A friend posted a question on Facebook: how does she choose a show puppy from a beautiful litter?
It’s a given that you start with a responsible breeder that knows the breed and can help with evaluating the puppies. Presumably both parents were health-tested. And with luck they have produced some healthy pups with good temperaments.
Personally I’d always prefer a puppy with a bit of attitude. They may be naughty puppies, but if they’re confident they have the potential to be charismatic as well, and to show well in a place filled with noise, distractions, and strangers.
Then there are the conformation tradeoffs: do you want great angles at the expense of a great head, or vice versa? How important is topline to you? If they have terrible feet will that bother you for the puppy’s show career?
There are so many things that can go wrong when you choose a show puppy, the least of which is that they don’t turn out as perfectly as you hoped. There are a lot of puppy evaluation systems out there, and I think they all involve a certain degree of magic and hope. Which is not to say they don’t work, just that they’re not foolproof. But injuries, unexpected illnesses, and bad first experiences can all end a show pup’s career–and then you have to make a decision whether to re-home (or return to the breeder to be re-homed), or whether you love that pup enough to make it part of your family forever, no matter what.
For this to work, I think the puppy has to have a say. I think Kunga chose me as much as I chose him. I was already partial to him from his pictures, but when I met him at 7 weeks old, we seemed to reach a mutual decision to be together. It helps that I bought him as a pet, and only later decided to show him, but after the first few weeks with him I knew I could never give him up. So I told my FB friend: go with your gut.