I will do an xray about a week before the puppies are due to get a count of how many I can expect and to make sure there aren't any concerns with having the puppies naturally.
Based on what my vet felt, this will probably be a smaller litter. Due to weather in the area and weekend vet schedules, she was bred two days later than I would have preferred, but that's okay. I'm hoping for healthy and happy puppies and an uneventful whelping. Her due date is around April 13th.
I have about 45 applications for this litter, so I'll be combing through them once I have an idea of how many puppies she'll have, and we'll go from there. I've been asked how the process works several times, so I'll try to spell it out here - I hope this helps those of you who have already submitted applications:
Overview: I don't use a first come, first served approach. I pick the best home for each puppy - based on what the owners want and how that fits with what I have - regarding temperament, activity level, show quality, etc. I will give a MUCH higher priority to people that I have met or that have come to visit me and my dogs - or have referrals from Kelly (Fury's owner) or other friends of mine if the potential owners are too far to visit me. Here are the other details:
1. We'll immediately know the sex breakdown, and for those who are set on a particular sex, I may not have the sex they want and/or I may not have enough of a particular sex (River was the only girl in her litter, for example). At birth, I will have an idea of which ones are disqualified from being potential show dogs. This is based on markings and color (River has a blue sibling, so she may produce a blue puppy if Fury has that in his pedigree as well - we don't know of any, but it could be way back there). So, if someone wants a show quality puppy, I'll know which ones will not be appropriate. Some people are very particular about markings - may not want high white legs or may not want excessive white on their heads, for example, so this will narrow it down for them.
2. When their eyes open and get their color (they open around day 15 and around 3-3.5 weeks old I'll know the color, as they all start out kind of a cloudy blue color), I'll have to keep a look-out for blue eyes and/or partially blue eyes. Again, blue eyes are a disqualification for being potential show dogs. Again, knowing eye color will eliminate show prospects. I haven't had any blue or partially blue eyes except in the blue puppy.
3. As they near 5-6 weeks, I will have a good idea of which ones may be show prospects and will have a good idea of temperament and which ones will likely be highly active and better for performance homes who want to do agility, lots of hiking, etc. I'll have a good idea of which puppies will go to which homes at that point. I will narrow it down to 2 or 3 for people who really want to know. At this time, I will send out the draft of my contract and the detailed family health history to the people I have selected to potentially get one of the puppies. If the potential owner is agreeable to my contract, I require a $500 deposit by the age of six weeks old.
4. I don't make my final decisions until the puppies are around 7-7.5 weeks for two reasons: 1) I will have them evaluated for conformation and for temperament and 2) Fury's owner will have the option of getting a puppy, and she'll make her decision at the time of the evaluation, so that could mix things up a bit, which is why I try not to let anyone get too attached to a particular puppy from pictures and visits.
I do try to take the potential owners' input into account, but I will know better than anyone what the puppies are like and what would be the best fit for the families. I want everyone to say "this is the best puppy I have ever had" and for the puppies to say the same about their families.
Puppies will go to their homes no sooner than 8 weeks of age, and I prefer they be 9 weeks of age unless you've already had a Swissy puppy from me. At that time, they will have had their first set of shots, they will have been microchipped, and they will have had at least one vet wellness exam.