A look at the important task of puppy placement
I always let the breeder pick my puppy out for me. That doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy all the fun of buying a puppy from a responsible breeder. I get all the litter pictures and a visit or two with the litter before take-home day, but I trust the person that has spent decades with their breed, years with their dam, and weeks with the puppies to know where each bundle of cuteness should go. I have been very pleased with their choices.
So how does a successful match start? With lots of conversations either by phone or via email. Be honest with the breeder about what you want from a dog. Try not to ask for specifics in colour. You can, of course, state your preferences but focus instead on temperament. Do you want a fast and sharp agility star? An intuitive therapy dog? A confident pal that you can bring to work daily?
While I do recommend not fixating on colour or markings, it might be necessary to be upfront about gender preference. While there are little difference between genders in most breeds, some breeders don’t place males in homes with other males or females in homes with other females. As a general rule, a pair of opposite-sex dogs will get along easier when living together.
When communicating with a breeder, make sure to describe your home and lifestyle. Do you have kids coming in with friends throughout the day? Are you retired and want a dog you can take with your traveling across the country? Are you newly married and both working from home? The more details you provide, the better, as the breeder can then start to imagine each individual puppy in each unique situation and place accordingly.
You might be wondering why this is necessary since purebred dogs of the same breed are generally the same in temperament. While predictability is a major selling point when it comes to purebred dogs, personalities tend to vary slightly within a litter. Some are more confident, sensitive, chill etc. A reputable purebred dog breeder spends time with a litter, watching them react to all sorts of situations: a car ride, meeting veterinary staff for their first shots, a metal bowl dropping, the vacuum cleaner humming and more. They also watch the pack of puppies interact with one another. They know which puppy is the boss, who is more submissive and which one never gives up. They can quite accurately guess how each puppy would handle day-to-day life with you and your family.
Here are some ways accountable breeders place their beloved puppies.
By observation. Breeders spend a lot of time watching their litters. Not only because they are adorable puppies but also to see how they handle situations as have they arisen. In doing so, they can imagine how they will react to day-to-day life in their forever home. The breeder will notice who is always climbing onto their lap, who is usually playing alone and who starts all the games. These clues all help a breeder place puppies into the best situations.
By listening. Did the potential buyers mention they have a cat? Are they interested in herding trials? Does their elderly father visit often? Conversations between breeder and buyer help the breeder better understand the home and life the puppy is being offered. There are no dumb questions for a breeder to ask a potential puppy buyer. One never knows when an important piece of information will be revealed that will help the breeder place the appropriate pup.
By involving other experts. Many breeders will work with a trainer, behaviourist, or someone knowledgeable in their breed to have independent temperament tests done. Breeders often work with other breeders, judges, and other experts to gather multiple perspectives on conformation and show potential.
By having the confidence to say no. Although it can be hard for a potential buyer to hear they aren’t getting a puppy from a breeder, a rejection can be a blessing in disguise that can save you and the puppy loads of heartache. Some people aren’t well-matched for certain breeds, and some people aren’t meant to own dogs.
Placing puppies in the best homes possible is a job that reputable breeders take very seriously. Responsible breeders actively listen to what their potential puppy buyers want in a dog, trust their gut, and, of course, always help their puppy buyers out as the puppy transitions to the new home. The support continues throughout the life of the dog. I’ve been very pleased with the choices breeders have made for me, and if you work with a reputable breeder and trust their choice in putting the right puppy in your home, I think you will be too!