Purchasing a German Shepherd Puppy

First, before purchasing a German Shepherd puppy or a dog (applies to every breed), evaluate your family's lifestyle. Do you work many hours or irregular hours out of the home? Are you gone a lot due to work or your social life? Do you have a problem with going home after work, staying home a lot on weekends, or missing some social activities in order to care for and be with your puppy or dog? Do you plan on traveling a lot in the near future? Can you afford to feed and provide veterinary care for a German Shepherd puppy or dog? Are you willing to spend time socializing a puppy, brush a puppy or dog's coat daily, trim his or her nails every other week, clean ears, brush teeth, attend an obedience class, and spend at least 20 minutes a day vigorously exercising your grown-up puppy? In other words, do you have enough time and adequate financial means to care for a puppy or dog?

If any of these questions raises a doubt in your mind, please reconsider getting a German Shepherd puppy or dog now. Buying a puppy is a commitment that must not be taken lightly. By choosing the right puppy at the right time, you have taken on a responsibility that will result in a healthy, well-adjusted dog that will give you joy and happiness for many years. If after reading the above, you have decided on a German Shepherd puppy, here are some pointers on selecting your puppy.

Obviously, many factors affect the selection of the puppy, aside from the personality and lifestyle of the prospective owner. While it is impossible to cover all of them in such a small space, you will have a good start at puppy selection after reading the suggestions below.

