Age at which a JR can be taken from its mother and hand reared ?

by Angela
( Hawke's Bay, New Zealand)

At what age can a JR be taken from its mother and hand reared (as in the case of a runt that will only feed off the mother if assisted and so is very labour intensive already). Will the pup still thrive if share-fed by four people in the adoptive family, from three to four weeks? Pup is currently 10 days old.

Thank you,


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Apr 23, 2009
And NOT Before!!
by: Colleen Bramall

If I were to write a complete answer on this question it would carbon copy EXACTLY what this answer is from Mary Harborview JRTS said.

As a breeder of JRT's I know first hand the importance of keeping the puppies (yes, even the runt) with the mother and the litter. If you must give supplementary feedings to them to assist a mother with low milk, or due to a tiny one being pushed out by the larger, dominant pups, then that is what must be done.

These babies need the nurturing of their mother as well as their siblings. Anyone who would take a baby away from the litter shouldn't be breeding, nor should you take them.

Jun 10, 2008
Age to Remove Runt from Mother

Sorry but a lot of people might not like my answer to this.

Only a lazy breeder and not reputable in my eyes would sell a puppy that young so that the new owner could hand rear that puppy. The breeder should be supplementing the weaker puppy and continue to put it with mom even if the breeder must put in the effort to help the puppy nurse. She can roll a facecloth and make a barrier around the puppy while it nurses so that the more aggressive feeders will not push this smaller pup off a nipple. Supplemental feedings in between nursing on the mom should be done by the breeder. The breeder decided to bring these pups into the world and it is their responsibility to do all the work needed to get this puppy thru this time. To take the puppy to the vet to make sure there is nothing medically wrong and get up in the middle of the night to make sure the pup is getting fed enough. This is definitely not for the buyer to do. The pups should be with mom for a minimum of 8 weeks to make sure they are socially taught by mom and littermates. It makes a huge difference in the temperament of the dog later on. ALSO a HUGE reason for the breeder to do everything possible to continue to let the puppy nurse at least past 4 weeks and into the 5th week of the life of the puppy. Puppies that are taken off mom's milk or weaned earlier than that can cause a problem with the pups eyes. A good vet upon a full examination can notice a problem in the eyes of very young pups if the pup is weaned or taken from mom's milk too early.

Beware of a breeder that says "here you take the runt because mom is pushing it away and the puppy is not getting enough milk due to its size or the size of other puppies getting most of the milk". This is a breeder you RUN from.

Breeding is not as easy as people think. You do not make lots of money off of this. It is hard work when you have a vigorous, healthy litter. When you have anything other than that, the work triples, but the breeder did this by choice and therefore it is their responsibility to do the work and pass on the new owners an 8 week old, healthy pup. Breeders must step up and do the work or do not breed.


Harborview Jack Russell Terriers

May 30, 2008
Hand Reared Pup
by: Gill

Chances are if the pup is the runt and not feeding well off the mother, it will fail to thrive anyway. Our Milly was 3 weeks when we got her for exactly that reason. The breeder had been hand rearing her as the mum had started to reject her. We kept her warm, fed her on puppy milk which can be bought in the supermarket and also dried puppy food which we mushed up with water and she was able to lap with encouragement.

She is now thriving and a fantastic girl at 22 weeks. The breeder saw her a few weeks ago and couldn't believe how great she was! Better to take them and let them survive in my opinion but only if you are sure they would suffer otherwise.

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