You have done your research, choosing a breed of dog that is going to well match your lifestyle and you found a reputable breeder that guarantees the health and temperament of their pups. You know you have the chance of buying a puppy that is going to be a perfect compliment to your family but there is one last decision to make and often considered the most pivotal- how do you pick the right puppy from a litter?
Picking the right puppy when you are surrounded by the litter is tough! All puppies are cute and often the one that grabs your attention is either the dominant pup that is grabbing your shoelaces and fingers or the shy pup that sits in the corner all alone. However, for a first time dog owner or a family, the pups that are neither pushy nor the wallflower are often the right choice.
How to Pick a Puppy from a Litter
You are surrounded by soft, cute, adorable puppies and you know one of them will be yours – how do you pick a puppy from a litter?
Often it comes down to what you will be wanting to do with the pup as it grows. Certain traits and the innate temperament of a puppy do not change without a traumatic experience or retraining so what you see in a young pup is often gives clues to how they will develop.
Examples of traits for specific interests are:
- For someone who wants to show a pup will be more concerned about confirmation or structure of the pup as well as markings, ear set, tail set, and shape of the head.
- For someone interested in field dog trials, agility, or obedience, the looks of the pup do not matter as much as their temperament. Some focus will be placed on confirmation or structure as a dog with poor confirmation is more likely to injure itself while performing dog sports.
- Protection dogs require some of the dominant , aggressive behaviors to do their job properly but they still must be able to work with their human. In most cases, experienced dog handlers will choose the pushy puppy for these dog sports as long as that pup also has the ability to submit to a human.
- Tracking and search and rescue dogs must have an adventurous spirit but must also be interested in working with a human. Good tracking pups follow their nose and are happiest when following a trail. Often the pups chosen for search and rescue would greet new people with confidence but once they were bored with the humans, they would be off to explore happily on their own. These pups show a natural confidence as well as an affinity for people.
How to Pick a Puppy from a Litter that will make an Ideal Family Pet
Family pets would be the pups that are in the middle of all these extremes. They would have a natural interest in new people but not the pushy puppy that likes to bite fingers and shoelaces as these pups can be too much to handle for small children. Nor would the ideal family pet be the shy pup that sits in the corner by themselves. A busy family would be too much for this pup as they are easily spooked and a potential fear biter if not handled correctly. Shy puppies can be brought out of their shell with the right owner but it can take time to build their confidence.
Listen to Your Breeder on How to Pick a Puppy from a Litter
No one knows the litter better then the breeder. Breeders understand their breed and often can see traits in the pups that were evident in the parents at a young age. They have spent a great deal of time with the pups and have seen how they interact, play, respect their mother and other people, and accept discipline from both their littermates and their mother. Their insight into the litter is one of the most accurate tools when it comes to how to pick a puppy from a litter.
In some cases, the breeder may even tell you which pup you are getting from the litter. This is common in working and sporting breeds especially because the puppy buyers who come to them are looking for very specific traits and leave it to the breeder to match the pups to their needs.
Listening to your Heart when Picking a Puppy from a Litter
Lastly, there has to be a connection between a puppy and its owner and often that bond is evident from the first time they meet. If you do not feel a connection to the pup that best suits your needs, ask yourself why. Many people want to save a shy pup or love the dominant pup because they display the most personality. However, not everyone is capable of working with these pups and choosing a pup based on the wrong reasons can be a disaster waiting to happen.
If you are not sure about your decision, ask the breeder if you can come back in a few days for another visit. Spend the time between visits confirming with yourself and your family what it is you want in a pup. Next time you visit, find the pups that match your needs and choose one of them.
A puppy is a lifetime commitment, choosing the right puppy from the start will make it a long and happy life!