Best Guide on How to pick a puppy from a litter

There is nothing quite like going to the shelter and seeing a new litter of puppies! And if you are there to choose a puppy, it’s even more exciting! With so many adorable faces and wagging tales to choose from, it can be overwhelming to know which puppy to choose. That’s why this post was created! Below you will find a great guided blog post to help you navigate your decision-making process on choosing your pup! In this blog, we will walk you through the steps and considerations that will lead you to your perfect four-legged companion. Whether you’re a first-time dog owner or a seasoned pet parent, our comprehensive guide on how to pick a puppy from a litter will ensure that you make a choice you’ll cherish for a lifetime.

In this blog pose/guide, we will cover the following topics to help you choose your puppy from the litter:

  • Why Choosing the Right Puppy Matters
  • Identifying Your Puppy Preferences
  • Finding Reputable Shelters and Rescues
  • What to Expect When Visiting a Litter
  • Health Checks and Red Flags
  • Choosing your Puppy
litter of puppies in a shelter

Why Choosing the Right Puppy Matters

Choosing the right puppy is a decision that goes beyond personal preferences; it significantly impacts your life. The compatibility of your chosen puppy with your lifestyle is crucial; different breeds have distinct energy levels and needs, which can influence your daily routines and activities. Remember, bringing a puppy home is a long-term commitment, and dogs can live for a decade or more, so you must be prepared for the responsibilities of pet ownership. Be sure to read more on dog rescues

Additionally, considering how the puppy will fit in with your family members, including children and other pets, is vital for a harmonious home. Prioritizing the health and well-being of your puppy, by selecting a breed with a good genetic history, sets the foundation for a happy life together. Lastly, the emotional connection you establish with your puppy is essential; it’s about finding a companion that not only suits your lifestyle but also touches your heart, creating a lasting bond that enhances both your lives.

Identifying Your Puppy Preferences

Before embarking on the journey of choosing the perfect puppy from a litter, it’s essential to identify your puppy preferences. Here are some considerations you need to think about:

  • Your lifestyle and living situation. Do you live in an apartment where a small dog might work best or do you have a big backyard for a large dog to get lots of exercise? Please think about the size of the dog that would be comfortable in your current home.
  • Assess how much time you can dedicate to exercise and training. Dogs require training if you don’t want them to be destroying and chewing things. It’s important you have time to do this and don’t work outside of the home for 14 hours each day.
  • Reflect on whether you desire an outgoing and energetic companion or a more calm and introspective one. 
  • Consider any allergies or specific breed characteristics that are important to you. 
  • Additionally, involve your family members in the discussion, as their preferences and needs matter too.

By clarifying your puppy preferences, you’ll be better equipped to select a puppy that aligns with your lifestyle and expectations. This will help ensure that you and your dog have a lifelong bond with one another and rehoming is not something you have to consider. The worst thing you can do to a puppy in a shelter is take him or her home and have to bring him back because you did not consider the best for for both of you. 

Finding Reputable Shelters and Rescues

Finding a reputable shelter is an essential step when you’re considering adopting a puppy. Reputable shelters prioritize the health, safety, and happiness of their animals. They provide proper medical care, vaccinations, and socialization for their puppies, ensuring that they are ready for a loving home. Beyond that, reputable shelters have transparent adoption procedures, including background checks and comprehensive information about the puppy’s history and behavior. By choosing a shelter known for its ethical practices, you can trust that your adoption will be a positive experience, and you’ll be giving a deserving puppy a chance at a better life. Moreover, your decision to adopt from a reputable shelter contributes to the ongoing efforts to rescue and care for homeless animals, making it a meaningful and humane choice for both you and your future furry companion.

What to Expect When Visiting a Litter

When visiting a litter of puppies at a shelter, there are several things you should expect to encounter. First and foremost, anticipate a mix of personalities and energy levels among the puppies. Some may be outgoing and playful, while others might be shy or reserved. Be prepared to see various breeds and sizes, each with its own unique characteristics. Shelters typically provide a clean and safe environment for the puppies but expect to see puppies of different health statuses and ages. It’s essential to observe the overall cleanliness and hygiene of the facility to ensure the puppies’ well-being.

Additionally, shelters will usually have staff or volunteers available to answer your questions, provide information about the puppies’ backgrounds, and guide you through the adoption process. Finally, expect to feel a mix of emotions, as visiting a litter of adorable puppies can be an exciting yet heartwarming experience that may leave you eager to provide a forever home for one of these lovable companions.

Interact with the puppies

The best way to know what puppy will be a good fit for you and your family is to interact with the puppies. See which ones come to you or which ones are a little more on the shy side. Most shelters, if the puppies are healthy enough and are old enough, will allow you to play with the puppy. You usually have to fill out some forms ahead of time. It’s a good idea to take your time with each puppy that you think might be a good fit for you to adopt. It’s hard to know when a puppy is very little if it will be good with young children or if it will be rowdy or calm. Use your best judgment.

