Archived Message
Too young?

by Pamela

At Christmas my children bought me a surprise Maltese puppy to replace one who died last summer at age 14. She was exactly 6 weeks old, and very tiny. She had no teeth, and I think she was taken straight from nursing her mother! It was two weeks before she began to teeth, and she required almost 24 hour care. Fortunately, I was more than willing to let her suck baby cereal and strained baby meat off my finger, but I thought at the time that this was a horrible thing to do to a tiny baby, and that the breeder must be very unprofessional. My three children all chipped in the $500 for her..a lot of money for them! so I didn't want to make a big stink about it at the time and make them feel bad. My question is, at what age is a Maltese puppy ready to be adopted? Do they mature later than big breeds? Is there someone I should have reported this person to? Is this as unethical as I suspect it is? On the up side, my Lilibit is now a happy, healthy girl, and very well adjusted and friendly in spite of her rocky beginning! I would not trade her for anything, and nursing her through those first weeks has bonded us very closely!


I like the 12 week age myself and I think any responsible breeder agrees. Larry Stanberry adressed this question very well and you can find it in our archives here.

If you come across a breeder who insists on letting them go at 6 weeks up to 10 weeks, my advise would be this. Give him/her a few dollars to hold them over(money must be a factor in their decision) until the pup is older. Perhaps you could even take some food over too so the breeder won't have the additional expense of feeding it. This might change there mind. I just can't come up with 1 good reason for letting a pup go so young??

P.S. Here in Pennsylvania selling a pup at 6 weeks of age could get both the breeder and buyer locked up in the county jail.

I'm glad you were able to give her all the care she needed. The puppy should never have been sold before cutting her teeth. Teeth do seem to erupt later in Maltese than in larger breed puppies.

I think it is terrible to sell a puppy at this age. This puppy was very lucky to go to someone like you who had the time to hand raise her. You were lucky that she didn't come down with a virus, which would have killed her. A person can't even join the AMA if they sell their puppies before the age of 12 weeks old. I think, that breeders that do this are more worried about the cost of the shots than the food. Myself, by the time my puppies leave here they have had a serries of at least four shots. Of course strained baby food and canned milk are not cheap items, when you add the food and the shots, it adds up, but hey, why do this at all, if you are not going to do it right?
-Carole - Fantasyland

I was in a pet store a few months ago, and saw a 5 week old yorkie that a woman had just bought. Her 5 year old daughter was carring it around in a blanket. I asked her why in the world would a breeder take an infant away from its mother to sell it at that age. She told me that she always sold them at that age and that the breeder was her neighbor. I suggested she take it back to the breeder to put it on the mother for awhile, and she looked at me like I was crazy. After a discussion of age people vs dogs, and the problems that could arise from this baby being taken so young, she told me she was going to ask her to put it back with mom for awhile. It upsets me deeply to see these babies torn away from mom so early. I agree with 12 to 15 weeks. Any younger is a crime.
-Marsha A.

I agree with all of the foregoing messages. You were very fortunate indeed not to run into hypoglycemia with a such a young puppy. Their little organs grow at such an accelerated rate between 6 and 12 weeks and the "extra tinies" can often become hypoglycemic, even with experienced breeders keeping a close watch.

The EARLIEST I allow a puppy to leave is 12 weeks and if they are very small, they stay even longer. Heck, my puppies are not generally weaned until 9 or 10 weeks, as I allow the Mom to determine when they should be off her. Your puppy was very fortunate to have you as her new Mom, many people would not have known to take such extra special care of her.

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