What to Know When Buying an Older Puppy

8 minute read By Lucy Hughes
Reviewed by: Pawrade Team
May 04, 2023

A person holds a fluffy brown older puppy

Picking out your new puppy is an exciting time! You may be searching for months for that perfect one. You've thought about what it would be like to bring home a puppy, and you're ready to make that commitment. 

When searching for a puppy for sale, people may assume the only time to buy a puppy is at the 2-month mark or as soon as they are able to go home. However, that’s a false assumption – every puppy deserves a great home no matter their age! Just because a puppy hasn’t been selected as soon as the litter of puppies is ready to go home doesn’t mean it's not a quality puppy. 

There are several advantages to picking out an older puppy 3-6 months old to be your furbaby. Here’s what you need to know about buying an older puppy beyond 8 weeks old.

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Older Puppy Milestones 3-6 Months of Life

While we could write several chapters on puppy developmental stages, we’ll give a quick overview so you know what you may encounter at each month of an older puppy’s life. 

3 months

During the third month of a puppy's life, which falls between 8 to 12 weeks old, their development kicks into high gear. At this stage, puppies are starting to become more active and curious about their surroundings. They will likely have gotten used to eating solid food by now and are becoming more independent. 

Additionally, their senses are becoming more finely tuned, and they are beginning to learn basic puppy training commands and house training. Puppy socialization is also crucial at this stage, as they are learning how to interact with other dogs and people. Around the 12-week mark, they’ll get their second round of the 5-way vaccine.

4 months

Month Four, or 12-16 weeks of life, is a critical time for your puppy's development and sets the foundation for its adult behavior. Your puppy will start to show more independence and begin testing their boundaries. This is an important time for socialization and training to properly mold their behavior and prepare them for adulthood. 

Puppies get their final round of the 5-way vaccine and their rabies vaccine typically around 16 weeks. Additionally, you will work with your vet to determine what other vaccinations are needed depending on where you live, your travel plans, if your puppy will be in obedience classes or visiting a kennel or doggy daycare, etc. 

Physically, they will continue to grow rapidly, adding another few inches to their height and gaining weight. The puppy teething phase is in full-blown mode! At this stage, your pup may also start losing their baby teeth, leaving fun surprises for you to step on (ouch)! They will also start to develop their adult teeth, which means they will need plenty of chew toys to alleviate any discomfort.

5-6 months

The 5-6 month stage in puppies is all about learning how to be a good boy or girl. They’ve had some early socialization, but now it’s time to put into practice what they have learned with lots of positive reinforcement and daily training opportunities. 

Puppies at this age are right on the cusp of the “teenage” puppy years, so it’s important to stay the course, even if you experience normal setbacks. Puppies are usually ready for obedience classes, doggy daycare, and play sessions with other puppies. Breeders will keep making sure they’re exposed to different scenarios and stimuli. 

By 6 months, all of your puppy’s teeth will probably have started to come in, which means they’ll need even more chew toys and supervision to make sure they understand what they’re allowed to chew. 

Puppies may receive boosters and non-core vaccinations like Bordatella, canine influenza, and more. A great breeder will definitely be able to tell you which ones they’ve received so you can keep on schedule. 

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Here’s What to Expect When Considering an Older Puppy 

If you're considering buying a puppy, opting for an older one could be a great choice. With a little patience, love, and proper care, your new furry friend will be a loyal companion for years to come. Here are some advantages to buying an older puppy

They’ve made new friends

Older puppies have already begun the socialization process, learning how to interact with other puppies, people, and possibly other animals. The more chances a puppy has to experience the world around them, the better prepared they will be to live in your home and out and about in social situations. 


Bowie the Golden Retriever exploring the playground at 4 months old

Their personality has begun to emerge

Older puppies have had plenty of time to practice interacting with other puppies and people, so their temperament has already begun to emerge. Is your puppy more cautious and reserved or boisterous and brave? An older puppy will be more established in how they express themselves, and your breeder will be able to tell you about what they’ve observed.

Knowing your older puppy’s temperament can help you select a training program to build on the breeder’s beginning efforts. If you pick one without considering your puppy’s personality, it may be a disastrous fit. However, paying attention to what your puppy responds to can make a huge difference in seeing training progress and success. 

