How to Choose the Right Puppy From a Litter

How to Choose the Right Puppy From a Litter

Adopting a new puppy is life changing. Once you’ve decided on size, type and breed, and selected a litter available for adoption, how do you know which puppy is right for you? We take a look at how to choose the right puppy from a litter. Before you head out to inspect a litter, remember to check the breeder offers their puppies and the mother proper care and a comfortable, safe environment. Oscar’s Law, a not-for-profit volunteer organisation, campaigns to put an end to puppy farms in Australia, and encourage pound puppy adoption. In the field, the RSPCA’s Puppy Factory Taskforce works with police and intelligence officers to find and shut down illegal puppy factories. Illegal breeders have their animals taken and fined up to $22,000 plus two years gaol time for each offence. This is a reflection of the horrid conditions these poor dogs live in. Cost is an important factor in these times, but the discount does not justify the crime. A warning sign is if a breeder won’t allow you to meet at the breeding premises. Read Purebreds, Designer Dogs and Pound Puppies for more on where to find a litter of pups. Now that you’ve chosen a suitable litter of puppies, how to choose the right puppy? Before you head out the door, have a discussion with your family, or with yourself, about not choosing the first puppy you see. Let’s face it, all puppies are beautiful and cute. But making a head decision will make for lifelong bliss.

The Runt

Some people have a soft spot for the reject, the small one, the underdog as it were. But choosing the runt of a litter will not necessarily guarantee you the smallest adult dog. Reputable breeders are careful with which dogs they breed with, screening dogs for genetics and physical health. Their reputation depends upon consistency across all puppies in a litter. The smallest puppy may very well grow to be the same size as their brothers and sisters. As you observe the puppies, you may notice the runt is the last to the table. A reputable breeder will allow such puppies access to the mother to ensure all puppies receive adequate nutrition. The other thing to consider is that, despite screening, the runt may have a congenital defect, which could cost you down the road.

‘I’ll take them all, please.’


Know what personality type you need to compliment you and your family. Do you have a busy, noisy household? A confident, energetic dog will fit right in. Breeds in the terrier, gun dog and working dog groups would suit, such as the Jack Russell, cocker spaniel or the Australian shepherd. Those with a quiet way of life may prefer a breed from the toy, hound or non-sporting dog groups. Breeds to consider in these groups include the cavalier King Charles spaniel, saluki (a sighthound, known for little barking) and the shih tzu. The Utility dog group contains a mix of dogs, such as the Rottweiler, which requires training and exercise, and the schnauzer, an intelligent dog that makes the perfect companion. At the end of the day, if you have your heart set on a particular breed, a commitment to make allowance in your life to meet their requirements will make it work. There are always those exceptions to breed norms. A quality breeder will manage dominant or timid puppies to discourage these traits. For instance, puppies identified as submissive or that dominate at feeding time are separated at critical times to discourage further learned negative behaviour. This practice helps to maintain general breed characteristics across all puppies.

Observe First, Then Go In For Cuddles

After you recover from cuteness overload, take the time to observe the puppies before you go in to meet them. Identify the puppies that are assertive, active, timid, sleepy, playful, loners, unsocial. Recall what characteristics you are looking for. Go into the pen and see how they react to your presence. Are they keen to approach and meet you? Do they hide? Are they too busy playing? Do they nip? Once you’ve decided on one or two that you like, seperate them one at a time. Do they follow you around? Are they keen for pats and cuddles? Get a good feel for the puppy’s character. See how they react when you pick them up or turn them onto their back. If you have children, do they react likewise to them?

Cuteness Overload at the Pound

Nervous Puppies

Nervous puppies shake or freeze when you hold them, or may even pee, are not ideal, but they may just need some gentle encouragement. They may be perfect if you are calm and live in a quiet home. Have a think about whether that is right for you. See how they behave on their own without their siblings. They may behave very differently.

Nippy Puppies

All puppies will nip from time to time. Puppies need to chew to encourage tooth growth and keep their existing teeth clean. But excessive biting is not ideal. If you are prepared to put in the time, they can be trained to behave. Such dogs are suited to an assertive owner who is keen on dog training. Behaviour training is always a possibility, but it requires commitment.

Position in the Pack

Dog behaviourist, Cesar Milan, is big on dog pack behaviour and energy. When choosing the right puppy, he recommends considering the breed, its culture and what it was bred for. He also recommends watching the puppies before meeting them, watching for their position in the pack. Are they at the front (assertive) the middle (workers) or the back (submissive). These character traits must be in line with you, your family and lifestyle. Once you have chosen the right puppy, be sure your home is comfortable and secure for your new family member. You will need a bed in each living area and where they will sleep, toys, a labelled collar and a lead. The breeder will supply you with their food to prevent tummy trouble. You need their microchip to register your new puppy, and vet check papers to present to your veterinarian for their puppy checks and mandatory vaccinations with the view to desexing. Training is a must for basic commands and tips on happy life with a dog. Read What a Dog Wants for more ways to give your puppy a happy life. Enjoy your new puppy! Take lots of photos, they grow so fast. Before you know it, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them.

A Shy Puppy May Just Need Encouragement