Picking the Perfect Puppy

Posted on Apr 8th, 2016, 03:35 PM America/Los_Angeles

“Buy a pup and your money will buy

Love unflinching that cannot lie”

– Rudyard Kipling



Picking the perfect puppy can be done!  The selection of your new puppy must be a careful decision, however, because this little pup will grow into the dog that will be your constant, loving companion for years to come.


What breed?

Dogs come in very different packages.  Size alone can vary from a four-pound Chihuahua to a one hundred-pound plus Great Dane.  Temperament can range from a laid back couch potato-type to a high energy constant worker.  It is important to examine your living situation before you settle on a particular breed.  Does your living space include a backyard?  Do you have children?  Do you have other dogs?  Do you travel a lot?  How much time can you devote to exercising your pet every day?  These are all important questions to consider as you think about what breed of dog would be best for your household.  It pays to do your homework upfront.


Where do I find a new puppy?

There are many places to find a new puppy.  If you are simply looking for a new dog without a particular breed in mind, then I would highly recommend researching the adoptable dogs available at your local animal shelter.  Shelters often have a variety of puppies and older dogs of all shapes, sizes, and breeds to choose from.  It is an excellent place to find a new companion, and you will be rescuing an animal!  If you have a particular breed in mind, then you may benefit from contacting a reputable breeder or a breed-specific rescue group.  It is best to stay away from pet stores and the Internet to discourage puppy mill-type breeding.


Which one do I pick?

Finding yourself with the pick of the litter can be a daunting task!  How does one choose from so many adorable little puppy faces?  It is important to spend time observing the litter as a group.  Normal puppies should be friendly, curious and trusting.  Watch how they handle the introduction of a stranger.  It is best to avoid the pup that is cowering in the back of the run.  Shyness is often hardwired into a dog’s genes and can be very difficult to overcome.  Also, you may want to avoid the pup that bounds to the front of the kennel and is the first to greet you.  Such confidence may yield more aggressive tendencies later on.  If possible, look for the good natured, middle-of-the-road puppy, the one who greets you with a tail wag and some confidence.

Next, it is important to meet with the puppy individually.  Pick him up for a puppy temperament test.  Does he settle in your arms when you hug and cradle him?  It is okay for a puppy to struggle a little bit, but ideally, he should eventually settle and look at you.  How does he react when you touch him all over his little body?  Does he allow manipulation of his paws, mouth and ears?  Place him back on the ground.  Does he come when called?  Or does he prefer to simply explore his surroundings and ignore you?  You want a pup that shows interest in people and likes to be touched.  This is especially important for first time dog owners or for families with young children.

Be sure to do a quick examination of the puppy.  The ideal puppy is “round,” neither fat nor skinny.  He should have a shiny coat.  There should be no crusting or discharge from his eyes or nose.  He should have a solid gait without any limping.  No sneezing or coughing should be observed.  It is also important to examine the mother dog.  Does she appear healthy?  Does she have a good, friendly personality?  Her personality may be passed down to her pups.


What to do after the choice is made?

Be sure to prepare your home for the introduction of this new puppy.  Look at your household from a puppy’s point of view.  Be sure to put away electrical cords or other dangerous, chewable items, place barriers around stairs or high places, and keep toxins or household cleaners in a safe place.  Make sure that you have a puppy-friendly environment.

It is important to take your new puppy to the veterinarian right away after adoption.  Bring any medical records with you along with a fresh stool sample.  The veterinarian can perform a physical exam to evaluate the health of your puppy.  She will discuss important vaccinations and other preventatives.  She may offer dietary advice, training tips, and the optimal time to spay or neuter your puppy.  An early veterinary visit will set your pup on the road to lifelong good health.


Picking the perfect puppy can be a daunting task.  With a little research, close observation, careful home preparation, and the help of a veterinary professional, you and your puppy will be off to a great start in your shared life together.

By Dr. Tiffany Mitchener

Picture of Dr. Mitchener(1)

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