Choosing the Right Puppy from a Litter

Deciding to get a puppy is very exciting but shouldn’t be taken lightly. Make sure you have a few months that you can walk them every 30 minutes, and a year to dedicate time every day to training them. And make sure you’re committed to having a dog for 15 years.

If all those boxes are checked, and you have chosen the breed you want, it’s time to find a breeder (unless, of course, you decide to adopt a dog from a shelter :).

Questions You Should Ask a Breeder

When you are starting to look for a breeder there are some questions you can ask to help you narrow down your search.

 

Is this the mother’s first litter with this father?

It’s nice to know that these parents and have healthy litters before

How is the general health of the puppies?

Make sure the breeder shares information freely and doesn’t hesitate to answer or isn’t willing to answer.

Can I meet the mother?

The mother should be helping to care for the puppies, so you’ll want to see her with her puppies, and make sure she is a caring mother and that she looks healthy.

Have the puppies be socialized with children/cats /etc.?

Depending on what other animals you have or if you have kids, you’ll want to ask if the puppies have been socialized. Even if you don’t have kids, it’s nice if the puppies have gotten used to kids, but not essential.

Are the puppies up to date on their vaccinations and worming?

There are important shots the puppies should have already had when they are 8 weeks and ready for adoption, so make sure they have had those. Also, you will want them to be de-wormed because many puppies have worms, and you don’t want to have to de-worm them after you adopt them.

 

Is this the mother’s first litter with this father?

It’s nice to know that these parents and have healthy litters before

How is the general health of the puppies?

Make sure the breeder shares information freely and doesn’t hesitate to answer or isn’t willing to answer.

Can I meet the mother?

The mother should be helping to care for the puppies, so you’ll want to see her with her puppies, and make sure she is a caring mother and that she looks healthy.

Have the puppies be socialized with children/cats /etc.?

Depending on what other animals you have or if you have kids, you’ll want to ask if the puppies have been socialized. Even if you don’t have kids, it’s nice if the puppies have gotten used to kids, but not essential.

Are the puppies up to date on their vaccinations and worming?

There are important shots the puppies should have already had when they are 8 weeks and ready for adoption, so make sure they have had those. Also, you will want them to be dewormed because many puppies have worms, and you don’t want to have to deworm them after you adopt them.

 

When You Go To See the Litter

 

Check where they are living

You should visit the litter to see if you’re interested in the puppies. Ideally, you should visit more than 1 litter with different breeders, so stay strong! I know it’s hard to not just grab the first adorable puppy you see.

  1. Look at where they are being kept – Make sure the have a clean, indoor place to sleep and rest with their mother
  2. If they are sleeping when you come, they should wake up easily and have a good amount of energy
  3. Their area should not smell bad

 

Seeing the puppies

If you’re happy with the breeder and the environment they are in, then it’s time to see the puppies.

 

They should:

  • Not be over or underweight
  • Be free of discharge in their eyes and ears
  • Have clean teeth and gums
  • Be breathing freely
  • Have a rear end that is not red
  • Have a think shiny coat
  • Walk without signs of limping or stiffness (this could be a sign of hip problems that will develop later in life)

The 4 Puppy Personality Types

How the puppies interact will tell you a lot

Puppies have different personalities from birth, just like people, and they don’t change as they grow up. Watching a litter of puppies play together will tell you volumes about each of their personalities.

1. The High Energy Puppy

You’ll see there are puppies that take control and push the other puppies around. They might run into the other puppies, or push them out of the way to get your attention, or jump up on you. These are the dominant puppies in the litter and will appear to be the most playful at first, but you’ll see that they play rougher than the other puppies in the litter.

Characteristics:

  • fearless, intelligent, and stubborn
  • Good if you have a high energy lifestyle and want to bring your dog along on your adventures
  • Might not be good with other dogs in the house
  • Might be harder to train
  • Not a great fit for someone who isn’t home a lot, or has small children

 

2. The Independent Thinker

These puppies will be happy to play with you, but also happy to wander away and play with the other puppies. They are interested to meet you, but will not bowl over the other puppies to get to you. They will not bite when you flip them over (see the tests below), and depending on how tired they are, they may be fine to relax in your arms, or might rather be running and playing.

