The Complete Guide to Finding a Purebred German Shepherd Puppy
When it comes to finding a purebred German Shepherd, there is a lot that you should look out for and consider. While you always have a variety of other options including adopting a puppy from a local shelter or rescuing one, going straight to a reputable dog breeder can have many advantages.
In this guide, we’re going to walk you through the essential steps to finding reputable/responsible/reliable breeders for purebred German Shepherd puppies. We will first start with the pros and cons of owning a purebred dog, then provide you with resources on how to find a good breeder and some key things you should look for when doing so.
- Do your homework: research the breed
- What are the pros and cons of owning a purebred dog?
- Where to find a purebred GSD puppy?
- How to identify a reputable/responsible breeder?
- What to expect from a reputable/responsible/reliable breeder?
- Why should you buy a German Shepherd from a reputable breeder?
- The breeder interview: what questions will a breeder ask you?
- What questions should you ask a breeder?
- The paperwork you will get from a breeder
Do your homework: research the breed
First thing first, getting a dog is not only a long commitment, but it is also a responsibility. Your dog will solely depend on you for everything she will need for the rest of her life, including but not limited to food, shelter, training, socialization, veterinarian care, grooming and more.
There are certain physical characteristics, such as training, exercise, health issues, temperaments, that can pose challenges to new owners. So it is very important to make sure you understand the German Shepherd Dog breed as much as you can.
The more you understand what to expect from a German Shepherd, the better you can prepare yourself mentally and even financially before head.
Here are the common ways to learn more about German Shepherd:
#1 Read books about German Shepherds
Here are a few books written on GSD for first-time owners and exisitng owners alike:
Related post: 10 Books Every German Shepherd Owner Must Read
#2 Join GSD-related Facebook group
Below are some of the most popular Facebook groups specialized in GSDs:
German Shepherd Discussion & Training (195k members)
Love Of German Shepherds (143k members)
German Shepherd Addiction (67k members)
By reading the posts from these groups, you will learn these are the common problems GSD owners face.
#3 Read GSD blogs
Feedspot keeps a fresh list of the top German Shepherd blogs on the internet. You can find answers to common questions, product reviews, and useful tips from these blogs. (Of course, germanshepherd101.com is on the list.)
#4 Reach out to German Shepherd dog clubs
Dog clubs are good resources for any specific breed. Here are 3 of the most well-known GSD dog clubs:
Once you have done your research, and have gathered all the information, then you can make an informed decision in the best interest of your German Shepherd puppy.
What are the pros and cons of owning a purebred dog?
What’s a dog breed?
Humans have been breeding dogs before history. The earliest dog breeders used wolves to create domestic dogs. Humans purposefully bred dogs to perform various tasks such as hunting, guarding, and herding.
Let’s go through the pros and cons of purebred dogs.
The pros of purebred dogs – predictability
As each breed was being developed, its breeders decided which traits were desired for that breed. Therefore, you can usually count on a purebred pet to have a certain set of traits:
- Energy level
- Desire for work
- Prey drive
Therefore, if you buy a purebred puppy, you’ll have a pretty good idea of which traits she inherited. Knowing about these traits in advance allows you to have a good sense of whether or not a certain breed is right for you.
Read more: The Pros and Cons of Purebred Dogs (Care.com)
The cons of purebred dogs
All dogs descend from the wolf, and current breeds only exist because people designed them for specific purposes, says Dr. Greg Martinez, a veterinarian at Gilroy Veterinary Hospital in California.
“In doing that, we can produce a lot of hereditary problems,” Dr. Martinez adds. For this reason, it’s important to purchase a purebred dog from a reputable/responsible/reliable breeder.
Of course, there are two sides to every coin. As you may already know purebred dogs are prone to common health issues. For German Shepherd, these may include:
- Hip Dysplasia
- Elbow Dysplasia
- Degenerative Disc Disease
- Thyroid issues
- Bladder Stones
- Urinary Tract Infections
That’s why you are advised to do your research before you get your German Shepherd dog. Ask yourself if you’re willing to accept and have the resources to handle these issues GSDs are more likely to have.
Otherwise, you might like to do more research to look for another breed that better suits your need.
Where to find a purebred GSD puppy?
