Should dog littermates be separated? What to Know

When the puppy is first separated from his mom, he will need a lot of attention and contact from you. Let your puppy sleep in a crate next to your bed until he adjusts to his new surroundings. This will reassure the puppy that he has not been abandoned, and it will help the bond between you grow stronger.

The recommended age for separating puppies from their litter is 6 to 8 weeks, according to Dr. David W. Reinhard, a consulting veterinarian for Nationwide pet insurance. By this time, puppies should have been socialized to their human counterparts, a process that takes place between 3 and 12 weeks of age, Reinhard says.

During the first few weeks of a puppy’s life, it is extremely dependent on its mother, much like a human child. The puppy gets its food and love from mom. In addition, puppies learn important social skills from the mother and siblings in these early weeks. For instance, puppies learn by playing with their littermates that biting is bad, as well as when “play” might be too rough.

Right Age for Dog Litter Separation

Most litters are separated between the ages of 8 weeks and 12 weeks old. Most vets agree that 8 weeks is the minimum age for litter separation. At this age, a puppy is eating solid food, is fully mobile, and should be well-socialized with their littermates.

In contrast, some breeders prefer to keep their puppies for 12 weeks. For some breeders, this is a great way to have full control of a puppy’s socialization periods. For others, this is a way to ensure that small and toy breeds are as emotionally and mentally mature as possible before heading off to their new homes. So which age is right for puppy litter separation? There is no definite answer. While 8 weeks is the minimum, 12 weeks guarantees good emotional and mental development, as long as the breeder makes sure to socialize their puppies well.

Frequently Asked Questions About Dog Litter Separation

Dr. Ian Dunbar, a veterinarian and dog behaviorist, agrees that its best to separate littermates so that each of them can generally develop as an individual.

Raising littermates together is challenging because they can be dependent on each other. And itll make it hard for you to bond with them because theyre too busy with each other.

What is littermate syndrome and how can it be avoided?

These littermates are an important part of those first weeks of development, leading many owners to wonder: do puppies remember or miss their siblings once separated?

We’ll answer this — and explain some of the other important dog sibling issues — below.