View Full Version : Choosing your puppy

10th June 2008, 01:01 AM
When I got my black lab 13+ years ago, we traveled to the breeder and met the whole litter of puppies. We played with the puppies and picked one trying to judge criteria from dog owning books/guides etc. We brought her home that day. (She's still going strong! :p)

Anyway, I've noticed a lot of people post here knowing the puppies they are going to get before they bring them home. Since this isnt the way I got my black lab, I'd like to know more about how this other system works. Does the breeder pick your puppy for you? On what basis do they decide which puppy to place with each owner?

Which system tends to be more common with Cavalier breeders? I appreciate any input. Thanks!

10th June 2008, 04:00 AM
I'm not sure if this is the way other breeders operate, but I'll tell you how my breeder handled choosing our puppy for my family. I first made contact with her and let her know a little about our family, our home, gave her references, etc. I asked her a lot of questions as well. I really wanted a blenheim female, and had to wait for several months (and a couple litters) before any became available. She then wanted to meet our entire family, particularly my two daughters. We talked about our lifestyle and she "matched" the puppy who's personality she thought would best fit ours. She waited until the puppies were around 9 weeks old before making a final decision.

10th June 2008, 11:33 AM
There's no set rule but responsible breeders will always work with a family -- when you see websites that just list the puppies and show various shots of their markings so you can pick one out that way, beware. Some breeders always match the puppy with the best personality for the particular people interested in a puppy, where others have people over and the people select a puppy in a litter.

I think for responsible breeders it is always at least a mix of the two -- speaking from my experience of running a breed rescue for cavaliers, I certainly do not just home any adult dog to any family as some would definitely not be suitable and vice versa, so why a breeder would home any puppy to any family, without offering advice and getting to know the family's interests and desires, is beyond me. I can easily say that a significant portuion of the dogs that are given in to pounds, and to me directly in rescue, come in because the wrong personality of puppy went to the wrong people. Most often this is clearly the result of people following that old (and IMHO dangerous) chestnut that the puppy will 'pick' you out when you arrive to see the litter and the first puppy that comes to you must be the one to take. Well, the first puppy is simply the most outgoing in the litter, which is great if you want a highly active and outgoing adult that is also likely to be the most demanding and most at risk of behaviour and training problems in the wrong family. This is just the type of dog I most often get into rescue when the reason for handing over the dog is 'it is too much for us'.

On the broader picture -- labs are I believe the single most popular breed in the US still, and there are a huge number of registered breeders (much less the BYBs and puppy mill labs). If someone wants a lab, it is fairly easy to find breeders and available litters and they have large litters too. :) Cavaliers on the other hand are still a fairly rare breed in the US, especially beyond the two coasts, and most reputable breeders do have waiting lists and the dogs have small litters -- a singleton puppy is not that unusual but generally only 3-5 puppies, and many breeders will be some physical distance from the buyer, who may need to fly out to collect the puppy and meet the breeder as well at some point, so it is a lot less likely that buyers can visit and see a whole litter of available puppies and pick out any particular puppy -- any buyer should be very cautious when this is the case as to why the breeder has so many puppies available.. .

I know that the next time I get a puppy (not in the near term! :lol:) I will ask for the most outgoing puppy as I want a dog suitable for an active lifestyle, agility etc. I know from experience this is definitely a more difficult dog (going by my Jaspar! :lol:) but also the type of personality I like best and I want the breeder to pick the most appropriate personality -- cosmetic issues like markings I don't care about as long as the puppy is from a health focused, conformation focused breeder. Such a dog is totally wrong for someone wanting a quiet low key dog or a casual companion for relaxed walks and lounging around the house -- and that is why those dogs tend to be the ones I regularly see in rescue, as many people do not really want this type of adult.

10th June 2008, 11:55 AM
I had waited months for Dylan to be born. I was called when he was one week old. My breeder, Jenny, waited that week in case any died, it does happen. She would not like to call me the day he was born then a week later say my pup died. I don't think she is the only breeder who waits a week.

I saw the litter at 10 days old and even got to hold one. I saw them every week or fortnight after that for 3 months. I would spend all day with them as I had to get 3 trains each way. Even when Jenny went on holiday I could see them. There were 3 boys and one girl. Jenny wanted the girl and one boy had a clown face and I had already said I wanted a symmetrical face so he was placed. The other two boys were lovely. One with very good markings and one very lightly marked but with a better head. She wanted to show one of them. I always assumed she would keep the one with the good markings and it was while she was on holiday that I got attached to the other, my Dylan.

I emailed her and told her how much I had fallen for him and hoped she would let me have him. She phoned as soon as she got back and told me I could have him!! You could hear the excitement in her voice when she told me!

So, long story short, I knew my pup very well before he came home and he knew me. I did go for personality and not looks, though he is beautiful. But I am sure my story is very unusual. I became friends with Jenny and she was very kind to me letting me spend so much time at her house.

10th June 2008, 03:33 PM
When I got my black lab 13+ years ago, we traveled to the breeder and met the whole litter of puppies. We played with the puppies and picked one trying to judge criteria from dog owning books/guides etc. We brought her home that day.

Your experience is probably a very common one and lots of times it works but there is a huge element of luck. It is how I got my first two dogs, an American and then and English Cocker Spaniel. However, as Karlin mentioned, I think most responsible breeders, like to learn about the prospective owners of their puppies and try to match personalities and temperaments. With my two current dogs, I had two different experiences, but both were efforts to make certain there was a good fit.

With Buddy, our Cavalier, for a number of reasons, which I confirmed through conversations with breeders were legitimate, I was looking for an older puppy or young adult. After lots of calls and e-mails, I settled on a breeder who had a six month old and a twelve month old, whom we both agreed were possible good matches. We ended up having both dogs come for a home visit with us, for four days, and we then settled on the six month old to stay. I have to say it was very difficult to send one of the dogs home!

With our Clumber Spaniel, I was interviewed by breeders and breeders interviewed me to as great an extent as someone adopting a human child! When I finally settled with a breeder and a litter, we had another round of discussions of boys versus girls and lots of discussions about our home, personalities, lifestyle, extended family, etc. The idea all along was for the breeder to pick the puppy for us. In the end, after we had settled on a girl, she let us pick between the two girls in the litter, who were very close in temperament, but quite different in look. I have to say that it was a lot of fun.

One of the pleasures of dealing with ethical, responsible breeders, is that they care about where their puppies are placed and want to keep up with how they are doing after they leave their first home. Both of my current breeders have been available to me not only to answer questions but to also share my joy in having one of their dogs be a part of my family. There is someting special about having the breeder of your dog see him or her at two or three years of age and tell you what a nice job you have done with their puppy. :p

So my advise is to look for a breeder who is not offended when you interview them and who also interviews you, both to make sure you are a good match for this breed and also for the particular puppy who will come home with you. Someone who asks few if any questions would not be on my list.