Often, I look through various websites to find information or just to review the thoughts and experiences of breeders, vets and German Shepherd Dog experts. There is so much information out there and I don't agree with everything or everyone on the internet, but there are a few websites that I feel are an excellent source of information. Also, there are several websites that discuss various GSD groups that would benefit both first time German Shepherd owners, as well as those with several years of experience.
The first article is called "Straight Talk" and, if you are debating about a German Shepherd Dog, it is an article I think you should really read. I can no longer find the link, but here is the article in its entirety:
Straight Talk About Owning a German Shepherd
So you think you want a German shepherd? Are you ready to rock the coolest, most loyal dog-ever? If so, this is what all German shepherd owners would tell you when you bring one home.
They don’t call ‘em ‘German Shedders’ for nothing
German shepherds shed a lot. Don’t get a German shepherd unless you don’t mind dog fur bunnies floating around the house, on your furniture, in the fridge, and stuck to your clothes (unless you plan to keep the dog outside).
Yes, Velcro dogs are a breed
If you plan to keep your German shepherd outside, think again. German shepherds are loving, family dogs and don’t do well forgotten in a yard. They require human companionship or they become destructive and can have other behavior problems.
There is a fine selection ready for adoption, today
If you have trouble believing that German shepherds don’t do well alone, according to the German Shepherd Rescue of Colorado, German shepherds are the most abandoned breed of dog dumped in rescues and shelters. If German shepherds are so great why are they dumped? Read on.
Owning a German shepherd is like having a toddler in the house for 12-14 years
German shepherds are amazingly smart and need companionship, consistent training, and ongoing socialization to stimulate them mentally. If you’re looking for a true companion animal, German shepherds make great dogs. If you don’t have time to spend with your dog every day, you probably need to move on.
Say goodbye to your couch potato life
German shepherds are high energy and require lots of exercise but you don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to provide it. As long as you can go for walks, throw the ball a thousand times, and have a safe place for the dog to run, you should be good to go.
A great idea if you’re looking for a hobby to do EVERY DAY of the year
German shepherds are high drive, need a job, and are great athletes. If you’ve wanted a dog to participate in dog sports, dog activities, or to formally train, you may have found a match made in heaven.
There is a reason they are called German shepHERDS
German shepherds are herding dogs and need a job. Because they are herding dogs, if you live in the country or are around livestock, unless you can contain and train the dog, they will appoint themselves as resident herder and serious problems may result, including chasing and harming livestock.
They are what you make them
German shepherds are somewhat aloof and naturally protective of their family and territory so they require lots of socialization to keep them good citizens. Exposing them to people, other dogs, lots of situations, and environments will create a well balanced confident dog. German shepherds that are not socialized can become aggressive or fearful dogs that may bite.
They live to love their people
Because German shepherds are naturally protective and very smart, well socialized dogs makes excellent watch dogs that will alert and protect your family with their life.
Be prepared for a dog that will try to outthink you
German shepherds are brilliant and train easily but also tend to be dominate and will take over if given the chance. They need strong leadership, guidance, and training by someone who understands and respects them and does not rule with an iron fist.
It may seem like they can read your mind
German shepherds love their people and want to be with them as much as possible. They are sensitive, perceptive, and easily pick up on non verbal cues.
Like pawprints, each German shepherd is unique
When picking a German shepherd don’t run out and get the first dog you see just because it melts your heart. Each German shepherd is very unique and in this case, selecting the right dog can make the difference between the perfect dog for you and finding yourself in way over your head. West German show lines and working lines, East German show and working lines, Czech, Dutch, American, American show lines, and more all have varying levels of prey drive, temperaments, energy levels, personalities, exercise and training requirements and more. Do yourself a favor and talk to German shepherd owners, clubs, and breeders before getting a German shepherd.
