The following comments are the opinions of the writer only; with credit given in full
to author's where applicable. I do not claim to be a geneticist, veterinarian
or behaviour specialist. I can only give advice that is based on my own
observations/ experiences and knowledge of the breed and the dogs I
have bred/owned and trained over the past 20 years.
Usually word of mouth is the best endorsement a breeder can have, and is still a very powerful tool, so talk to
many people and ask lots of questions:
Unfortunately, the breeds popularity has opened the door to unknowing backyard breeders and puppy mills
that have produced many dogs of poor quality, genetic abnormalities and many unsound/poor
Below is a list of Some things you can look for/ask of breeders before you
purchase a puppy.
- Is the breeder registered with their Canine control council?
Are they registered with a breed club?
- Responsible breeders can usually be found through referrals from
Veterinarians, dog sport clubs, established kennels, training clubs. or
alternatively you can contact your Canine Association for advice on where to locate your nearest
breed club.- in Victoria it would be
. Dog shows etc are also good places to talk to breeders if you
are a prospective puppy buyer.
- Once you have located a breed club, go for a visit and talk to members, instructors etc.
Try to avoid
the person that can find no fault with his/her dogs.
- Responsible breeders usually have a broad knowledge of the breed and the
ancestors of the dogs within the pedigree. It is good if you can view both
mum and dad if at all possible, but just having the breeding pair on the
premises does not constitute a reputable/responsible breeder!
- A responsible breeder knows about hereditary problems within their breed
and should have a basic knowledge of genetics. The responsible breeder will
try to minimize the chances of any health or temperament problems in their
- Visit shows or training grounds to decide if you are interested in
competition training so you know what you might want to do with your dog. A
breeder can help you choose a puppy that shows the most promise for your
- If you plan to go into competition with your dog, find a kennel with
titles in the field you are interested in e.g. agility, herding, tracking
showing etc, although some dogs can be very versatile and be suited to many
tasks. Even if you don't
intend to compete, your German Shepherd Dog puppy will still need basic
- How many times has the mother been bred? Once a year is adequate.
- How many litters do they produce each year? One, maybe two a year
- or non stop?
- If at all possible, ask to see their dogs, the dog's parents etc. Are their dogs firm and friendly in temperament
or out of control, nasty or shy?
- Again, if possible, ask to visit their kennel, meet their dogs and play with their puppies.
- Look around their premises. Are the kennels & yards clean, spacious, hygienic and well maintained or
small, dirty and in need of repair?
- Look at the dogs - are they groomed, clean and well kept? Are they
athletic, fat or thin?
- What titles do the dogs have? Backyard breeders/Puppy mills rarely put the time nor effort
into gaining titles etc for their dogs.
- Backyard breeders/Puppy mills have limited understanding of what their
breeding goals are- usually not for breed improvement!
- Beware of people that claim to love their dogs; claim that their dogs
are part of
their family, a joy to live with & own etc.... but don't hesitate to sell when the price is right!
- Have the parents been hip & elbow x-rayed, and do they possess an
official 'A' & 'Z' stamp?
- Is one or both parents breed surveyed?
- Are they breeding within the limits of the 'Standard' (a blueprint for
GSD's) to reduce the incidence of breed faults such as
longevity, temperament, skeletal problems etc?
- How many years have they been breeding & How many generations of their
own breeding stock do they own?
- Always ask to see proof of documents and take someone knowledgeable with
you BEFORE you purchase your puppy.
- Prices- generally, Backyard breeders/puppy mills tend to sell their stock off at a
slightly reduced price
compared to the rest of the market, this is for a quick turnover. They
cannot afford to get stuck with older stock, as they become more difficult
- If buying through a paper, be sure to screen why they are selling this
way rather than through a breed club. This is not necessarily a bad thing as
I sometimes do this myself, but be
sure to do your homework and ask some of the above questions.
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The best place for more information on the breed is through a breed club.
In Australia it is the German Shepherd Dog Club of Australia which also has
branches across Australia e.g. GSD Club of Victoria, GSD Club of South
Australia, GSD Club of Western Australia etc.
Your veterinarian can help you with some breed advice, particularly on
certain health problems you may encounter with the breed.
Alternatively, you can contact the Victorian Canine Association for contacts
or training clubs.
Links to these sites are
available on the home page.
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This is primarily a matter of preference, since a dog of either sex can
make a good companion. Remember that a female dog, when mature, usually comes
into heat twice a year, attracting male dogs. Unless spayed, litters of
unwanted puppies may be born, adding to an already surplus population of
unwanted dogs. A male dog can cause damage to shrubs and low growing bushes by
frequently urinating on them.
If you have no intention of using the dog for breeding, you should discuss
with your veterinarian the best time to neuter or spay your dog. This will
prevent more unwanted puppies and generally the dog becomes a more
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What age should I start training
my GSD puppy?
