Part 3: Here’s the fun bit!
And for the big challenge!
Learn how to get a good night's sleep from your puppy's first night,
with this free cheatsheet
You’ve done all your homework for choosing a puppy from the last two posts: you’ve chosen your breed or type, you’ve decided on the sex, you’ve found a really good breeder and made a preliminary visit. Now we come to the crunch: how do you choose the individual puppy for your family?
Your carefully-chosen breeder will help you here. She’s a fanatic for her breed, usually totally devoted to her own dogs and her own line that she’s working hard to improve. She will have spent many hours with this litter of pups. While everyone else thinks they look identical, she’ll have given them all nicknames and can tell them apart at a glance. She knows their fads and foibles, their faults and failings. She also knows their best points.
Of course, the breeder of a carefully-reared crossbreed from a much-loved pet in a family home will also know her puppies well and be able to advise.
While you’re entitled to see the whole litter together, the breeder will bring out for you the pups that are available - and which she considers suitable for your family and experience.
It’s a good idea to visit them twice if possible. The first time they could be half-asleep and dopey and give you a wrong impression. Puppies who appear to be bullying their siblings at 6 weeks will have been taught some manners and bite inhibition by their littermates by the time you see them again at 8 weeks.
Have fun choosing your puppy
I like to play with the puppy and see how interested he is with my toys. I’ll bring several different sorts. Interacting with toys at this early age is a good indicator of a strong retrieve later on (great for playing ball on the beach …) and general teachability.
Unless you are of a shy and retiring disposition yourself, don’t feel sorry for the shyest puppy (unless the breeder considers this is the one for you: shyness in a litter is relative!).
And all that homework you did? This is the moment of the great pay-off! Because you don’t have to consider all those other very important questions any more, you are free to follow your heart.
Spend some time with the puppies the breeder is offering you … and see which one you fall in love with.
Follow your heart.
Just let yourself fall in love.
And something surprising might happen
When I went to choose Cricket the Whippet, I’d spent several months narrowing down the type of whippet I wanted, the breeder (who had the same concerns about breed health as I had), and the mating. The breeder kept me updated with photos and info - first about the dam’s pregnancy and whelping, and then about the pups’ personalities.
I wanted a bitch. There were three bitches. The breeder was going to choose her favourite for her showing and breeding program, and I had first pick of the other two. I first visited them at 5-6 weeks.
All three puppies - Poppy, Daisy, and Hannah - were delightful. Poppy outgoing and friendly, Daisy energetic and comical, Hannah sweet and shy.
It was Daisy who “spoke to me”. She was the one I really wanted. The breeder had told me she was going to decide between keeping Poppy and Daisy at 7 and a half weeks.
So I told her I’d really like Daisy, but would be perfectly happy with Hannah if Daisy had been chosen by them. The funny thing was that I just didn’t relate to Poppy at all. Nothing at all wrong with Poppy, she was a lovely puppy - it just wasn’t love at first sight for me.
As it turned out, Poppy was the pup they chose to keep, I got Daisy who became “Cricket”, and Hannah went to the delighted third person who had been waiting patiently for us to decide.
Now get this - I had actually wanted a solid colour (same colour all over) which Hannah was, and Daisy was a brindle with white markings. But the heart ruled the head and Cricket is very much loved, adored, and admired.
You just don’t know!
But getting all the thorny questions about breeding and health ironed out first gave me complete freedom when I met the pups.
Now you know what to do: go choose your lovely new companion!
You can find the first post in this series here.
And let us know in the comments below how you got on.