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At what age can pups be separated from mom?

Our family has decided on adopting a labradoodle puppy sometime in the next 5-6 months, so I visited a local labradoodle breeder this week, to meet the puppies and parents and ask questions.  The mom dog was not at this breeder's farm, as she is owned by another breeder in the area.  The puppies were 6 weeks old, so I asked if they had already been separated from their mother.  The breeder told me yes, after they had completed weaning at about 5 weeks old.  So from 5 weeks until 8 weeks, they remain with her but no mom dog.  (She does not send them home with their new human family before 8 weeks.)  She owns the dad dog, but he is a true stud and really is not around the pups.  She also owns two other mom dogs, one of whom is currently secluded, tending a newborn litter, and the other whose pups had just reached 8 weeks (although i think that litter had also been separated from her at 5 weeks).  In all respects, she seems like a knowledgeable, experienced breeder (10+ years) with a very clean house (pups were in kitchen), and the temperaments of the bitches and stud dog that I met were excellent.  It is clearly not a 'puppy farm.'

My question is:  Should I have reservations about getting a puppy from this breeder?  Is it common to separate pups from the mom so young?  Do they learn what they need to learn about being a dog from their litter-mates without the mom once they are weaned?  

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Comment by Susan Jorstad on January 23, 2015 at 12:42am

Thank you all for your thoughtful comments.  I do know that this breeder's two most recent litters were unusually large - 9 puppies each -- one of them to a labradoodle that is only 22 lbs herself, so I think that would certainly sap the momma of her energy and reserves.  In fact, she was brought in briefly to the kitchen so we could meet her - beautiful, well-cared for and very calm momma dog - and her one remaining pup, of course, remembered her and tried to nurse... she gently but no-nonsense nudged him away.  Your additional perspective is helpful and has reassured me that we have found a good breeder.  Thank you!

Comment by Beverly and Eli on January 22, 2015 at 1:27pm

I think the separation from the Mom at 5-6 weeks is for the purpose of weaning. Nursing a large litter takes a toll on the Mom and they can often become thin. Although most females will naturally wean their pups, when you are a breeder with the intent on selling puppies, the longer you keep them the more expensive they get. This is strictly business sense. My only experience with this was our first Golden Retriever, about 40 years ago, who became pregnant by a Setter who jumped the fence before she was spayed, she was about a year old. We lived rurally in Montana. She had four beautiful pups, weaned them on her own at about 6 weeks and was glad to see them go at 8.

Comment by Laura Chaffin on January 22, 2015 at 1:09pm
I was, this probably does help the puppies to have a good bond with humans at an early age. Hopefully they are getting interaction with other adult dogs. Anyone raising their puppies with her family, in her house is an exceptional breeder, so I am thinking that it would be quite safe to obtain a puppy from this breeder. All the best!
Comment by Laura Chaffin on January 22, 2015 at 12:26pm
Being weaned at 6 weeks is not too bad, but I have never separated pups from the Momma at 5 or 6 weeks. This probably makes a good bond to humans with the puppies, but somehow I think they might need an adult dog with them to train the pups on good canine behavior . I suppose the Mamma dog gets a good rest after raising the pups for 5 or 6 weeks, however some Mamma dogs might grieve the separation. I will have to think about this.
Comment by Beverly and Eli on January 21, 2015 at 7:49am

I might add that the breeder we purchased Eli from used guardian homes for most of her dogs. In other words, they lived with their forever families and once their breeding time was over, the dog stayed with their family. This avoids the kennel like atmosphere of a lot of breeders and also makes for a happy Mom or Dad whose sole existence isn't about producing pups. We couldn't be happier with Eli, he is sweet, healthy and beautiful.

Comment by Beverly and Eli on January 21, 2015 at 7:42am

Five to six weeks seems to be the norm. When we went to pick our puppy from the litter, Eli was 5-6 weeks old, fully weaned and the litter was separated from the Mom. From what I've read, socialization continues with the litter mates for the next few weeks and 8 weeks is the age when the puppy can be homed. You might ask the breeder for references and talk with a couple of folks who have purchased one of her puppies. From everything you've said this sounds pretty standard in my experience. Maybe someone else knows more.

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