|I wrote this page to give you an idea of the milestones that your puppy
goes through from birth to the time they go home.
Birth - It is very important at birth that the puppy's lungs are cleared quickly and completely.
Usually, the mother will do an excellent job of taking care of this, but I'm always around to help
if she needs it. Once the lungs are clear, the next most important step is ensuring that the puppy
can nurse effectively. Puppies should begin trying to nurse within a few minutes after birth.
Week One - During the first week of life, puppies should be nursing and sleeping exclusively. A
puppy should gain at least half of it's birth weight in the first week, though in the first day or two,
it is not uncommon for a healthy puppy to lose a few tenths of an ounce. As long as he gains it
back plus some, he is fine. Puppies do not change too much physically in the first week, other
than in size. During the first two weeks, my job is primarily to handle the puppies every day to
begin their socialization.
Week Two - During the second week of life, puppies begin to change more physically than they
did the week before. Their heads start to change shape a little bit and often their colors will start
to change. They are still nursing and sleeping, and by the end of the second week, they should
have doubled their birth weight. Sometimes the eyes and ears will begin to open during the
second week, but that process is not usually complete until sometime during the third week of life.
Week Three - Puppies eyes and ears finish opening and they begin to stay awake a little bit
more. By now, we can usually tell if a puppy is long coat. Many puppies go through an "ugly
puppy" stage starting in the third week caused by the way their heads and faces are changing
shape. This is temporary and usually resolves around week 5 or 6. Puppies are still nursing
exclusively, but they are becoming more aware of their siblings and we may even see them begin
to interact. The third week is usually the wobbly stage, when they are starting to try to stand up
and walk, but they still don't have much balance. At three weeks of age, we begin to introduce
the puppies to sounds and scents with which they are not familiar. Because a puppy's primary
sense organ will always be his nose, introducing them to new scents stimulates them and makes
them interested in the world around them. We also begin to introduce them to new people at this
age. They still have no fear at this age, so our efforts also help to desensitize the pups.
Week Four - The "ugly puppy" may still be hanging on, but you can start to see it subside.
Puppies are usually up and walking around by the end of week 4 and they are interacting with
each other and starting to wrestle around a little more. They are ready to begin exploring a little
bit, but they don't stray too far from Mom at this age. Mom, however, is usually starting to think
about weaning them, so by the end of the week, some puppies may be starting to take an interest
in food and water. Because Chihuahua puppies are so small, weaning usually takes a few weeks
from this stage to completion. Personalities are starting to show and we can usually tell general
temperaments around this age, but they still have a long way to go before we can see much more
Week Five - The "ugly puppies" are starting to become cute again and the ones that didn't go
through that stage are cuter than ever. They are walking and interacting with Mom and their
siblings very well. During week 5 most puppies are really starting to get interested in food,
though they still rely on Mom for the bulk of their nutrition. The smallest of the puppies may not
be quite ready for food yet though....that is perfectly normal as they often take longer to fully
wean. It is at this stage that most puppies begin to take an interest in toys and we start to really
see some personality from them. They are very impressionable at this age. Though we have
been handling them and socializing them since the day they were born, it is at this age that the
socialization really must go into full swing. What they learn while they are with us from this stage
forward will likely stay with them for the rest of their lives. For the next 3 to 6 weeks, we
introduce them to other people, other puppies and adult dogs, and new environments...a little at a
time to keep from overwhelming them.
Week Six - By now, the early "ugly puppy" stage should be over, though many puppies will go
through another one sometime between 11 and 15 weeks of age. Most puppies are still nursing at
least a couple of times a day, but they are usually eating on their own by now. They are
interacting with people very well. This is the age where they really start to steal the hearts of
those who see them. Most puppies start to become more brave at this age, venturing further and
further away from Mom to explore. We start to see their individual personality characteristics at
this age and we can tell you a lot more about who they are now. Some of them begin to find
their bark at this age, though many puppies will take a while longer for that. Puppies at this age
are generally friendly, though they may still be cautious of strangers at first. They usually don't
take too long to warm up. They may be a bit nervous in new situations, but should be interested
enough to explore once they grow accustomed to the people or environment. Physically, puppies
may still be changing quite rapidly from week to week. You may see their heads and faces still
changing shape, though more slowly than before. And some puppies begin to really start to
change color at this age...especially the fawn colored puppies.
