Tips for Choosing a Pit Bull Puppy
Picking a Puppy
Whether you're looking for a show-stopping American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) who was born for the show ring or just a loving pet who lives to roll in the mud and sleep on your bed, the first step is finding a high-quality puppy from a reputable and conscientious breeder.
There's no shortage of people who sell APBT puppies—the breed is the second most popular breed in the country, according to the United Kennel Club.
Once you begin your search for the perfect puppy, you'll find APBT breeders almost everywhere your look. They're listed in newspaper ads, websites, neighborhood bulletin boards, and even swap meets and garage sales. Unlike conscientious, reputable breeders, who spend a lifetime breeding dogs with the best temperament, health, and conformation, these individuals produce puppies only for money and give little thought to the dog's welfare once he leaves the premises. Regardless of how cute these pups may be or how much they need a home, avoid them.
Remember you're going to be caring for this puppy for 12 to 15 years, so the time you spend early on choosing the right puppy who is healthy and well-adjusted, will pay off in the long run.
Picking the right puppy is very important, especially with bully breed dogs, because you want to make sure that you don't pick a puppy that is overly aggressive, has tons of health problems, or doesn't even look like an American Pit Bull Terrier. All of these possible issues explain why basic temperament tests are very important to perform when you are at the breeder's. You want to take the breeder's description of the puppies' temperaments, but testing will add to your final opinion.
Avoid puppy mills and backyard breeders. Puppy mills are large-scale breeding operations that produce puppies in an assembly line fashion without regard for health and socialization. Backyard breeders are typically well-meaning, regular pet owners who simply do not possess enough knowledge about their breed and breeding to produce healthy puppies.
Useful Tips for Any Breed
The following tips are useful in picking out a breeder or puppy of any breed.
How to Select the Right Breeder
Distinguished and trustworthy breeders will stand out from others because they have a lifelong passion for producing quality rather than quantity.
They tend to belong to national and local clubs that register APBTs, which shows commitment to the breed and a willingness to network with other breeders who share health, behavior, conformation, and training information.
Reputable breeders register their stock with either the UKC or the American Dog Breeders' Association, which ensures that they strive to produce puppies that conform to the standards of either registry.
Reputable dog breeders spay or neuter dogs that who aren't good examples of the standard for the breed.
When looking at the pedigree of a particular puppy or adult dog, you will see that one or both of the parents and most of the other dogs in the pedigree will have a "CH," for champion, or "GRCH," for grand champion, in front of their names. Both titles plus and performance titles signify that the dog has earned special distinctions in the show ring. These dogs have must amiable personalities in order to compete in show or performance, so they are bred for personality as well as physical conformation. Without the titles, you know you're looking at a backyard breeder's dog pedigree.
Remember that just because the breeder says, "of champion bloodlines," you still want to see the CH or GRCH in either parent, because the breeder's idea of "champion bloodlines" just means that somewhere down the line there may have been a champion. This could mean three, four, five, or more generations back.
The right breeder will be willing to share all his experience and will be more than willing to help you raise a healthy and well-behaved puppy.
The right breeder will also be willing to give you references of his vet and past customers. He will be able to provide health clearances on the puppies and parents.
How to Pick the Right Puppy
Here are 10 signs to look for with picking a puppy from a breeder (and even a shelter). When in doubt, ask the breeder which puppy he thinks has the best personality and temperament that may fit your lifestyle.
- Look at the area where the pups spend most of their time. It's ok if they play outdoors part of the day, but they should sleep indoors at night so that the puppies can interact with people and become accustomed to hearing ordinary household noises. This builds a solid foundation for a secure, well-socialized puppy. The puppy area should be clean, well lit, have fresh water, and interesting toys.
- Make sure to see all of the puppies in the litter. By five weeks old, healthy puppies will begin playing with each other and should be lively and energetic. It's ok if they're asleep when you visit, but stay long enough to see them wake up. Once they're up, they shouldn't be lethargic or weak, as this may be a sign of illness.
- Puppies should be confident and eager to greet you. A puppy who is shy or fearful and stays in the corner may be sick or insecure. Although some introverted puppies will come out of their shells later on, many don't. These dogs tend to be fearful adults and aren't good choices for an active, noisy family with or without kids, or for people who have little to no experience with dogs. They frighten easily and will require a tremendous amount of training and socialization in order to live a happy life. Choose a puppy who is happy and eager to interact with you but reject the one who is either too shy or too bossy. These temperament types are a challenge to deal with and require a tremendous amount of training to socialize.
- Take note of eating habits. If it's feeding time during your visit, all the puppies should be eager to gobble up their food. Refusing to eat may signal that a puppy has an illness.
- Check for healthy skin. The dog's skin should be smooth, clean, and shiny without any sores or bumps. Puppies should not be biting or scratching at themselves continuously, as this can signal fleas.
- Visit after eyes and ears open. After 10 to 12 days, puppies should have their eyes open and clear without any redness or discharge. Puppies should not be scratching at their eyes, as this can signal irritation or cause infection.
- Take note of physical symptoms. Vomiting or coughing more than once is not normal, and in this case the puppy may be ill and requires a vet visit.
- Take a look at their stool. Visit long enough to see the puppies eliminate because you want to make sure that the stool is firm and not watery or bloody.
- Check up on their diet. A healthy puppy who is getting enough to eat should not be skinny. You should be able to slightly feel the puppy's ribs if you rub the abdomen, but you shouldn't be able to see the ribs protruding through the skin.
- Observe their gait. Puppies should walk or run without limping. Ask if the parents have had hip and elbow dysplasia tests.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.