With so many German Shepherd breeders out there, how is one to choose the right breeder?First things first, decide what type of German Shepherd dog are you looking for. That right, there are several different German Shepherd dog types today.
German lines. Germans take great pride in their breed. It is a national treasure. Naturally, they make sure that the dogs they breed are the best. In Germany, there are very strict rules when it comes to breeding German Shepherds. First of all, ALL breeding stock is required to pass hip certification. Sound temperament is critical too. The German Shepherd Dog is a WORKING breed and in Germany every dog must prove that it is worthy to pass its genes on to future generations. This is to say that, prior to breeding, each dog must have at least a Shitzhund or IPO title, which is quite a challenge to achieve. Also, every dog must pass an endurance test (AD), which consists of running approximately 12 miles. All of this ensures that only the best and healthiest population is used for breeding. But even within Germany, the breed has split into two types: German Working Bloodlines and German Show Bloodlines:
German Working lines:This German Shepherd dog type is MAINLY bred for its working ability. If you are looking for a dog that will search for drugs or contraband, or will be part of a search and rescue team, you should look for a German Shepherd that comes from working lines. These dogs make great family companions too, but some of them require an experienced handler and trainer.
German Showlines:If you want a strikingly beautiful dog, a head turner - these lines might be for you. A good show line German Shepherd Dog is beauty itself, but its beauty is functional and not abstract. Show line German Shepherds tend to be larger than Working line dogs and brighter in color. Also, they usually have a softer and more agreeable temperament. They too, however, must have a Schutzhund title in order to be bred, and pass a courage test at each National show where they compete - in accordance with SV rules. They make exceptional family companions and protectors. German show line German Shepherds are in no way couch potatoes; they need exercise, training, and lots of social interaction.
American Bloodlines are practically a different breed of dog, as breeders who promote this type do not follow the International German Shepherd breed standart. The German Shepherds of this type usually have thinner bones, narrower heads, exaggerated angulation, and softer ears and pasterns. In addition, there are several health concerns that seem to be more common among these dogs, such as bloat, allergies, and excessive shedding. There is another serious issue to consider when looking at this type of dog - there is no hip certification required by the main breed registries in the United States. There are no temperament tests required either. If you do decide to get an American line German Shepherd, be certain that not only its parents, but all ancestors for at least four generations have healthy OFA certified hips and that you can at least verify the temperament of the parents.
Besides these well-established and distinguished German Shepherd types, each with its own purpose and characteristics, there are also what we call a back-yard German Shepherds these are pet quality dogs that belong to people with little or no knowledge about the breed and because of that, unfortunately, they choose to breed their pets. These German Shepherd breeders dont do health checks on their breeding dogs, do nothing to evaluate their character and structure, never have a plan or a breeding program all they do is just breed their pets, often propagating issues that hurt the breed.One argument that this type of German Shepherd breeders provide in an attempt to justify their breeding practices is that "Well, not everyone is looking for a show/working dog, some people just need a pet". That is true of course, but doesnt it make sense to get your pet dog from well known bloodlines, when you can be certain that not only the parents, but all of the ancestors of your dog were accomplished and health/temperament checked for many generations? Isnt it nice to avoid surprises when it comes to your new family member? And isnt great to know that the breeding was planned with specific goals of improvement in mind? Also, for some pet owners, appearance of their dog is of importance. If you want a gorgeous German Shepherd dog, you do need to get your puppy from gorgeous parents.
