New puppies owners want their German Shepherd puppies as soon as they can get them. 6 weeks is too long to wait, I tell them 8 weeks and they groan and beg. Unlike other long coat German Shepherd breeders, I am firm.
In my 30 years of raising German shepherd puppies I have watched, observed and been an active part of the whelping and raising process.
I do NOT take the bitch away from her pups as they grow, she weans them on her own, gracefully and naturally. The process starts at about 4 weeks and they are usually done by 6 weeks.
Here is what I know, in brief, of the weeks 1-8 of life a German Shepherd puppies growth.
The impulse to suckle is the driving force, second only to keeping warm. Moms belly and fur provide both. Sense of smell is keen in new puppies. The puppies will eat, sleep, poop and start all over again. You can hardly drag a good mother away, it seems like she never sleeps.
They are moving more, maintaining their body heat a little better and awake for longer periods of time.
Their ears start to open at about 10 - 14 days, as do their eyes.
Don’t be fooled, like most young babies, they cannot see more than shapes and shadows, but they can hear you and smell you. They get lost in the whelping pool as they start struggling to walk. Mom will more over and lay down next to them to reassure and keep them warm..
Eyes are a little clearer, they react to human noise and sounds, they are nosing moms food bowl, started on yogurt, walking, talking and making baby noises. They are gaining their balance and stamina.
Weeks 4 - 6
This is when most German Shepherd puppies are tired of the whelping pool. Once they have figured out how to hook their legs over the side and get out, might as well put the pool away. There is a whole new world to explore.
I do not use newspapers or puppy pads. I have flat crib mats, the larger size. The pups have been on towels in the whelping pool and started to keep an area clean to sleep on and another as a designated potty area. The crib mats have been used before and washed and bleached, but still smell, at least to the puppies, as a place to do their duty.
This is the period where they are exploring their world, walls, chairs, dog beds, human feet and bodies, other dogs and cats. Protected by Mom and human, they are free to wander and explore.
These are the weeks where they are learning to be German Shepherd Dogs. They are interacting with their world, their litter mates, other puppy friendly adult dogs. They scuffle with each other, argue, bite and settle their differences. They learn to chew on meat bones and share or not share. But they always give their treasure up to a human. They are learning what is socially acceptable in their pack and with each other. Mom growls if they get in her food bowl or try and take her bone. The other adults will warn them off with teeth or snaps.
Seven weeks is ideal for temperament testing, they are well on their way to announcing to the world who they are and how they feel about life.
I feel it is very important to give them each stage to develop their personality, temperament and body for a well balanced adult dog.