Some breeding experts think the first litter of puppies isn’t the best for people to pick. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t consider doing so.
Picking any puppy from any litter needs study and care. This is especially true when choosing it from a dam’s first litter, but those little ones need a home too.
Why Do Experts Recommend Avoiding the First Litter?
Breeders think of the first litter as a test on the dam and sire. That’s because they aren’t sure which dominant genes will pass down to the pups.
Another thing breeders will look out for is whether or not the pups are healthy. That’s a big priority for them, and so is the puppies’ temperament.
Since this litter will be the dam’s first, she’ll be learning how to be a mother for the first time. She might also make mistakes taking care of her pups, which she’ll avoid in the next litter.
If the parents and their puppies pass this test, breeders will have the dam and sire breed another litter. That’s the litter or the one after it, which experts recommend potential pet owners choose their puppies from.
The breeders, at this point, have a better idea of how the puppies will turn up. That includes the puppies’ temperament, their health, and their looks.
The first litter shouldn’t deter you as a new pet owner. Yes, it will put you in a situation where you’ll need to do a little more research. However, the puppies will most likely be fine; just unpredictable.
The problem with this process is people tend to listen to experts leading to first-litter puppies having a hard time finding a home.
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If you’re going to choose a puppy from a first litter, there are a few factors to research before going all in.
The most vital factor you need to pay attention to is health, so try to do the following:
When It Comes to the Puppies’ Parents
Ask the breeder about the litter’s parents’ health, and try and meet them if possible to see for yourself.
Observe their behavior and temperament because their puppies will likely have similar ones.
See if the breeder can provide you with any paperwork proving the dam and sire’s good health and pedigree.
If there’s a specific breed you’re interested in, research how their puppies should behave and their physical attributes. Ask the breeder for paperwork about the puppies’ health.
Once you come into contact with the litter, assess the puppies’ physical health. Observe if they’re skinny or malnourished.
Check if they have any eye or ear infections or not.
Play with them to test their physicality and movement. This test will give you an indication of if the puppy is limping or tiring too quickly.
During bonding/playing time, check if the puppy responds to sounds or visual cues as a hearing or vision test.
If you’re worried about doing any of these tests, you can ask the breeder to conduct them on the puppy with you present.
Ask the breeder how the puppies react to different types of food. The breeder’s response should help you figure out what kind of food to provide your pup afterward.
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Once you feel assured that the puppies’ health is good, it’s time to move on to temperament and picking the pup.
During this phase you observe and assess the puppies from afar without interacting at first.
See how they interact as a group and get a feel for how each one behaves.
Don’t rush the process; it takes time and is a critical step for later. Spend some time with the litter as a whole and the puppies you like individually.
This process will give you an idea of how the puppy interacts with other dogs and you as its owner/friend.
You don’t have to pick the first puppy that comes up to you. It’s cute when the movies do it, but their temperament isn’t apparent yet.
Expect different personalities. Some traits won’t be noticeable at a glance but spending time with some pups individually helps.
When doing one-on-one sessions, try to push the pup to come out of its shell and reveal its hidden traits. You can do that by playing games and so on.
What to Do After Picking Your Puppy
So you finally found your potential new member of the family, huh? Good for you! There are just a few things to keep in mind after picking your puppy.
Most reputable breeders offer a pre-purchase probationary period, which tends to last about 72 hours before the purchase is complete.
You should already know if the breeder provided the litter with any vaccinations. However, during that period, it’s recommended that you take your new puppy to the vet on the same day.
At the vet, you should conduct a complete check-up on the pup. The vet will take a closer look at the puppy and identify any medical issues you might have missed earlier.
Based on the results of these tests and medical inspections, it’s up to you what to do next. Either welcome a new member to your family or go back to the breeder and return the pup.
If you decide to keep the puppy, there are a few things you need to do once you get home.
Let the puppy explore. The puppy will be curious about the new home so let them take a look around.
Strengthen your bond by sitting with them and playing. We’re sure there will be a bunch of hugs and kisses involved.
Either introduce them to potty pads or take them on a walk to show them where they’re going to go to the bathroom.
Show them where their food and water bowls are. They might already be hungry after their latest visit to the vet and the ride home.
Show them where they’re going to sleep. Shower them with love and attention.
Paul has been creating content for the dog niche for many years. The information he shares comes his first hand experience growing up in dog lovers household and then owning multiple dog breeds of his own as an adult. Paul enjoys doing the hard research to collect, analyze and present our dogtemperament.com readers with the best answers to their questions.