After much thought, you’ve decided that it’s time to add a new puppy to your family. You’ve selected an appropriate type, sought out a reputable breeder, and now that you’re confronted with a mass of wriggling cuteness, you need to try and choose which is the best puppy for you.
There are two main considerations when picking out a puppy; the first and most important is to ensure that they are healthy. There are a few key ways of doing this:
Take in their overall appearance
A healthy puppy will have a nice, sturdy little body; they won’t be too fat or too thin. They will have clear, bright eyes with no discharge and clean ears with no odor. Their teeth will be healthy-looking and the gums nicely pink. Their fur will be soft, shiny, and with no signs of bald spots or irritated areas, and their bottom will be clean.
Playful and energetic behavior is also a sign of a healthy and happy pup. One that is overly lethargic or hiding away and showing no interest in your or its surroundings may have some underlying problems.
Test their eyesight and hearing
You can quickly check the puppy’s vision by placing a toy or treat nearby and seeing that they can easily seek it out. Their hearing can be tested by dropping some keys or other noisy objects behind them. The dog should be startled by this – but not overly so – and come over to investigate. This check is better performed away from the other dogs, as the puppy might otherwise follow the lead of their littermates.
Aside from health, you will also want to consider the puppy’s temperament. There are several different types of personalities within a litter, such as the boss puppy, the independent thinker, the relaxed pup, and the timid one. Select the one that will best match you and your household. Here’s how you can assess personality:
Observe their interactions
Before going up to the puppies, take time to watch them playing together. You will soon spot the dominant and submissive ones of the group. Ideally, select a puppy that is neither too much one nor the other as this could lead to issues later on.
Spend a little time with them
Watch how the puppies approach you. Sociable ones will do so with their head held high and their tail wagging. They will be curious and want to play with you, although the way they choose to express this will be dependent on their unique personalities. Be sure to touch the puppy’s paws, ears, and mouth to gauge their response. Those that are nicely socialized will not mind being handled. Be wary of any shy or fearful puppies, after 7-8 weeks they should not be acting like this towards people. This could be a sign that there is a problem with the litter or breeding facility.
Another good way to test the puppies is to pick them up and seeing how they respond. They might wiggle around at first but should soon settle down. Too much struggling at this point is not a good sign.
Try also either cradling the puppy like a baby, so they are lying on their back, or roll them over and gently hold them down on the ground. Again, the puppy may struggle, but should only do so briefly. This shows that they respect your authority. If the puppy keeps trying to escape, this could indicate that they have a dominant or even aggressive nature.
When selecting the next member of your family, you might consider adopting a dog rather than buying one. There are a lot of wonderful pups currently living in shelters looking for their forever homes.