AKC eNewsletter



Pick-of-the-litter Question

Last issue's question: How do you identify your puppies in lookalike litters?

Our readers were quite consistent in their responses. The top forms of identification used by our readers are:

  • Clipping the coat on different parts of the puppy�s body for long-coated breeds.
  • Dabs of nail polish in assorted colors on various body parts, like nails, base of tail, head, and so on. The same idea was suggested using nontoxic markers, food coloring, acrylic paint, fabric paint, water-based poster paint, and the like.
  • Small collars: litter-identification collars, hospital-like snap-on collars, cloth kitten collars. Homemade collars of yarn, thin ribbon, baby rickrack, scrunchies, and the like.
  • And when age appropriate, tattooing and microchipping.

Here are some of your thoughts:

We simply clip a small patch of hair on the neck, base of tail and so on. This eliminates the need for a collar. ... I did try nail polish, but that was easily removed. A straight cut across the grain of the hair is unmistakable. After 6 weeks of age we microchip.—M. Hallowell

In Löwchens, we put them in different stages of an adult cut. —R. & J. Lawless

We identify lookalike pups by painting “toe-nails” with nail polish. We either use different colors, or paint only the right, left, front, or back paws. Then we give them names and keep a list of who has which paws painted, and which color.—J. Gardner

To keep each puppy’s identity intact, we mark each with nail polish, usually bright red! ... Please note that the markings should be completely dry before putting the pup back with the litter. —R. Mohler

I use different-colored bias tape and grosgrain ribbon, checking them daily to make sure they have not gotten too tight.—C. Beasley

I crochet different-colored-yarn chain-stitch collars and put a different collar on each puppy.—K. Sandvold

We tie different-colored ribbons around their little necks till they are old enough to have collars on. Just make sure that the ribbon is the very narrow type.—R. Sumstad

I put rickrack ribbons of different colors on the puppies. However, by the time they are a couple of weeks old, I can tell the differences by sight. The rickrack is for others to identify the different puppies and to have something concrete to refer to them by. Rather than elaborate in terms descriptive to the subtle differences like, “dark-faced girl with the longer hocks” or “biggest boy with the lower-set ears and longer feet,” it is easier to say “pink girl” or “green boy.”—T. Miller

I found “litter bands” on the Internet, and it’s been a blessing! With 13 puppies, 10 looking alike, the color bands help me know which pup is which, to ensure correct paperwork. I suggest litter bands for any breeder needing to identify all the babies running around together.—N. Backus

We use cloth collars and number them with a Sharpie marker. Each pup is numbered by birth order. We keep a log on the sex, growth, and any other changes. It works great for us!—C. Lombardo

I microchip my puppies at 5–6 weeks of age. Until that time, I use the little white chest markings as a way of telling them apart. At 4 weeks, these markings grow into the rest of the coat and disappear and identification becomes difficult. I then begin taping their ears up and number the tape until they get their chip.—G. Warren

As they are whelped they are weighed, photographed, and all markings recorded. If the markings do not help, a colored collar can be used. So far, there are always slight differences in the markings that work just like fingerprints. If you don’t record them right away you may forget.
And of course, DNA certification of the parents and microchipping at 7 weeks of all puppies are part of my breeding program too.—C. Hendricks


Editor�s note: The opinions of our readers as listed are not recommendations from the AKC. You should always consult your veterinarian when making a decision regarding your dog�s care.


  Ronald N. Rella, director, Breeder Services
Email: AKCbreeder@akc.org
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© The American Kennel Club 2007