So, the big day has arrived. You have decided to become a dog owner and you are thinking to get a puppy.
Whether you get the puppy from a breeder or from a shelter, there are a few things to observe in a litter or in an individual puppy. Also, don’t forget to collect other important information that can help you have a good start as a dog owner.
For the sake of this article, I am going to refer to a situation where you choose the puppy from a breeder. Dog shelters are a different topic I prefer to dedicate a separate article to in the future.
Put your feelings aside and don’t rush. One of the reasons some people get in trouble with dogs is because they are overly emotional. It is not your obligation to save every dog in this world. Remeber, both you and the dog will feel much better if you are suitable for each other.
Put your interests first. A dog will live up to 15-18 years depending on its breed and size. Do not complicate your life with problems that you didn’t create. Years of constant vet visits and bills due to the dog’s medical conditions are not what you are looking for. Don’t be afraid to say no, and skip the litter. You are not obligated to put the entire world suffering on your shoulders. Also, breeders that do not put health first should not be encouraged.
Dogs of a specific breed have particular behavioural traits typical of the breed. However, despite the breed generalisations, each puppy will be a distinct individual and may behave differently from his or her siblings.
What puppy is the best for you will depend on your experience level (as a dog owner) and what you are looking for.
For an average person, the best dog character is a confident but calm personality. I call this puppy the midway puppy.
How do we recognize the midway puppy?
1 – Get informed about the puppy’s parents.
As explained in the article “Nurture vs Nature”, an individual dog’s character and health will be affected by both its upbringing (the way you raise the dog and the environment where it is growing up) and its nature (genes passed by its parents). If the puppy’s parents have poor health or bad character, it will probably manifest itself in the litter.
A responsible breeder would never mate dogs with genetical problems or bad temperament.
A good breeder will be able to provide you with certificates about the puppy’s line (a sort of dog family tree). In this document, you can also find information about the health of the puppy’s parents.
You may not be able to meet the stud (the pup’s father) as sometimes he can come from another place, but certainly, you can meet the mother.
Because she has puppies, she may be on guard and that is totally normal. Try to meet her away from the litter to get an idea about her as a dog.
Don’t be afraid to ask the breeder questions about the litter, the parents and request to see all the documentation regarding them.
Another indicator that the breeder is not a dedicated professional is the poor hygiene of the place.
A breeder that looks annoyed about your questions and reluctant to show you the mother of the puppies should be a big red flag for you and it should be a deal-breaker.
Chances are the person is not a professional and probably has a lot to hide.
2 – The litter is lethargic.
Sleeping is absolutely normal for dogs in general, especially for puppies.
By the time you can see the puppies, they would be developed enough to start exploring the whelping box.
It is a good idea to visit the litter several times before you choose the puppy. If every time you come to visit the puppies are sleeping, it can be a sign that something is wrong with the litter.
3 – The midway puppy.
During your visits to the breeder, avoid making any noise, be an observer.
In a litter of puppies, you will probably find the big and pushy one. This puppy is generally overly confident, makes a lot of noise and pushes away all his or her siblings to reach you. This puppy is generally the first to get picked from the litter as it is the one that stands out the most.
This dog will probably be of a high energy type. The puppy will require much more exercise and mental stimulation than his or her siblings. The dog will need a lot of socialisation with other dogs or it may get into trouble by challenging other dogs around due to his or her overconfidence. This dog can do better as a working dog and it may require an experienced owner.
On the opposite side, you may find the shy fearful puppy. This one is generally smaller compared to its siblings and avoids or tries to get away from you. This puppy is generally the last to be taken or may be taken out of pity.
This puppy may grow up to be an unconfident dog which can end up having problems like fearful aggression. There are many exercises that can help the dog boost his or her confidence and, with the right owner, this puppy can become an excellent pet. But like the previous example, this puppy is more recommended to experienced owners.
Then you have what I call the midway puppy. This dog is neither overly confident and pushy or shy and fearful. He or she has the confidence to approach you but without pushing everyone away on his or her path.
This puppy gives signs of a balanced dog relatively easy to manage and, because of that, it can be a good option for people that don’t have a lot of experience with dogs.
These are just some tips on things to check when choosing a puppy. It is worth mentioning that the potential owner should make his or her research about the typical health problems of the breed they are interested in. Before choosing the puppy, ask the breeder specific questions and make sure their dogs are free from these health problems.
I hope you have enjoyed this article and if you like to learn more, please, feel free to subscribe to this blog.
Also, if you like the topic of dogs, please check my book ‘Before You Get A Dog’ by Simone Burani. You will find the essential knowledge written in simple language to have a great time with your pet.