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How to pick a puppy from a litter: Our advice

How to pick a puppy from a litter: Our advice

Getting a new puppy is very exciting, especially for first-time dog owners. However, it can also be overwhelming and you’ll find yourself asking “How to pick a puppy from a litter?”. But don’t worry, we’re here to help!

Now, we know that all of the puppies from the litter are super adorable. They are happy little, fluffy creatures and you would take them all home if you could. But, obviously, that is not possible. So how do you do it, how do you choose just one puppy?

Well, there are a few things you need to pay attention to and which will make things a little a bit easier.

But, before we start, if you haven’t decided on a breed you can check out our other articles on different puppies and breeds:

How to pick a puppy from a litter

If you really want a puppy but you’re also really lost and don’t know how to pick the absolutely perfect puppy, don’t worry, we got you!

How to pick a puppy from a litter
Picking a puppy from a litter is not an easy task

When you hear stories of people seeing a litter of puppies and immediately knowing which to get, you might become a bit discouraged. Now, of course, the story that a puppy chose its owners sounds cute, but that shouldn’t be the way it goes.

Getting a dog is a responsibility, and picking one out from a litter is also a responsibility.

First impression counts

When it comes to puppy litters the first impression does count and it is important when trying to figure out how to pick a puppy from a litter! You want to look out for the puppies that approach you with their heads held high and tails wagging. These are signs of socially well-rounded pups that have had the right start in life!

Secondly, pay close attention to their fur. Puppies should have healthy, shiny coats with no areas of hair loss or redness. Also, watch them move, pups have a clumsy gait but should bear weight evenly on all of their limbs.

How to pick a puppy from a litter
The puppies shouldn’t scream or struggle when you pick them up

Give yourself time when figuring out how to pick a puppy from a litter. When you’re at the breeder’s house, observe the puppies well. Watch them play, see how they behave with each other and the breeder. Don’t rush yourself and don’t settle on just one puppy already.

What you do want to do is choose 2-3 puppies that you like. Then pick each of these pups up and test how they behave. Do they scream, do they struggle? None of these are good signs. Puppies shouldn’t struggle excessively or nip and vocalize, nor should they scream when you pick them up.

One puppy at a time

After you’ve found two or three puppies you like, you want to focus on one puppy at a time. Separate him from his siblings and give him a closer look.

It’s very important that you pay attention to certain areas of the puppy’s body:


The top of the puppy’s head should have a small soft spot. Pay attention to how big that spot is. If the soft area is larger than a dime, this could indicate future problems associated with “open fontanels.”


The pup’s gums should be moist and healthy pink in color. The top and bottom teeth should align.


Eyes are a sign of the puppy’s health. They should be clear with no redness or puss coming out. There should be no hair loss around the eyes. The pup should not squint or rub at his eyes.


It’s completely normal for the nose to have a slight clear discharge. However, discolored discharge is not normal and is a sign that something isn’t right with that puppy. Besides this, you should also know that the pup should breathe easily and noiselessly from his nose.

How to pick a puppy from a litter
Closely examine the puppies one by one


Ears should not have an odor or discharge coming out of them. The ear flaps should be covered in healthy hair and always remember that scratching at the ear is a sign of trouble.


You already looked at the coat while surveying the litter. Now take a closer look at the individual puppy. There should be no areas of hair loss, no pustules, no redness, and no flaking.

Body Wall

Look at the pup’s underbelly for a protrusion around the naval that could indicate an umbilical hernia. If anything pokes out in this area, it could mean surgical correction.


We know that figuring out how to pick a puppy from a litter seems a bit intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be! It’s just important that you know what to look out for!

Our last advice we have for you is to always keep in mind that a good breeder will have all the needed papers that prove the litter’s health. However, after you’ve decided on a puppy we recommend that you schedule a veterinarian check-up. Only this way you can be absolutely sure that everything is okay with the puppy you have chosen and that they are healthy.

My name is Jackie and I am a veterinarian with a degree in veterinary medicine. With extensive experience in treating various animals, I am known for my compassionate and personalized approach to animal care.