Picking the Perfect Puppy
We field questions regularly from people wanting to add the perfect puppy, so we thought we would share our expertise with you!
When you have decided on the most suitable breed of puppy, the next step is to start looking. Popular sources are Craigslist, the classifieds, internet search, Facebook search, and referrals from friends or other professionals. You will quickly discover a wide variety of puppies with a wide range of prices, contract terms, and other options. How do you sort through all of this?!
You get what you pay for, however price does not always reflect quality. When selecting a purebred puppy, only choose AKC/UKC/CKC registered dogs. This helps to prove the dog’s lineage and that it is in fact a purebred. Select a breeder who has done genetic testing on the damn and sire, to include hips and elbows certifications. This will not guarantee long term health, but it does show a breeder’s effort in improving the breed and producing healthy puppies. Breeders who have done the genetic testing pass the costs onto you when you buy a puppy, that is why higher quality puppies cost more. Require these documents when you see the puppies!
Now that you have found a reputable breeder, it is time to schedule a visit! You must go with an open mind and be objective. You are now examining the facility, the breeder, breeder’s dogs, and puppies. The facility could be a small home or farm with several litters of puppies. It must be clean, well kept, and the dogs should be housed in runs that are clean, dry and well lit, if not kept in the house. A litter of puppies can’t be kept 100% clean due to the nature of puppies, but there should not be feces or urine in excess. The puppies should appear to be clean, in good health, and show appropriate activity levels for their age (when not napping!). No sneezing, coughing, runny noses, eye discharge, diarrhea, etc.
Communicate with the breeder and assess their honesty with the information they provided on the phone or in the ad. They should never require the puppy be spayed/neutered before 17 months age as this can damage the developing puppy. Do not sign a puppy contract you are not comfortable with. The puppy should come with a health guarantee, read it!
The damn and sire (if present) will tell you much about the puppies’ adult size, coat type, and temperament. If you don’t like the parents, you won’t be happy with your (adult) puppy.
With a reputable breeder, AKC/UKC registered puppies in good health, a clean facility, and friendly puppy parents and are now ready to select your puppy!
Do not choose the puppy that runs to you first! This will happen every time you sit down with a litter a puppies and it is only by chance that one of them comes to you first. Ideally the litter size is 4-8 puppies, to few and the mother spoils them and too many she has a difficult time attending to them. For pets, you generally want to select the most average puppy. You do not want the most active one nor do you want the calmest one. The puppy that is mildly active but also rests is, generally, the better pick. While being the first puppy to come to you has little to no value, you do want the puppy that continues to return to you!
Puppy temperament tests provide very limited information and only assess the puppy on that day in that moment and are not indicative of adult behavior. A trait that does remain constant is what we at Appalachian Dog Training LLC call “arousal level”, indicated by tail carriage. If the puppies have their tails hiked up tight over their backs they are “high arousal” puppies. You will see this, especially when playing, but the tail should mostly be in line with the back “medium arousal”. A lowered tail or tucked tail may indicate significant fear.
A “high arousal” puppy will become a dog that is more reactive, more likely to be a barker, and more likely to be higher energy and have a higher likelihood of behavioral problems as an adult. The ‘joe cool’ medium arousal puppies are easy going, more willing to accept new social partners, and be calmer in general.
You now have the skills to pick the perfect puppy!
Check out our Puppy Head Start Program for early training options!!
Katie Weibel, Master Dog Trainer. Providing training for companion, service and working dogs, sharing knowledge and expertise.