Look for these qualities before you choose a puppy

You have come this far – you’ve chosen the breed, found a reputable breeder you can trust, and now you have to choose a puppy from the litter. Always ask the breeders for advice, as they will most probably know the puppies’ temperaments the best. But there are a few things to look out for yourself, so use this article as a guideline when choosing your ideal puppy.

Never choose the first puppy you see and like. This is, after all, a lifetime commitment, and you want to be sure that the puppy you choose is the best choice for you and your family.

1. Puppy visits

When you first meet the pups, take your time to look at all the puppies and don’t choose immediately. Rather ask the breeder if you can visit the puppies again at a later stage, and preferably at a different time. Remember that the same puppy might be sleepy when you first meet him, but awake and full of energy at the second visit. Observe the puppies and see how they interact and play with each other – it will give you a good idea of their temperaments.

2. Healthy puppy

Of course, nobody wants a sick puppy, and that’s why you have to choose a healthy puppy to start off with. But keep in mind that this is no guarantee that your puppy won’t get ill. Speak to the breeder to find out what the typical breed-related health issues are that you can expect and keep that in mind.

Look for these good health indicators:

  • Clear and bright eyes with no discharge.
  • Clean ears with no discharge.
  • Clean and healthy-looking teeth and gums.
  • No diarrhoea.
  • Clean and moist nose with no discharge.
  • Clean, healthy and glossy coat.
  • Healthy-looking toes and nails.

3. Temperament

Let the breeder know what you are looking for in a puppy, so that they can give you guidance, but also get an idea for yourself about the puppies’ personalities. Besides, who doesn’t like watching puppies play? Keep in mind that you will have to teach your puppy a few skills, but that you can’t and shouldn’t try to change his personality. A shy puppy may outgrow his shyness, but there is no guarantee that it will happen. If you want an energetic puppy, look for an active puppy while they are playing, not when they are about to take a nap.

Make sure you meet the mother of the puppies (and the father if possible) and see her interacting with her puppies. Her condition and temperament can be a good overall indicator of how the dogs are cared for and treated.

4. Warning signs

Always be on the lookout for any possible warning signs that something might be wrong. This could be a breeder who doesn’t want you to meet all the puppies or the parents (at least the mother) of the puppies. Or maybe the puppies don’t seem to belong there, or you’re not allowed to see where they sleep, play or toilet.

5. Good qualities

Look out for the following qualities, as this is what you want in a healthy puppy:

  • A confident puppy who is not too boisterous or too shy. The puppy shouldn’t be cowering or try to hide.
  • A well-socialised puppy (ask what type of socialisation the breeder has done with them).
  • A litter who is raised indoors with positive human companionship and influence. Avoid puppies who stay outside in kennels.
  • Puppies who approach you and want to interact with you.
  • Curious and playful puppies.
  • Each puppy you handle should be calm and happy to be touched.
  • Ask if potty training has been started. By the time your puppy is ready to go home, he will already have a basic idea about house-training, and you can pick up where the breeder left off.

In a nutshell

If you ever feel that you’re forced to take a certain puppy, or if you’re not happy with the puppy’s surroundings or health, rather step away from the litter and look for another responsible breeder you can trust. You are looking for a companion who will be happy with you and your family for the rest of his life. Take your time and choose the best puppy you can find.

For more great articles like these on puppies, get the latest edition of South African Dog Directory now.


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