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A puppy (plural puppies) is an immature dog. The shortened form pup is also used, although the word "pup" is also used for the young of many other animals and in such context is not slang. The word whelp, taken from the verb to whelp, to give birth to a pup, is also heard, especially for a newborn pup. By extension, pup, puppy and whelp are sometimes applied affectionately or derogatorily toward young, rascally humans. Puppies are formally called puppy dog (males) and puppy bitch (female). These are breeders' and fanciers' terms and the distinction is not generally made in everyday speech; the words "puppy" and "puppy dog" are applied indiscriminately to all young dogs.

Puppy characteristics

Like the young of many animals, puppies' appearance can be markedly different to that of adult dogs. There are a variety of dog breeds with varying attributes, but some shared characteristics among the young of all dog breeds are softly folded ears, pink paw pads, they may have pink or pink-tipped noses, and they generally have large paws that they have to "grow into". Puppies may be born singly, but generally they are born in a group containing three to eight, called a litter.

Puppy play

Puppies like to play, but this is not all fun and games. Growling, snapping, biting, stalking and sexual behaviour are all taught or actively encouraged by the pups' dam, their mother. This is an important part of puppy learning.