In addition to temperament testing, I like to access the structure of all the puppies to make sure that they are capable of the type of work or environment which will best suit them without causing undue stress on their minds or bodies. Many dogs have enough “heart” or “desire” to perform a specific function despite bad hips, weak hocks or chronic ear infections, but is it fair to our canine friends? If we really want them to excel and enjoy a long, pain free life then maybe they would have been better suited to long walks with their family and spending time on the couch watching tv with the kids.
Good friend and long time golden retriever owner-handler, Dr.Sheree Farber has helped me evaluate many of the litter’s my male dog, Keaton has sired. She uses Pat Hastings Puppy Puzzle program which is designed to evaluate puppies at 8 week( give or take 3 days before or after they turn 8 weeks). It has long been suggested that a puppy at 8 weeks is a preview of what that dog will be like at 2 years of age.
Many long time breeders and dog fanciers know their breed well enough to pick out the puppy which best represents the overall type of their breed. Some breeds such as the pug the head piece is hallmark that makes the dog. Others are required to have particular coat qualities or markings such as a the Chinese Shar-pei or the Dalmation. However, if the dog’s front assembly is poor, it doesn’t matter how well marked a dog is if he can not move soundly enough to follow the horse carriage or carry a bird.
Sherre has helped develop my eye for a well built dog. As a competitor in the hunter/jumper world for a good portion of my life, I can usually pick out a sound, balanced dog, but she has educated me to know how the pieces fit together to make that dog move the way it does.
By combining this testing with the temperament test, we were able to objectively look at each puppy in the litter and make the appropriate placements for show, work and pet homes. It is hard not to fall in love with one puppy who captures your heart with her sweet expressions and joyful personality even though her structure is not suitable for the task of brood bitch or hunting companion.
Now comes the hard part, letting go of the emotions and matching people and puppies.
For more information on Pat Hasting’s puppy evaluation, I would strongly encourage you to read her book ” Tricks of the Trade” and Structure in Action books.