What's The Best Age to Adopt And Bring Home a Puppy? | PetFirst
What's the Best Age to Adopt A Puppy
Pet Care & Health

What’s The Best Age to Adopt And Bring Home a Puppy?

by PetFirst Pet Insurance
2 months ago

If you’re trying to figure out the best time to bring a new puppy home, keep reading as we discuss the stages of puppy development and the “best” age to bring home your newest furry family member. 

State Laws Around Puppy Adoptions 

Several U.S. states actually have laws surrounding when a puppy can be adopted.

Twenty-seven states (plus Washington D.C.) have laws that regulate how old a puppy has to be before it can be sold or adopted6. The majority of these states say puppies need to be eight weeks of age or older before they’re put up for sale. Some states also have laws pertaining to when a puppy can be separated from its mother.

These laws are in place to stop puppy mills. In some states, underage puppy laws apply to everybody — no one is allowed to sell underage puppies, and people who break the law can receive a criminal misdemeanor or a fine. Other states, however, have laws that only apply to pet shops and other breeding businesses. And often, these laws don’t apply to any nonprofit animal rescue or Humane Society that might have puppies available.

Do your research on relevant laws in your state before you set out to bring a new puppy home. 

Puppy Developmental Stages

Puppies go through the following developmental stages as they age7:

  • 0-7 weeks: During the first seven weeks of a puppy’s life, puppies learn about social behavior with other dogs through interacting with their mother and siblings. 
  • 7-8 weeks: This is the best time period for puppies to bond with humans.
  • 8-10 weeks: It’s essential for puppies to have as many positive experiences as possible during the eight- to ten-week period. Puppies will be very impressionable, needing lots of praise and positive reinforcement. 
  • 8-16 weeks: By this time, puppies will be ready to start learning. Training sessions or group classes can be introduced.  
  • 4-6 months: Puppies will become more and more independent. You’ll notice your puppy’s curiosity increase as he or she starts to explore the world. Continue bonding with your puppy and going through regular training sessions. 
  • 6-12 months: Known as the “teenager stage,” six- to twelve-month-old puppies need lots of stimulation and activity. They get bored easily. 
  • 12-18 months: Puppies reach emotional maturity sometime within this time frame. 

Since the seven to eight-week stage is the best time for puppies to bond with people, experts say that’s when you should bring a new dog home. Some research has even honed in on the 49th day of a puppy’s life as the perfect time to go to a new home7

Best Age to Adopt A Puppy 

If you’re in doubt about when to adopt a puppy, speak with the breeder and any vets or dog trainers you’ll be working with.

Every situation is different, so the “best” age to adopt a puppy might vary. For example, sometimes toy breeders will keep puppies longer to allow their tiny bodies more time to develop — or if your new puppy has to fly to its new home, it may be best to wait until the dog is older and able to manage the travel8.

In general, however, the best age to adopt a puppy is eight to ten weeks. This will give your puppy plenty of time to work through the developmental stages that take place while the puppy is still with its mother. It also allows you to make sure you’re complying with any laws that might pertain to your area. Once it’s at least eight weeks of age, your puppy will be ready to bond with you and get used to its new home. 

Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.

1PetFirst Healthcare, LLC (“PetFirst Pet Insurance” or “PetFirst”) is the program administrator authorized to offer and administer pet health insurance policies underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company, a Delaware insurance company, with its main office at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, or New Hampshire Insurance Company or The Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania, each with its main administrative office at 500 West Madison Street, Suite 3000 Chicago, IL 60661. For costs, complete details of coverage, and a listing of approved states, please contact PetFirst Healthcare, LLC.

2Like most insurance policies, insurance policies offered by PetFirst Healthcare, LLC contain certain exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force.  

6Michigan State University College of Law Animal Legal & Historical Center: Table of state laws concerning minimum age for sale of puppies, 2020, Rebecca Walsh 

7PAWS: Developmental stages of puppy behavior 

8American Kennel Club: What’s the best age to bring your new puppy home?, February 19, 2021, Harriet Meyers

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