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The Puppy Pick Process has been sneaking up on me these past couple of litters. I assume that’s partially how busy everything has been, but it’s also because we have SO ENJOYED having these litters. Adrian’s litter is 6 weeks old now, so that means that her “pick spots” have begun, and that families are soon going to be welcoming their new little English Lab puppy into their lives!
So, what’s our pick process like?
Puppies are usually coming “out of their shell” right around the six week mark, so that means it’s time for us to make our assessments and get some individual photos and try our very best to represent each pup to their potential family. Families then choose the pup that most pulls on their heartstrings, and I have to tell you, in our years and years of doing this, it is still so amazingly fun to watch. Each family seems to be drawn to the “right” pup for them, and it’s heartwarming to see each little Labrador “meet” their new family.
The difficulties of a 6 week pick
I must admit, I’ve wrestled through the years about the best way to do this. Here are the alternatives:
- Some breeders choose which pup goes to which family. I see the temptation there as we, of course, know the pups better than anyone, and a knowledgeable breeder can make great placements. We choose not to do that because we know how fun it is for the families to get to choose, and we believe it’s important for them to feel the choice was theirs.
- Some breeders don’t do pick spots at all, just taking reservations and having families choose their pup at the 8 week pick up. There are a number of reasons why this is appealing (I’ll list those below) but the main reason I don’t do it this way is because families begin bonding with their new puppy the minute they are chosen! People will have named them, gotten customized blankets, and already have their hearts wrapped up in that specific labrador puppy!
Ultimately, we choose to do it the way we do for a reason. BUT, it poses it’s own difficulties, too. One of the main issues is that a pup will change SO MUCH in looks between 6 and 8 weeks. A pup that is smaller and thinner at 6 weeks fills out so nicely by 8 or 10 weeks. (Shown below.)
Here is a previous puppy at 6 weeks:
Here is that same pup at a hair over 9 weeks:
He’s filled out beautifully, his eyes are less cautious and timid looking, his coat has developed that gorgeous shine… all around he’s a more attractive and friendly looking puppy. Can you see the upside of having folks choose their pup at the 8 week pickup?
This goes for the assessments, too. While we believe our experience and knowledge gives us a fantastic foundation for assessing puppies, we also know that our care and the home the pup grows up in will make all the difference in a timid puppy or one who seems shy. Once we assess those traits, we work with them over the following two weeks, often sending home a much more confident puppy than when the assessment took place. (That’s our goal!)