The moment you decide to get a German Shepherd puppy, you will probably feel impatient. You just want to bring your puppy home as soon as possible!
But many breeders and owners believe it is important not to bring a puppy of any breed home too soon. There are important socialization and training needs that puppies receive best while still with their mom and littermates.
So what is the best age to buy your German Shepherd puppy and bring them home with you? We will look at the different arguments in this article.
When Is the Best Age to Buy a German Shepherd Puppy? Different dog breeders have can have very different ideas about when to let a puppy go to their new home. However, the AKC maintains that any time within the eight to 12 weeks of life range is probably an appropriate time to release a puppy to a new owner.
Watch a German Shepherd Puppy Getting Used to Their New Home
In this sweet YouTube video, you can watch an adorable eight-week-old German Shepherd puppy getting used to life with his new human family.
The new owners are very gentle with the puppy and simply talk softly to him and give him pats and toys as he gets settled in.
How to Know It Is the Right Time to Bring Your GSD Puppy Home
The German Shepherd Dog Club of America (GSDCA) highlights the importance of choosing a responsible, reputable GSD breeder to work with.
Sadly, the Puppy Mill Project states there are more than 10,000 puppy mills operating just in the United States alone.
Puppy mills keep breeding pairs of dogs in often horrific conditions and take the puppies away from their moms much too soon so they can breed another litter of puppies.
This not only deprives the puppy of all the benefits of the mother’s milk but also of important socialization needs that can make your German Shepherd puppy grow up to be a much better pet dog.
The Humane Society states that there are some warning signs you can watch for to indicate you may be getting your puppy from an unethical breeder or even from a puppy mill:
- The breeder is willing to release the puppy to you at a very early age (before the age of eight weeks).
- The breeder doesn’t offer you an initial guarantee of health, proof of vaccinations and pest control, or any proof of pedigree.
- The breeder seems in a hurry to take your money and run – and they definitely don’t seem to have a waiting list of buyers lined up.
- The breeder will not allow you to visit their kennel and see their operation or meet the parent dogs – they only sell at off-site locations or over the internet.
- The breeder doesn’t seem interested in getting to know you, finding out what you are seeking in a puppy, or having you sign any kind of contract prior to purchase.
- The breeder’s puppies don’t seem to be well-groomed, bathed, or well-fed.
- The breeder doesn’t have any requirement that you spay or neuter your new puppy.
Should Your GSD Puppy Come Home Closer to 8 or 12 Weeks?
Here again, this question is a topic of often intense debate between different breeders.
As one canine biologist explains in Psychology Today, the very earliest any puppy should be allowed to leave the litter and go to their new home is 79 days (seven weeks).
But many other breeders feel that even seven weeks is too early, as the GSDCA article cited earlier here states.
There are a variety of reasons behind why letting a puppy leave the litter sooner than seven to eight weeks is considered a bad idea.
The puppy is still too little and fragile
Some breeders believe a primary reason to keep puppies with the mom and littermates longer is that puppies are very little and easily injured.
However, because the German Shepherd is a large breed dog and has a sturdier body to start with, some breeders may be apt to release GSD puppies closer to the eight week age range.
In contrast, smaller and toy dog breeds that are very delicate may need a bit longer to grow up before going to their new home.
The puppy needs to learn social skills
Another common reason why many breeders feel that puppies should stay with their litters and mothers at least until they turn eight weeks old is that the puppy will learn important social skills.
The best trainer for any German Shepherd puppy is typically going to be the mother dog. GSD moms are masters at teaching their puppies some manners and teaching them what behaviors they will and won’t tolerate.
As well, GSD puppies will have the chance to play and learn from their littermates and get comfortable with having people around by watching their mother interact with the breeder.
Some theories suggest that this initial period of dog-to-dog socialization needs to happen before the dog-to-people socialization so the puppy can learn to be a dog first and then to be a companion to humans next.
The puppy needs some initial training from the dog breeder
As Lara’s Canine Solutions breeder and kennel explain, there is an additional benefit of leaving a GSD puppy with the breeder longer that most new dog owners overlook.
This benefit is simply that the German Shepherd breeder is experienced working with this dog breed and can give your puppy some early expert training and socialization with people.
The difference here would be bringing home a puppy that is already used to a collar and lead, puppy pads, and some initial potty training commands, playing with toys and being handled by people.
The opposite would be bringing home a puppy that has never worn a collar or been walked on a leash, is not potty trained at all, and doesn’t recognize toys or feel comfortable being patted or played with.
The rehoming process is always going to be stressful enough on its own that you want to be sure your puppy has the most confidence possible before coming home with you.
What to Expect on Your German Shepherd Puppy’s First Night Home
Far North Kennel and breeder highlight how important it is to get your puppy set up for success right from their first night home with you.
Have your supplies already in place
You will want to have your new puppy’s bed, blanket, crate and crate pad, puppy pads, toys, food, and other essentials already at home before your puppy comes home.
Set aside time to just be with your puppy
Your puppy is going to be a bit nervous or even frightened at first – this is normal. Rehoming is a big change. You can make it easier by just carving out time to sit nearby, praising your puppy, offering pats, and talking softly.
Remember your puppy’s still-developing bladder
Finally, your puppy will need to go out a lot more often and probably won’t make it through the night, so be sure to get up and let your puppy out as needed, even in the middle of the night.
These guidelines can ensure that your new German Shepherd puppy feels at home right away living with you.