated from their mothers only by us humans.

In this article we answer the question of how long a puppy should be with its mother and we will discuss the main repercussions of separating them too soon.

At what age can puppies be separated from their mother?

When we discuss the right time to separate a puppy from its mother, we first need to know why waiting is important. We must also know that there is an ideal time to remove a puppy from its mother. This is so that the puppy can make the correct transition to the home environment. The two most important factors are:


One of the most important reasons why a puppy cannot be separated from her mother too soon is feeding. A mother’s milk for dogs contains exactly the right nutritional composition not only to support the puppy, but also to help it develop properly. This milk can be artificially reproduced, but it will never have the same quality as the natural source.


Developing a puppy requires more than meeting its physical needs. Their psychological and emotional needs must also be met to ensure their health and well-being in adulthood. This is where the socialization of dogs plays an important role.

From the simple act of breastfeeding, the mother will begin to socialize her young. This is an important action that shows the puppy’s reciprocity, but it also helps him communicate. For example, when the puppy cries, the mother will attend to him. They will also keep them at bay when they misbehave, something very important for when living with humans.

Although it is possible for a mother to give birth to only one cub, it is unlikely. The average litter is usually 5 to 8 puppies depending on the breed. Although the mother begins the socialization process by caring for the litter, the siblings of each newborn puppy play an important role in how they will interact with the world.

Puppies learn bite inhibition, basic communication, behavioral limits, and many other lessons by playing with their siblings. Dogs are naturally social animals that want to be part of a pack. It helps them feel safe and gives them security. If they don’t have these experiences, the puppies could grow up insecure.

At what age can puppies be separated from their mother?

The minimum time a puppy must be with its mother is 6 weeks, a period of time after which the puppy begins to wean. However, this is the bare minimum. The ideal minimum time that the puppy should be able to separate from its mother is 8 weeks. Still, many ethologists also claim that the puppy should be with its mother until 12 weeks of age.

We must point out that the longer a puppy is with its mother, the better its development. Therefore, it is advisable to leave the puppy with its mother until approximately 3 months of age.

What happens when we separate a puppy from its mother too soon?

Since staying with your mother is important physically and psychologically, it is understandable that negative repercussions have both a physical and psychological impact. Physical problems these puppies are likely to suffer from include:

  • Decreased appetite.
  • Poor immune system response.
  • Weightloss.
  • Increased risk of disease.

Basically, when a puppy is separated from his mother too early, it will put his life expectancy at risk. The puppy will not receive the same hormones, enzymes, antibodies, and other important physical benefits from mother’s milk. This means that it may not develop as well as long as the mother’s milk comes from a body in good health.

Psychologically and emotionally, separating a puppy from its mother too soon has serious detrimental effects. In fact, it is one of the most common reasons a puppy will develop behavior problems later in life.

Since puppies learn to inhibit bites from their mother and siblings, they will likely have trouble biting if they are removed too soon. It is true that it is always possible to train a dog to stop biting, but it will be very difficult if she has not learned it from the beginning. This means that not just anyone will be able to take care of such a dog, which could involve professional and expert help.

The sensitive period is the time during which the dog is most impressionable and vulnerable. During this time, they learn the skills and limits explained above, beginning around 3 weeks of age and ending around 12 weeks. If the puppy is separated from its mother during this time, especially during the early stages, it can be a very traumatic experience. Such trauma can result in:

  • Stress / anxiety.
  • Incontinence.
  • Separation anxiety
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Aggression.
  • Fear when walking.
  • Possessiveness.
  • Destructiveness.
  • Distrust of strangers.
    Difficult behavior with other dogs.

There are other factors that can lead dogs to develop similar behavior problems, but separating them from their mothers during the sensitive period has been known to have a detrimental effect. Several studies affirm that the probability of developing the above behavior problems is much more possible with dogs separated too early from their mother than in dogs that have had a longer growth and learning with their mothers and siblings.