You’ve decided Boxers are the dog for you, meticulously researched and settled on a reputable breeder.
You patiently waited for a litter to become available.
Now the day is here.
You’re sitting gloriously surrounded by 10 gorgeous box heads, each more adorable than the last.
How do you possibly choose between them?
Before you lose your mind to cuteness overload, it’s worth going through a checklist to make certain you don’t overlook anything important.
Here are 5 steps to follow when picking your Boxer puppy from the litter:
- Assess temperament
- Double check health
- Consider whether gender matters
- Put to bed preconceptions about whether you wanted fawn or brindle
- See which puppy you feel most drawn to
Temperament is really the number one factor that should drive your decision.
It’s good advice to avoid both the most dominant puppy, and the most submissive.
While the alpha might draw your eye because he’s ringleading the fun, there are good reasons he might not be the right choice.
You want a pup that is outgoing, sure.
But, how much experience do you have training Boxers? How much time do you plan to dedicate to the task each day?
That standout pup may present more of a challenge to train than some of his equally confident, but less dominant, littermates.
There is only so much you are going to be able to discern from one short visit.
In fact, it’s not possible to accurately judge a pup’s temperament by observing him in the company of his littermates.
Most pups will be perfectly comfortable in that setting.
It’s when removed from the litter and placed in an unfamiliar situation that a pup’s temperament becomes more obvious.
Ask the breeder for an assessment of the puppies’ individual characters.
Some breeders have prospective owners fill out a questionnaire and even take control of matching puppies to people.
Consider your home, work, lifestyle and where your Boxer fits in it.
While there never was a bad Boxer, some temperaments might better suit you and your family.
If you’ve chosen wisely when picking your breeder, the entire litter will be healthy.
Unless you are buying from a backyard breeder, the parents will have been health tested for the diseases known to affect Boxers and which have a hereditary dimension.
The mother will have been raw fed, the puppies weaned onto raw and naturally reared, free of chemical wormers and unnecessary vaccines.
(To learn more about the benefits of natural rearing, check out this article on 24 Must-Know Questions To Ask Your Boxer Breeder.)
Nothing is more important than the health of the Boxer puppy you choose.
However it won’t necessarily help you differentiate between pups in the same litter.
An exception to this might be if any puppies look:
- to be failing to thrive, or
- to have any obvious physical deformities.
Bear in mind that it’s possible for an individual puppy to have an off day and the same puppy might be as rambunctious as the rest tomorrow.
Discuss your observations with the breeder — a trustworthy one will be as concerned as you about each and every pup’s wellbeing.
If you detect a note of defensiveness or the breeder doesn’t welcome your questions and have detailed answers .. this should be a red flag.
Just because you were intending to choose a pup today doesn’t mean you have to go through with it if the litter is less than optimally healthy or something about the breeder seems off.
Far better to bail out now and find another Boxer breeder whose pups are genuinely healthy and where everything is above board.
Generally though, all the puppies should be full of beans.
Should You Choose A Boxer That Is The Runt Of The Litter?
What if the one that’s taken your fancy ticks all the boxes on temperament, and brims with health but is the runt of the litter or a lot smaller than her siblings?
Not necessarily a problem.
Runt just means any pup that’s smaller than his siblings.
It’s a comparative term, so in a litter of pups that are all on the large size, the pup that’s technically “the runt” could actually be normal size for the breed.
Most puppies deemed runts will still be within the healthy weight range for their breed.
Even if the runt is genuinely small for his age, it might not mean that much.
This is just a moment in time in the dog’s growth and development and not determinative of what happens from here on.
Low birthweight puppies do have an increased risk of mortality, are more likely to suffer from fading puppy syndrome and may have associated congenital defects.
It’s possible a runt may have physical disadvantages that have prevented him competing effectively for nutrition and care from his mother .. or he might have a timid personality that’s causing him hang back rather than muscle in for a teat … so this should be investigated.
But a runt that makes it to weaning (which will have well and truly happened by the time you are inspecting a litter) is no more likely than his siblings to have medical problems.
Rest assured that with time, proper nutrition and good care and attention, a pup that was once the littlest can grow up to be big and strong.
Does it matter whether you choose a male or a female Boxer?
4. Coat Color
No doubt you had a fawn or a brindle in mind. A red with a flashy white collar and socks.
But then when you meet the litter a white pup with a patch over one eye comes out of left field.
Go with it!
Coat color should be the furthest thing from your mind when choosing a Boxer puppy.
Of course you may start the process preferring one look over another, but keep an open mind.
You’ll do well to place far more value on other attributes like health, temperament and character.
You’re ruled out the most dominant, and the most submissive.
But that still leaves most of the litter that all appear to have ideal temperaments.
How do you narrow it down?
Spend a bit of time with the puppies.
All else being equal, your decision will probably come down to things less tangible than health and temperament.
It will likely be about the connection you feel to one particular puppy — and rightly so.
Use your head to go through the checklist and make sure the puppies you’re choosing between all tick the important boxes.
Listen to your heart.
Are you looking for a “mini Boxer“?
Are you looking for a bobtail Boxer?
Are you looking for a “black” Boxer?
How Not To Choose A Boxer Puppy
You can probably see why buying a Boxer puppy online is not recommended.
Not only are you unable to interact with the puppy, you are in no position to make a reliable assessment of the breeder herself.
Buying a puppy online exposes you to unscrupulous operators selling poorly bred puppies likely to have a multitude of health problems.
The internet is also the domain of choice for puppy scammers who may be selling you puppies that don’t exist, based on pictures of dogs that are not their own.
Even if the breeder is legit, buying a puppy without meeting that puppy is doing you both a disservice.
It’s rather like picking a mail order bride from a catalog.
It forces you to base your decision on the puppy’s least important attribute: his appearance.
Perhaps you have found a special breeder who comes highly recommended but is located on the other side of the country.
In this scenario, it’s well worth making the trip to meet the litter — and again when it’s time to bring your pup home.
Put bluntly: a puppy is a living, breathing creature — not a decor item to be picked from a brochure and delivered in the post.
(And how many times have you done that and then discovered, on arrival, that the item is not quite what you’d thought?)
Choosing a puppy is infinitely more complicated.
Go to the effort to do it properly.
This will be the least of the inconveniences your Boxer causes you .. and well worth the trouble.
Once you’ve done your due diligence on temperament, health, gender, appearance and connection .. go for it!
If you really can’t decide between two pups, perhaps the breeder will allow a return visit.
The moment you make your choice you are going to be 100 per cent convinced you have the pick of the litter.
Now it’s just a matter of counting the days until you can come back and pick your puppy up.
Picking A Puppy, Trifecta Boxers
The Runt of the Litter — Definition, Health Implications & FAQ, Breeding Business, March 20 2018