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November 5, 2016

WHEN TO BRING YOUR FURKID HOME

For the past months, I have been seeing more heartbreaking stories of first time dog owners or those with minimal experience post photos of their new puppy—only to post sad news weeks or months later that the puppy had died due to genetic disorder (a disease or from the deadly distemper virus which has no known cure but can be avoided by vaccines when the puppy is at least 6 weeks old).

One such story is that of Kristian who saved up to buy a chowchow puppy because he had long wanted one.  He got a cute cream-colored female puppy he named Tracy, who, according to the breeder, was 6 weeks old. The breeder also said that Tracy is healthy, had been dewormed and received distemper vaccine. Three days after they brought Tracy home.

Tracy a supposedly 6 week old chowchow puppy Kristian Aillon Galang Pineda bought from a breeder. This photo was taken the day he took her home.

Tracy, a supposedly 6-week-old chowchow puppy that Kristian Aillon Galang Pineda bought from a breeder. This photo was taken the day he took her home. (Photo by Kristian Aillon Galang Pineda)

Kristian noticed that Tracy had no appetite and was lethargic. They brought her to a vet who said she was just dehydrated. But Kristian’s instincts felt otherwise so they sought a second opinion. The second vet said Tracy was positive for the distemper virus.

Three days later, Tracy succumbed to the deadly distemper virus because her breeder didn't have her vaccinated & sold her when she was too young to be separated from her mother.

Three days later, Tracy succumbed to the deadly distemper virus because her breeder didn’t have her vaccinated and sold her when she was too young to be separated from her mother. (Photo by Kristian Aillon Galang Pineda)

Since the distemper virus is a highly contagious virus, Tracy was sent home where she eventually passed away. Kristian got his refund after showing the breeder a certificate from the vet—but for sure, the breeder will continue selling puppies for as long as there are buyers.

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(Photo by Kristian Aillon Galang Pineda)

There are several opinions from veterinarians, dog behavioral experts, and breeders about the proper age a puppy should be brought to its forever home. It varies between earliest of over 6 weeks and no later than 12 weeks of age.

The 6 weeks minimum age is because the first few weeks of life are crucial. The puppy MUST be with its mother not just for her milk but also for it to get socialized with the other puppies in its litter. The puppy at 6 weeks gets its first vaccine against distemper, and if you are lucky to have found a responsible breeder, he/she will socialize the puppy by exposing it to different people, have the necessary vaccines done, and start feeding the puppy solid food when it is ready.

Tiny balls of fur Chowee on the right with his brother Waffle aged 4 weeks in the photo.

Tiny balls of fur Chowee on the right with his brother Waffle aged 4 weeks in the photo. (Photo by Jobs Primicias, Chowee’s breeder)

Waffle and Chowee at 8 weeks. Extreme cuteness runs in his family! (Photos by Jobs Primicias, Chowee's breeder)

Waffle and Chowee at 8 weeks. Extreme cuteness runs in his family! (Photo by Jobs Primicias, Chowee’s breeder)

In some cases, like the puppies my sister and I have brought home, the puppy has been potty trained. Initially, I thought the breeder was responsible enough to train his puppies to potty on newspapers but my mentor/friend told me he has witnessed his dog pick up one of her puppies, lay it on the newspaper lick its genitals to induce peeing and once done she picks up the same puppy returns it to the bed and takes another puppy to potty!

My daughter Gab with Chowee, then 3 months, the first time we visited his kennel. Gab begged me to take him home with us.

My daughter Gab with Chowee, then 3 months, the first time we visited his kennel. Gab begged me to take him home with us.

Some say never to take a puppy over 12 weeks of age because by that time, the puppy has gone thru its socialization skills stage and therefore difficult to rehome or adjust to different people and surroundings. I got my first chow when he was 12 weeks old. He is shy and fearful by nature so it took us 2 weeks to bond then get into basic obedience classes. We did try to expose him to as much strangers and new places by taking him along with us on out of town trips. Unfortunately, he remains to be “on guard” at most times so I had to learn to manage him.

Our other furkid Lyon the Shih Tzu who was brought to us when he was over 3 months old. This photo was taken 7 years ago during his puppy class at BetterDog.

Our other furkid, Lyon the Shih Tzu, who was brought to us when he was over 3 months old. This photo was taken 7 years ago during his puppy class at BetterDog.

In my opinion, it all depends on the breeder and the person buying the puppy.  If the buyer is a first time puppy owner or has had minimal experience in caring for a puppy and the breeder is a responsible one who makes sure the puppy gets its vaccinations, takes care of its overall health, socializes it and potty trains it, then it is ok to wait for the puppy to get its complete vaccinations.

The buyer may opt to visit the breeder on a regular basis to be with the puppy for bonding time. However, if the buyer knows how to handle puppies and the breeder is not as thorough with providing the proper care for its puppies, then it might be better to take the puppy home at 6 weeks.

The latest addition to our family my sister's Yorkshire Terrier named Goliath photo by Nicole Sarmiento

The latest addition to our family my sister’s Yorkshire Terrier named Goliath (Photo by Nicole Sarmiento)

It is advisable to take your puppy to the vet as soon as possible for a thorough check up to make sure it is healthy and if needed to have the vaccines updated.

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