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How to Choose a Healthy Puppy

Updated on June 11, 2009
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After deciding which breed of puppy you want, your next step is to do some research on the breeder you are considering. You want to purchase from reputable breeders only and stray away from back yard breeders which typically advertise on the Sunday's newspaper or near Christmas for profitable earnings. Reputable breeders always test their breeding specimens and offer heath warranties and the option to return the puppy for any reason.

Once, the ideal breeder has been selected the important day arrives. You may be able to view the mother and the father of the puppy and then you finally may be able to view the litter. Expect responsible breeders to ask you a lot of questions and be a little picky on who purchases their puppies. This is a good sign; it demonstrates they truly care for their pups and take their job seriously.

Upon seeing the puppies it is easy to fall in love with them all and feel overwhelmed  in the selection process. While you may feel like following your heart, you want to follow your brain as well since owning a dog is a long term commitment. Following are some considerations to keep in mind when choosing the right puppy for you:

-Listen to the breeder's advice

If the breeder is very experienced often they can match you up with the ideal dog. If you are a first time dog owner he may recommend a puppy that is submissive and easy to deal with. Puppies with dominant traits do better in experienced homes where owners can grant a steady level of leadership. The breeder has spent considerable time with the puppies and has been able to recognize rather quickly which puppies are more docile and easy going from the more dominant hard headed ones.

-Look at Activity level

The puppy you choose should be bright and alert. Stray away from a puppy that appears disinterested to its surroundings and depressed. A healthy puppy will be curious, aware of its surroundings and moving about. He or she should  be breathing without difficulties and its coat should be glossy.

-Look at temperament

The puppy should appear friendly and not too shy or frightened.  He or she should be curious and move towards you upon reaching your hand towards him or her. He or she should show a calm, friendly disposition and appear affectionate. Watch carefully how the puppy interacts with its litter mates.

-Look at the skin

The skin of a puppy may tell a lot about its over all health. There should be no hair loss, presence of dirt (often indicating the presence of fleas) or abnormal masses. Specifically look at the location where the umbilical cord was present. This area should be smooth with no present hernias. A distended abdomen may be normal after a meal but it also may be indicative o the presence of roundworms. Ask for proof of deworming if in doubt.

-Do a thorough check up

The eyes and nose should be free of discharges and the respiratory rate should appear normal. Take a look at the mouth and ensure that the gums are of a nice bubble gum pink. Look for signs indicating an underbite or an overbite. Looks as well or signs of cleft palate, a birth defect that may lead to aspiration pneumonia. Check how the dog walks and look for signs of limping.  In male puppies, ensure both testicles have descended. 

Make sure you have your puppy checked by a veterinarian within the first days of purchasing the puppy, or better ask the breeder if he can provide a pre-purchase examination by a veterinarian of your choice. It is best to be safe than sorry, nothing hurts more than returning a puppy that you have already gotten so emotionally attached to!


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    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 8 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Useful hub with good advice, thanks.