Whether you are a first-time prospective owner or an old-hand at selecting your next family companion, your hopes and expectations are similar. You want an attractive, healthy, long-lived dog, with a great personality and just the right activity level! Your dream dog is a devoted, loving companion, wants to please you and has an "on/off" switch! Just perfect!
Searching the globe you can find a million adorable puppies of various makes and models that would not be a suitable match for one reason or another. A pretty puppy who does not match your family temperament-wise will result in frustration and heartache. For a permanent family companion who will be a joy to live with, it is vital to consider the attributes which really matter.
Health, temperament, structure, and activity level are all far more important than appearance. Now, it is absolutely fine to hold out for a particular "look", but cosmetic traits such as size, coat type, coat color, and eye color must fall in as lovely, secondary compliments to the sweet being you intend to bring into your family.
YOU WANT YOUR PUPPY TO "CHOOSE" YOU?
Over the years we have received countless requests from prospective owners expressing a desire to come and play with puppies so their puppy could "choose" them. It is a romantic idea, but usually ends poorly - as shelters and Craigslist rehoming ads can attest to.
This approach quite literally bases a puppy's forever and an owner's next 15+ years on the whim of a tiny puppy with very little life experience and absolutely zero understanding of the ramifications of its fickle curiosity.
A puppy waddling over to investigate a new human does not equate to the puppy "choosing" that person as its forever owner; the puppy is simply fascinated by the new scent, the new voice, the different shape... The puppy may be cute, curious, wiggly, and all sorts of precious mischief - but it is often the alpha puppy who approaches the unknown. Adorable, yes - but only a small handful of prospective homes are actually a good match for that alpha puppy.
Likewise, perhaps the shy or timid puppy approaches because clothing still smells like the morning's bacon and egg breakfast or because the puppy is sleepy and accustomed to laying in its breeder's lap. A sleepy puppy always feels like a good match, but not when you get to your busy household and your new puppy becomes fearful, doesn't settle in well, and requires copious amounts of training.
All this to say puppy has absolutely no idea that approaching a person will affect the outcome of its forever. Likewise, unless you are a breeder or trainer in your own right, a brief visit will likely not provide you the clues necessary to select between litter-mates.
It is far better to really get to know a breeder - and for your breeder to get to know you, your family, your activities, expectations, training level, etc etc. A reputable breeder spends countless hours with each of their puppies, they know how the puppy interacts with humans, how they interact with other dogs, where they are in the litter (pack). Allowing a reputable breeder to offer selection input is 1000X more reliable than meeting a litter and having the puppy "pick" you.
- Selecting a puppy based upon cosmetics such as coat type, coat color or eye color nearly always ends in a poor match, because "pretty is as pretty does". You might get lucky, but placement success should not be left to chance just because you feel a puppy is "cute".
- Visiting a litter to have a puppy "choose you" nearly always ends in a poor match, because this bases a puppy's "forever" on a pup's momentary whim. The puppy has no understanding regarding you, your family, your housing, your activities... it merely finds you interesting because you are new.
- Working with a knowledgeable breeder and allowing them to assist in the selection process nearly always results in a successful placement and years of wonderful companionship. Your breeder knows the puppies intimately and their years of experience allows them to select the best puppy / owner match - In the same breath, a reputable breeder will take into account your likes and dislikes and ensure you are equally pleased with your puppy's exterior.
Where to start? Talk with breeders at length about their programs, care and placement policies, as well as your desires and expectations. If a breeder feels like a solid match, ask for references (vets, specialists, puppy owners) and discuss their contract terms which should contain health guarantees, spay or neuter clauses for companion puppies as well as rehoming policies. If all sounds agreeable, then discuss individual puppies and their temperaments to see if the breeder believes one of their puppies would be right for your home.
Set yourself and your future puppy up for success, not failure!