Adapted from the original by Cheryl Minnier of Golden
for a puppy
Questions to ask yourself
Looking for an German Shepherd
Because we in rescue often receive or must reject the results of irresponsible
breeders or irresponsible puppy sales, we have compiled this information to help
you make the right choice in a puppy. Before you fall in love with the first
adorable German Shepherd face you see, take the time in an initial phone call to
ask the following questions. You may not find a breeder who fits 100% of these
criteria but don't settle for anything less than one or two negative responses.
At the end of the list you will find questions to ask yourself. You should be
able to answer all of them affirmatively before you begin your search.
Remember, you are adding a new member to your family for the next 10-12 years.
NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO BARGAIN HUNT!! Prepare to spend at least $400-$600 or
more for a well bred puppy.
You may have known someone who has or you may yourself have purchased a
"backyard" bred dog or a pet store puppy mill dog and had great success.
However, the high number of serious problems seen in the breed today make this
event unlikely to reoccur. Chief among these are temperament problems ranging
from aggression to shyness to hyperactivity. Hip dysplasia, and auto immune
disorders, skin problems are also becoming prevalent.
Responsible breeders will do all they can to avoid these problems by researching
pedigrees and screening parents for certain inherited problems before breeding.
Keep this checklist by the phone when you make calls and Good Luck!!
1) Where did you find out about this breeder? Responsible breeders usually have
a waiting list of puppy buyers. They usually don't find it necessary to
advertise in newspapers or with a sign out in the front yard.
2) Do both parents (the sire and dam) have a hip clearance from the German
Shepherd Dog Council of Australia?. Ask to see the certificates. "My vet okayed
the x-ray" is not a valid clearance. Make sure both parents are at least
3) Do both parents have Elbow Dysplasia certificates. These are issued by the
German Shepherd Dog Club of Australia after the probability of this disfiguring
condition is evaluated.
4) How often is the dam bred? If it is every heat cycle, THIS IS TOO OFTEN, and
may indicate that profit is the primary motive for the breeding.
5) Do all four grandparents, better yet also the great grandparents, siblings of
the parents and any other puppies that they may have produced have these
clearances? A responsible breeder will keep track of these statistics and
honestly discuss any problems that have occurred in the lines and what has been
done to prevent them from occurring.
6) Is the breeder willing to provide you with references and telephone numbers
of other people who have purchased puppies from them?
7) Will the puppy have a limited registration with a mandatory spay/neuter
contract? A breeder who cares enough about the breed to insist on these is
likely to be a responsible breeder.
8) On what basis was the sire chosen? If the answer is "because he lives right
down the street" or "because he is really sweet", it may be that sufficient
thought was not put into the breeding.
9) WILL THE BREEDER TAKE THE DOG BACK AT ANY TIME, FOR ANY REASON, IF YOU CANNOT
KEEP IT?! This is the hallmark of responsible breeding (and the quickest way to
make rescue obsolete).
10) Is there a written guarantee against congenital health or temperament
11) Will the breeder be available to answer any questions you might have for the
life of the dog? Is this someone you would feel comfortable asking any type of
12) Is the breeder knowledgeable about the breed? Does the breeder share the
less desirable aspects of the breed?, i.e. excessive shedding, barking,
independent thinkers. A responsible breeder will tell you the good as well as
the bad. Does he/she make suggestions on books, literature, or websites that can
help you understand the breed and make an informed decision? Is he/she involved
in competition with their dogs (field, obedience, or confirmation)?
13) Are there a majority of titled dogs (the initials: CH, CD, CDX, UD, TDX, V,
VA, BSC1, BSC2, ... before or after the names) in the first two generations? The
term champion lines means nothing if those tittles are back three or more
generations or there is only one or two in the whole pedigree.
14) Are the puppy's sire and dam available for you to meet? If the sire is
unavailable can you call his owners or people who have the puppies to ask about
temperament or health problems?
15) Have the puppies been raised in the home - not in a kennel, barn or the back
16) Is the breeder knowledgeable about raising puppies, critical neonatal
periods, proper socialization techniques? Puppies that are raised without high
exposure to gentle handling, human contact and a wide variety of noises and
experiences OR are removed from their dam or litter mates before at least 7
weeks, may exhibit a wide variety of behavioural problems!
17) Does the breeder provide you with a 3-5 generation pedigree, a contract to
sign, copies of all clearances and a guarantee, health records and material to
help with feeding, training and housebreaking?
18) Have the puppies temperaments been evaluated and can the breeder guide you
to the puppy that will best suit your lifestyle? A very shy puppy will not do
well in a noisy household with small children, just as a very dominant puppy
won't flourish in a sedate, senior citizen household. A caring breeder will know
the puppies and be able to show you how to test them so that good matches can be
19) Do the puppies seem healthy, with no discharge from eyes or nose, no loose
stools, no foul smelling ears? Are their coats soft, full and clean? Do they
have plenty of energy when awake yet calm down easily when gently stroked?
20) Do the puppies have their first shots and have they been wormed and vet
checked by the time they go home?
21) Does the breeder have only 1 or at the MOST 2 breeds of dogs and only 1 or 2
litters at a time? If there are many breeds of dogs in their kennels, the
chances are the breeder cannot devote the time it takes to become really
knowledgeable about any one breed. If there is more than one litter at a time it
is very difficult to give the puppies the attention they need and may indicate
that the primary purpose for breeding is profit, rather than a sincere desire to
improve the breed.
22) Does the breeder belong to the German Shepherd Dog Club of Australia or the
Australian Kennel Control Council? Such clubs have a code of ethics that the
breeder agrees to although membership does not necessarily guarantee a reputable
23) Do you feel comfortable with this person, after all you will be entering
into a decade long relationship? Are you feeling pressured or intimidated in any
way? If so, keep looking!
Have the patience to accept responsibility
for the dog despite inevitable life changes such as new babies, kids going
off to school, divorce, relocation, or returning to work?
It is recommended to desex any female dog
before their first heat cycle usually between 6 - 9 months, if they are not
going to be bred from. If you desex prior to the first heat you have just
guaranteed that your dog will never have breast cancer, pyometria of the
cervix and other disorders and disease pertaining to the reproductive
organs. With male dogs, it can also be helpful to have them desexed, before
they are 12 months old if they are not going to be used for breeding. This
will elimate the problem of them prowling the streets in search of love,
you'd be surprised how far they will travel. Dominate males will mark their
territory by urinating, if they are desexed this seems to be squashed.
Which sex is better? It far better in most
cases, to choose the temperament over the sex of the puppy/adult dog. If you
like an easy life go for the placid puppy in the litter, and also if you
have small chldren, as a over boisterous & energetic dog can be a worry to
some children if you are active or would like to work your dog, choose the
puppy that is into everything and loves chewing anything these puppies are
generally easier to motivate in training and will shine more in the
conformation ring, just a general observation, but like people there are
A word about rescue dogs.....
Rescue dogs may or may not be responsibly bred. However, since they are adults,
they can be to evaluated for any signs of a problem before you fall in love,
something that can't be done with a puppy. We consider this just one of the
advantages to adopting an adult or older dog!
Good Luck In Your Search !