German Shepherds are the best dogs-EVER
Ask any German shepherd owner and they will tell you they are the best dogs, ever. Their awesome personalities, loyalty to their people, devotion, intelligence, trainability for nearly anything, and protective nature make them wonderful companions and family members. By choosing the right fit for your family, they will give you unparalleled love and dedication for years to come.
WHY IS DM TESTING IMPORTANT? HERE IS A LINK THAT EXPLAINS THE REASON ALL BREEDERS SHOULD TEST:
Please be careful of breeders who claim their dogs have good hips without having any testing completed. They will claim none of their dogs have ever had hip problems (or show signs) but refuse to do the testing. Not only should you ask to see the OFA certificates for the parents, but the breeder should also be able to show at least a 5 generation pedigree of hip testing. Back Yard Breeders who don't invest in their breeding dogs and who don't focus on improving the breed are destroying the German Shepherd Dog.
Breeding Gigantic, over-sized dogs can also have severe consequences to the dogs joints and overall health.
Here is a website that discusses the breed and the breed standards:
Buying a German Shepherd Dog from a reputable breeder is always more expensive than buying from a backyard breeder. Reputable breeders, however, tend to make less per puppy than most backyard breeders. This is because we invest in proper health screening prior to pregnancy, artificial insemination, ultrasounds, x-rays, pregnancy check-ups, vitamins, housing, training, proper care and vet visits for puppies, puppy bedding, heating lamps, dog beds, crates, kennels, etc. - the list goes on. Any "profit" made is then put back into the dogs and often times, additional funds are needed from our personal accounts.
Purchasing a female worthy of breeding typically costs between $6,000 - $12,000 and stud fees at reputable kennels typically range from $1000-$2000. If we keep a puppy from our own breeding, we often invest several thousands before the dog is ready to breed at the age two (food, vet care, housing, proper health screening, training, etc.). Sometimes, after those investments are already made, we decide we don't want to use the dog for breeding due to an unfavorable trait or sometimes there may be fertility issues and we can't use the dogs even though we want to. Backyard breeders tend to just take two "purebred" dogs and let them breed with no regards to health, conformation or temperament. This often results in dogs being surrendered to shelters/rescues, early death and costly vet bills. This isn't always the case - sometimes luck is on your side and you may get a perfect, healthy gsd from a backyard breeder. Responsible breeders, however, do their part in trying to ensure the health of their puppies.
This links discusses breeders, what to look for and pricing of specific dogs. These are general numbers and you will find dogs that are more or less depending on where you live, the individual dog and pedigrees you are looking for. The more impressive the pedigree and potential for the dog to excel in the show ring/protection sports, the more you will pay, as with many other types of animals. It does, however, give some ideas as what to expect and is a good description of the different types of breeders that exist.
What are the costs associated with owning a German Shepherd Dog? This is something you should really consider before you decide to rush out and get that cute little puppy. The up-front costs to purchase a puppy are just the beginning.
Here is a great article that addresses common questions people have about their German Shepherd Dog.
There are many different types of "German Shepherds". These include European (German, Czech, DDR, Belgian, etc) "working" and "show" lines as well as American lines. Working lines tend to be bred for working ability. In order to be able to work, these dogs need to be healthy, agile and have a sound temperament. Appearance (coat length, color, etc) is secondary. Show lines tend to be bred for appearance, conformation, gait, etc. with working ability being secondary. However, Europe has strict breeding criteria which both Working and Show lines have to meet. This includes OFA hip certification (equivalent - A stamped), AD - Endurance test and at least a Sch 1 (IPO or equivalent) title. The dog should also have a breed survey. All of our dogs come from 100% European import lines in order to ensure the proper testing has been done for several generations and giving us the best probability of having only healthy puppies with good, sound, confident temperaments.
American lines are not required to have any hip certifications or temperament tests per the AKC. You could breed two dysplastic dogs with poor temperaments and still have the puppies papered. In the American show lines, you see extreme rear angulation and poor temperaments are more common. Again - there are exceptions. I have seen some breeders of American lines that have done all the proper testing for several generations and are trying to improve the breed.
