Puppy Vaccinations – Why Should I Wait Until 10 Weeks?

Before Covid-19, we used to offer 2 different vaccination schedules for puppies, one that started when they were 8 weeks old, one that started when they were 10 weeks old. Here’s how the schedules compare:

8-week start

  • 8 weeks old:
    • 1st vaccination for DHP (Distemper, Hepatitis and Parvovirus)
    • 1st vaccination for L4 (Leptospirosis)
  • 10 weeks old:
    • 2nd vaccination for DHP
  • 11 weeks old:
    • Safe to go out, avoiding high-risk areas for leptospirosis (eg. farms, stables, waterways)
  • 12 weeks old:
    • 2nd vaccination for L4
  • 15 weeks old:
    • Safe to go out anywhere, including high-risk areas for leptospirosis

The main advantage of this schedule is that puppies get some protection against the DHP components of the vaccine earlier. They are also safe to go to areas that are high-risk for leptospirosis earlier than they are with a 10-week start. However, by starting before 10 weeks, they end up needing 2 lots of the DHP vaccines rather than just one, and need 3 visits to the vets in total.

10-week start

  • 10 weeks old:
    • 1st vaccination for DHP (Distemper, Hepatitis, and Parvovirus)
    • 1st vaccination for L4 (Leptospirosis)
  • 11 weeks old:
    • Safe to go out, avoiding high-risk areas for leptospirosis (eg. farms, stables, waterways)
  • 14 weeks old:
    • 2nd vaccination for L4
  • 17 weeks old:
    • Safe to go out anywhere, including high-risk areas for leptospirosis

As you can see, puppies who follow a 10-week start schedule can still go out and socialise from 11 weeks – just not in areas that are high-risk for leptospirosis. Because their immune systems are more mature at 10 weeks, they only need one of the DHP vaccines rather than two. This means they only need 2 visits in total, rather than 3.

Given the risk of coronavirus transmission to owners and staff that every vet visit brings, we believe that for most puppies, it is sensible to start the vaccines at 10 weeks rather than 8, avoiding the need for a third visit. This is why a 10-week start is currently our standard regime.

If your puppy meets any of the following criteria, there may be an argument for starting vaccinations at 8-weeks instead:

  • Comes from a high-risk infection environment eg. a puppy farm or breeding facility with more than one litter at a time.
  • Will be living in an area with a high leptospirosis risk eg. stables or farm.

We hope that answers any questions you have about starting vaccinations at 10 weeks rather than 8. Please get in touch if you’d like to book your puppy in for vaccinations – we’d love to see you!