I am also looking to reach out to a breeder and am hoping someone can explain the process. Once the puppies are born and you are contacted, are you able to meet the pups first and pick one? Is it first come, first serve for the litter?
And sorry if this is a dumb question but does every litter (all dog breeds) have a runt?
Good breeders normally will have talked to each prospective family quite a bit, and while they will take your wishes in terms of gender into consideration as much as possible, and SOMETIMES color if they CAN, if they are a GOOD breeder, their biggest concern is going to be matching the puppy with the best personality for your family with you. So you PROBABLY won't have a lot of choice. Your choice is very likely to be "this puppy or we don't have the right puppy for you in this litter". SOMETIMES there is some wiggle room, but not always.
Particularly now, during Covid, it is highly variable how much time, if any, you will be able to spend with your puppy, in person, before you take him or her home. It's too bad, but it is understandable that breeders do not want large numbers of people in and out of their homes... for your sake AND theirs!
Be VERY careful of a breeder who lets you choose a puppy from pictures. This is NOT a breeder who is doing due diligence for her puppies OR her puppy buyers!
As far as "first picks" are concerned, the breeder gets "first pick" for her breeding program if she decides to keep one, and sometimes the owner of the stud dog (if he is owned by someone else) gets second pick. Sometimes a decision is made that certain puppies need to go to show homes, and those will be placed next. Other breeders place all or most of the puppies that they do not keep for their own breeding program in pet homes. There is NOTHING wrong with EITHER of these practices... it depends on the goals of the breeder for that particular litter.
No, it is rather unusual for a litter to have a "runt" in a litter when both parents have been properly health tested, and cared for prior to and during pregnancy. It can happen, but it is not at all common. There is often a size range among the puppies, just as there is among siblings in a human family, and that is fine. A petite girl who has been eating well, gaining weight on track and plays vigorously would not be considered a "runt" even if she is a bit smaller than her littermates. A"runt" would be an unthrifty puppy that has had trouble from the beginning. The breeder may have had a hard time getting that puppy to nurse and had to supplement feed it. Even after those first days, the puppy doesn't catch up with its siblings developmentally. It is NOT just a matter of size. A good breeder will probably want to hold a puppy like that back longer than the rest of the litter, giving it more time to mature and to have it thoroughly checked out physically, especially its heart and liver, before placing it with a family.
If you are offered a puppy that is TRULY a "runt" as opposed to simply a petite puppy, I would be very, VERY careful that you think that through carefully. It is POSSIBLE that the puppy will catch up and be fine, but it is also possible that there is an underlying condition causing that puppy to struggle. Be careful.