How to pick a show quality puppy

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The world of showing dogs

Knowing how to pick a show quality puppy from a litter is easy for dog breeders who have been breeding dogs for years. If you are new to the world of dog showing and looking for a show quality puppy then here are a few tips to start off with.

buying a show quality puppy

Pet Quality vs Show Quality Puppy

Terms used to describe a litter of puppies

A pet quality puppy

The term pet quality puppy is a puppy in the litter which the breeder classifies as pet quality, a pet dog. A puppy which will make a lovely pet dog for the right home. But won’t really make the grade as a show dog.

how to pick a show quality puppy

A show quality puppy

The term show quality puppy is a puppy which resembles a mini version of the breed of dog the puppy is. Which is as close to the Kennel Club breed standard as possible. Who also has the potential to become a good show dog. There is no guarantee that the puppy will win at dog shows but looks promising to make a good show dog. 

Choosing your show dog puppy

If you are new to showing dogs and have booked a show quality puppy. You probably won’t be able to pick your own puppy. A well known dog breeder with quality puppies will not want a pet quality puppy in the show ring. You may be given the choice between 2 or 3 show quality puppies but not the whole litter. But here’s what you can do if you have a choice – 

This is a very basic description of what to look for when looking at a show litter of puppies because I don’t know what breed of dog you will be viewing. You will need to look at or know and understand the breed standard for the breed of puppies which you are viewing.

how to pick a show quality puppy

Look at the whole litter

Look at the whole litter of puppies together if possible, what do you think?

Yes the pups probably will be cute and fluffy but get your dog show judge head on when looking for a show quality puppy. If all the litter is together, just watch the puppies. Look who stands out to you when they are free and relaxed. Does the litter look even? Which means all the puppies are of similar size. In the photo there are three English Setter puppies one dog and two bitches.

how to pick a show quality puppy

Stand the puppies up

Stand the show quality puppies up on a table one at a time. Ideally put them into a show stand position, make sure that they don’t fall off the table! They should, and most probably will be lively and wriggly to stand but it will be possible. You are looking for overall balance within the puppy. The angulations front and rear as stated in the breed standard for the breed of dog.

Work to the breed standard again

show dog puppy pick of litter

You want a straight front, but not a narrow front or a front too wide. The elbows don’t want to be sticking out, nor the feet turned out at ten to two. Check the shoulder placement and the length of neck. Look at the coat type and colour any patches or markings could be a fault in the breed. Look at the top line and tail set, this again will depend on the breed of dog. If you are looking at a male you want 2 testicals which you should be able to feel at this age. The vet will check too at the health check.  

Look at the head

Sit the puppy down and look at the head and the expression of the puppy. Look at the eye shape and the colour of the eye working within the breed standard. Is the puppy’s head balanced? Are the ears set too high? again for the breed of dog.

Check the mouth

You need the correct bite for your breed the bite is the teeth and jaws. Which for most breeds the correct bite is a scissor bite. If a puppy has an incorrect bite at this age it is a pet quality puppy. It is a shame when this happens but that is dog breeding. Don’t keep the puppy, I definitely wouldn’t buy a show puppy with a bad mouth. If you want to take a chance with the puppy that the mouth will correct itself then keep another puppy too. Run two puppies on for a few months if these are your puppies.

how to pick a show quality puppy

Watch the puppy move

Next watch the puppies on the floor moving around, don’t put a lead on the puppies. Just watch the pups move, are any flying their tails too high for the breed? Do any catch your eye?

Ask questions

If the puppies are bred by someone else and you are viewing the puppies then ask the breeder what they think. Ask to see which puppy the breeder is keeping and why. Also ask the stud owner if this is your own litter to view the puppies for their opinion.

how to pick a show quality puppy

Pick your puppy and take your chance

You take your chance when you buy a puppy as a show dog or even picking a puppy from your own litter for showing. The puppy’s mouth could still go wrong, the pup will have a lot of growing to do. Any puppy needs to be brought up correctly with the right amount of exercise and a strict feeding routine. 

An eye for a dog

The more litters of puppies you see over the years the more you will know exactly what you are looking for within the litters of puppies for showing. It is not always possible to just go and see everyones litter of puppies. But If you do this and follow the puppy you like from each litter in the show ring. Over time you will know exactly what you like and want when you view a litter. You will be able to look in a whelping box and see the one you want straight away. Some people have ‘an eye for a dog’ which means they can spot a quality dog or puppy from a mile off. These are the dog breeders you take advice from.

pick of the litter show dogs

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