Choosing a puppy/"runt" of the litter

Got a new, young, furry love in your life? This is the place for you to ask all of your questions-big or small! Just remember that you are receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a vet or behaviorist! Most important is to remember to have fun with your new fur baby.

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Member Since
Barked: Tue Nov 27, '07 7:14am PST 
Hi! Our family will be bringing home a new yellow lab puppy in less than 4 weeks. In two weeks we go to choose which pup we want. Since we live relatively close to the breeder, she offered to let us come visit the pups anytime we want, so we took her up on that and went to see them on Sunday. They are all adorable and we would be happy with any of them, but my kids fell in love with the "runt" because of her snow white color. She seems perfectly healthy, but is about a week behind the others in her development. We do not have first pick, we are either 4th or 5th in line to make a choice, so there is a possibility she will already be taken when we make our choice. But if not, I know my children will want her. Is the smallest pup in the litter always unhealthy? I don't want to pass her up just because she's small, yet I don't want to have a lot of heartache and huge vet bills in a few years if she is going to tend to have liver or kidney problems. Is choosing the smallest pup in the litter always unwise (as the books tell me)? Or is the word "runt" overused and misused? Thanks for any advice or experience you can offer!

Work hard; Play- harder.
Barked: Tue Nov 27, '07 7:38am PST 
I've always had good luck with the runt. Scooter was the "runt" and while he is a dwarf, he is very healthy.

Any time you get a new puppy, you should take it to the vet for a complete check up. They can run simple blood work to ensure there are no masked problems such as a liver shunt or kidney issues. However, if the puppy is only a little behind the others (and not like half the size of the average size pup) then it really shouldn't be a problem. The breeder shouldn't have a problem with you bringing the pup back if the blood work shows a problem.

A lot of times, a slightly smaller pup is actually a bit healthier as it has to fight for everything.

Barked: Tue Nov 27, '07 7:56am PST 
Believe it or not ... Gio was the runt of his litter! Yeah ... all 19.5 inches of Sheltie was the RUNT! laugh out loud

He does have health issues, though. They began cropping up in the past year or so (he is 5 now) and include a weak hind end and epilepsy. I can't necessarily attribute those issues to the fact that he was the runt, though they can be genetic, and in the case of his epilepsy, most likely is genetic. I would be more inclined to say that his health issues are a result of irresponsible breeding practices, and less to do with him being a runt.

If the breeder is responsible and has done all the appropriate genetic and health tests on the dam and sire (OFA, CERF, BAER, vWD, etc.), then your runt pup will likely be just fine! Make sure it is thriving and growing at a normal rate, and you should be alright.

Angel Runt

Angels- Rule!!
Barked: Tue Nov 27, '07 8:07am PST 
You can probably guess by my name, I was the runt of the litter, I lived 14 very healthy years, when I left for the bridge Mom made sure she picked the "runt" when she got my sister Nikita Sophia, she has grown up very nicely into a slim 91 poundseek, but she's healthy also.
Good luck with your new pup and as the others have already said, visit your vet early in your relationship with your new baby
Addy, CGC

Let's go for a- walk!
Barked: Tue Nov 27, '07 9:24am PST 
There are two kinds of "runts" you can get. One is a "runt" because there is something genetically or developmentally wrong with the puppy. The other is because the dogs mated more than once over the course of the bitch's heat, and one or more of the puppies was conceived a few days later than the main part of the litter. The second kind of runt is perfectly normal, just a little behind the others in development.

Watch that runt carefully, and if he's growing and developing normally, and checks out well with the vet, you're probably not taking a huge risk.

The same thing can happen with cats, and I've had two "runt" kittens. One had congenital defects in her internal organs, and was a sweet, loving pet for four years before everything failed her quite suddenly, and the only thing I could do to end her pain was have her put to sleep. It was heart-breaking. The other one was just a late conception compounded by some food intolerances, and is still with me at nearly fifteen years old.

So watch carefully, and check it out with the vet (make sure the vet knows your concerns), but don't rule out the runt just because it's the runt, if that's the one you and your kids like. Just be prepared to put your foot down if the vet does think the puppy is unhealthy, or you see that that puppy isn't growing and developing normally.

It wasn't me who- stole your- socks!
Barked: Tue Nov 27, '07 10:46am PST 
Saturday we picked up Ava, she is the runt of the litter and she is healthy, lively, smart and adorable!! She has been vet checked has had 2 series of shots and everything is as perfect as it can get!!

Good luck with your new puppy!!

Can't hold his- licker
Barked: Tue Nov 27, '07 12:11pm PST 
Amos was the runt, too... and he's a smart happy healthy puppy. I'm not sure how his size iss in relation to his siblings.. but at almost 50lbs at 6 months I think we're doing okay.

Good luck with the new puppy!!

I Might Be Small- But I Have It- All!
Barked: Tue Nov 27, '07 12:51pm PST 
Pugsley was the runt... When he was a wee lad he was a lot smaller then the rest of them. As time went by he ended up growing to be just as big as his brothers and sisters. I think most runts are perfectly fine...

Member Since
Barked: Tue Nov 27, '07 8:16pm PST 
Thank you everyone for the benefit of your experience. I feel better about considering the small pup in the litter. She definitely wasn't a shrinking violet. She was getting right in there, climbing on and pushing her littermates out of the way to nurse.! When we go back in a couple of weeks, we will see how much she as grown. And like I said, she may not even be available by the time we go back. I'll be sure to post when we do get our pup as I'm sure I'll have many more questions!

Pretty girl!
Barked: Wed Nov 28, '07 10:02am PST 
I have only had 2 purebreed dogs, Faith and a great dane I had many years ago. Both were runts. My great dane grew to be just as big as his siblins with no health problems. Faith is also now in the size and weight range as her siblings with no health problems. wave
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