Pre purchase puppy




Adapted from the original by Cheryl Minnier of Golden Retriever Rescue


Looking for a puppy

Questions to ask yourself


Looking for an German Shepherd  Puppy?

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 18months  old.

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 problems.

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 question?

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 yard?

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 made.

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 breeder.

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!






Questions to ask yourself


  • Are prepared to take full responsibility for this dog and all its needs for the next 10-12 years  or more? This is NOT a task that can be done by children!



  • Invest the considerable time, money and patience it takes to train the dog to be a good companion? This does not happen by itself!!!


  • Always keep the dog safe: no running loose, riding in the back of an open utility or  truck or being chained outside?


  • Make sure the dog gets enough attention and exercise? Remember, German Shepherds are from the Working dog class and must have something to occupy their minds.


  • Live with shedding, GSD's do shed  twice a year in males and before every season in a undesexed female and require weekly grooming to manage their double coats.


  • Spend the money it takes to provide proper veterinary care including but certainly not limited to: annual vaccines, heartworm testing and monthly year-round preventive, spaying/neutering?


  • Become educated about the proper care of the breed, correct training methods and how to groom? There are many good books available, why not invest the time to read a few now?


  • Keep the breeder informed and updated on the dogs accomplishments and problems?


  • Take the questions to the breeder or other appropriate professional before they become problems that are out of hand?


  • 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?


  • Resist impulse buying, and instead have the patience to make a responsible choice?


  • If you answered yes to ALL of the above you are ready to start contacting breeders. Start early because most responsible breeders have a waiting list ranging from a few months to a couple of years. Remember, the right puppy or adult dog IS worth waiting for!


  • 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 exceptions.

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 !