Elsa at 5 months of age playing with a Sheltie puppy. She was a social butterfly.
"I want the red one," says the woman as she chooses her puppy. Arranged on a page side by side the puppies await their new owners decisions. I HATE THIS. As someone who not only loves dogs; I also put a great deal of importance on each as an individual.
I cannot stand when I see puppies "set up" in the cutest of posed images to sell them. Dogs are far more than a piece of material that you sell like jewelry or shoes. Each is an individual and they deserve to be put into a home where they would best flourish. They should not be chosen by their exterior image.
"Do you temperament test?" is one of my first questions when talking to breeders. I talk to a lot of breeders. I'm interested in who is doing what with their puppies. It is not only my own breed of breeders I talk to; I discuss socializing and temperament testing with all sorts of breed, breeders. I love when I meet a breeder who is doing it all.
What I am seeing more and more are breeders who temperament test but don't place accordingly. What does that mean? It means that they go through the motions but don't follow through. Their puppies are given a temperament test but then people can choose whoever they like. The temperament test is not just something to check off the list; it is implemented to help in correct placement.
The general public chooses puppies visually.
The general public, and that encompasses most people; do not know what they are looking for as far as a companion. They look at a puppy and decide by a visual preference.
Puppies are much more than a pretty face. When I temperament test a litter, I am always amazed by the difference in each dog.
How should it be done? In my opinion, puppies should be placed in the best life situation for them. Deposits can be taken or not for an upcoming litter. Once they are born and the number of puppies is known; then a matching list of people can be created. Everyone on the list gets a puppy but no one knows which puppy will be theirs until they are temperament tested.
At 7 weeks of age the temperament test is given and the breeder should know all the little personal quirks about each puppy. The temperament test is important. But just as critical is the breeders knowledge of each puppy's personality traits. Every puppy is very individual as far as personality and temperament. They may look like they all came out of the same mold; but inside they are very different from one another.
Then and only then should puppies be placed, by the breeder. There may be a couple of puppies who would do well in a home and the would be owners can be given a choice between those; WITH THE BREEDERS ASSISTANCE. It is at this point that show puppies can be chosen as well, not before.
I remember being at a breeders home photographing puppies. The puppies had all been chosen at 2 days old. As I played with the 7 week puppies, one stood out. The breeder said that an elderly woman had chose this puppy and she hoped that she could handle her. She was a spitfire of a girl; a tiny thing but full of piss and vinegar. I shrugged my shoulders and continued to shoot.
If it really is not about the money (and I know it is about the money for many who say it's not) then why not wait? If you have a buyer and they cannot take the puppy until it is as least 8 weeks of age; then why not wait to see who the puppies are before placing them? If prospective puppies don't like it, too bad. I'd rather have a list of people who want what's best for the puppy.
As a breeder, you can do it all. You just have to decide to do it all.