It’s also important to ask what breed of dog the puppy is. Expect a shelter for it to be mixed with multiple breeds of dogs. Do you research each breed’s personality so you understand what personality is possible for your pup when you bring them home?

medium sized puppies in a puppy pen at a shelter

Red Flags to be on the lookout for

While visiting a litter of puppies at a shelter location can be an exciting time, it’s crucial to keep an eye out for red flags that may indicate potential issues. These warning signs can help you make an informed decision and ensure the well-being of the puppy you choose:

Unhealthy Appearance:

Watch for puppies with visible signs of illness, such as lethargy, discharge from the eyes or nose, coughing, or sneezing. These could be indicators of underlying health problems. Some puppies come into the shelter already ill. Be sure to check with the adoption workers to understand the background of the puppy and what care and treatment they are receiving if they appear to be ill. A shelter will only adopt healthy puppies. If a puppy does happen to be sick, it will work to make sure it’s cared for ahead of going to its new family.

Lack of Socialization:

Puppies should be curious, playful, and at ease with human interaction. A puppy that appears overly fearful, aggressive, or withdrawn may not have received adequate socialization, which can lead to behavioral issues down the road. Again, a shelter takes dogs and puppies that have had not the greatest past life. A reputable shelter will help you understand the background of the entire little of puppies to help you make an informed decision before adoption.

Inadequate Living Conditions:

Take note of the environment in which the puppies are kept. Their puppy pen should be clean, spacious, and well-maintained. Overcrowded or unsanitary conditions can contribute to health problems and behavioral challenges. A rescue group has a tough job of relying on funding from volunteers and work from volunteers. Be kind to their environment but use your judgment on a well-maintained facility vs. a puppy mill.

Missing Documentation:

Reputable shelters should provide documentation of vaccinations, deworming, and, in the case of purebred dogs, pedigree information. If these records are missing or incomplete, it could be a red flag. All shelters should require a health check when a puppy comes into the rescue. If a puppy is not in good health, a good shelter will ensure they get the puppy into a foster home and healthy before adopting him or her out.

Pushy or Uncooperative Sellers:

If a shelter staff is unwilling to answer your questions or seems evasive, it may be a sign that they are not operating transparently. A reputable source should be open and honest about the puppy’s history and care. Not all questions will be able to be answered by the shelter. Unfortunately, sometimes humans just drop litters of puppies off at shelters and the shelter will not know too much about the litter’s background. What they should know is if the puppy has been examined by a vet, is at a healthy weight, general months of age, puppy’s temperament, and sometimes a best guess of the litter’s breed. 

Be cautious if you feel pressured to make a quick decision. Adoption of a pup is not a quick decision. They require you to have a budget that allows you to purchase the necessary things for them. They also require an immense amount of time for potty training and learning the ways of being a pet. Some puppy mills and puppy dealers may pose as shelters or rescues but be very cautious about their environment. 

Choosing your Puppy

The moment has arrived – you’re face-to-face with a litter of adorable, wriggling puppies, and the decision to choose your new puppy is here. Below are some best tips to help guide you through the process of choosing your puppy:

Observe Their Behavior:

Spend time with each puppy individually and observe their behavior. Look for signs of curiosity, playfulness, and responsiveness. A confident and outgoing puppy may be a great choice for an active household, while a more relaxed and mellow one might suit a quieter environment. 

Interact and Bond:

Get down to their level, sit quietly, and let the puppies come to you. Pay attention to how they react to your presence. A puppy that initiates contact and seems comfortable with your touch is likely to form a strong bond with you and be the right dog for you.

Assess Temperament:

Gently handle each puppy to gauge their reaction. Notice if they are comfortable with being held and touched. A puppy with a calm and tolerant temperament is usually easier to train and live with. An outgoing pup is also a great sight of a healthy puppy.

Consider Gender and Size:

Think about whether you prefer a male or female puppy. In my opinion, male dogs seem to cater to female owners and female dogs cater to male owners.  Also, keep in mind that gender can play a role in personality traits but isn’t the only factor. Additionally, consider the expected size of the puppy when fully grown and ensure it aligns with your living situation. If you are young and living in an apartment, a small dog might be the best match for you. 

little tiny puppies laying down a carpet

Ask Questions:

Don’t hesitate to ask the breeder or shelter staff questions about the puppy’s history, health, and behavior. Important questions are about vaccinations, deworming, and any specific care needs. Some rescue workers might have already created a strong bond with a particular puppy in a litter. They might already know a lot about a puppy you are considering and it’s also a good sign that the puppy is social if they have bonded with some of the rescue volunteers. 

Trust Your Instincts:

Ultimately, trust your instincts and choose the puppy that feels right for you. The bond you share with your puppy is a unique and powerful connection, and it often comes down to a gut feeling. There is no list that will tell you what the perfect dog is for you. New owners will have to judge that on their own to make the best choice for them and their families. The best thing to do is to do your research, ask all the questions you want, and meet with your puppy to get to know their personality. 


In the quest to find the perfect puppy from a litter, our blog post provides invaluable insights and step-by-step advice to make the right choice. From identifying your unique puppy preferences to recognizing red flags at shelters. We’ve explored the importance of compatibility with your lifestyle, the significance of early socialization, and the critical aspects of health and genetics. By the time you reach the conclusion, you’ll be well-equipped to select the best puppy to join your family. 

Choosing a new dog is a significant decision that will shape your life for years to come. Take your time, ask for guidance when needed, and choose the puppy that captures your heart and aligns with your lifestyle. With careful consideration, you’re on your way to building a loving and lasting relationship with your new best friend.

This post is a great starting point as you begin to research everything there is to know about adopting a puppy. Be sure to check out my other posts to help choose the best fit for you!