All about Puppies

Puppies warrant a page of their own, such is the importance of 'getting things right' at the beginning. In making sure that a new owner can have a happy and healthy dog for the rest of its life means that it is a pleasure to own and a pleasure to be with.

Health Testing


for young Puppies

- see Health Tests for Puppies

for Breeders

Health Testing for parents - see Health Tests Prior to Breeding

Puppies between 3 - 16 days: see Stimulation Tests this short video provides a lot of information.

Tap/Click on each Section header for more information

While it is important to have tests for the health of puppies and parents, the importance of how a puppy is reared in the breeders home, together with the early formation of its life in a new home, will have an enormous impact on health and behaviour in adult life and therefore how you enjoy your life with your pet.

The Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of GB operates a puppy placement scheme to assist with this daunting task, however the following helpful extracts are reproduced with permission from the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT).

If you are choosing a puppy always visit the breeder’s home. Do not to have the puppy delivered because you will never really know what the mother is like in temperament nor will you know what type of environment the pup was brought up in.

It is important to meet the mother of the pups and if possible the father. Visiting also means you have a chance to talk with the breeder, look at any paperwork, see how the mother is with you and the pups, how the pups are with each other and their environment.

mum and pups
  • The puppies should look clean, happy and healthy. Their environment should be clean and warm with warm bedding and fresh water.
  • They should be moving around normally and not sitting in an unusual manner (could indicate underlying hip problems).
  • They should be eating a well balanced diet.
  • How often do they have human contact; it should be frequent throughout the day.
  • Are the puppies kept in the house? If not are they warm, dry and experiencing the normal background noises in a home such as the radio, people talking, and walking, sounds of the kitchen etc.
  • Have the puppies been experiencing an enriched environment; are the pups given different toys to play with and areas to explore? This helps to simulate them mentally and to develop their brains normally.
  • It is important for them to have a few objects and small amounts of new experiences to stimulate all five senses to help them develop mentally and physically. New experiences must be given carefully to a new pup.

Your aim must be to buy a home bred, well fed, clean and happy puppy like those shown on this page, but there are some other important aspects to be aware of:

At the breeders, if you don’t like what you see make your excuses and leave. See more on this link to Gwen Bailey's Puppy School, How to find a Good Breeder.

Heard about buying on line; watch and listen to advice given by The Dogs Trust.

and also, there are unscrupulous breeders, commonly known as puppy farmers (or puppy mills), who simply want to make money. Look at this link to the website Leaflets and Posters page) of the CARIAD campaign, but be warned, the pictures are distressing and should not be viewed by children.

More on this subject can be found at the APDT site on Choosing a Puppy (opens in new window).

The following websites are also useful:

Four weeks - the puppies should be weaned on to a solid diet.

Six weeks - legally puppies should not be sold at less than this age.

Eight weeks - Ideally a puppy should be at least this age when they go to a new home as this allows for the mother to have completed her disciplinary training of the pups, such as teaching bite inhibition.

pups with mum

This time is very important for the pups as they learn how to interact and communicate with other dogs properly. However, not every mother is good at discipline and in large litters not every mother can interact with them all, so if they are left with their siblings too long some may become bullies.

For a photographic catalogue of puppies development from birth to leaving home, see the Puppies section of our Gallery.

The breeder should supply all the necessary paperwork and a diet sheet detailing exactly what, how much, and when the pup is fed. It is very important not to change the diet immediately as this can cause stomach upset.

Remember it will be stressful for the pup to leave its family and to go into a new home with virtual strangers. Allow the pup time to adjust to its new environment and people. Try and keep everything calm and gentle in order that every new experience for your new pup is a nice one. It is important for the puppy’s happy adjustment that the puppy’s new life is not overwhelming.

Twelve weeks - at about this stage your puppy should have his first trim, a video and other guidelines can be found on the grooming and puppy care pages.


Dentition and Puppy Teeth:

Most puppies will begin losing their baby teeth and replacing them with adult teeth at around 12 weeks. There are no hard and fast rules about how these changes take place and many owners may be blissfully unaware that it is happening, apart from possibly finding baby teeth on the floor or in toys.

