Well, you have decided on having a new furry friend to your daily life. This is a no-nonsense guide for choosing the right puppy from the litter. All clichés on responsibility aside, it is a big decision and we know you want to start right. For this reason, we are here to help you.
Assessing the Litter for Your Future Puppy
We recommend you find a breeder for the breed of your choice rather than heading to a pet store. Pet stores often keep puppies separated.
So, after you have found a breeder, and call around for a few… start making appointments. That is right; it sometimes is not as easy as showing up and falling into puppy love. By making a few appointments with different litters you kind of get to “date” the breeder.
When you call the breeders be sure you stress that you are very excited, and you want to see the pups as soon as they are ready.
The “best” puppies go first because other breeders are looking to add to their family. They know what they’re looking for as opposed to most pet owners.
When you get to your appointment or date, feel free to ask the breeder a lot of questions. Try some of these:
- “Is this her first litter?” First litters mean you don’t know if this mom dog has a history of healthy puppies.
- “Have the puppies had (or will they get), all their shots?”
- “Have the puppies started house training?”
- “Is the mom with them for much of the day?”
- “Are the puppies played with often?”
Caution! You don’t want to work with a breeder who doesn’t socialize with their pups!
Observing the Litter’s Behaviors
Take a few minutes before diving in and scooping one up. We know, it is hard to stand back and watch a ton of puppies. But it is for the best.
You want to see how they interact with each other and take note of these two factors:
- Are they curious? Meaning, do they seem not only interested in each other but their surroundings as well?
- Are they trusting of each other? If even one or two pups are super shy it may be a sign there is an aggressive puppy in the mix here.
While you’re watching them and start to give in to your urge to get up close take note of if they’re trusting of you. Most puppies welcome play time with people and if they don’t this is cause for concern.
The final note during observation: identify the biggest, the smallest and then realize you will probably choose one of the in-betweeners. The biggest does not always mean they are the alpha and the smallest will not always stay that way. Aim for a healthy medium.
What Personality Type Fits You?
If you are of the mindset that dogs are pretty close to being people, you are not far off. Their personality and yours need to match. If you spent a good amount of time researching breeds that fit your lifestyle. This will be a little more difficult.
These are some of the most common puppy personalities we encounter:
- Independent: The “I only need you for food” pup is really closer to a cat that wants slightly more attention. They typically do not need a lot of time but do need a large yard.
- Fun Loving: These pups are the ones rolling on the floor without the sign of a hand giving out belly rubs. Why are they rolling then? Well, because it’s a blast. These pups can require a lot of attention as they want constant amusement.
- Needy: For the person who needs more than a lovable playmate from time to time. These are the first ones in your lap and the last ones to walk away when you say “Go”. Needy is by no means bad. Be sure if you want a dog that needs you as much as you need her that you have the time!
- Alpha: He or she struts like every carpet is a dog show judging. Not to be confused with an aggressive dog that nips at its siblings! This pup naturally controls the room and sets the scene with confidence. This is definitely for those who are ready to put in a lot of training time.
- Relaxed or timid: Not too shy, not too clingy but also not afraid of you. These are the signs of a lay by the fire kind of friend. Relaxed or timid dogs often find themselves the center of attention because they can’t say no.
- People Pleaser: This is the buddy that knows you love him and will do anything to show he loves you too. Often marked by signs of good manners before training! Keep an eye out for a pup that wants your attention but isn’t fighting the others for it.
A Moment of Meaningful Bonding
You have finally made it to the time that you get to hold and play with the litter! While you are keeping an eye out for the personality traits we talked about you have a short to-do list.
Checking out their ears, nose, and breathing is really important. And, this is the best undertake before you fall for a furry friend to take home. So what are you looking for?
- Clean ears! They should not have had too much of a chance to get dirty yet.
- A wet nose that is intently the color it is supposed to be. Also, check for crust or snot around the nostrils.
- That they’re breathing at regular and healthy intervals. Even most breeds that snort breath healthily as pups.
So your technical elimination can be called done. Take the rest of this time to really handle each one. This will help you identify their personalities and the degree of attention they need!
When In Doubt – Ask the Breeder
Since you’ve dated around and asked some preliminary questions your breeder should know these might be coming. If you can’t identify any specific personality types, ask questions like:
- “Who is the most playful of the litter?”
- “Which one demands the most attention?”
- “Is she lazy or afraid of me?”
They have seen these little guys grow over the last few weeks and have a good idea of each one’s personality. But by this time, you should know everything you need on how to choose a puppy from the litter!