"Which Puppy To Keep?"

This article first appeared in the July 2004 AKC Gazette and is reprinted with permission. AKC logo
by Marget Johnson

In anticipation of possibly taking a puppy in lieu of the stud fee, I recently searched out a 1991 Newf Tide interview with four very successful Newfoundland breeders on selecting show/breeding potential puppies. It is interesting to note that thirteen years later, these four are still top Newfoundland breeders!

Margaret Willmott (Topmast): Faults that eliminate a puppy from further consideration are any of the following: very light eyes, undershot or overshot bite on an older puppy, long and/or narrow head, high ear set, no neck, straight shoulders, straight rear, cowhocks (slight cowhocks often correct and I’ll take a chance on these) very narrow front and rear, light bone, badly marked Landseer (but I will reconsider if otherwise gorgeous), and any deviation from a sound temperament. Since a puppy dog can have much greater breed influence at maturity than a puppy bitch, I’m tougher when choosing a male puppy. He must be very good in all areas I’m working to improve, but he must also proud and masculine.

Sue Jones (Mooncusser): Assuming the litter has a strong pedigree and good parents, I look for a square, balanced puppy that uses itself with self-confidence and has no outstanding faults – lack of balance, straight stifles, long hocks, high tail set, short neck, lack of head type, light eyes, and of course, bad bite. I like to see a puppy that is comfortable and balanced on its legs, especially one that stops solidly on all fours consistently.

Jane Thibault (Nashau-Auke): The first thing I look for is temperament – the puppy should be able to adjust to new situations. Faults that eliminate a puppy from further consideration are one testicle, light eyes, hernia, bad mouth and wrong color (we’ve had black & tan puppies, and also brown & white!). To be 100% sure, keep the whole litter and weed out any problems as they grow older, then x-ray at around 8 months. If they still have good hearts, good bites, two testicles and good hips, hang on to them! The one you would have sold as a pet will now be your new show/breeding puppy!

Peggy Helming (Pouch Cove): I cannot abide a poor outline which comes from a lack of balance -- no neck, bad back, lack of angles. The overall dog and its harmony must be there. I like several different styles of head, but they must be typey. When selecting a puppy and in doubt, go with the “safe” puppy’. Once you have a solid foundation established, you can then afford to raise a heavy-headed, more angulated, “risky” puppy. When raised right, these risky puppies can grow up fantastic. If you are really lucky, you can sell the potentially risky puppies and them get them back when they are full grown and safe – Ch. Pouch Cove Gref of Newton-Ark ROM, Ch. Amity’s Bearfoot of Pouch Cove ROM, Ch. Mooncusser Reef of Pouch Cove ROM, and Ch. John’s Big Ben of Pouch Cove ROM!