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Non Dog People With A 'runt' Obession


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Over the years I've noticed people, more specifically non dog people, seem to frequently obsess over getting the 'runt' of the litter. Is this just a sales technique used by BYB? I want the strongest, fittest, most capable pup that I can get.

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Runt seems to mean small and cute to most, and they get to do the martyr thing and say they took on the less abled pup etc etc.

Not that I think these dogs are less entitled to homes, if a pup is healthy and just smaller I would have no issues taking on that pup as a pet person, but I do know what you mean with the almost fetishising runts.

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A "runt" is a small animal that has failed to thrive, why anyone would want it is beyond me. Fortunately there are not that many true runts born but lots of small but vigorous pups that thrive and do well, perhaps it's these little tackers full of attitude that average joe thinks of as a "runt"

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A "runt" is a small animal that has failed to thrive, why anyone would want it is beyond me. Fortunately there are not that many true runts born but lots of small but vigorous pups that thrive and do well, perhaps it's these little tackers full of attitude that average joe thinks of as a "runt"

hey you be quiet. I got the best runt in the world. She turned out to be a mini mastiff. Best attitude of any dog I have ever seen, and much loved by her owners.

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I get what you're saying. So often I hear someone saying "s/he was the runt of the litter" with pride because they still have the dog and s/he' turned out to be a fantastic dog who's lived to old age. I suspect it was probably just the smallest in the litter, but not necessarily a runt.

I would probably be attracted to the smallest puppy myself if it was still a healthy lively pup, mostly because with whippets they're all too big for my liking these days. But if it was listless and sickly as I would expect a runt to be, then no, I wouldn't want it, but a cute feisty little thing would probably appeal to me alot.

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White knight syndrome (google it ;) ). You also see it a lot with rescues.

I personally hate the word runt as it s so misapplied. There are pups that are small because of some health issue that fail to thrive, then there are pups that are small in the beginning due to less than ideal placement in the uterus (they just didn't get 'fed' as much as their littermates prior to being born or were in a crowded spot) who grow up to be completely normal and normal size (and occasionally bigger than littermates).

Edited by espinay2
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I have a dog who was the runt of the litter. When I met her she was the only pup left. :) I only found out later when I met her brother who was so much bigger and they had an enormous fight. She's okay but does have some health issues. I think people like to think they are rescuing a dog and in their eyes the poor little runt needs special protection. Rescuing a runt makes them feel good about themselves.

Would I choose the runt of the litter if given the opportunity? No. That would not be what I would be looking for. I would be choosing the pup that responded to me.

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Most people are referring to the smallest pup in the litter, not necessarily a pup with genetic faults.

My youngest was the smallest by far, I chose her because she was getting pushed around by her much bigger sisters. and of course I felt sorry for her. At 6 months old she's weighing in at 1.7kg so has only put on 500g since 14 weeks old, she was desexed a week ago with no complications and so far she seems very robust.

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We actually had the runt "pushed" on us by a registered breeder. This was a number of years ago, and I was a young teen desperate for my "own" dog, and my parents had expressed to the breeder that I had an interest in eventually showing my pup. She convinced my non-savvy parents that the runt was the way to go for us, and Being 13 I didn't know any better. So we bought home a beautiful little boy, main registered with a name I was allowed to choose with her prefix, seemed like a dream to me at that age.

We raised him just like our other dog, positive reinforcement, extensive socialising, puppy preschool, moved on to agility. He was VERY trainable and willing to please but he was and still is incredibly anxious :( to the point he would panic walking past a parked car in someone's drive, refused to get out of the car in new places.... it's something we have never been able to get him over. And despite being fed a high quality diet with both raw meat and high end kibble food he failed to reach the minimum height required for a male. so I never did show him, he was desexed and is a VERY loyal (because of his anxiety) pet. We love him, but we never went looking for the runt of the litter, so ours was the opposite to the situation posted.

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My runt of the litter Great Dane ended up the bigger, 36" to the shoulder and 80 kilos. Runt doesn't mean anything.

Unhealthy and stunted is a different thing.

Edited by sas
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Any pup who is truly a 'runt' will fail to thrive.... usually starts off behind the others from birth and then struggles to keep going... but if something is actually wrong with the pup they will struggle continually and at 6-8 weeks will still be struggling... Breeders have a tendency to tube feed or bottle feed and continually try to boost the pup along... sometimes this can mean we have unhealthy pups making it to the point of someone wanting to home the pup which perhaps is the wrong way to go.

Personally I leave the pup for the first 48 hours... if they are struggling still and cannot feed of mum then I put them down especially if the mum seems disinterested in the pup - even if it was the only one in the litter I would still put the pup down. If however they are showing some fighting spirit and trying to battle for the nipple I might supplement feed them a couple of times a day to help them along. But even if they did make 8 weeks and were not thriving the pup would no way go to anyone... they would remain with me until thriving or I make the decision to put them down... As a breeder I must be responsible for the health of my pups, they need to be bursting with health to head off to new homes.

