How old do puppies have to be to tell their sex?

Written by diane craig
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How old do puppies have to be to tell their sex?
Young puppy sleeping in hand (Image by, courtesy of Wayne Silver)

When puppies are quite young, it can be hard to tell male from female, unless you know what to look for. While it is wise to wait until a puppy is at least three weeks old, the sex can be determined sooner if you choose.

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For breeders, the sex of a puppy may make a large difference in how much it can be sold for. For this reason they may choose to sex their puppies soon after birth.


Early sexing may make a difference in how puppies are raised, depending on the breed.

Time Frame

It is recommended that you wait until the pups are at least three weeks of age before trying to determine their sex. Very young pups may become distressed during the process.


Excessive handling of very young pups can cause enough human scent for the mother to reject them, especially if she is young or it is her first litter. Young pups need the comfort and warmth of the mother and siblings during the early days. Being removed from this can cause the pups hypothermia in extreme cases, so handling should be limited to three minutes or less.


The mother dog may be aggressive if her newborn or very young pups are disturbed. Unless it is urgent for some reason to know the sex of the puppies, waiting until they are at least three weeks old is recommended.

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