Question about pups from the same litter

goldenboy

Active member
I have a question that I think many people would like some clarification on. I am a breeder of Golden Retrievers. I occassionally keep a pup out of one of my litters. Typically I get the pick of the litter so I choose the one that has the most drive and expresses the most determination for birds. (I introduce them to hen pheasants and let them chase and catch birds in a pen) In my last litter where I kept a pup I also gave a pup to my daughter and her husband. It was my wedding gift to them when they got married. My son-in-law chose the pup I would have picked! So I was left with the second pick of the females in the litter. We only had three females so I had the choice of the last two female pups. The one I picked didn't stand out in the litter as anything special. They are now almost 9 months old what I have found is that the pup I have is extremely driven, is picking up training very well, and has really outperformed the dog I was going to choose! I am asking the question, has anyone else experienced this? In one of the litters I had my friend got the last pup available he wanted a hunting dog but he was not able to pick and was left with the last pup in the pen. She has turned out to be a phenomenal hunuting dog and the trainer was very impresed with her abilities to perform and take training. Are we, or am I missing something when I am helping people pick a puppy from the litter? I know they are only seven weeks old when I send them home, but I already can determine who is the bully of the litter and who is the wallflower. I guess what I am saying is I don't think that has a determination in how well they will perform in the field or in training. Would you agree?
 
Genetics is genetics. If the lines have a strong hunting ability, there's a good chance all the pups will. We pick our pups on their confirmation first, not their heads per say, but their structure, how well they are put together. Several years ago we had a local litter that had the lines we wanted and we got to watch the pups develop. We had pick male and took one that was really structurally sound and also the bully of the litter. A good friend took another male that was also well put together, but not as aggressive. Couldn't tell the difference between the 2 of them in the field, both are driven out the wazoo. Their temperaments have developed almost the same, of course we train together using the same methods. An interesting sidetone is that although it was a hunting line breeding, people wanted the pups for agility. We took the one out of the litter that we thought was put together the best. It turns out that he is the fastest of the agility dogs, like super fast. Perhaps we got the structure right and that helps with their drive, beyond my knowledge.
 

goldenboy

Active member
I like your thought process. And I do believe most of the pups will do well in the field, I am just wanting to make sure I am not missing something when I am steering my clients to pick a puppy. One question for you, How do you tell if a puppy is structurally sound? They all look very similar at that age. Most are within a pound of each other in weight, their color might vary slightly, but other than that what do you look for in structure?
 

westksbowhunter

Active member
The longer you can leave pups with a litter, the more you can tell but it is really a crap shoot. I know the old philosophy was the magical 49 days to pick a puppy but you can tell a lot more at 8 or 9 weeks than 7. At 7 weeks they are all pretty uniform but 8 or 9 weeks you can start to see some difference. I will never take a pup from a litter again where the owner wants them picked up at 7 weeks. Dogs are like people. The best athlete in the 7th or 8th grade who dominates jr. high basketball may not grow another inch or see the floor in high school. Happens all the time and dogs are no different. When I breed my female this fall I am going to keep 2 to send to the trainer, keep the one I like the best then sell the other.
 

Kismet

UPH Guru
The longer you can leave pups with a litter, the more you can tell but it is really a crap shoot. I know the old philosophy was the magical 49 days to pick a puppy but you can tell a lot more at 8 or 9 weeks than 7. At 7 weeks they are all pretty uniform but 8 or 9 weeks you can start to see some difference. I will never take a pup from a litter again where the owner wants them picked up at 7 weeks. Dogs are like people. The best athlete in the 7th or 8th grade who dominates jr. high basketball may not grow another inch or see the floor in high school. Happens all the time and dogs are no different. When I breed my female this fall I am going to keep 2 to send to the trainer, keep the one I like the best then sell the other.
or....

the kid could end up being Michael Jordon. :)

Best wishes.
 