  • Ca-Ji Shephereds recommends that you purchase your puppy from a reputable breeder who specializes in German Shepherds. Taking advantage of a breeder’s knowledge and experience provides you with a greater chance of your dog being a credit to the breed and the companion you wish him to be. While pet stores occasionally offer purebred German Shepherd puppies, such puppies are obtained primarily from puppy mills or the occasional back-yard breeder whose main objective in producing puppies is to make a profit. Health problems can be common as the "for profit" breeder does not select the best possible bloodlines that will be compatible for good health, longevity, and good temperament.
  • Evaluate and tour more than one kennel, if possible, and visit more than once. Good nutrition and cleanliness help to produce a healthy, well-adjusted puppy. Avoid visiting more than one kennel each day. You do not want to transmit a potential problem (bacterial or viral) from one kennel to another. All breeders appreciate this concern from a possible buyer.
  • The breeder should not hesitate to show you his or her kennel area and dogs to a potential buyer.
  • If possible, look at the sire and dam of the litter you are interested in seeing. If the sire is not available, look at the dam.
  • Look at earlier progeny out of the same sire and dam, if available. If not, look at previous offspring from at least the dam. This will provide you with some idea of what your puppy will look like.
  • A conscientious breeder wants the best available home for their puppies. Expect them to ask you questions about your familiarity with dogs, whether or not you have fenced yards, and the type of work that you and/or your spouse do for a living. This determines the amount of time you will have available for your new addition. There are very important questions that should be asked by the breeder.
  • You should receive a signed pedigree, a current health record (including wormings and vaccinations), American Kennel Club registration papers, a sales contract, a feeding schedule including type and/or brand of food (and a small supply of food), and a copy of OFA certification of sire and dam, if available.
  • Ask the breeder if the puppies been started on a program of vaccinations and wormings. The answer should be yes.
  • Do the sire and/or dam have hip and elbow OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals at www.offa.org) numbers to certify they are free of hip and elbow dysplasia? If not certified, have they been x-rayed and what were the results?
  • Ask if the breeder uses a sales contract.
  • Ask for a pedigree. A four or five-generation pedigree is preferrable, but the minimum should be a three-generation pedigree.
  • Ask about what guarantees you can expect with your new puppy. A responsible breeder will guarantee his or her puppies for life. The guarantee may vary. Some breeders will require you to return the puppy for a replacement, some will refund all or part of your money, some will not require you to return the puppy, but still offer a replacement or refund. Do not be dismayed at a requirement for a return of a puppy. A puppy may be in severe pain from dysplasia and an owner may not be emotionally prepared to put a puppy down who really should be put down. A responsible breeder will want what's best for the puppy or dog.
  • Decide if you want a male or female. Males and females are similar in many respects but there are marked differences between the sexes that you should be aware of.
  • Males generally become larger and heavier than females. Secondary sex characteristics should be pronounced for males and females. A male should look like a male with pronounced masculinity and a female should look feminine with more delicate features. Females will go into season twice a year, so if you select a female and do not wish to have puppies, it is recommended that she be spayed. Such may be included in a contract. Differences in the sexes in puppies is not as pronounced as in the adult dogs.
  • Males tend to be more territorial, so unless training steps are consistent, marking could become a problem. Both sexes make wonderful companions and protectors.
  • Have some idea what you expect from your new addition so you can inform the breeder. Let him know if you want a pet, show dog, performance dog, or a puppy that will make a good brood bitch in the future.
  • Observe the puppies together, at first. A German Shepherd puppy should have, first and foremost, a good temperament. A puppy should be inquisitive, outgoing, and completely unafraid in his or her advances towards everything and everybody. They will also demand and exhibit affection without inhibition.
  • Sometimes, puppies will single out one of the litter to pick on. This does not mean this puppy is defective in any way. Take this puppy aside and he or she will usually assert himself when away from his or her littermates.
  • Watch as the puppies move about. If you are inexperienced with German Shephered puppies, do not pick the "bully" of the litter. Watch the puppies interact with each other in the litter as well as with you and your family members. Watch the puppies you are considering interact with you without the rest of the litter present.
  • Do not select a shy puppy. You do not want one who is afraid of you and runs and hides. This type of puppy is afraid of people, places, and things. Do not be sympathetic to this type of puppy because it lacks true German Shepherd temperament.
  • German Shepherd puppies generally lengthen along the back and loin rather than become shorter. Look for balance in angulation, especially in the hindquarters as an imbalanced pup will likely never grow into the correct angulation.
  • Ask about local training classes for puppies. Socializing refers to exposing your puppy to a variety of experiences, including meeting lots of people of various ages, races, sizes, and both sexes as well as teaching them how to acceptably interact with other dogs. Puppy kindergarten classes provide an excellent opportunity for socialization in a controlled environment. Socializing is important because it helps strengthen your puppy's confidence and reduces the chance that he or she will become shy or fearful. Fearful dogs can become fear-aggressive or fear-biters.
  • Do not ask too much physically from a young German Shepherd puppy, such as jumping, long runs, etc. While your pup is growing, you can damage the growth plates or exacerbate a tendency to hip dysplasia. Your puppy should be 12-18 months old before any heavy physical demands are placed on him or her.
  • Although some puppies' ears stand as early as 8-10 weeks, don't be concerned if your puppy's ears (especially pups with large ears)don't stand until 6-7 months. Some puppies' ears will go down during teething and come back up after. Some puppies' ears never stand. This is known as a "soft ear." Sometimes taping is successful. (The breeder can suggest methods of taping.) "Soft ears" are a genetic trait, and dogs with soft ears should not be bred even if taping is successful. It is a disqualification in showing. Some German Shepherd ears stand but wiggle at the tips when the dogs run. This is known as "friendly ears." Friendly ears are not a disqualification but are not a desirable trait.
  • Color is not a major consideration in choosing a good German Shepherd as long as the pigment is good. White is an undesirable color and is a disqualification in the AKC confirmation ring.
  • Most pet puppies are sold at eight to ten weeks of age while show quality puppies are sometimes held longer before offering them for sale. This is so the breeder can better determine the components that are necessary for a successful show career. This may be anywhere from three to five months of age.
  • Consult your veterinarian within the first twenty-four hours after picking up your puppy. Have the vet do a complete physical exam and show the vet the health record, including the vaccination schedule and worming schedule.
  • Enjoy your puppy. You have gained a lifelong friend and companion.