How to choose a puppy

After you’ve settled on a particular dog breed and have decided where you want to adopt your new pet, it’s time to find the perfect puppy for you. There are various theories on choosing a puppy, from grabbing the first one you see to spending hours administering the puppy aptitude test to every puppy in a litter. Whether you go by the numbers or prefer to let chance play a role in your decision, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Above all else, you want to choose a puppy that’s healthy and that you have a rapport with. Here are some things you should look for when inspecting puppies from a litter:

  • the puppy’s nose should be cool and damp, but clean with no discharge
  • eyes should be bright and clear with no mucus or discharge
  • ears should be clean also without discharge or dirty buildup
  • gums should be clean and a healthy pink color
  • the perfect puppy shouldn’t be too thin, no ribs should be showing
  • stay away from puppies that are thin with a potbelly (a sign of roundworms) or that have diarrhea; check their bottoms to make sure they’re clean
  • coats should be clean and shiny with no signs of ticks or fleas; there should be no red or irritated skin or bald spots
  • the puppy should breath normally with no coughing or wheezing
  • you should be choosing a puppy that’s solid in build and moves well without any sign of injury or lameness
  • when the puppy is distracted, clap or make a noise (not too loudly) to make sure he’s not deaf
  • the puppy should be attentive and active, but not overly aggressive
  • don’t choose a puppy that won’t come to you or one that cringes if you go to touch it
  • ask to see veterinarian records to make sure the puppies have been wormed and have had their first shots

If at all possible, spend a little time with the puppy’s parents and see how they react to you and your family. If you’re not happy with the dam (mother) or sire (father), you shouldn’t adopt their puppies. Look at the other puppies in the litter to gauge their overall temperament and make sure they’re uniform in activity and personality. This is a sign of good breeding. However, your final decision should be based on one-on-one time with the puppy, not with the entire puppy pack. This is the only way you’ll know for sure how the puppy will interact with you.

If you’re looking to adopt a pet from a dog rescue shelter there are additional questions you should ask to make sure you’re getting a puppy that’s healthy.

Choosing a puppy from a litter takes time. Don’t be afraid to walk away and keep looking if you’re not completely comfortable. With careful consideration, you should find a happy, healthy puppy that’s perfect for you.