I like your thought process. And I do believe most of the pups will do well in the field, I am just wanting to make sure I am not missing something when I am steering my clients to pick a puppy. One question for you, How do you tell if a puppy is structurally sound? They all look very similar at that age. Most are within a pound of each other in weight, their color might vary slightly, but other than that what do you look for in structure?
My short answer is that I let my wife do the picking. She really got into structure and when it was evident in puppies. She ruled out a puppy from a litter that had too straight a front. As the dog got older it was evident that it did not have the reach of the dog we took. She also looks at angulation of the rear end, looking for a dog that can drive a jump from the rear and not muscle it's way over a jump with it's front end. While this pertains to a fast dog in agility, it also pertains to a healthy dog that can pound the field all day long and not come up lame or exhausted. Plan the litter based on genetics and pick the puppy based on how they look structurally. Ignore color, head , etc. The last puppy we got has great structure, wonderful attitude and a head that is so homely we may have to put a paperbag over it in public. It's growing on us, the drive is there and the structure to work hard is evident, meaning a long useful life. We shoot for dogs that we can hunt hard when they are 12. Not all make it but many do.
 

pbg

New member
Dogs are funny, some times the one you think is the best is only average and that pup that seems to have limited potential will be outstanding. I ended up with a Golden out of one of my liters that no one wanted, He wasn't that pup that wanted play with the other pups didn't care if you picked him up or not, he liked to be off by him self and not with his liter mates. Everyone saw that as being shy I saw it as be independent and wanting to explore. He was one of the best hunters I ever had so you just don't know
 

NDPheasant

New member
We arrived late to the dance on a litter and the breeder only had one female left. There was no doubt I was pulling the trigger and taking it because my brother-in-law had first choice. Both pups turned out great. Fast forward 3 years to now. I just put a deposit on another puppy from a different breeder. I am nervous because we want a short-docked tail and this breeder does a 2/3 dock. This is done in the first 3 days. The breeder was hesitant to do ours knowing that we were both totally committed at the point of the docking. I was first on the list and am giving up my #1 draft pick to get the tail look we want. My wife was adamant about the short dock. We are counting on good blood lines and a fantastic mentor (our current dog) helping to develop this puppy.
 

birdshooter

Active member
Pick the litter not the pup

Those are the thoughts of Tom Dokkens of Oak ridge kennels of which I agree. https://www.themeateater.com/hunt/upland-birds/dog-genetics-pick-a-litter-not-a-pup

How do you avoid all of the potential negatives when picking a puppy and hedge your bets on a healthy over-achiever in the field that is eager to learn? You forget all of the cute tricks for picking an individual puppy, and you conduct your due diligence to find the right litter. According to Tom Dokken, owner of Oak Ridge Kennels and inventor of the DeadFowl Trainer, this begins with the pedigree.

“I want to dig into the parents, grandparents and great-grandparents on both sides when I’m looking up litters,” Dokken said. “I’m looking for Hunt Test (MH or SH) or Field Champion designations (NFC, AFC or NAFC), even if I or my clients will never run the dog in any type of competition.

“Dogs with field trial or hunt test champions on both sides through a few generations come from stock that has proven intelligence and athleticism. The litter will likely have strong prey drive and a high level of natural hold and carry. All of those things are desirable in a hunting dog.”
 

NDPheasant

New member
"Pick the litter not the pup" - Testing this theory! Day 3 is the day the pups get their tails cropped. At our request, our breeder did a very short crop knowing that both breeder and us were "all in" on this pup going to us. The family is so excited right now. We can't wait to meet her.View attachment 9863View attachment 9864
 

goldenboy

Active member
I have heard from a few guys on the forum that the statement of the litter, and not the pup is very true. I just want to make sure and give as honest an assessment of my pups as possible to my buyers. I do work hard to find the right stud dogs so that is probably the bigger issue than picking an individual pup out of a litter. Right now I have 7 people on my list waiting for this next litter and one person who got in touch with me today and is willing to be number 8 on the list!
 
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