Which Puppy

Choosing a Puppy From The Litter

There is no one way to choose a puppy from a litter, below is merely a guideline. in the end maybe it’s pretty much a gut reaction. Many people claim that they knew it was their puppy or their puppy chose them. Which way your puppy comes into your home and becomes part of your family doesn’t really matter. What is important, is that you and your puppy commence a lifelong bond, that only people with dogs truly understand.

Firstly, if you are looking at the entire litter, ensure:

  • All the puppies are round bellied with no ribs showing, even the greyhound and whippet types. Eyes and ears should be clear, bottoms should be clean and there should be no signs of fleas.
  • The puppies should be happy, friendly, curious and trusting. If several of the puppies are barking at you or seem anxious, walk away.

Choosing a puppy

As hard as it might be, stand back and look at the litter as a whole before you interrupt them. Watch the way they interact with each other. You can tell a lot about a puppy’s personality by how they are playing with their siblings – which ones are gentler and quieter, which ones are noisy and exuberant, which ones are overly possessive of toys or food. Choose a temperament that will match your family.

There are several things in particular you should look out for:

  • Energy levels – this can vary hugely even within a litter. Watch them play for a while, and ask the breeder for an insight. Many families choose the puppy that wants to play with them the most, that tugs on their pants and jumps all over them. Although these puppies are great fun, make sure you want that high level of energy.
  • Shyness – don’t think that the smallest shyest puppy needs rescuing, or that you can bring them out of their shell with some love and care. A shy puppy will be a shy adult, and can develop anxiety and social issues that can take a lot of time and training to fix.
  • Social skills – as they play, look for the puppies that are happy to be on both the top and bottom as they wrestle. Puppies that are mostly on top, although they seem the most confident, are actually the ones most likely to develop anxiety and aggression problems. They need to be happy and confident to have another puppy on top of them.  A puppy should be happy anywhere in the pile.
  • Reactivity to touch – pick up the puppies and cradle them. They should be able to settle for at least 30 seconds before struggling to be put down. Touch their feet, mouth and generally pet them all over. A well socialised and balanced puppy shouldn’t have a problem with this. Turn the puppy over on their back too – wiggling to get down is normal, but squealing, crying or growling is not.
  • Startling – after you have selected a few puppies, drop something that will make a loud noise. All puppies will startle at the noise unless they are deaf, but then should ideally recover and come over to investigate what it was. A puppy that stays away will likely be fearful as an adult.
  • People skills – look for puppies that are enthusiastic to come over and greet you and will stick around and play with you. Independent puppies may be more interested in exploring, and shy puppies may be more interested in hiding. Puppies don’t yet have adult social skills, so mouthing, jumping or licking you are perfectly normal.  Many people after considering the entire litter will pick out two or three and see which one walks over to them. This means the puppy is inquisitive and interested in humans generally.