Does My Dog Miss Her Puppies?

If you're the owner of a pet who's given birth, you might wonder if she misses her offspring. We've looked into whether cats miss their kittens. What about dogs?

Cute bulldog puppy following its mother
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As humans, it's easy for us to imagine being separated from one's children is heartbreaking. However, we have some good news: Dogs probably don't miss their puppies the same way humans might miss their children.

Weaning and Separation

Puppies are weaned from about 3-7 weeks old. They need to stay with their moms and their siblings until they're 8-10 weeks old. After that, they can be placed into separate homes.

It's extremely important not to separate puppies from their mother and their litter-mates too early. It's also important not to let them stay together too long. If a puppy stays with his mom and litter-mates for longer than three months, he might not develop the desire to form relationships with humans. Assuming you want to socialize the pups with humans, it's crucial to make sure they develop independence from their canine relatives.

What about mom?

Timely separation is important for the puppies, but what of their mothers? Many owners of mom dogs have reported that their dog did not seem especially sad to see her pups go. When the pups are around eight weeks old, their mother has significantly decreased the amount of time she spends with them. Many owners also report that mom, at this point, seems exhausted, which is more than understandable. This evidence is anecdotal, of course, but it supports the larger theory that dogs really don't have the sentimentality toward their offspring that most humans do.

happy Golden Retriever with puppies
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Puppy Recognition

Unlike cats, dogs do recognize their offspring when they're adults (provided they were given adequate time to bond during puppyhood). However, we don't have any evidence that they miss each other.

Wild dogs generally leave their mother upon entering adolescence, so the process of separating domestic pups from their mother is not too terribly different. While this may sound heartbreaking to humans, it's important to remember that dogs' relationship to their offspring is very different from ours. Plus, it means you don't have to worry whether your dog spends her days pining for her puppies. Chances are, she's perfectly happy just hanging out with you.