Which puppy in the litter is best? 5 tips for choosing the best dog ever to fit your life! And what to ask the breeder.
Those cute puppy dog eyes, floppy or sticky up ears and clumsy puppy waddles. How can you not resist! Puppies are all so adorable and, if you could, you would keep the entire litter! So how do you pick which puppy is best for you?
1) Resist choosing based on colour or cuteness
Don’t choose a puppy based on its colour or whether its the cutest one in the litter. Puppy looks will change as they mature and let’s face it….at the end of the day you will fall in love with your dog no matter what it looks like! Instead look for a healthy puppy that has the pawfect personality for you.
2) Personality is key
Don’t let the puppy pick you. That puppy that rushes up to you to gnaw on your shoe and mouth your hands is cute but might actually have a pushy personality and require an assertive owner. Don’t overlook the puppy that is shy at first but then follows you around eager to be patted and cuddled. That shy but eager to please puppy is likely to be far easier to train! Of course, if you are an experienced dog owner or looking for a dog to train in a particular sport such as agility or retriever trials, then feel free to pick the bold puppy with the more independent streak that shows the talent you are searching for.
3) Listen to the breeder’s advice
A good breeder has just spent 8 weeks with the puppies and will know every puppy individually. Explain to the breeder the type of personality you are looking for to fit in with you lifestyle and your family. If you have young children, a less boisterous and energetic puppy might be best for you. If you are looking for a running buddy then the more energetic pup might fit the bill. A good breeder will ask you questions to help you choose the right puppy from the litter or even choose one for you! Some breeders will even do scientific-based temperament tests to help match puppies to their families. If you have a good breeder trust their advice on which puppy will be the best fit for your life!
4) Pick a healthy puppy
Check the puppy over for any discharge around the eyes and ears. Check that it looks healthy. It should be a healthy weight but not have a swollen belly as bloating can indicate worms. Avoid the runt of the litter if it has significant health problems or is very delayed in its development as it may need longer with mum. If the puppy is from a breeder, ask to see the health screening test results. Information on breed specific health tests can be found at the American Kennel Club. If the breeder won’t provide the results of the tests for mum and dad...then walk away. It is not worth getting a puppy that could end up with a swag of health issues, cost you a lot of money in vet bills and potentially a lot of heartache!
5) Don’t be afraid to walk away
You are choosing a dog that will be your responsibility for the next 10-20 years. It is a big deal! Puppies are a big investment in money, time and emotions (they quickly take up a big paw shaped place in our hearts)!
Don’t be afraid to walk away without a puppy especially if:
- Puppies don’t look that healthy.
- Puppies are being sold at less than 8 weeks of age. Puppies must stay with mum and siblings until at least 8 weeks of age for normal behavioural development.
- The breeder refuses to let you meet the mother of the litter. This is a red flag that it is an unethical breeder which you don’t want to support. However, the father of the litter might not be around if they have used a stud from elsewhere. A good breeder will have information on the father including the results of his health tests.
- The mother of the pups is in a bad state. While mum may have lost some weight from breast feeding the puppies if she looks very skinny or doesn’t have a happy, healthy and friendly disposition then don’t support the breeder.
- You just have a bad gut feeling about the breeder…gut feelings are usually right and you don’t want to support a puppy mill or an unethical breeder.
Remember there will be other puppies out there from ethical breeders! It is worth the wait to find a happy, healthy puppy that will be the right personality for you and your family.
Be picky and enjoy the adventure of finding the most pawsomest puppy for you!
Dr Erika Alacs is a biologist and professional dog trainer. Erika and her husband Phoenix are the developers of Brave Puppy app which is an innovative sound socialisation/training tool they developed to help their own dogs overcome their noise phobias and over-excitability.