1. Home
  2. Breeding
  3. Puppy developmental stages

Puppy developmental stages

Here is a look at the key developmental stages for puppies. We take a week by week view, but remember smaller dogs and larger dogs can differ when they hit these milestones, but it can be used as a general guide. For breeders we always recommend they talk to a vet to check on progress and buy a book or two on whelping and breed specific books. As with all young dogs there are dangers like puppy fading syndrome that you need to be aware of.

Young puppy with its eyes closed, about 2 weeks old

Week 0-1 (Birth to 1 week):

  • At birth, puppies are blind, deaf, and toothless.
  • They rely completely on their sense of smell and touch.
  • They have limited mobility and spend most of their time nursing, sleeping, and staying close to their mother and littermates for warmth.

Week 1-2 (1 week to 2 weeks):

  • Puppies’ eyes begin to open around 10-14 days of age, but their vision is still limited.
  • Their ears also begin to open during this stage, though their hearing is not yet fully developed.
  • They start to make small crawling movements, but are not yet able to stand or walk.

Week 2-3 (2 weeks to 3 weeks):

  • Puppies’ vision and hearing continue to develop, and they become more aware of their environment.
  • Their first teeth (deciduous or “baby” teeth) begin to emerge.
  • They start to stand, walk, and explore their surroundings, though they are still unsteady on their feet.

Week 3-4 (3 weeks to 4 weeks):

  • Puppies begin to interact more with their littermates, engaging in play and social behaviours.
  • They start to learn important social skills from their mother and siblings.
  • They may begin to lap up liquids and eat soft, mushy foods.

Week 4-5 (4 weeks to 5 weeks):

  • Puppies become more coordinated and confident in their movements, with increased play and exploration.
  • They start to develop their own personalities and social hierarchies within the litter.
  • They should be transitioned to solid food, with weaning typically occurring around 5 weeks of age.

Week 5-6 (5 weeks to 6 weeks):

  • Puppies continue to grow rapidly, both physically and mentally.
  • They begin to explore more of their environment and may start to venture away from their littermates.
  • This is an important time for socialisation, and puppies should be introduced to new experiences and environments.

Week 6-7 (6 weeks to 7 weeks):

  • Puppies become more independent and confident, often engaging in more complex play and social behaviours.
  • They should receive their first vaccinations and deworming treatments as well as being microchipped.

Note: by law, all dogs have to be microchipped and registered before they can be advertised for sale. Furthermore they have to be over 8 weeks old to be sold and separated from their mothers.

Week 7-8 (7 weeks to 8 weeks):

  • Puppies continue to develop physically, cognitively, and socially.
  • They can be listed on dogs.ie for sale, but not re-homed yet. Interview potential buyers in your home with the puppies and the mother.
  • They begin to learn basic commands and manners, making this a crucial time for training and positive reinforcement.
  • Continued socialisation is important, including exposure to various people, animals, and environments to help them become well-adjusted, confident adult dogs.
  • At 8 weeks, puppies are usually considered ready to go to their new homes, although some breeders and vets may recommend waiting until 10-12 weeks, especially for smaller breeds.

Week 8 onwards:

  • Puppies continue to grow and develop, requiring ongoing training, socialisation, and vet care.
  • They will go through a critical fear period between 8-12 weeks, during which they may be more sensitive to new experiences. It’s essential to continue providing positive, controlled socialisation during this time.
  • Regular veterinary check-ups, vaccinations, and deworming should be maintained according to your vet’s recommendations.
  • Consider dog insurance coverage.
  • Puppies will begin to lose their baby teeth and have their adult teeth come in around 12-16 weeks of age. Provide appropriate chew toys to help with this process and discourage destructive chewing behavior.
  • Puppies will reach adolescence around 6-12 months of age (depending on the breed), at which point they may exhibit more challenging behaviours and test boundaries. Consistent training and positive reinforcement will help guide them through this developmental stage.

Remember that each puppy is unique, and developmental milestones may vary. It’s essential to monitor your puppy’s growth and development, provide appropriate care, and consult your vet with any concerns or questions.

Updated on April 6, 2023
Was this article helpful?

Related Articles

Leave a Comment