Is it bad to get the biggest dog in the litter? Find Out Here

When the Last Pick in a Puppy Litter Matters

Let’s look at a couple examples. When meeting a litter of puppies, most people gravitate towards the puppy that runs right up to them with tail wagging and licks their hands! This outgoing, confident pup will be the life of the party. But he will also likely need some extra effort when it comes to learning to not jump on guests or bolt out the front door. This is not how to pick a puppy out of a litter, which we explain here.

The puppy who hangs back and observes first and approaches a little more cautiously may be a better fit when it comes to a more laidback family who wants a dog that is not quite so enthused! We sometimes find that the more gentle, easy-going pups are the ones that get overlooked during a puppy meet-and-greet.

Similarly, many people ask us which puppy or breed is “the smartest.” Some of our pups are standouts when it comes to our early training exercises, but again, a super smart pup is not the best fit for every family. A family looking for a service dog to perform specific tasks will definitely want a smart, extra trainable pup.

But the family looking for a relaxed companion to watch TV with would do best to gravitate towards a pup who is more average in intelligence. Intelligent dogs need a lot of extra stimulation and training so that their brains don’t fixate on learning to unlock their kennel door or other mischievous games!

Breeders have a variety of different ways of doing their selection process, so when it comes to the last pick in the litter, we recommend making sure your breeder can tell you a few things about the process and the personality of their pup(s). (Read what questions you should ask before buying a puppy here.)

Does Breed Determine a Dog’s Litter Size?

The breed of dog is the biggest determinant of litter size. Generally, big dogs have larger litters because, biologically, they’re able to safely carry more puppies.

Here are a few breeds and their estimated litter sizes:

  • Bullmastiff – 5-13
  • Labrador Retriever – 5-10
  • German Shepherd – 5-9
  • American Cocker Spaniel – 3-7
  • Yorkie and Chihuahua – 2-5
  • While the norm is that larger dogs have larger litters, it’s not always the case. For instance, the Pekingese, weighing in at just 7-14 pounds, may give birth to as many as 10 puppies.

    Big litters can be dangerous to the mother dog (dam) due to delivery problems, especially in smaller dogs. Some of the puppies may be delivered stillborn, and the dam may become exhausted during delivery.

    Should you pick the biggest puppy in litter?

    Size should not be a major consideration in selecting; with proper care, puppies in a litter usually catch up size-wise within two years. Physical characteristics play a role in choice. You may decide to pick a pup based on her eye color or markings.

    Can you tell how big a puppy will get?