How Much Does A German Shepherd Cost? (Updated for 2021)

German Shepherds are truly amazing dogs as they are the third most intelligent breed of dog on the planet. They are also known for their trainability, temperament, loyalty, and obedience. If you are looking at getting a German Shepherd Dog, here are some facts that will give you a better idea of what you are getting into and how much they will cost you.

In general, a German Shepherd puppy bought from reputable breeders can cost from $800 to $3,000, depending on the age, color, location, and the breeder’s costs on health screening and vaccinations. Adopting a German Shepherd could be less than $150 from animal shelters or around $150 to $500 from rescue organizations.

Or if you happen to know someone who can’t keep their German Shepherd, you might be lucky to get one for free.

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What factors determine the price of a German Shepherd Dog?

The cost of a German Shepherd puppy does vary, depending upon her age, color, bloodline, litter size, location, as well as the amount the breeder has invested into health tests.

German Shepherds obtained from animal shelters and rescue organizations are relatively inexpensive because they charge only enough to cover their costs.

Here are the 5 most prominent factors that will affect the price of a German Shepherd:

1. Age

Age is the most important factor for determining the price of a German Shepherd Dog. All in all, it has a lot to do with the desirability of a cuddly puppy.

Puppies that are only 8-12 weeks old will cost the most. It is because this marks the beginning of the most precious moments of a puppy. The demand drives up the price.

The price of puppies of 12 weeks or older will start to decrease. Adult dogs will be offered at much lower prices because some people see them as less desirable.

Another reason is that the new owner may need to set a budget for health issues related to senior dogs.

2. Coat Color

Some colors are more expensive than others. For German Shepherd, colors such as white will cost more than the usual black and tan. This is because these rare coat colors are more difficult to breed.

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3. Bloodline

Although purebred German Shepherds are the most sought-after puppies, mixed breed pups usually cost much less and have the potential to be healthier than many purebreds.

In general, German Shepherds have working lines and show lines, totaling five different variations. We will get into them later in this article.

4. Litter size

It refers to the number of puppies in a litter. Usually, the more the number of puppies in a litter, the cheaper the price will become.

5. Location

The location from where you purchase your German Shepherd can actually affect how much you pay.

Areas with a lower cost of living, or places where there is less demand will typically charge lower prices than more populated cities.

Certain states or cities may even have more regulations on breeding which may increase the cost, thus the price of a German Shepherd pup.

5. Health screening, vaccinations, and more

A good breeder will always provide documentation of vaccinations, health screening results, or even genetic testing (which provide clues to a dog’s behavioral traits, and even help identify breed-specific health problems). And these all come at a cost for the breeders.

What are the different variations of the German Shepherd bloodline and their prices?

You have probably stumbled upon different variations of German Shepherd Dogs. Purebred German Shepherds do come in many different sizes, colors, coloration patterns, and body styles.

In general, German Shepherds are divided into working lines and show lines, totaling five different variations. Here is a four-minute video from which you can learn about their variations:

1. American/Canadian Show Line

The American/Canadian Show line is what you see most commonly as show dogs in the US and Canada. They have a distinctive angulation with their back legs shorter than their front legs, thinner bones, and significantly smaller heads. They come in quite a few colors, mostly solid with occasional bi-color variations, including black and tan saddle, solid back, solid white, and saddle sable.

Originally bred for their appearance, the American/Canadian Show Line doesn’t have as much energy or work drive as other working lines. But their obedient and playful character make them fantastic pets.

Price range: An American/Canadian Show Line puppy from a reputable breeder can cost anywhere from $1000 to $1500.

2. West German Show Line

The West German Show Line is bred strictly according to the German Shepherd Breed Standard. There are certain measurement minimums for their hips and elbows. This results in a stunning, very specific, and uniform appearance. These dogs have a very strong, pronounced build with a black and tan saddle, and solid back.

They make good house protectors and need a lot of exercises and to be trained frequently. These dogs are very social. So they are perfect for families with kids.

Price Range: A West German Show Line puppy may cost $5,000 to $8,000.

3. West German Working Line

The West German Working Line is primarily bred to be working dogs, especially in law enforcement and military functions. The breeding process is aimed to develop the dog’s endurance for adverse situations.

This is the line of GSD you would normally see in movies. They are also closest to the original breed that was bred and developed by Max von Stephanitz, who is acknowledged as the father of German Shepherd Dogs.

With a stable temperament, they excel in working jobs, and also make awesome family pets.

Price range: A West German Working Line puppy can cost anywhere from $1500 to $3000.

4. DDR/East German Working Line

Developed after World War II from the war dogs, the DDR/East German Working Line is maintained strictly by the ex-government of East Germany. Rigid control of the original DDR breed prevents the gene poll from diluting.

They must be free from any history of hip dysplasia, among other health conditions, to be able to reproduce. This resulted in a very distinct look – with large heads, large bones and a shinny dark coat.

The DDR/East German Working Line can endure hostile weather conditions for extended periods of time due to their breeding history, and were initially bred as guards in between the borders of East and West Germany.

Price range: A DDR/East German Working Line puppy are prized from $1500 to $3000.