They’ve received age-appropriate core puppy vaccinations

When purchasing an older puppy, you definitely want to pick one that is up-to-date on age-appropriate core vaccinations for puppies. By around 2 months, your puppy will have received biweekly deworming and the first round of the 5-way shot known as the DHPP, DAPP, or DA2PP vaccine, which protects your puppy from parvo, distemper, canine hepatitis, kennel cough, and parainfluenza. Between 8-16 weeks and beyond, you’ll work with your vet to get on a vaccination schedule for boosters and follow-up vaccines.

Be Realistic When Purchasing an Older Puppy

What do we mean by being realistic? Well, we’d like to address some common misconceptions about purchasing an older puppy for sale before you fall into the trap of believing these misgivings.

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“All puppies should go home at 8 weeks on the dot!”

While yes, some puppies can go home right after 8 weeks old, there are a few smaller breeds that need more time to travel safely and leave the litter and Mama. Because they are so tiny, they may have trouble regulating their blood sugar or need extra time to grow. 

For these reasons, small dog breeds available at Pawrade, such as any teacup or toy breed like Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, or Shih Tzus (and other breeds) will need to wait until they are 12 weeks old or 2 pounds, whichever comes first. 

“There must be something wrong with the puppy!” 

As we mentioned before, there is no right time to bring home a puppy (other than making sure the puppy is 8 weeks for most breeds). Just because a puppy hasn’t been selected at 3, 4, 5, or 6 months does not mean the puppy is at fault. It just means they’ve been waiting for you all this time! 

“Yay, all the hard work is over for us!”

Regardless of what age you bring home a puppy, you need to be prepared to continue the training and efforts of your trustworthy breeder. Puppies do not become magically trained in one month. You should not expect your puppy to be completely house-trained, behavior trained, or socialized upon arrival. Just like children, puppies are going through a developmental process of learning.

“Progression is linear, right?”

Have you heard of a baby’s 4-month sleep regression, where they seem to get the hang of sleeping at night but then experience some setbacks as if they were one month old again? Raising a well-adjusted puppy is the same way. 

A puppy may be making great strides for a few months and then regress. This is a normal process. You may receive your puppy mid-regression, but that doesn’t mean you got a lemon (unless it’s a lemon-colored Beagle puppy, of course). Expect two steps forward and one step back when raising a puppy, and you’ll be able to know it’s totally age-appropriate. This advice can go for potty training, basic puppy commands, and more areas of puppy growth and learning.

Why Buy an Older Puppy Through Pawrade? 

If you are searching, “Where can I find puppies for sale near me?” you may come across lots of options in your search. 

When people buy an older puppy, they want to make sure their puppy has had great healthcare with paperwork to back it up, has been raised in a loving environment, has begun socialization & potty training, offers a secure transaction, and is from a reputable breeder who loves the breed. 

However, if you go with the cheapest first available puppy on a social media or classified site through a private party where anyone with a puppy can list and sell, you have no guarantee of any of these qualifications, especially if there is no paperwork, puppy contract, or health guarantee. If it sounds too good to be true or notice red flags, listen to your gut! You could accidentally be supporting abhorrent puppy mills or unknowingly be the victim of the next dishonest puppy scam

Luckily for you, Pawrade takes the guessing out of finding quality, healthy puppies. We partner with breeders that have passed a rigorous vetting process. All of our breeders take their puppy-raising responsibilities seriously, providing sanitary kennels, socialization, and exposure to common household noises. They love their puppies as much as you will, and it shows!

Each puppy comes with paperwork documenting your puppy’s up-to-date core vaccinations and other health information, a comprehensive health guarantee outlining both breeder and new puppy parent responsibilities, and 30 days of MetLife pet insurance for free. In addition, all purchases are made through PetPay, a secure transaction management system that provides all the paperwork, contract, health guarantee, and travel information in one convenient spot.

Consider adopting an older puppy from Pawrade and experience the peace of mind you’ll have knowing we’ve done all the hard work for you to ensure you’re bringing home one (or two!) healthy puppies for sale.


Lucy Hughes profile picture

Lucy Hughes

Lucy Hughes has been teaching and writing professionally for half her life. She has a passion for helping people choose a puppy and lead an exciting life with their new furry companion. She enjoys spending quality time with her family and her beloved Golden Retriever, Bowie.

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