by Tracey Biscontini
If you’re choosing a puppy from a litter, begin by evaluating the litter as a whole. If most of the puppies run away from you, don’t buy one. Healthy puppies should be happy and playful. They might nibble at your shoes or scamper toward you. If the litter is behaving normally, look at each of the puppies individually. Cluck your tongue and jingle your car keys and watch how the puppies react. Don’t select the shyest puppy. Shy puppies almost always grow up to be shy adults. Don’t select the boldest puppy either. A middle- of-the-road puppy almost always makes the best pet. Never adopt a puppy unless you’re sure it’s healthy. Healthy puppies shouldn’t cough, sneeze, or wheeze. Inspect the puppy’s coat and its eyes, ears, dewclaws, and tail.
Coat. To examine a puppy’s coat, run your hand over its fur and make sure you don’t see any bald spots. While a puppy’s coat is certainly nothing like an adult’s–it’s thinner and fuzzier–it should be even and soft. Examine the puppy’s skin and make certain it’s free of red splotches. Make sure the puppy doesn’t have fleas.
Eyes. Examine the puppy’s eyes. Young puppies might have blue eyes that will change with age. The puppy’s eyes should be clear, however, and they shouldn’t be runny.
Ears. Make sure the pup’s ears are clean inside. If you’re buying a purebred puppy and its ears are supposed to prick up, be aware that puppies’ ears don’t stand for about 12 weeks. In addition, the ears sometimes go up and down during teething.
Dewclaws and tail. If you’re buying a purebred puppy from a breeder, make sure its dewclaws have been removed. If your breed is supposed to have its tail docked, this should already be done too.