A quarter of puppies are taken from their mothers too young

A quarter of puppies in the UK are separated from their mothers too early, according to a new Dogs Trust study.

One in four people got their puppies before the advised age of eight weeks old, according to new findings from Dogs Trust’s pioneering dog welfare study ‘Generation Pup’.

Dogs Trust has teamed up with researchers at Bristol University to conduct the study, which follows 1,844 pups across their lifetime to investigate how factors such as environment, social interaction, diet and exercise can impact their development in later life.

The study found that 25% of dog owners got their pups before eight weeks of age, contrary to current advice that puppies should not leave their mothers before eight weeks of age.

It also found that 8% of puppies were acquired without the owner having seen them alongside their mothers, which is also against the advice of UK veterinary organisations and dog welfare charities.

Dogs Trust’s Director of Canine Behaviour and Research, Dr Rachel Casey said: “The recommendation that puppies spend at least eight weeks with their mothers before going off to their new homes is not always followed, as has been shown in this study.Through the Generation Pup study, we can investigate the impact that a range of factors including acquisition before eight weeks of age has on the long-term development of puppies.

“Generation Pup is providing us with huge insights into the early stages of life for puppies and will help us understand how to better advise people who want to get a puppy responsibly and make the best decisions for their long-term health and behaviour. The more puppies that are signed up to the study, the more we will discover about our four-legged friends – if you want to sign your puppy up to be one of 10,000 that we will be following, please visit the website.”

 Professor Toby Knowles, at the Bristol Veterinary School and a member of the Generation Pup team, added: “We’re excited to be able to work with Dogs Trust as part of this ground-breaking study.  These are the first of many more insightful findings that we hope will be revealed from Generation Pup.

“We echo the call from Dogs Trust for dog owners to consider joining the study if they have or are soon to get a new puppy. The greater the number of dogs, and the range of breeds that take part, the more we can do to improve dogs’ lives.”

To take part in the Generation Pup study, puppies need to be under 16 weeks of age, and registered with owners living in the UK or Republic of Ireland.

For more information visit www.generationpup.ac.uk