I strongly believe that people who do not care too much about their dogs looks, ancestors, and do not want to spend much, should look for their new addition in a shelter or a rescue organization . What a noble thing to do to adopt a lost, abandoned or abused animal. If this was what such people would do, there would be many fewer homeless pets killed eachyear, there would be much less demand for back-yard bred puppies, which in turn would also minimize the unwanted pet problem in the United States. How can you tell that the breeder you are working with is not a back-yard breeder? First things first, good German Shepherd breeders do things with their dogs. They do not just breed them, claming that their breeding stock comes from V and VA bloodlines, SchH titled grandfather, or that some of the dogs in the pedigree are OFA certified. All these are sales pitches used by back-yard breeders in hopes to make them look more reputable. They also often try to make themselves sound special by breeding king, giant, silver, beige, panda, or other non-standard shapes and colors of dogs. All this comes from a lack of knowledge what a German Shepherd really is. Most of them have never even read the German Shepherd breed standard. And unfortunately, these breeders are in the majority, so you have to do your homework. There are a few simple questions you need to ask the German Shepherd breeder you are considering getting a puppy from: What do you do with your dogs? What type of activities? Good German Shepherd breeders do the following things:
They take their dogs to shows. Why is this important? When you enter your dog in a show, the judge, a person whose entire life is devoted to this breed of dogs, who travels the world looking at German Shepherds, who has a successful kennel of his/her own, with years of experience behind his/her belt, will look at your dog, and will tell you what you might want to improve on when looking for a mate for your dog. I am talking here about German SV judges, not all-breed AKC judges, sorry. Also, you can see what other German Shepherd breeders are accomplishing, discuss the latest news, who are the best stud dogs today, etc.
They train their dogs. The German Shepherd dog standard calls for a dog with working qualities. This is a fact that we have to respect and treasure in this breed. This is where the German Shepherds legendary intelligence and versatility comes from. Even if all the breeder does with his/her German shepherds is Agility, fine. As long as they are actively involved and competing in it. Just because the dog has seen a hurdle in the back yard, doesnt mean that this is an Agility dog.
Second: Along with doing things with their breeding dogs, good German Shepherd breeders always x-ray their breeding dogs hips and elbows, and submit the x-rays to SV or OFA for evaluation. Hip and elbow dysplasia is still a problem in the breed, and only animals who have passed certification should be bred. Ask your breeder whether or not the parents of the litter that you are looking at have certified hips and elbows, and if so, ask to see the documentation. This is a question that any reputable German Shepherd breeder will be happy and proud to answer , so dont feel that asking is not polite. What you are looking for, as proof, is either "a" stamp for hips and "a" stamp for elbows on the dogs pedigree (if the certification was done by the SV in Germany and the dog has so-called a-stamp), or an OFA certificate. In both cases, the dogs registered name should be clear on both documents or their copies.
Third: Good German Shepherd breeders always have their dogs well taken care of, clean, well fed, and happy. Visit your breeders facility if the distance allows. If you see hyper-active dogs, this means they are not exercised enough, not mentally stimulated enough, and that not enough time is being spent with them. They do not have the quality of life that these intelligent dogs deserve. Of course, every dog will be happy and excited to see its owner and new visitors, but he/she should not start destroying the dog house because of such an event, or climb the walls of the kennel, or franticly circle it without ever settling down.You should not see dog poop everywhere and the dogs and kennels should not reek of urine. Sure, its possible a dog will make a pile shortly before your visit, that the kennel owner did not have a chance to pick up yet, but not three piles at a time in one kennel, right? One more little piece of advise: before you call a German Shepherd breeder, try to determine what is it you are looking for in your future dog. Perhaps you are looking for a dog that is very active and will be happy to accompany you on your hiking trips and play ball all day with your kids? Or perhaps you are looking for a sweet and loving companion who will follow you everywhere you go? Or perhaps you are interested in trying to see if Schutzhund, or any other dog sport is a good activity for you to do with your German Shepherd dog? Or perhaps you have a specific color preference? If you have answered some of these questions for yourself before you call, you might have an easier time communicating your desires and preferences to your German Shepherd breeder he or she should be more than happy to answer your questions and to tell you if they have the type of puppy or dog that you are looking for. Dont forget, just like people, each German Shepherd has its own unique character, and some are more suitable for you than others.We hope that this gives you an idea what good German Shepherd breeders are like. Wishing you the best of luck in your quest for the perfect German Shepherd dog for you!