As soon as your puppy arrives home you are training him/her.
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At around 8-10 weeks is a good time, as they are fit to
travel and ready for their new lives.
Sometimes due to demand puppies are disposed of at 5 or 6 weeks of age, 'An
intelligent breeder will not do this, for he only damages his own reputation
by disposing of such 'unfinished' animals, who through change of keeping,
surroundings and nourishment, are considerably debilitated, and are
overwhelmed by the new influences which a stronger dog can bear without hurt
to himself.' (Von Stephanitz).
This view is substantiated by Scott & Fuller (Genetics & the social
behaviour of the dog). whose studies confirmed the critical stages
of development to be between 3-7 weeks of age (give or take a week), and again
by M. Willis (The German Shepherd Dog-A genetic history of the breed)
-Socialization Period- This occurs from 3-12 weeks of age. The dog will
develop emotional attachments to other dogs and to humans during this stage
even if contact with the latter is relatively limited. Peak capacity is around
6-8 weeks when weaning is being undertaken and it must be accomplished
by 12 weeks. Failure to socialize by 12 weeks will usually lead to
difficulties later with such dogs. They will frequently have character
defects, including timidity.
In their book (1965) (Genetics & the social behaviour
of the dog) Scott & Fuller considered there were 4 stages in
behavioural periods, being the Neonatal,
Transitional, Socialization and Juvenile. These important stages of
development are considered able to be applicable to most canine breeds.
Puppies usually wean between 4-6
weeks of age, but the weeks following this are critical for the puppy to learn some
basic 'pack' behaviours. After 12 weeks of age, make sure the breeder
has taken extra care to socialize the puppy/ puppies with a multitude of
environmental situations, various people and animals. If this has been
neglected, the puppy will never reach it's full potential in life.
In my kennel, puppies are left
with their mother until SHE decides the time is right. I try not to interfere
with the upbringing of her children too much, and introduce the puppies to a
dog influence a week or two before they leave our kennel
allowing the male to run with the puppies under supervision.
Instinctively, the male takes over from the female and a whole new
'invaluable' lesson in life is taught to the pups. This is an integral part of
raising the well adjusted,
sound companions we are known to consistently produce.
I must stress that our males are Extremely sound and
we do not recommend you let baby puppies run with adults without supervision
as injuries can and do result from allowing this. Injuries such as broken
bones, muscle damage etc are not uncommon when adults and pups are let run
Note: Always supervise dogs with children and
children with dogs.
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But I only want a pet, does it really matter
where it comes from?
Purchasing a dog from a responsible breeder will cost little
more than buying a poor quality dog from a pet store or an unknowledgeable
person. Good breeders care about the puppies they bring into the world and
where they are placed. A good breeder will ask as many questions of you as you
will of them! Don't be surprised if your asked about your home, your plans for
the puppy, and in some instances; referrals, so they can decide if they want
to place a puppy with you/your family.
Does it matter where your puppy comes from?
When you purchase your puppy, it should be after very careful
consideration. Your decision should be based on the information you collect
about the breed and your financial status. Buying a German Shepherd Dog should be considered
as a carefully planned addition to your family and not an impulsive
acquisition that you will come to regret. If you want a sound, disease free
puppy with parents that have been screened for debilitating hereditary faults
the breeder has spent countless hours raising well adjusted animals that will
make suitable companions for the public, then
the answer is definitely YES it does matter where your puppy comes from!
A reputable breeder wants your companion to be a successful
addition to your family and your lifestyle, and will usually supply you with
some sort of
guarantee (most guarantees are up to 12 months of age) in the event that any
unforeseen problems arise. A reputable breeder
will also be available for
after sales service.
When you purchase a product from a store you usually intend to
buy the best you can afford for your money and most people wouldn't
consider paying good money for potentially faulty goods - so why risk such an important
addition to your family?
Remember the old adage, "You get what you pay for?"
Joining an obedience club is an excellent
idea. It is an ideal place for you both to learn alot and you will get more
satisfaction from dog ownership. You will learn how to teach and your dog will
benefit as your pupil. The word 'Obedience' does not mean you will brow-beat
your dog into subservience, on the contrary, it will help establish a healthy
rapport between you and your dog which will help build a trusting relationship
between you both.
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if I de-sex my dog it will gain weight.
Well don't be worried.
Whether or not your pet gains weight is entirely up
to you The answer is simply DO NOT overfeed your
dog. Females do have a reduction of hormones called oestrogens -so it is
important not to overfeed her and there may be a reduction in the males
activity, so once again, try not to overfeed.
If your dog is not intending for breeding then
neutering your companion is the most responsible
thing you can do, preferably around 6 months of age is recommended. Females
that are not de-sexed require a fully enclosed pen including roof and are in
'season' for around 3 weeks usually twice a year.
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Copyright © 2003 [Camnusch]. All rights reserved.