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Dean Bundley

As always, I will start by saying that the following is a way of picking puppies for a working program. This by no means is the way for making your selections.

No matter what anyone tells you, puppies are a gamble. You can have the best Sire and Dam available to you and still they can produce a bad puppy.

Paperwork should not be your sole consideration in picking a puppy. Neither is price. The more you pay for a puppy does not guarantee that you will end up with a good dog.


I normally use a whelping box, placed near the rear door of my home. I use alight, not so much for warmth but for observation of the puppies. The end of the whelping box is hinged for easy entrance and exit. Inside of the whelping box I have pig boards on all four sides to prevent pups from being crushed it he mother happens to lay near the side or a corner.

On average pups arrive between the 59th and 63rd day after a successful tie. I set my whelping box up on the 50th day. My box is made out of cedar. I have used strips of newspaper and cedar chips for bedding.

For new mothers, when the box is set up I practice putting the female in the box and making her down. This gets her use to the box. For veteran mothers they hop in and out and sleep in there.

When the female goes into labor she goes in the box, if I'm around. Dams will have their pups in some pretty inconvenient places, that is for us humans.

As the pups are being born, I observe and that's all. Its ShowTime for the mother. I have been lucky to have bred females that have turned out to be excellent mothers.

I sit next to the box and watch the births. The mother tears the sack and eats it, and begins to lick the puppy. She chews through the umbilical cord. She does this for every puppy. When she's out of labor I check to see if there are any unborn pups still in the mother.

If necessary???? Wait a minute, wait a minute. This is supposed to be about picking puppies for a working program. Lets fast forward.

In observing the puppies I take note of the bullies, the ones who make their way to the fullest teats and clamp on. As they are nursing you can lift them up a bit and they continue to nurse and to nurse harder. I take note of the puppies that allow themselves to be pushed aside.

I will remove a pup from a teat and see what effort it makes to regain a teat. What I like to see is the pup that strongly noses its way back to the teat and if necessary forces another pup off of a teat. I'm looking to see who is strong and who is weak.

Now we are at the eyes open stage??? Fast forward again.

The puppies are here. They are over 7 weeks old and your going to pick one. Having someone with you that knows about picking puppies is a plus if it can be arranged. If not its up to you.

Try to look at all the pups in the litter. Some breeders will let you do that and some wont. Some will bring a pup to you and tell you this is the one for you. I enjoy letting my pups out and watch them bite ankles other than my own. Ask the breeder if you can perform a few tests, some will let you, others wont.

I always have some leather or a piece of burlap that I throw to keep them busy.

Look for a pup that rushes up to you. Look for a pup that runs up to you barking asking what are you doing in my area?? See which pups are paying attention to you instead of each other. Pick the puppies up, by now they should be used to being handled. If they scream out when picked up, that's not a good sign.

Drop some keys or something. The pup that runs up to see what you dropped is a positive. An even better sign is the pup that picks up your keys and runs away with other puppies following to try to steal them away. I like pups that want to be involved, not the ones that are hiding and want no part of the action.

Most breeders will not let you take a pup to a strange area. If your in a club situation, the breeder can bring the pups to the training field. ( that's were pups belong anyway)

Consider picking a puppy that shows you: no sound sensitivity, is not afraid of being handled, does not cry out in pain when you squeeze the skin between the toes, does not cry out when you pick it up by the scruff of the neck, if you throw something, the pup goes and picks it up, roll the pup on its back, it should fight to turn itself over, no under bites or over bites, the pup must move around and be agile, be able to get up on things, is the pup clean, has it been vaccinated, it looks healthy, and the price is right for you.

Don't pick a puppy that is sound sensitive, runs in fear from you, is dirty, has a low tolerance for pain, has no interest at all in a rolling ball, when you roll it on its back it just lays there, has an over bite or an under bite, is limping, if it looks sick to you, don't buy it. Is that big round stomach because it just finished eating and drinking or is it wormy.

Talk to the breeder, find out what they are breeding for. Pick their minds.

Good breeders guarantee their pups. I have seen two and three page agreements on puppy purchasing. If the pup has a genetic flaw that appears during the first year, the breeder should replace the pup with one from their next litter. Remember a guarantee is only as good as the person giving it.

There is a lot more involved with puppy selection.

E-mail Dean Bundley if you have any questions.

Copyright Dean Bundley; all rights reserved.

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