Here is a link that may explain some of the differences.
Are you thinking of adding a "Plush" or "Long" (Coated) shepherd? Here is a link that describes some of the differences and answers many questions people have asked.
Here is a link to a website that lists several different trainers, events and activities for the dog enthusiast in the Northern California area:
We have used a trainer to visit our home and start working with our litters as early as 4.5 weeks old. The puppies are started on some very basic obedience via the Clicker Training Method. The trainer we use is Marty who owns Pawsitive Training Center. For more information about Marty, please visit his website at:
One of the most common questions addresses spay/neutering of your dog. This is a great article on the Canine Athlete and considerations to be taken when deciding on whether or not to de-sex your dog and when to do it.
The German Shepherd Dog Club of America gives great information about the breed and special events that may be taking place near you. For new German Shepherd Dog owners who are interested in participating in show or sporting events, this is a great opportunity to go watch and speak to experienced dog handlers.
If interested in the sport of Schutzhund, I would recommend contacting a local club. Information about Clubs and events can be found at the United Schutzhund Clubs of America.
Our primary vet is Brink Veterinary Clinic Inc. in Palo Cedro, CA. Please feel free to contact them should you have any questions about our dogs or their care. They are a small, family-orientated business who know us all by our first names and give that extra special personal service to our fur babies. Here is a link to their contact information:
For hip/elbow certifications, we prefer to use VCA Gateway in Anderson. They are a lot more expensive than some of the other local vets, but they have modern equipment and a quick return as they submit the x-rays electronically. Cottonwood Small Animal Hospital and Anderson Veterinary Clinic are somewhat less expensive and also perform this service if you don't mind waiting a little longer for the results. Here is a link to their websites:
In Shasta County, we have used the Cottonwood Small Animal Clinic for artificial insemination and semen collection services. Cottonwood Small Animal Clinic now offers trans-cervical insemination but this process must be well planned to work. Dana Park Veterinary also offers vaginal insemination services.
In regards to consecutive breeding questions, we have consulted with numerous reproductive specialists who agree that consecutive breeding is healthiest for the female dog. It assists in preventing cancers, uterine infections and infertility. Additionally, during each heat cycle, the female's body goes through the same hormonal changes as during pregancy, which is why we often see "false pregnancies" in dogs. I have asked my reproduction vet about consecutive breeding as we want to do what's best for our dogs. Here is what she wrote in regards to my questions: "The fewer "open" cycles she has had, the more fertile she will be. The uterus accumulates change at each non-pregnant cycle, which will contribute to infertility later on. The ONLY reason, besides our wants/needs/convenience, medically not to breed back to back is if there is concern for her overall health post-whelping. Some bitches lose a good amount of weight with copious lactation and large litters, no matter how well managed they were in pregnancy and lactation. If she hasn't caught up back to her normal status that way, I recommend waiting. There are LOTS of opinions on this, as you said, but that is the consensus medically. Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael begins breeding bitches after health testing is performed at 2 years, and as long as they are doing well (and have an appropriate sire to match them), they are bred consecutively and retired/spayed after x number of litters depending on how they produce and what their offspring turn out to be. Their program is also run by a reproductive specialist, and they are, after all, trying to optimize fertility to benefit their guide programs with maximum efficiency."
"It's pretty remarkable that their uteruses are tiny and quiet when they've just recently had a litter. We see this apparent at surgical breedings-- many dogs have whelped on their last cycle and you would never know the difference looking at their uterus and another "rested" uterus."
"I would definitely recommend breeding back-to-back, again, because each cycle that passes takes away from her potential to carry successfully. I think most bitches once they creep into 6-7 years have tougher times whelping and keeping up with puppies if they do get pregnant."
For all reproductive questions and concerns, we use UC Davis Small Animal Clinic in Davis, CA: