Miss Tracey Atkinson
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Do your research
When the entire family have agreed that a mastiff is the breed you want, when you have studied the pictures and read the books, it is time to start looking for the pup. This should not be rushed, go to some of the breed shows, talk to as many different Breeders as possible, study their dogs for sound movement, temperament, health etc.. Make an appointment to visit Breeders and ask to see their other dogs - are they outgoing and friendly, do they look clean and healthy?
Once you have chosen your Breeder, be prepared to be asked - and to answer as truthfully as possible, dozens of questions, all good Breeders will do this to safeguard their pups. When the litter is born and it has been agreed that one of the pups will be yours, go to see the litter as soon as the Breeder allows it. Take your time in choosing your favourite, it normally takes at least two visits. Study the litter carefully, which of the pups is outgoing and not afraid to come and be made a fuss of. Check the skin for any signs of a rash or flea infestation. Ask the Breeder what documentation you will be given with your pup. The least you should expect is:-
Be prepared to pay a deposit for the Breeder to 'hold' the pup you have chosen and ask for a receipt for the amount paid prior to taking your pup home. Decide whether or not you want to show and discuss this with the Breeder. Most Breeders will be happy to have you keep in touch and will help you in all aspects of rearing your pup, never be afraid to ask for help.
Picking a Show Puppy
Many experienced breeders find the best time to pick a puppy is when it is wet (newborn) or between the ages of 7/8 weeks. Usually the puppy will go back to what it was at that age when mature.
First of all check the overall look of the puppy, does it look like an adult in miniature, does it stand firm on all four legs, is it well boned. Look for balance. Good movement should show the puppy is constructed correctly, bone structure does not alter; shoulder and rear angulation should match. A slightly overshot mouth is usually nothing to worry about; the bottom jaw will continue to grow.
The back should be straight without a dip. Feet large and round, with well arched toes. Already you should be able to see a good spring of rib and depth. Pick the pup up and stand it down front legs should be straight elbows should be close to the body. The rear end, neither wide nor narrow and the feet should not turn in or out. Look for length, movement and overall balance.
Large ears will never be small, but remember also they have to grow into them. They should lie flat to the head look for black inside as they tend to pale off from birth and then get darker again. Look at the eye shape small wide apart and tightness of the lids. Study the eye colour in the sunlight what looks dark in normal light may be light in sunlight, they may still be blue but you want a dark blue.
Look for the pup that stands and says 'here I am' the show off, no matter how handsome he is if he is not bold you will be disappointed in the ring. You are looking for a miniature of a grown dog.