Characteristics:

  • Independent at times, upbeat and go with the flow
  • Good for people with a moderately active lifestyle
  • Easy to train but have their own ideas about things
  • Can be good with older kids and other dogs

 

3. The Pleaser

These puppies will be very excited to interact with you (they might even leave a little puddle of excitement at your feet) and will be your instant BFF. They will follow you when you walk away and will be calm when you pet them. They are the puppies that the high-energy puppies will be jumping over on their way to see you, but they will stick around to be with you after the high energy pup is off to something else. They will also relax in your arms when you hold them.

Characteristics:

  • Sweet, somewhat shy, and devoted
  • Good if you are home a lot – does not like to be left alone
  • Easy to train
  • Good for older people and families with small children
  • Will do well with other dogs if they are not too rough
  • Should not be owned by someone with a booming voice
  • Need a gentile, calm touch

 

4. The Timid Puppy

These puppies might cautiously scoot over to you (maybe even on their belly instead of walking), or you might see them sitting or lying down in the corner by themselves. They might even seem to be afraid of the other puppies. They will not have a lot of confidence and might be scared to be help at first, but with someone calm, they will relax.

Characteristics:

  • Shy, docile, loving, and sweet
  • Need a lot of patience while they gain confidence with people and other animals
  • Good for people with no children

6 Tests to Help ID Their Personality

 

Roll the Puppy Over

The High Energy Puppy – will bite at you and try to get up

The Independent Thinker – might try to get up at first, but will not bite, and quickly give in

The Pleaser – will be happy to be rolled over and will not fight, and might even lick you

The Timid Puppy – might be sacred to be flipped over but will not fight you at all

 

Sit on the Floor and Make a Puppy Whining Sound

The High Energy Puppy – will ignore you

The Independent Thinker – will come to investigate

The Pleaser – will come over with concern and maybe even give you kisses

The Timid Puppy – will notice and want to come over

 

Pick Up the Puppy and Hold It

The High Energy Puppy – will squirm and try to get down

The Independent Thinker – might fight for a minute but will settle down and be ok with hanging out in your arms

The Pleaser – will relax in your arms

The Timid Puppy – might be nervous at first, but will relax once they feel safe

 

Touch their Mouth, Paws, and Ears and Pinch Their Skin Lightly

The High Energy Puppy – will try to get away or nip at your hand

The Independent Thinker – will be fine with being touched

The Pleaser – will love the attention

The Timid Puppy – might be nervous, but won’t try to nip you or get away

 

    Stop Puppy Biting Toolbox ad

     

    Noise Test

    Throw something noisy like you keys on the ground a few feet away from the puppies

    The High Energy Puppy – will run over and might pick them up and run away

    The Independent Thinker – will go over to investigate

    The Pleaser – will also go investigate

    The Timid Puppy – will be too scared to go look

     

    Sit or Kneel and Call the Puppy

    The High Energy Puppy – will come and bowl you over when they get there or ignore you if they are doing something they’re interested in

    The Independent Thinker – will come over to see you

    The Pleaser – will run over with total excitement that you want to see them

    The Timid Puppy – will be scared to come over

     

    Tips:

     

    • Once you have chosen a puppy, make sure to bring them to the vet right away for a full health check.
    • Wear old clothes to see the litter
    • Never criticize a pup to the breeder. They love all the puppies, and even if a pup is not right for you, they may be perfect for another owner
    • Try to get an early visitation to choose your puppy before other potential puppy owners choose so you have a wider selection
    • If you already own a dog, make sure you introduce your dog to the puppy before you bring them home to make sure they get along.
    • Don’t be swayed by cuteness – go in with a plan to find the right personality for you and if you don’t find the puppy you want, look at more litters. This puppy will be in your life for a long time! 

    Conclusion

    Choosing a puppy is an important, exciting decision. Think about what puppy personality would be best for your situation before you go to see a litter and get swept away by a cute face. Once you know what characteristics you’re looking for you can do the tests above and find the perfect puppy for you.

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