Frequently during these changes, the baby canine teeth may appear alongside the new adult canine teeth and may appear misaligned but this should generally give no cause for concern!

Very rarely is it necessary to intervene with this natural process. The majority of puppies will quite naturally go on to develop a correct 'scissor bite' where the adult top teeth closely overlap the bottom teeth at the front of the mouth.

Monitoring the mouth to check that the bottom adult canine goes on to rest outside the upper gum is all that needs to be done and lots of opportunities to exercise the jaws, such as chewing on safe toys or raw food for those who prefer to feed their puppies that way will help the vast majority of puppies to develop their 'bites' normally.

If, in rare cases, the baby upper or bottom canine tooth is retained and as a result the adult canine begins to puncture the roof of the mouth, then it would be necessary to seek advice from a veterinary dental specialist.


Puppies should be fed four times a day until they are twelve weeks, three times a day until they are six months and then twice a day for the rest of their lives.

For a puppy's first few months in its new home the breeders should give advice about the type and quantity of food needed.

For the adult dog there is a confusing amount of dog food on the market.


Just how much exercise is enough for your young puppy?

Your puppy is allowed to go out after his vaccinations, but it is a big mistake to go for a long hike in the hope of tiring him out. His young bones and joints are just not developed enough to withstand this, he will become over-tired and grumpy, you may hurt the pads on his feet and he may well end up with an aversion to going on the lead.

Two ten minute walks each day are adequate for a young pup – couple this with the mental stimulation of training and play and you will have a happy, tired puppy.

Work up to taking your pup on two twenty minute walks when he is six months old, but see also the page on Luxating Patella.

An adult Wheaten should be given at least 20 minutes walk twice each day.

How do I know when my puppy has stopped growing?

Puppies grow at different rates - this video explains what to look for:

Here is an interesting website which helps to estimate a pup's adult weight, based on birth weight.

Simply select the breed and fill in the details. Tap/Click here (opens in a new window)


One of the most appealing qualities of a dog is the desire to enjoy the company of other dogs and of their owners and other humans. But there are potential problems for the owner who does not take steps to build a healthy relationship with their dog nor teach their pup to be relaxed when left alone.

In many cases the importance of this aspect of caring for your pet dog is not apparent until things go wrong. In extreme cases, owners require professional help when their dog engages in such things as destructive chewing; whining or howling; urination and defecation; when left alone.

As always, prevention is better than cure and this sort of behaviour can be avoided by the following: -

pups socializing

    Take every opportunity to introduce your pup to new experiences, new people and new places. Seek out your local APDT member for advice and enrol in a puppy class.

    Your aim should be to build confidence and avoid over attachment to one person. Introduce our dog to your friends and neighbours and teach it to be relaxed with other people.


    The crate offers many benefits. It prevents your pup following you all around the house; enables you to be separate but still in sight; gives the pup its own space and place of comfort and safety.

    Even older dogs can be introduced to a crate. Make sure the crate is comfortable, covering it with a blanket and give your dog a food-delivering toy, such as a Kong, while the dog is crated.


    The most stressful time for our pup is immediately after you leave. A simple training programme will help.

    Start by walking a distance away from your pup; turning to walk back; greet calmly and reward a good response (if your pup becomes over excited, ask for and reward a sit or a down). Then leave the room, pause briefly out of sight and return as before.

    Gradually increase the duration of absence. When your pup is secure and relaxed when you are out of sight, go out of the house and return as before. As before, gradually increase the duration of absence. Putting your jacket on before leaving will strengthen the effect of this exercise.


    Do not make a fuss before going out. Too much attention may increase your pup’s insecurity when the attention is removed. Your pup will not understand your words but will have a heightened sense of something going to happen.

  • A CALM RETURN. While it is nice to be greeted by a dog that is clearly delighted to see you, do not take too much fuss when you return this attention.

There is no single way to teach a dog to be relaxed when alone. Each dog is different and must be treated differently, but the points listed above will help you teach your dog to be content when left alone.

Further information see the Puppy and Dog Training Tips page at the APDT website

A slightly different view, but very pertinent to puppy ownership and training can be found on this blog

For further Care and grooming techniques go to our Puppy Care and Grooming page