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  • Writer's pictureLeilani Nichols

How to Select A Puppy From A Breeder

There are many different things to consider when selecting the right puppy for your family, there are a few general rules to follow that will help set the foundation for success.

If selecting in person:

  1. The puppy should not shrink away from human touch or cower under furniture etc. This is a sign the puppy has not been properly socialized. The puppy should be comfortable being held or touched.

  2. Engagement, this is a hard one to gauge with Cairn Terrier puppies as they are easily distracted and very busy when with their littermates in their pack. Do not put too much emphasis on eye contact with pups when visiting a breeder, this will come once you have one on one time with your pup at home. Puppies playing with siblings is a good indicator if the puppy will be social. Watch how they interact with each-other and ask the breeder questions about what you observe.

  3. The environment the puppy is in should be clean, and the puppy should be clean. Contrary to much of what you read online puppy buyers should not expect to come into breeders houses or walk through their yards (the potential risk of spreading virus to the dogs/puppies is much too great for a responsible breeder) but many times you can see by how things are kept when you come to visit the puppies, what sort of environment the pups have been kept in. Are things orderly? Well cared for? Are the puppies confident and smell like puppies? There shouldn't be an odor of urine or feces.

  4. The puppy should have a shiny coat and good flesh as well as a clean rear end. If the puppy's spine is protruding, their coat is "rough", the fur around their eyes is missing/scalded, these are all signs of poor care, and future challenges for you to overcome.

  5. A puppy that is vying for your attention will likely be a more affectionate puppy, and in turn may be a harder puppy to crate train or to establish independence in. These puppies are usually a safe bet in a home that has more time to spend with their dog. An adventurous independent puppy may be more difficult to focus in training sessions, but may thrive in a busy family life, or take quickly to crate training. These are not guarantees and both personalities have great success, but the approach to training them may vary.

  6. Gut feeling, finally trust your gut!

If working with a breeder to choose:

  1. When working closely with a breeder to select a puppy, it's likely all the puppies in a litter are spoken for before they're even ready to go home. It's important to inform your breeder of the lifestyle you lead. Though we all probably describe ourselves as wanting "The perfect mixture of adventure and pet" what does that actually mean for us as an individual? Some lines may be great for an active family, and some many prefer to be cuddly couch potatoes. Some lines may thrive as athletes easily completing 10 mile hikes on the weekends, and others may be only suited for easy walks around the park, but have incredible mellow dispositions. Our philosophy is that there is not "wrong or right" type of Cairn Terrier. We are aiming for a dog with a good personality, clear health testing, and functional conformation. Aside from that the Skye Terrier (origin of the breed) varied greatly in appearance and condensing down to one look or personality type only bottle necks genetic diversity of the breed. Communicate your living situation, activity level, and level of experience training dogs to help the breeder match you with the right fit.

  2. Though it's easy to get stuck on a specific gender, color, or "look" what is more important is that you bring home a dog that works well in your family.

  3. Look for registered dogs or breeders that are active in some way with a breed community. In our breed the AKC bloodlines are often not released with breeding rights unless the buyer has went through an application process making it very hard to raise AKC registered dogs without some kind of proven background in animal husbandry. However, this is not a guarantee, and buyers should do their due diligence.

Hopefully this was helpful to you! I am always happy to answer questions, and you can email me at we have raised AKC Cairn Terriers for over a decade.


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