Week Seven - By the end of week 7 most puppies are fully weaned and eating on their own,
though the smallest of them may not be yet. They are becoming more and more active and
interested in getting attention, playing, and being held and cuddled. Some may still be cautious,
as personality traits do vary, but all puppies should be warming up to new situations fairly
quickly, even if cautious at first. Physically, you may still be seeing noticeable changes in their
appearance from week to week, though that is beginning to slow down considerably. It is at this
stage that puppies seem to be able to remember people they have met before and places they
have been before, so they are becoming more comfortable and usually less nervous. We have
noticed that they can recognize and respond to voices of our neighbors who like to come and play
with them, and they seem to have a good grasp of the physical lay out of their environment.
Usually by now, we can tell you quite a bit about your puppy's personality. Some puppies go
through a fear phase around this time though, which can last from a few days to a week or so.
By now, our puppies are usually trained to paper. Puppies normally have a growth spurt
sometime around 7 to 8 weeks of age.
Week Eight - If a puppy experiences a fear phase, it may not be fully resolved at this age, so we
base our interactions with the puppies on each individual puppy. Most puppies are very happy
and outgoing by the end of week eight. Some of the smallest puppies may still not be fully
weaned, but they should at least be eating something. Usually the physical appearance of the
puppies is pretty steady from week to week following the eighth week, and they are not changing
as much from week to week as they have been. Puppies are normally very interested in toys by
now, and most are running and playing, exploring and sniffing out their world by this age. This is
a very cute age, which is why we usually wait till eight weeks to take videos of them. Puppies
are usually structurally sound by this age and while they will grow, they should be more or less
proportionate by the end of week 8. It is also at this age that puppies are said to look the most
like how they will when they are adults, so we estimate their adult weights at 8 weeks of age as
Week Nine - Puppies are changing less and less each week in both appearance and temperament.
By now, their personalities are more or less set, though they are still quite impressionable and
easy to mold. It is usually at this age that the most mature of the puppies start to go home. By
the end of week 9 even the smallest puppies should be fully weaned but they will stay with us a
while longer. By now, puppies are outgoing, happy, and really acting like tiny dogs.
Week Ten - Usually very little change in personality or appearance but some puppies do go
through a fear phase. This one can last a week or two, depending on the puppy. For puppies
going through a fear phase, sending them home in the middle of it is not a good idea, so they will
stay here until the phase is over. Most puppies though are happy and easy going by this age.
They may be starting to chew and teeth by now, and some puppies go into another "ugly puppy"
stage. Like the earlier version of this, it is characterized by rapidly changing physical
characteristics, however, this one can stick around through the beginning of the puberty phase,
which normally starts around 16 weeks of age. Long coat puppies often blow their coats during
this phase as well. This means that they start to lose their puppy fuzz and grow in their longer,
silkier adult coat. It is not uncommon to see a bit of a growth spurt at this stage as well.
Week Eleven - Most puppies are mature enough that they have already gone home by now or
are going home this week. Physical appearance usually isn't changing that much and personalities
are still very steady. Ugly phases and fear phases may still be in effect, but may be starting to
taper off. Puppies are usually happy and well adjusted by the end of week eleven.
Week Twelve - Almost all puppies have matured enough to go home by now. Some of the extra
tiny ones may still be here, but usually even they are going home by this age. Teething is usually
in full swing by now and puppies need something to chew on to help alleviate that discomfort.
Fear phases are usually over by now and continued socialization is necessary to keep your puppy
well-adjusted. The puberty phase is coming up in a few weeks.
Puppy Puberty - This phase usually starts around 16 weeks of age. Puberty is usually marked
by a relatively large growth spurt or a prolonged growing period. Usually by the end of the
puberty phase, which can be anywhere from 6 to 12 months of age, puppies are about as big as
they are going to be, at least structurally. There are a lot of hormonal changes during the
puberty phase. Females will have their first estrus (heat) cycle. Males should be fully intact by
now (though we recommend that you have them neutered before their puberty phase really takes
hold.) A puppy's ears may go up and down during this phase, and there may be excessive
teething as the puppy cuts his larger adult teeth. Your puppy will begin to really look like an adult
dog during this phase. The little fat puppy you have been feeling all along will start to feel
slimmer and more sleek. You will likely see physical changes in the shape of their head and face
as they begin to take on their final adult appearance. You may see an increase or a decrease in
your puppy's activity level, depending on the puppy. And if you have other animals in the house,
you may notice changes in the way your puppy interacts with them. Your puppy is growing up
and it will be an unique experience for you both. When the puberty phase is over, your
Chihuahua will be a beautiful young adult!