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Choosing the right puppy to bring home is one of the biggest decisions you will ever make in your life.
Your selection will determine whether you will end up with a perfect addition to the family or one that will make your life a living hell.
If you are like most people, you are better off with a well-mannered, affectionate dog that obeys commands rather than a stubborn-strong-willed canine friend with the worst of temperaments.
It all starts with picking the right dog from the litter.
How do you go about it? Is the first litter of puppies the best?
The Ins And Outs Of Picking The Litter
It’s one thing to pick a reputable breeder to buy from and entirely another to walk away with a good puppy.
You have to visit the breeder and spend time with the litter of puppies if you want a canine buddy that is best suited for your needs or those of your family.
If possible, choose a breeder that uses a family home rather than an outdoor building or a barn to raise the puppies.
Puppies that have grown upright in the middle of a busy household have an easier time interacting with people than those in barns.
You also want to make sure that you are among the first buyers to register and make a deposit.
Breeders, shelters, and rescue organizations work on a first-come-first-served basis. If your name is on top of the list, you will be allowed to visit the dog first and pick your favorite dog.
Like all things in life, the best puppies of the litter go first. Bring a practical friend or member of the family to help you evaluate the dogs.
Are First Litter Puppies the Best?
According to some dog breeding experts, you should stay away from a dam’s first litter.
The idea behind this argument is that the first litter is somewhat of a gamble. You practically have no idea how the puppies are going to turn out.
After all, the female dog (dam) has never given birth to kids of her own before. Who knows if the puppies will be healthy or not? What if they turn out to have the worst temperaments?
After one or two litters, the breeder can kind of guess the outcome of the little ones. This is especially true if the bitch mates with the same stud (male parent) both or all times.
Many dog breeding enthusiasts suggest choosing puppies from the dam’s second or third litter. By then, it will be easier to tell how the puppies will turn out.
In addition, a dam rarely knows how to treat her first puppies. She has no experience in breastfeeding, nurturing, and dealing with aches and pains in her own body.
For instance, when one of her babies fails to find the nipple (puppies are blind at birth), she may not know how to help them.
She needs some reassurance to mother her puppies the best way she can. This can have a lasting impact on the baby.
The little ones learn a lot from their mom. If she’s not sure of her self-worth, the kids can easily pick that up.
With that said, there are plenty of dog owners who have had massive success picking puppies from the first litter.
So, this rule doesn’t apply to all. If anything, the argument is unfair and insensitive to the natural breeding process of our canine companions.
Every dog will start with a first litter. What if everybody decides not to take pups from the first litter? Where would all these puppies go?
So, if you like puppies from a dog’s first litter, go ahead and get him. Your decision might pay off hugely in the end.
Health Over Everything Else
When choosing the best puppy from a litter, you always want to pay attention to the health of the mom and dad more than the number of the litter.
If you know a thing or two about breeding, you are probably aware that the health of both the dam and sire determines the outcome.
Talk to the breeder and ask them about the health of the parents. They should be very confident of this fact.
If the breeder is a true professional, they will give you a chance to interact with the mom.
You should also have all the information about the general health and demeanor of the litter from them.
Find time to assess the physical health of each of the pups by yourself. Check the weight and settle on one that is neither skinny nor fat. Look at the teeth, coats, eyes, rear end, and ears.
The puppies should have clear, bright eyes that have no discharge or crust. The coat should be clean and bright with no dirt on any part of the body. The genital area should be free from feces and pus.
Also, you might want to conduct vision and hearing tests, breathing and gait checks, and jaw control tests.
If you have no idea how to conduct these tests or are too freaked to do them, ask the breeder to help. Let them carry them out right before you all the while explaining what’s going on so you can follow.
Observe The Puppy’s Temperament
There’s no need in insisting on picking from the second or third litter of the dam only to end up with a dog with an undesirable temperament.
By spending a lot of time watching the puppies, you should get a feel of what you are looking for.
Don’t rush the process. The first dog that walks up to you and kisses your shoes is not necessarily the best for you.
His playful nature might be fun when you are at the breeder’s. At home, the dog will drive you up the wall.
The shy one may be acting so because her litter mates make her retreat to her shell. If you spend time with her individually, she will come out to play.
To be safe, spend a lot of time with the puppies, preferably as a group and as individuals before making your pick.
Expect to come across different personalities including dominance, independence, people-pleasing, shyness, and relaxation.
Determine beforehand the personality that resonates with you the most.
If you are concerned about whether it is right to pick the first litter of puppies or not, you are perhaps better off choosing the second or third litter.
The first one is a bit risky because you are unaware of how the puppies will turn out.
However, if the health of the parents and the litter, as well as the temperament, checks out, don’t be afraid to take the pick.
Image sources: 1, 2, 3
Sable McNeil is a canine chef, professional pet blogger, and proud owner of two male dogs. I have been an animal lover all my life, with dogs holding a special place in my heart. Initially, I created this blog to share recipes, tips, and any relevant information on healthy homemade dog treats. But because of my unrelenting passion to make a difference in the world of dogs, I have expanded the blog’s scope to include the best information and recommendations about everything dog lovers need to know about their canine friends’ health and wellbeing. My mission now is to find the most helpful content on anything related to dogs and share it with fellow hardworking hound lovers. While everything I share is in line with the latest evidence-based veterinarian health guidelines, nothing should be construed as veterinary advice. Please contact your vet in all matters regarding your Fido’s health.