German Shepherd Puppy Pursuit
Unfortunately, most people look to the local newspaper when searching for a German shepherd puppy and these are precisely the puppies that you want to avoid. There is nothing more heartbreaking than investing time and money in nutrition, exercise, attention, and training only to have the puppy turn out to have poor health or an unstable temperament. Finding a quality German Shepherd puppy is well worth the time and effort the search requires.
You should expect to pay between $800 and $1,500 for a pet-quality German shepherd puppy from a reputable breeder and over $1,100 for a competition-quality puppy. It will take some time and effort on your part, but with some persistence, you’ll find a breeder that you are comfortable with and who meets the criteria of being reputable. At this point, the breeder may either have a litter already available or be able to tell you when they are planning to breed in the future. Once a litter is born and the breeder feels the puppies are old enough for visitors, the fun really begins!
When you visit a breeder for the first time, it is important to notice the conditions in which the puppies are being raised. The area should be clean and well maintained and the puppies should be allowed inside the breeder’s house in order to become accustomed to visitors and household noises.
The breeder should be affectionate in his or her dealings with the dogs. The mother dog, or dam, and her puppies should display no fear of the breeder or of you. The puppies should look clean, vigorous, and healthy. Well-cared for puppies should be dewormed, and depending on their age, have at least one round of vaccinations. At a minimum, the breeder should be planning to do these things or be able to explain the care they have planned for the puppies. A written report from a veterinarian should also accompany a puppy to his new home as well.
The breeder should ask questions about your personal circumstances and the puppy’s new living conditions. This interest speaks well for the breeder and indicates that he or she feels responsible for the puppies’ future.
Although you may have preferences about the sex and color of your German shepherd, these are not the most important traits to look at when choosing a German shepherd puppy. According to the breed standard, a German shepherd should be approachable, quietly standing its ground and showing confidence and willingness to meet overtures without itself making them. The dog must not be timid, shrinking behind its master or handler; it should not be nervous, looking about with an anxious expression or showing nervous reactions such as tucking of tail to strange sounds or sights. Lack of confidence under any surroundings is not typical of good character.
Another suggestion is to visit the puppies more than once, if possible. Sometimes, if you catch a German shepherd puppy after playtime, he/she might seem lethargic or, like a very young child, might just fall asleep right where he/she was playing. If this happens, try to visit when the puppies will be awake and alert. This will give you a truer feel for their personalities. Be sure to ask to meet the mother (dam) of the litter, and pay attention to her temperament, as well. The personality of the mother and father (if he is on the premises) is also an indication of the temperament you can expect from the puppies in the litter. Shy dogs usually don’t make good companions, or at best they are more difficult to train and handle. Viciousness is not typically a trait of German shepherds, but you should stay away from litters whose sire or dam is quarrelsome, belligerent, and difficult to handle.
Required Health Screenings and Certificates
To ensure that they are breeding healthy dogs, quality breeders test their dogs for hereditary diseases and only breed those that are certified disease free. Dogs that don’t pass these tests are altered and are not bred.
The irresponsible breeder does not test his dogs. If he does, and the test does not come back the way he’d like, he breeds the dog anyway. Many breeders will do this, even knowing that this vastly increases the risk of hereditary disease. If your German Shepherd puppy turns out to be one of these irresponsibly bred pups, you could end up losing your money and having your heart broken. It’s clearly worth the time and the effort it takes to find a good breeder.
German shepherds should be tested for multiple hereditary diseases. Those tests are expensive, but the breeder who really cares about her dog’s health has these tests performed as a matter of course. Breeders should be sure their breeding dogs pass the following tests prior to breeding:
Von Willebrand’s disease (vWD)
Multiple eye disorders
This organization certifies the results for hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia, cardiac disease, and von Willebrand’s disease. All of the OFA’s databases are searchable, so puppy buyers can verify a breeder’s claims of healthy hip ratings. Hips are rated according to the health of the joints when the dog is twenty-four months or older. The following rating receive an OFA number, which means the dog is approved for breeding: “Fair,”, “Good,” and “Excellent.” Dysplastic hips do not receive an OFA number but are rated as follows: “Borderline,” “Mild,” “Moderate,” or “Severe.”
The OFA’s cardiac registry includes a large number of hereditary diseases of the heart. If a German shepherd does not show any signs of disease, he may receive the rating “OFA-Cardiac neg.” German shepherds may also be tested for vWD with the results registered through the OFA. If a dog does not have the disease, he receives the following certification: “OFA-vWD neg.”
Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF)
CERF certifies that there is an absence of hereditary eye disease in dogs examined by a board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist. Breeders commonly refer to a dog that gets a pass as being “CERFed.” It is important to note; however, that a German shepherd can be CERFed with a warning. In other words, a dog can still receive a pass if she has one of four hereditary eye diseases – distichiasis, corneal dystrophy, retinal dysplasia, or micropapilla. If a dog is diagnosed with one of these diseases, CERF recommends that the Shepherd only be bred to another dog that is free of the same disease.
Many diseases from which German shepherds can suffer are not certified or recorded, but they are equally important to the potential German shepherd puppy buyer. These include chronic gastrointestinal problems, bloat, skin allergies, and various cancers. A good breeder will be able to give you health details on each dog in a puppy’s three generation pedigree, including how long the dog lived, what conditions he suffered from, if any, and the cause of death.
In the End
After all the research and time spent looking at puppies, remember that your lifestyle will be a factor in the future happiness of your German shepherd pup. The potential life span of a German shepherd is 12 to 15 years.
When it comes to your career and your private life, are you able to make plans over a period of 12 years? Having a dog means that you will have to modify your habits and even your lifestyle.
If you are not home much, you don’t plan on taking long walks with your puppy, or you don’t have a large fenced yard, then an energetic German Shepherd puppy is not the right dog for you and you should try another breed.
The German shepherd Dog is part of your family and has the same needs as children for education, exercise, and a balanced diet.
The keys to picking the best puppy for your family are simple: know the breed, find a reputable breeder, ask the breeder lots of questions, and spend time getting to know the available puppies.
Be honest with breeders about what you are looking for and do not let someone try and sell you a German shepherd puppy that you do not want.