Generally speaking, if you are a human with a pulse, you can appreciate just how adorable Yorkies puppies are. Understanding how these little canines need to be cared for in the first weeks of their life is crucial to their health and even survival. One huge factor is knowing when they can be separated from their mothers. So…
When can Yorkie Puppies leave their mother? Yorkie puppies should NOT leave their mothers and the rest of the litter until they are a minimum of 8 weeks old. Most breeders recommend 10-12 weeks as a more suitable age for separation. More cautious breeders, however, will not allow Yorkie puppies to be separated for a full 12 weeks or more.
This quick read will give you some expertise on what to expect in a Yorkie puppy’s first weeks and how early you can adopt without high risk. It is important to know how the early stages of care can impact your Yorkie’s health and the effects that premature separation may have on them.
When Can Yorkie Puppies Leave Their Mother?
While there are varying opinions on this, I would advise waiting for the 10-12 week mark before separating a Yorkie puppy from its mother and the rest of the litter.
Yes, it’s true that at the early age of eight weeks, Yorkie puppies should have finished weening and had their first round of shots. However, there is more to the early stages of development than gaining weight and transitioning away from their mother’s milk.
It should be noted that every dog is different, some puppies may mature earlier than others, however, between 8 and 12 weeks is when most Yorkies become increasingly aware of their surroundings. This 8-12 week period is important as it is also when Yorkie puppies begin to learn social skills through spending time with their mother and siblings.
This socialization period helps Yorkies understand how to interact with other dogs and animals. Separating them prematurely during this stage can result in an overly anxious dog that doesn’t interact so kindly with other dogs and strangers. This is why some breeders may even wait for 13 or 14 weeks to pass before allowing their puppies to move on.
Knowing that some Yorkie’s do not mix particularly well with other dogs in the first place (especially other breeds), I would say that this socialization period is exceptionally important for Yorkie puppies.
Most quality breeders wait at least 10-12 weeks to make sure the Yorkies are fully developed and have had at least some of that exposure to social interaction which can make all the difference. This helps produce a normalized, healthy, and happy Yorkie with a strengthened immune system.
The Early Weeks of a Yorkie’s Life
The first weeks of a Yorkies life are a time of rapid growth and development. It’s fascinating to see how they change during this short but crucial period. Here are some of the key milestones to expect.
The first two weeks of life, are all about gaining weight, your puppy may even double in size. During this time it will be attentively cared for by its mother with little to no human interaction.
In general, you’ll want to allow nature to take its course and let the mother do her work. She will clean and nurse the puppies for the first month. However, you should keep an eye on their interactions to ensure everything is going as expected and that all of the pups are getting enough of their mother’s milk.
Without a constant and steady supply of nutrients, a puppy can quickly develop hypoglycemia. This is basically a rapid drop in blood sugar levels which can ultimately lead to a coma followed by death if not treated. Early signs of hypoglycemia are weakness, fainting, confusion, and weight loss.
The adorable personality of the Yorkie starts to emerge around the third or fourth week of its life. This is when it starts to get more curious and explore. A Yorkie’s nose and sense of smell are becoming more mature, and they will begin to sniff absolutely everything.
The weaning process should begin slowly around week 4 or 5 of the Yorkie puppy’s life. At this point, you are gradually introducing puppy food and harder solids into their diet. Do not offer them human food as they’re still developing and need to get used to dog food while weaning off milk.
Around the 6th or 7th week of the puppy’s life, the Yorkie puppy should be fully transitioned to solid foods.
They love to mimic their siblings and are learning social cues from other pups during this time about how to bark, play, and behave. At this point, they also have fully developed their sense of sight and may respond to your calls more frequently.
After 8 weeks have passed, Yorkie puppies are no longer considered newborns and are usually physically ready to leave their mothers. Nonetheless, this is a crucial time for a Yorkie puppy’s socialization so I would highly recommend leaving them with their mothers and the rest of the litter until they are at least 10-12 weeks old.
Yorkie Pup Development Week by Week Overview
The key characteristics of each age group are as follows:
- Newborns – Will be blind and deaf. Requiring warmth and milk from their mothers and not able to move yet. They won’t have any teeth at this time and will mostly sleep and nurse.
- Birth to 2nd week – Have nearly doubled in size and are starting to become more aware.
- 2nd week to 4th week – Eyes are opening, and they may begin to take their first steps. Keep their space cozy and confined so that no one wanders off.
- 4th week to 12th week – Critical weeks for social acclimation and engagement to learn social cues from other animals. They are learning to bark, play and behave like a healthy pup. Should be fully weaned off milk at the 8-9-week mark and fully transitioned to solid foods by week 10.
- After 12 weeks – ready for adoption and to find a loving home!
Negative Effects Of Separating Yorkie Pups Too Early
Here are some of the reasons why you should not separate Yorkie puppies from their mothers and the rest of the litter too hastily…
- Yorkies are social creatures. If they don’t get this bonding time with other animals, they may be prone to either barking and showing aggression or alternatively cowering in the presence of other animals.
- Allowing them to wean naturally and not separating them before they are ready decreases both the mother’s and baby’s risk for certain cancers, diseases, and infections.
- Small dogs can be prone to sicknesses like hypoglycemia, and small factors will throw their entire genetic-makeup out of balance.
- They can develop social anxiety and be very clingy to their owners. They will have fewer trust issues if they get this time with their mother.
- You don’t want to put your pup at risk as breeders who breed unethically may have dogs with shorter life expectancies. If they aren’t fully developed, they may pass away around 2-5 years of age instead of the typical 10-15 that a Yorkie should live.
- Premature separation can cause loss of appetite and weight and increase distress, mortality, and susceptibility to diseases.
Is It Cruel To Separate A Puppy From Its Mother?
While it can be a little heartbreaking to separate puppies from their mothers and the rest of the litter, it may not be as hard on them as you might think. At least so long as they have reached the appropriate age.
Dogs are pack animals and don’t actually form strong emotional bonds with the rest of their family the same way that humans do. This isn’t to say that they aren’t capable of forming bonds at all, however, they usually seek leadership more than anything else.
Some people say that puppies cry at night because they miss their mother and siblings but this is not actually true. The reason they usually cry at night and not during the day is that they have actually been separated from you, or rather their “new pack”.
It is important that puppies learn to live as part of their new household while they are still young, otherwise, you may have complications later on. For this reason, some might say that it is actually a little cruel not to separate them so early on.
I hope that you take the time to seek out a responsible breeder. If you are having any difficulty The Yorkshire Terrier Club of America Breeder Referrals is a good place to start. They have a listing of breeders that have all signed their code of ethics and conduct. You shouldn’t have any concern about adopting too early with a breeder that can be trusted.
I appreciate the simplicity and truth in this thought from a Yorkie Breeding forum discussion where a breeder says, “you are the advocate for your puppies, and you have to do what’s best for them. A couple more weeks can make all the difference to the life of that puppy.”