Trait & temperament testing
I talk about temperaments a lot because as a puppy evaluator, I believe that each pup should be matched with a family that is looking for the temperament traits they exhibit. Videos and score cards go out to all on our litter lists so that they too, can see the results first hand.
At 7 weeks of age, we temperament test the pups for about a dozen different things. Human focus, human assertiveness, energy level, prey/play drive, sight sensitivity, sound sensitivity, dog assertiveness, tenderheartedness, confidence in self, motivation level (work ability), nerve strength resiliency, touch tolerance. All of these things give us a better picture of who each puppy is. What lifestyle they would fit best with. And the flip side, what puppy fits best with each family/client. Not every family wants the lazy couch potato pup. They may lead physically active outdoorsy lives and want a dog with a matched energy level. They may be clients of a golden age and wish a pup who is more polite in their human assertiveness and comes to sit politely beside a human for attention rather than bounding up knowing no personal space. They may have a pet bird who is allowed to free flight around the home, a pup who is nervous of things overhead may not be the one for them, nor the puppy that has that high prey drive. For obvious reasons. Or the family with littles, toddlers running around, the high prey/play drive pup only sees a game of chase and tackle. Cute as a pup, not so cute when pup is a year and may weigh more than the toddler. Service dogs, need a dog easily trained and high human focus and workability. Other things that i observe and make note on are things like high scent drive. Not something that needs testing, its just obvious with those pups. They may sit and sniff the air or nose to ground and go. This type on a gentle stroll with the kids or my golden age clients, they will be pulled down the path by a pup/dog who is tracking. But for someone with say, diabetic alert needs, that dog is perfect. They are always using their nose. Sound sensitivity, a noisy house and a pup who doesn't like "loud" noises or sudden noises of kids and their many noisy toys or things dropping on floor, the pup will be in constant retreat. Or, like my last litter with an autistic child, who is VERY loud when he is stimming. Two of the pups in the litter of 10 could care less at that loud noise. The rest, retreated to the den. But during the test, they barely flinched at the sudden loud noise.
ALL of these things should be taken into consideration when selecting a puppy. Why I tell clients that yes, you can prefer a gender, but please dont just pick based off that OR colours alone. NOR, let the puppy "pick you". The day you visit, the puppy may be having an off day, good or bad, plus has the pack surrounding them. When we get the pups alone to see who they really are, we see the difference in the puppies and just that, who each one truly is on their own. The way they will be alone, with you. Puppies as a unit in a litter behave different than a pup without the pack support, energy level or even safety net in numbers. We see glimpses for sure along the way. But until they are 7 weeks, they can flip flop on some of the stable traits. Be the outgoing one at 5 weeks and the instigator. Then at 6 weeks the one at the back of the pack and not the leader anymore.
So as you can hopefully see, temperament testing doesn't mean good or bad puppies or they wont be good with families with kids. It simply means we take a look thru a trait test to see which puppies will be the best fit for you. Your needs. Your life and the environment therein. Whether it be young littles or older kids that like a game of soccer in the back yard and want the pup to join in the fun (energy level, play/prey drive appropriateness etc) A major reason many dogs get surrendered to shelters is due to a poor match with that dog. The dog had needs in their temperament that was completely different to that of the owners. The dog needed more human interaction yet was left home alone all day and destroyed the couch, the trim the walls. Or sat and howled the whole time with separation anxiety. The owner was not someone willing to put in ALL the training time and really needed a pup that would train easily. NOT the thinker pup who seems more "stubborn" but is actually just wanting to know "why" you want them to "sit" or walk in your direction at all times. What's in it for them in what you are asking. Or the quiet owner who wanted a stay at home companion, couch potato dog. Instead got a pup/dog who thrives on scent tracking and running to burn energy and not the one daily stroll around the neighborhood for only 30-45 minutes. Its all in the matching of clients to dogs. When that is too polar opposite in expectations, needs, wants and not taken into consideration when selecting a dog/pup, sadly, dogs get surrendered or rehomed. Re labelled as bad dogs.
(As a side note here - I will ALWAYS take my dogs back! ALWAYS. FOR whatever the reason. Divorce, death of owner, can no longer care for due to change in circumstances. I will always take my dogs back. They are NOT to go to a shelter.) But I also do my damnedest to make sure we match each pup with a home where they will thrive thru their lifetime. THAT is part of my job as a responsible breeder!
Now, all that said. Within the litters we see similar traits within the litter. With variances here and there depending on that of the parents. You will hear me say, oh, you just gave me daddys look or your a thinker like mom. Im seeing a glimpse of who they may be and a trait coming thru. With my litters from Luella, my HIGH prey HIGH energy girl, i see that swing on the spectrum of marking the pups. With Mocha, she is an extreme tenderheart and a thinker. So motivation level may swing in her pups (work ability for human.) The tenderheart, which is a whole other aspect to explain - Its opposite to what many may think. But basically, extreme emotions, she thinks she is the cause, the one to blame, goes off in an Eeyore like sulk. (NOT the pup to place in an ESA position.) Copper is moderate. So it balances her pups out. All things we look at in pairing dogs as far as the temperaments go. Not to exaggerate some not so desirable temperament traits and then also to do just that as well. Like Jack, i never wanted to pair him with Luella due to him also having a high energy drive. The pups as a result would be bouncing off the walls, literally! He is VERY agile in that respect. So all things we look at. So even though we see alot of similarities in each litter, we also see those little differences in their traits. That is the knowledge we feel is important to "best match" the pups when the selection process happens. I often give each a list of pups that I think would suit and why. In order of top, to not so top. And also the pups I would say no not that one and here's why kinda thing. Like the prey drive with the family with a toddler or 3-4 year old. Human assertiveness is also a factor there. The pup who politely engages and not just bowls the poor kid over in excitement of greeting. Also the touch tolerance. Some pups just want all the love they can get. Massages, yes please!!! others want more respectful handling. Holding them certain ways may irritate the pup. So a little who doesn't hold properly, yet, the pup wont be happy. Could even nip in frustration or sadly, pain. But older children, perfectly fine with. All things I look at. Why I ask what I ask on my applications. Key questions like, what didnt you like about your last dog if applicable. If someone said, pulled on leash....work ability and easy to train goes to the top of their list as far as im concerned. But also they may enjoy a more leisurely stroll rather than a race with the dog. (Like the one who enjoys jogging) Home all day, the pups who needs more human interaction. The ones who work & only home at lunch. the aloof pup who is fine to play off on their own and amuse themselves with a good chew bone. Other senior pets around, low energy pups. The jogger, higher energy pups. Medical alert/service type, well I've already gone over some of those needs and traits.
Hopefully that better explains to you what I mean when I say we "temperament trait test and match puppies".
So love them all as they grow, sure, keep an eye on the ones you may think, but also let them grow and don't decide or get your heart set on one till we see who they are when older. Something may pop up in testing, either way, that may change your mind and you'll have missed watching them ALL cause you were fixated on one in particular. I've seen this happen and had clients then go back thru the album and many photos and videos to "rewatch" their new puppies they just chose. Rather than having enjoyed the litter as a whole while they were growing and learning and playing along the way.