The Paw Print Genetics Blog

Identifying A Litter of Puppies

Identifying A Litter of Puppies

The time has come. It is three in the morning and the new litter of eight has arrived! You were planning on doing some genetic testing and you know how important it is to label each puppy with a specific identifier. In all the excitement and clean up, are you prepared to send off these samples for testing? It is apparent that several of these precious pups are similar in size, color and of the same sex. Differentiating puppies is necessary for monitoring purposes and when collecting DNA samples to send to our laboratory. After all, you are anxious to mail in samples and receive those genetic health results! But we need to be able to provide the results to you on the correct puppy. So labeling each puppy sample is imperative!

We recommend health testing each puppy you plan to sell with breeding rights, as health testing will help increase the quality of your puppies and in turn the value of your breeding business. Once you learn who is clear or a carrier, you can then make vital decisions regarding each puppy to prevent inherited diseases and/or certain traits in your future litters. If both the dam and sire of the litter have been cleared by Paw Print Genetics, our clear by parentage program is an affordable option for those pups. Have each of these puppies you plan to test clearly labeled before you swab them or collect alternative DNA samples such as dewclaws. Preventing mix ups and being positive who is who will save you time, money and many headaches.

Although this does not apply to every dog breed, there are a handful of helpful tools to help identify those puppies similar if not identical in appearance.

Colored Collars

A variety of colored Velcro or Paracord whelping collars are great options. Be sure you are adjusting them as the puppies grow or replacing them with larger collars. There are many online whelping ID collar packs available that have been reviewed as safe, comfortable and machine washable. Ribbon and paper collars are also viable options.

Coat Colors

For many breeds of dogs, you can identify each pup by its coat color or coat patterns. Many breeders  will identify pups with abbreviations such as BMM (blue merle male) or LCM (large chocolate male). Be sure to pick names that you can remember so that when you get the results, you know who they belong to.

Pet Paint Pen/Marker

With non-toxic paint pens or markers, you can label puppies with different numbers of dots. Male 1 would have one dot and Male 2 would have two dots and so on. For example, these hair chalk paint pens come in 10 different colors and are safe and non-toxic to pets. Examine the marks daily and reapply when needed.

Nail Polish

Marking the puppy’s nails with non-toxic nail polish is another way to differentiate puppies. This product can be licked or rubbed off by the dam, so be sure to check the nails frequently or use in conjunction with another labeling method.


If you are not crunched for time and can wait to test six weeks after your dam has whelped, speak with your veterinarian about microchipping. Using a hypodermic needle, an electronic chip no larger than a grain of rice is inserted under the skin between the shoulder blades. Once scanned, your puppy´s specific microchip identification number allows you or your prospective puppy buyer to verify Ralph is indeed Ralph.

Once you have decided on the ‘names’, use these to identify each puppy in your account on our website. You will need to add each pup to your account as you are identifying them. You can quickly add a litter by choosing, ‘save and add similar dog’ and the system will save the breed and date of birth so that you can add each pup from the litter. Once each pup has been added, you can choose your tests or place a parentage order.

There are many creative ways to make sure you know which puppy is which. Above are just a few ways we hope can be helpful to you. To read more about collecting samples from a litter of puppies, read this recent blog from our website. Overall, enjoy your new puppies, and thank you for choosing Paw Print Genetics for your health testing needs.