How to Pick a Best Puppy from a Litter

Bringing home a new puppy is an exciting time. You’ve likely spent months researching breeds, preparing your home, and imagining all the fun you’ll have with your furry new best friend. But once you arrive at the breeder to choose your pup, the task can suddenly seem daunting. With multiple adorable puppies clamoring for your attention, how to pick a vest puppy from a litter? Follow this guide to choose the healthiest, best-tempered puppy from the litter.

How to Pick a Best Puppy from a Litter - puppies, choose -

Observe the Puppies Together First

Wait to swoop in to play with the puppies when you first arrive. Instead, sit back and observe the litter interacting for 10-15 minutes. This allows you to see the puppies’ natural personalities and behaviors emerge.

I’d like you to please watch how the puppies play together. Are they all interested in playing, or are some shy and hanging back? Make a note of any puppies that seem fearful or anxious and ones that are particularly rambunctious or dominant. An ideal puppy will confidently interact with its litter mates without being too pushy or aggressive.

Also, note if puppies seem disinterested in the others and wander off independently. These lone wolf types often grow into independent adults that can be more difficult to train. Ideally, you want a puppy that enjoys engaging with you and its litter mates.

Pay attention to how the puppies react to new sights and sounds, like a door opening or noise outside. Puppies that are curious but not fearful demonstrate self-assurance and the ability to take things in stride. Timid puppies that cower or panic may continue to struggle with anxiety issues throughout life.

Evaluate Each Puppy’s Health

Once you know the puppies’ various temperaments, it’s time to approach and evaluate each puppy individually. Gauge their overall health by looking for the following:

  • Shiny coat and clear eyes
  • Solid muscle tone, not bony or plump
  • Clean ears and skin with no discharge, inflammation, or parasites
  • Clear nostrils and no nasal discharge
  • Tidy genital region

Pick up each puppy and check for any signs of injury or illness, like limping or vomiting. Also, run your hands along their body to feel for any lumps, bumps, or tender spots. Check teeth alignment and tail placement as well. Minor issues like an underbite or limber tail often resolve, but it’s best to be aware.

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Test Vision and Hearing

Gently clap your hands or rattle a toy outside the puppy’s field of vision. Healthy puppies will startle and turn towards the noise. Wiggle a treat or toy before the puppy’s nose, slowly move it around, and watch the eyes track the object. Lack of response to sights or sounds could indicate vision or hearing impairment.

Assess Sociability

Now it’s time to evaluate how the puppies respond to human interaction through a few simple tests:

  • Pick up each puppy and cradle it gently in your arms. It may squirm initially but should settle relatively quickly without excessive vocalizing or nipping. Overly wiggly or bitey puppies may need extra socialization.
  • Gently roll the puppy over on its back and lightly hold it there for 30 seconds. The puppy shouldn’t react aggressively or fearfully. Slight grumbling is normal at first, but then the puppy should relax.
  • Touch the puppy – ears, paws, tail – and watch for reaction. The puppy shouldn’t shy away or nip. Some grunting or mouthing is normal puppy behavior.
  • Encourage the puppy to follow a toy or treat you hold to see if it engages with and responds to you.

Choose the puppy that reacts calmly to handling, follows cues willingly, and enjoys human interaction. While no puppy will be perfect, these tests give you insight into temperament.

Ask About the Parents

Remember to ask the breeder questions about the puppy’s parents. Parent temperament offers clues about what future behaviors that puppy may exhibit. If one or both parents are anxious, aloof, or aggressive, those tendencies could emerge in the puppy over time.

When choosing based on parent temperaments, you can just factor in your own lifestyle and experience level. For first-time owners, puppies from calmer, friendlier parents are best. But if you’re an experienced trainer, a puppy from slightly more hot-headed parents can work, as long as you’re committed to thorough socialization and training.

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Trust Your Instincts

No test can entirely predict future behavior, especially for young puppies. But combining health checks, temperament evaluations, and parent history gives you a great start. Take your gut instincts seriously, too. Sometimes, a connection with a particular puppy just feels right. If a pup engages with you eagerly and seems healthy but isn’t the boldest in the litter, they could still be a perfect match.

Go For 7-8 Week Old Puppies

Ideally, you should bring your new puppy home between 7-8 weeks. This prime developmental period is when puppies are receptive to bonding and lesson learning. It’s the time in the wild when they venture out from the den to explore and play with their pack.

Adopting an older puppy that missed this socialization period often leads to issues like poor recall, separation anxiety, and intolerance of handling. But when you adopt a 7-8-week-old, you can positively shape your pup through its formative weeks, setting you both up for success.

How Active Should You Pick a Puppy?

When observing the litter, don’t immediately choose the busiest puppy, assuming it will grow into the most playful dog. While puppy activity levels can indicate adult energy levels, the most rambunctious puppy could turn into an anxious, hyperactive adult if not properly trained.

Instead, look for a puppy that seems energetic and engaged with its environment at times but can also settle down contentedly. This flexibility indicates the pup can match your activity pace at any moment rather than needing constant stimulation.

If having a running or hiking companion is essential to you, let your breeder know so they can match you with one of the more energetic pups. Just be prepared to provide plenty of training, socialization, and an outlet for activity to prevent destructive or neurotic behavior.

Should You Pick the Smallest Puppy?

Don’t decide based on size alone. The smallest puppy may be a slow grower who eventually reaches full size. And tiny puppies can suffer health issues later on.

If having a smaller-than-average adult is essential, select a proportionate puppy, not underweight. Smaller puppies need monitoring to ensure they are growing at a healthy rate and getting proper nutrition. Responsible breeders will track each puppy’s development and can help match you with the right small-sized pup.

Picking a puppy is fun but requires thought and preparation. Following these tips will help you select the healthiest, best-tempered puppy from a litter that will bring you joy for years to come. Trust the process, follow your instincts, and soon, you’ll be on your way to a happy life with your new furry best friend.

Jennifer Barker

I'm Jennifer. My passion for dogs lead to this blog's creation in 2014. I share tales of life with my pups and insights on natural dog care so fellow pet parents can nurture the joy and wellbeing of their furry friends.

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