How to Pick a Puppy From a Litter

Pet Care


July 22, 2021

Bringing a dog home is an incredibly big responsibility, and you need to make sure that you are prepared for it. Most people buy dogs because they “look cute” or because they “want a fun pet,” but you should know that while they are very entertaining, that’s not their sole purpose of existence.

Instead, when buying a puppy, you need to show some care and understanding. First of all, you have to decide whether you can care for the dog in the long run. If you feel that your plans might change in the future, don’t get one. That being said, here are a few tips on how to pick a puppy from a litter.

 What Is a Litter?

Dogs usually give birth to several pups at once. This forms the litter, and it’s usually between four to six puppies. As they grow up, most breeders start putting them up for sale.

During the first couple of months, the dog has to spend time being nursed by its mother, as that ensures that it has the essential antibodies that protect it from harm during growth. So, when you visit the breeder, here are a few things that you should know.

Tips for Getting a New Puppy

If you have already decided to get a new puppy, the first thing you need to do is figure out the breed that you want. What kind of breed are you interested in? Do you want a small apartment dog or do you want a larger breed? It’s not just about the looks when getting a new dog; you also need to make sure that you read about their traits and habits.

Certain large dog breeds such as the German Shepherd or the Siberian Husky require lots of exercise during the day. They are intelligent animals and need both mental and physical stimulation. If you don’t provide that to the animal, it’s going to turn destructive, and may start causing damage to your furniture. That is why it’s important for you to make sure that you understand the animal’s needs before you decide to visit any breeder.

What to Check in the Litter

Once you have decided the kind of breed that you are going to get and have done your research about different dog breeds, it’s time to get one! There are several things that you need to check when picking a puppy from the litter, so it’s recommended that you observe their behavior carefully. Here are some important things to know about picking a puppy from the litter.

Activity Level and Confidence

When you first visit the breeder and take a look at the litter, it might be a wise idea to observe how the puppies interact with others. Don’t make them alert to your presence right away because they are likely to move back and get a bit scared. Take a few steps back and see how the pups behave with others.

Ideally, you should look for a dog that is not overly submissive, nor excessively dominant. An overly submissive dog is probably short of confidence, and you are going to have a hard time raising the pup. On the other hand, an excessively dominant dog might never look at you as the alpha, so obedience training might become a bit difficult.


When you first meet with the pups, be very observant about which ones come to you with a wagging tail and a head that’s held high. There are going to be a few pups in the litter who might not approach you at all, or may do so begrudgingly. It’s recommended that you check whether the dog has a good temperament and is sociable before you decide to pick one from the litter. There are several ways to test this as well.

First of all, pick up the pup and see how it reacts to you. If the pup starts struggling over the top, you can just keep them down. If it starts barking or nipping, put it down. However, if it settles into your arms within a few moments, it’s a clear sign that the animal has been socialized and has been trained to the human touch from an early age. More importantly, you might want to move their feet and mouths with your fingers. See if they are not overly sensitive before getting one!

Another way to test their sociability is to put them on their backs for at least a half minute. Obviously, dogs hate being on their backs unless they are completely comfortable. But, if they are used to the human touch, they probably won’t create much of a fuss. See if the dog starts relaxing under pressure. Just don’t apply too much of it, because that could traumatize the pup. It’s best to let an adult do this.

Overall Health

Then, you also have to evaluate the dog’s health. There are several things to look for, starting from the coat. Make sure that the pup has a shiny and healthy coat, and it’s not overly fat or skinny. You should also examine the pup as carefully as possible to ensure that it doesn’t have an overshot or undersized jaw. If you know a vet, it might be a wise idea to take them along with you, as they can run a full health check. Or, you can bring the pup to them later on.

You also need to examine the dog’s genitalia, its ears, and its eyes. There should not be any signs of inflammation or any kind of discharge from the animal. The health of the pup is going to play an important role in your decision. You don’t want to get a pup that is excessively sick from the beginning. It can take a long while for the animal to adjust to its new surroundings, and it is likely to suffer from further illness.

Ideally, you should talk to the breeder and make sure that they have adequate information available about the medical records of the dog. This involves vaccinations and other things, along with visits to the vet for regular health checks. You will have the peace of mind that the dog is healthy and suitable for taking home. Getting one with the right papers is the best choice as you will have the peace of mind that the animal is doing okay.