I know I am going to cop flack from many of the breeders here but I will state....."Nor am I interested in breeding with dogs who have issues that make birthing difficult and generally require c-sections.... or a breed that requires the pups to be separated from the mother and only have supervised feeding" ... there is something wrong with a breed who cannot reproduce without consistent help these breeds need to seriously look at what they are doing and decide what is better for the health of the dog and change the standards to allow for a better structure of the dog.

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I know I am going to cop flack from many of the breeders here but I will state....."Nor am I interested in breeding with dogs who have issues that make birthing difficult and generally require c-sections.... or a breed that requires the pups to be separated from the mother and only have supervised feeding" ... there is something wrong with a breed who cannot reproduce without consistent help these breeds need to seriously look at what they are doing and decide what is better for the health of the dog and change the standards to allow for a better structure of the dog.

Not a breeder but absolutely will agree there.

Dogs that start off on such a back foot even from conception are set up for failure. Some of the breeds that cannot even mate naturally make me sad, it is totally denying nature and natural selection and interfering where we shouldn't for an end result we have set our hearts on but which wouldn't occur and survive naturally.

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My runt of the litter Great Dane ended up the bigger, 36" to the shoulder and 80 kilos. Runt doesn't mean anything.

Unhealthy and stunted is a different thing.

Yes :)

Flame suit on but I think 'runts' are cute. I'm not talking about the wobbly, glassy eyed pups who are clearly very wrong in some way. Those sad gumtree ads with clearly hydrocephalus baby chi's being sold as teacup. :( There's smallest and then there is just plain wrong.

I do mean the spunky little bantam ratbags who power on with their larger siblings and are on their way to being a great dog. There's something about them, their little chin up when they run with the litter, the way they fit into tiny spots then pounce out of nowhere... It's probably different with purebred breeders, in rescue you can get a couple of different crosses from one mum so you can't just assume the the tiny ones are unwell.

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White knight syndrome (google it ;) ). You also see it a lot with rescues.

I personally hate the word runt as it s so misapplied. There are pups that are small because of some health issue that fail to thrive, then there are pups that are small in the beginning due to less than ideal placement in the uterus (they just didn't get 'fed' as much as their littermates prior to being born or were in a crowded spot) who grow up to be completely normal and normal size (and occasionally bigger than littermates).

:laugh: OK yes. I was just talking to a carer yesterday about seeing pups available that don't look right and really should not be up for adoption yet. Skinny pups with strange heads and bandy legs. No muscle. But pups move fast so are put out there ready or not, and people will adopt them because they look sad.

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We actually had the runt "pushed" on us by a registered breeder. This was a number of years ago, and I was a young teen desperate for my "own" dog, and my parents had expressed to the breeder that I had an interest in eventually showing my pup. She convinced my non-savvy parents that the runt was the way to go for us, and Being 13 I didn't know any better. So we bought home a beautiful little boy, main registered with a name I was allowed to choose with her prefix, seemed like a dream to me at that age.

We raised him just like our other dog, positive reinforcement, extensive socialising, puppy preschool, moved on to agility. He was VERY trainable and willing to please but he was and still is incredibly anxious :( to the point he would panic walking past a parked car in someone's drive, refused to get out of the car in new places.... it's something we have never been able to get him over. And despite being fed a high quality diet with both raw meat and high end kibble food he failed to reach the minimum height required for a male. so I never did show him, he was desexed and is a VERY loyal (because of his anxiety) pet. We love him, but we never went looking for the runt of the litter, so ours was the opposite to the situation posted.

Poor temperament isn't likely to be due to his smaller size. It's either nature or nurture, if you raised him appropriately, it's genetics. I would be surprised if the other pups in the litter didn't have any similar temp problems, or other dogs in the lines did.

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I had a customer with a 3 legged oodle, he was born that way and she seemed so proud of the fact that she took him on.

Pity she didn't pity him enough to give the guy a brush once in awhile. First groom was at 7 months old, 2nd was about 5 months after than and at 6pm at night I sent him home because I didn't have the time to deal with a 1 year old fully matted oodle that had only ever been groomed once. Advised her to reschedule for a weekend when I could give the guy some breaks but not surprisingly I never heard from her again

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Non-dog people say runt but they don't mean runt. They mean the smallest or the one that's quiet, left out, not in the 'in' crowd. They don't understand what runt means.

They have no clue the puppy may have a variety of issues, potentially medical, potentially mental, anxiety being one of them. As others have said, non-dog people want the little one and they often are well-meaning by thinking they are taking the 'loser' in the pack to give it a good home and make everything ok. We kinda did that once.

My husband once chose our kelpie because she lacked confidence compared to the others in the pack. Right there I was thinking, oh no - this is not going to happen! I asked him - why did you pick that one? He said 'Because if we don't take her, she will be the last one in the little left and I don't think she will cope on her own so well, and then 'someone' will eventually take her, and she can't go to just 'anyone', she needs a bit special attention and TLC - so we need to take her.

How could I say no to that?

She was a sensitive sort, and we had to work on some anxiety issues early in her life, but she has been just the best dog, such a loyal girl, a most beautiful soul, very happy, very smart.... a perfect dog.

People that are non-dog people, just need education. I cringe at what little I knew and understood about dogs in my early 20s, but I did love them so much and was well intentioned.

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