Certain schools of contemporary thought advocate that, under appropriate conditions, a pup should stay with its litter until it’s 10 weeks old. But this doesn’t mean that every breeder will go along with such wishes. Reality might be something else entirely. Many breeders want to unload pups as soon as they can. And in some cases it’s difficult to disagree with their rationale.
Professional breeders are in the business not only because they enjoy dogs, but to make a living. Unless breeders are independently wealthy, or operate within a different business mode, most of them can’t afford to watch the profit margin from a litter of pups diminish with each day that passes after 7 or 8 weeks. Added costs of food, health maintenance, upkeep of facilities and increasing demands of growing, active dogs can quickly negate the difference between profit and loss. Kennels often have business models structured around selling pups at 8 weeks of age.
That said, some breeders will agree to keep pups with an intact litter until they’re a bit older; others insist on doing so, even at the risk of losing sales from buyers who have bought into the 49th-day-and-not-a-minute-later theory. A successful breeder once told me, “Sure, I have potential customers walk away when I refuse to sell them a 6- or 7-week-old pup. But I have far more who are willing to wait, who appreciate a stable, confident, well-adjusted pup that’s easy to deal with when they get it home and a fast learner when training begins. I can also offer stronger guarantees because there are fewer risks with an older pup’s more advanced physical and psychological development.”
Under any circumstance, you should purchase pups from reputable breeders. Although you can’t always control at what age you get a pup, top kennels offer some assurance that the quality of the youngster’s breeding, environment and socialization process has been handled properly.