5. Czech Working Line

The Czech Working Line was a further enhancement of the DDR/East German Shepherd. The Czech further tightened the breeding standards, resulting in arguably the most intense breed of German Shepherd available to date.

This line wasn’t bred for aesthetic reasons. But they are extremely loyal and obedient, with a pleasant temperament. They could be the best guard dog to protect people.

Price range: A Czech Working Line puppy can cost anywhere from $1500 to $3000. But they are extremely rare nowadays.

Other factors that affect the cost of a German Shepherd Dog

A puppy whose parents (and often grandparents and other relatives) are hunting champions has the potential to excel in these areas as well. And it will cost you more than any puppy who is the offspring of just average parents.

And the most expensive German Shepherds are those adults with proven records as show dogs, K9, or breeding dogs. It’s considered that there is very little risk involved in purchasing a proven German Shepherd – and these dogs will be priced accordingly.

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What is a reasonable price for a German Shepherd puppy?

Reputable breeders, when pricing their German Shepherd puppies, must factor in the expenses involved in breeding, feeding, raising and caring for the pups as well as their mother.

A reasonable price for a German Shepherd puppy should be around $1000, depending on your location and the litter size.

If you have ever asked the question: “Why are puppies so expensive?”, you should understand the very basic cost for the breeders. Below are the estimated costs for your reference:

Cost for a puppy:

  • Genetic health testing: $250 to $750
  • Vaccinations: $100 to $500
  • De-worming: $25
  • Microchipping: $50
  • Veterinary check-ups:  $125
  • AKC registration: $30 (Basic Individual Dog Registration)

Minimum cost per puppy: $580

Cost for the parent (mom):

  • Stud services: $500 to $1000
  • C-sections and birthing complications (in case): $2,000 – $7,000
  • Dog food, vitamins, supplements: $100 to $200
  • Veterinary check-ups:  $125

The minimum cost for maternity care, with no complications: $725

Thus, it may not even be reasonable for you to buy a puppy for less than $580, with the consideration of the cost a breeder has to bear at the minimum for the puppy as well as the mother.

That said, when you are looking to purchase a puppy, do not be tempted to go to a low-cost pet store or search for the cheapest puppies online. These puppies are often bred in very poor conditions and are prone to health issues.

They often come from puppy mills (or are produced by inexperienced or backyard breeders) who are more concerned with making a profit than providing you with a healthy pup. Thus, a bargain may eventually cost you a fortune with their medical bills in the long run.

Go to AKC Marketplace – PuppyFinder to find AKC-Registered litters and the breeders in your area. (US only)

How much does owning a German Shepherd cost annually?

Purchasing your pup is only the beginning of all. You are also advised to do your own research on how much does it cost to own and care for your beloved German Shepherd in the years to come.

The cost of dog-keeping varies considerably depending on your German Shepherd (including size, age and overall health), the quality of supplies and equipment, and even where you live. The following numbers should give you an idea of what to expect:

For a german shepherd puppy in her first year:

  • Veterinary care, including general care and laboratory tests: $100 to $200
  • Immunizations: $100 to $200
  • Spaying/neutering: $100 to $300
  • Internal and external parasite treatment and control: $100 to $150
  • Food: $300 to $500
  • Miscellaneous expenses including crate, collar, leash, bowls, toys, grooming supplies and training: $500 to $1000

Total: $1,100 to $2,350 for the first year only.

For an adult dog, the annual costs could involve:

  • Veterinary care, including general care and laboratory tests: $100 50 $200
  • Immunizations: $100 to $200
  • Internal and external parasite treatment and control: $100 – $150
  • Food: $500 to $1,000
  • Miscellaneous expenses: $500 to $1000

Total: $1300 to $2550 per year onwards.

These figures are estimates only and they do not include expenses related to illnesses, injuries, showing, competition, breeding, boarding or travel. Senior dogs usually require more health care than adults or puppies.

From these figures, the care for a healthy German Shepherd living up to the age of 12 years could easily cost $15,400 to $30,400 or more.

Further questions

Are German Shepherds good for first-time owners?

If you are able to satisfy GSDs’ need for socialization, training, exercise, grooming, and potential veterinary care, a German Shepherd will be good for you as a first-time owner.

Check out our post to learn more:

Are German Shepherds Good for First-Time Owners?

What makes a German Shepherd Dog expensive?

Factors such as purity of breed, rarity, color, can drive up the price of a German Shepherd Dog. Offsprings of prize-winning dogs can also be very expensive.

Can I get a  German Shepherd Dog for free?

If you happen to know someone who can’t keep their German Shepherd, you might be lucky to get one for free.

How to make sure I am buying from a reputable breeder?

A good breeder will always let you meet the parents, as well as provide you with adequate health certificates.

Summary

Getting a German Shepherd, and/or any other dog, is not a simple decision that anyone should make on impulse. So it is very important that you do your research and are aware of the price for the pup as well as the various costs you will encounter in the years to come.

Hopefully, this article has provided the information to help you make an educated decision on how much you should budget for your long-awaited German Shepherd.