You're getting a puppy! How do you choose the right puppy for you from a litter? This is a big decision you’ll live with for more than 10 years, so what do you need to consider when choosing your new forever friend?
Boy or girl?
First things first, do you want a boy or a girl? Male dogs can be boisterous and a handful especially if not neutered. They tend to be bigger in most breeds and can be harder to train and control. You’ll need to be able to contain them and ensure they have an exercise area they can’t escape from, especially if they are not neutered and there’s a bitch on heat nearby! They make good family pets who love attention and thrive on love and although they can be trickier to train, once you work out what works for them, they can be great.
On the other hand, girl dogs (bitches) can be less likely to stray (unless on heat). Some people think they are better with children as they will be more protective, and they tend to need a little less attention as they are considered more independent. Generally female dogs are thought to be easier to train as they are less easily distracted, but they are usually un-trainable when in season. Bitches that aren’t spayed have two seasons a year and you’ll need to cope with the bleeding and the potentially lewd behaviour around dogs! You’ll need to be careful when socialising your little girl with male dogs, especially if they aren’t neutered or you might get an unwanted mating.
Only you’ll know what will suit you. You might go on previous experience or maybe you want to breed from your dog so will want a girl. Whatever your reasons, consider what you’ll have to cope with before making a final decision.
How do I choose the right breed for me?
There’s so much information available now it’s easier than ever to research and find the right breed of dog for you. There are some key factors to research which could help you decide on the right breed for you and your family.
- Size of dog might be an important factor if you live in a small house or flat, as all puppies grow and some need a lot of feeding once full grown!
- Compatibility with children has to be a factor if you have a family. I’ve heard of breeders who won’t sell puppies to families with children under 5 years old because of the work and time the puppy needs and the fact that a family with several small children isn’t realistically going to have much time for the dog!
- Exercise needs might be an important factor for you if you have a small garden and a busy life. If outside space is limited, you’ll need to assess if you’ll have enough time to provide the exercise and mental stimulation your pup will need if they are an active, energetic breed.
- Ability to be home alone could also be an important factor to consider if you work. Some breeds don’t cope so well if left alone, suffering from separation anxiety so you’ll need to make sure you have other people to visit him in the day to make sure he’s not bored and lonely, or he could become destructive.
- Grooming might be something to consider if you are time poor as some breeds need considerable amounts of grooming to keep their coat in tip-top condition and to keep them healthy. Be realistic about how much time you can devote to grooming and coat care everyday if you’re considering a hairy breed!
- Hypoallergenic breeds might be an important part of your decision-making process if you are a family that suffer with allergies. Consider a wire haired breed or one that doesn’t shed very much.
- Intelligence and willfulness. Breeds vary in how willful or easy to train they are. Some are more intelligent than others and some are more likely to have a mind of their own, creating training problems! Terriers and other working dogs tend to be more independent minded and intelligent than other breeds and might be more difficult to train if you are weaker willed. You’ll need to consider how much training time you can give and how patient you are.
Answering these questions will help you to narrow down your search and decide on a breed that's perfect for you. Our breed guide could provide more help. Once you’ve decided and found the right breeder, you’ll need to visit the puppies and their mum and pick your puppy.
How do I pick my puppy?
Once you’re in amongst the cute puppies how do you choose the right one for you? Each puppy will have its own personality so what should you look for to make your decision?
- There’s no perfect pup or ‘best of the litter’; you need to find the puppy that’s perfect for you and your family. Can you cope with the boldest, most adventurous puppy as he’s probably going to need more training than a puppy that’s a little more laid back?
- Ask about the puppies’ temperaments in general. The breeder will have observed them over days and weeks and be able to tell you more about their characters. The puppy who’s tired when you visit might actually be sweet and friendly, so it might not be the most obvious puppy on the day who’s perfect for you. Often a breeder can help you decide.
- Don’t think that your puppy will pick you! The one monopolising your attention might be a bit headstrong and dominant and you might prefer one that keeps himself a little separate and evaluates the situation before jumping in. This needs to be a head decision not just a heart decision.
- Don’t be afraid to walk away if you don’t think the puppy you’re offered is right for you. This is a big decision so take time to ensure it is right for you and the puppy.
- Consider it might be the puppy that’s neither extrovert nor introvert that’s right for you. The one that doesn’t stand out immediately because it’s not all over you or huddled at the back, may be the perfect easy going family pet, perfect for you!