A question I am always asked when homes are looking at joining my waiting list, or once they have heard the great news that their girl has a confirmed pregnancy is....how does your puppy choosing work and am I near the top to choose?
Let me explain how my process works.
Puppies are never allocated at birth.
I do not respond well to emails 3 hours after my girl has given birth to; 'my children have fallen in love with XX puppy and we want that one otherwise they will be heartbroken.' I have a choosing process as detailed below and this does not waver.
On the day the puppies are born, all waiting homes will receive an email stating how the birth went, how Mum and pups are and lists the important dates of puppy choosing weekend, the puppy take home dates and when the second vaccination will be due.
The families, once the second puppy deposit is paid, will be added to my private Facebook owners group. Here you can follow the puppies in their individual photo album, watch videos, read lots of advice and find other owners in your area. All information is updated on my Facebook group for everyone taking on a puppy from the litter to learn from.
The future new owners will then be emailed my Puppy Information Guide which is currently running at 75 pages long. This is jam packed with information you need and will answer all your questions and more. It includes an essential buying guide detailing crate size needed, what a crate set up looks like, collar size as a puppy and as an adult, plus other items you need that you will not have considered. Other topic areas focus on how you take puppy home, first night expectations, toilet training, mouthing, heel work, recall, feeding, grooming and a heck of a lot more.
I also email across a reading list.
You will be prepared !! I make sure you are.
Puppies are chosen in the order the family confirms their place on my reservation list via the £150 waiting list deposit date.
Puppy choosing weekend is usually held on the weekend around the pups being 5 weeks old.
At this age the pups will be playing, exploring the garden and interacting with people and my dogs.
Each family will be given a back to back 1.5-2hr time slot and can either attend in person which I recommend especially with children, or via Zoom if timing or distance is an issue.
I do not temperament test at 7 weeks old and allocate as other breeders do. Instead I pull on my knowledge of my dogs, their parents, grandparents and my experience as a breeder of nearly 10 years.
From the moment they are born I am watching the pups and when they start going into the garden I'm looking to see who is the most adventurous, or the problem solver, who is holding back, who is startled at noises, who is jumping on the other dogs heads and who prefers chasing the toys. I watch to see who is eating well, who is not a big eater, and how they respond to my adult dogs. This forms a picture along with the temperament of the parents as too how I see the pups developing.
I ask all homes to bring a list of questions and I can answer them as we play with the pups.
One of the most important tasks I do is with families of primary school aged children, because at this age children can be erratic, lively and noisy. There can often be a puppy in a litter who just does not respond to young children. So no matter how much you like the puppy's sweet eyes, their cute paws etc... if the puppy is actively moving away from your children, then that puppy is not suitable for your home.
Instead I want your children to clap, make a noise, sing a song, run up and down the garden. We want to choose from the puppies that are engaging physically and with eye contact with your children. This is why colour and sex will never ever be part of the puppy choosing process.
The only time sex of a puppy comes into forefront is if the home have an existing dog and we need to choose on the sex that best fits.
Occasionally I will see a puppy in the litter who is exceptionally bright, a natural problem solver and very active. This puppy will not suit a less confident, first time dog owning home, but the puppy would suit an experienced home, or a motor-homing family, an active home or someone who wants to be involved with agility and advanced training classes.
If I have a puppy that is quiet and seeks people contact over dog interaction, then this pup would suit a first time owning home, a calm family, but not one with other dogs or lively children.
I do advise my new families on temperament and potential suitability of each litter, plus my recommendations for particular puppies with the reasons why. The final choice being with the new family unless I see a reason why not due to temperament match.
I never reserve puppies on colour and sex, it is the temperament and suitability between puppy and the new home that is my top priority. I will never promise you will receive a particular colour/sex, and mother nature dictates what is born.
If it ever occurs that a puppy is to be kept back as a breeding potential then the breeder will always have first choice across the litter.
One issue with every single litter is that the homes who are on the final day to choose become stressed. They feel that they may not get the best puppy; that they will get the wrong puppy, the temperament will not be suitable, the puppy will have one eye and three legs.
Puppies have different temperaments and so are suitable for different homes.
As a breeder I am constantly amazed how my top puppy is usually last or second last to be chosen, or the puppy that was nearly picked first is then last to be allocated.
I also have NO WRONG PUPPY !
All my puppies are healthy, they are strong, they are well raised, they are bomb proof and are exceptionally well socialised.
At every single puppy choosing weekend over the last 10years I have had homes say, I wish I was further down the list to choose because it's so hard being first as all the pups are great. Human nature never want to have the last of anything...unless it's a Rolo and then its ok!
What appeals to one home, will not appeal to another.
The reason why most breeders allocate is so they do not have to deal with a home thinking they had the last puppy and managing expectation emails, plus they do not have full weekends of people coming through their home to choose pups. It's breeder convenience first and foremost.
Once pups have been chosen, I will then microchip the pups in the next few days. Then at 7 weeks old they have their vet check and 1st vaccination.
Three days before puppy collection I hold a litter Zoom meeting where I can answer all last minute questions and give final tips which everyone can be involved in.
So to summarise the basic timeline:
Emails sent when the mating occurs.
Email sent when pregnancy confirmed.
Email sent when the pups are born with dates of puppy choosing and take home dates.
- Second deposit required.
Owners added to my private owners Facebook group.
Northbound Puppy Guide emailed out which includes buying guide and reading list.
Regular photos and videos taken.
Puppy choosing when pups are 5 weeks old.
Pet puppy contract emailed out to be signed.
- Final payment due.
Group Zoom chat with all owners.
PetPlan 4 week free insurance issued.