We put huge amounts of thought and effort into deciding how puppies are matched. For most puppies, we match the puppies to their families based on what families want and family dynamics. We also offer pick puppies for an additional fee which is discussed on the puppy questionnaire page. We are available to give advice to these families if they want it, but they can ultimately make their own decision. Puppy selection is an important part of the process for everyone
Done Between 6 1/2 and 7 1/2 Weeks
With most litters, the selection process starts at 6 1/2 weeks and is complete before 7 1/2 weeks. We wait as late as possible because the older puppies are, the more we can tell about them. It is done quickly primarily because we like to know names of the puppies so we can start training them to respond to their names. Also, families are anxious to know!
We will occasionally wait until puppies are a little older if we think that one of them might be what we call a late bloomer. Occasionally, there are puppies that initially appear to be shy and calm and then they come out of their shells at a later age. If we suspect that of any of the puppies, we will wait so that we can have a more accurate temperament description prior to puppy selection time.
Matched by Listening to What Families Want and By Considering Family Dynamics
For most of our puppies, we match puppies to families based on family dynamics. We also take into account input from families as to which puppies they are most interested in.
Pictures and Detailed Temperament Descriptions
We love it when families are close enough to come to our home to visit the puppies themselves. However, most are not. Therefore, we post several pictures of each puppy to the website just before puppy selection time. We also provide a detailed temperament description document. Our temperament testing procedures are very extensive, ongoing, and detailed. See our Temperament Testing page for details on how we evaluate puppy temperaments.
Over 80% of Those Who Have Our Puppies From Past Litters Were Matched to Either Their First or Second Choice
After having a couple of days to look over pictures and the temperament descriptions, families rank the puppies from their favorite puppy to their least favorite. We sit down with our list of who prefers which puppy and discuss best fits for all. If everyone prefers a different puppy, then our job is easy. This happens more often than you’d think. About 80% of Summer Brook families so far have been matched to either their first or second choice.
However, there are litters where everyone wants the same puppy. In these cases, having a pick puppy is a definite plus. For those times that everyone can’t get a first choice, we have several criteria that we think about in deciding who gets which one. First of all, it is more important to us that no one gets one of their last choices than for only a few to get their first choice. If it comes down to two people wanting the same thing, our choice is made by looking at puppy questionnaires and family dynamics and matching accordingly.
Our process isn’t perfect, but people have amazingly different opinions on which puppy is best for them. Our puppies are all nice.
For the Most Part, The Differences in Our Puppies is Small
We have found that there are bigger differences between puppies of different litters than between individual puppies within the same litter. Choosing the parents of a future puppy is more important than choosing the puppy out of a particular litter. All of our adults are on the calmer side and by far most of our puppies are very calm. With that said, there are still subtle differences between puppies within a litter. We let families know as best as we can what those differences are.
Environment Plays a Bigger Part on How a Puppy Will Turn Out
Environment plays a bigger part with how one of our dogs turns out than which puppy in a litter someone gets. A good example of that is Rhea from Hope’s first litter. She was the most energetic puppy in a litter of nine puppies. She went to a family who trained her well. On her first birthday, she passed the test to become a therapy dog. Calmness is super important for therapy work. Rhea has been written up multiple times in magazines for her work in several different areas.
One of our puppy owners told us his experience with two different puppies. One of them was active and outgoing. The other was shy, but calm. When they were grown, he said they were very much the same. He had trained them both to be calm and confident. There is a lot of truth in this.
We are, however, aware that most people aren’t as knowledgable in training puppies as these two families were. Our matching process a priority.
For those who would prefer to pick their own puppy, first pick girls and boys are sometimes available. There is an extra fee above the regular price of a puppy for these puppies. If there are 4 or more puppies of a sex, there will be a second pick for an extra fee. If there are 6 or more puppies of a sex, there will also be a third pick . In the unlikely event of 8 or more puppies of a sex, there will also be a fourth pick. In summary, roughly half of our puppies are pick puppies. If there is an odd number of puppies, there are more non-pick puppies than pick puppies. The extra fees are discussed on our puppy questionnaire page,.
Ideally, pick families can come to our home prior to puppy selection time and pick their puppy in person. However, most of our puppies go out of state. Most families do not come before puppy pick up time, so as is the case with all of our puppies, temperament descriptions and pictures are a help.
Pick Puppies are Very Popular and We Reserve the Right to Keep Them Ourselves
Our pick puppies are very popular. In fact, most people want the pick puppies, so, who gets them? We always reserve the right to them ourselves. If we don’t keep a puppy for ourselves and if we offer out 12 Weeks Plus program for a litter, pick puppies will be offered to those getting the 12 Weeks Plus program first. Deposit receipt date also determines who gets the pick puppies. See our page on How Our List Works for more information on how we determine who gets the pick puppies.
No Conformation Testing Unless We Are Keeping a Puppy Ourselves
However, with regard to conformation evaluations, we don’t do them unless we will be keeping a puppy for ourselves. Our focus is on matching temperaments to families. Pictures are available and we know that people often are drawn to the looks of particular puppies. However, we don’t invest the hours required to evaluate the many aspects of conformation that we’d look at if choosing a show puppy. Almost all of our puppies are good enough show quality to be successfully shown with IABCA or UKC However, our focus is on breeding good family pets. We don’t place our puppies in breeding or show homes. So, keep in mind if you want a first pick puppy that we won’t be able to answer questions as to which puppy has the best show quality. It takes hours to ascertain this, weighing the good points and the faults of every puppy.
At 7 Weeks of Age – An Educated Guess
Please understand that the information that we can give you at these young ages is limited. There is no way we can tell anyone exactly how these puppies will turn out. We can certainly give you a better idea than you could get yourself with a simple one or two hour visit. Our guess is better than any breeder can ascertain with a temperament test only such as the Volhardt. However, at 6 1/2 – 7 1/2 weeks, all anyone can give you is an educated guess. Even at 10 weeks, it can be an educated guess.
Confidence level in particular is more determined by socialization than by genetics unless a puppy is overly confident or timid and we don’t breed those types of dogs.
Activity Level Is More Set
Activity level is a little more set, but even that can be changed with training. The activity level in young puppies is very often tied directly to confidence level. The more timid puppies are often less active, because they are afraid to be. Another thing that plays into confident level is that we work hard to give as much confidence as possible to ALL of our puppies by the time they go home. It is sometimes hard to ascertain which puppies are confident because of the work we have done with them or because of maturity or because of natural temperament.
With many of our litters, the differences in temperament (and looks) are minuscule and they are constantly changing. We do our best to help pick families decide and to match the rest so that every family is happy with the puppy they get. Everyone who works with our puppies starting at 5 weeks of age, takes notes on every puppy every time they work with them. We put each puppy through a series of tests at all ages after 5 weeks. We give the best evaluation possible. However, we still get owners asking questions about how puppies will turn out that we can only guess at the answers to.