A good way to start is to go to AKC Marketplace – PuppyFinder on the American Kennel Club website.
AKC-registered litters have pedigrees that trace their heritage, so you know what to expect as your puppy matures into an adult dog.
You can ask for referrals by contacting your local veterinarian, dog clubs, boarding kennels, or groomers if they know reputable breeders in town.
These professionals usually have a good relationship with reputable breeders.
Shelters and rescue groups
Getting a purebred German Shepherd puppy from a shelter or rescue is not uncommon. Some people may not have done enough research before getting their GSD and end up surrendering their puppy.
You can check our German Shepherd Rescue Listing page to find rescue centers in your state.
Many shelters charge a minimal adoption fee and even take care of their medical evaluation and necessary medications beforehand.
How to identify a reputable/responsible breeder?
Reputable breeders usually specialize in one if not more than two breeds only. They are very knowledgeable in their breed and may also provide seminars and writes articles.
They are often actively involved with local, state, and national clubs that specialize in a specific breed. This can be in form of obedience trials, tracking and agility trials, and other performance-based events.
Responsible breeders will never sell to unknown buyers over the internet or pet stores and will only sell to people they have met in person.
What to expect from a reputable/responsible/reliable breeder?
They will encourage multiple visits from you and your family for you to really get to know the breed, the family, and the pup before you make your final decision.
You can see your puppy’s parents and get a pretty good idea of what your puppy will look like as an adult, and you can also see the environment in which the puppy was born and raised.
Reputable breeders are always in great demand. They usually have a waiting list because they don’t always have puppies.
They may ask you to provide proof from your landlord or condominium board (if applicable) that you are allowed to have a dog, and they may ask for a veterinary reference if you have had other pets.
A reputable breeder will be able to offer you information regarding genetic testing of the parents and be able to offer certification of hips, elbows, eyes, and knees.
Responsible breeders will ask you to sign a contract stating that you will spay or neuter the dog unless you will be actively showing him or her. The contract will also state that you will return the dog to the breeder should you be unable to keep the dog at any point in the dog’s life.
Why should you buy a German Shepherd from a reputable breeder?
Buying from reputable breeder gives you peace of mind. You’ll always know what your’re paying for. Here are some of the benefits:
1. You will have a purebred dog
A responsible, verified purebred dog breeder will have a variety of information and credentials to prove the purity of the dog’s breed.
This is to make their best efforts to ensure that their dogs are healthy, free from diseases, and also undesirable temperaments. (Yet, all purebred dogs, including German Shepherds, are prone to some common health issues, as mentioned above.)
2. Your puppy will come with a health guarantee
Reputable breeders are so concerned about their dogs’ health that they usually offer health guarantees.
In general, if the puppy develops a disease covered by the agreement, you will either receive a refund on the price of the puppy, receive a replacement puppy, or the breeder might contribute a certain amount of money toward the treatment of the puppy’s health issue.
The terms of each breeder’s health guarantee vary, so ask for specifics when inquiring about a puppy.
3. You’ll get a puppy that match your lifestyle
Even with the same breed, every puppy is different. It can be impossible for you to guess how will an individual puppy in a litter will grow up to.
Good breeders know their breed and know their puppies. They will help match you with the best puppy for your lifestyle.
4. You’ll have lifetime access to expert help
Good breeders care about their puppies even after they leave their homes. A reputable breeder will always encourage you to stay in contact with him or her and offer expert advice throughout the puppy’s lifetime, including health, grooming, training, nutrition, and behavior.
5. Your puppy will always have a home
The last thing a reputable breeder wants is to have their puppies surrender to animal shelters. Reputable breeders will almost always take a puppy back, for any reason and at any point in the dog’s life. It’s comforting to know that your breeder will be there to help you in the best interest of the pup they bred.
The breeder interview: what questions will a breeder ask you?
Reputable breeders care nothing more than their dog’s best interest. To this end, they will interview potential buyers to access whether they have the ability and resources to raise the puppy in the most ideal circumstances.
Here are some of the questions a breeder may ask a potential buyer:
Why do you want a German Shepherd puppy?
The breeder would like to know if your lifestyle can suit the needs of your puppy.
Where do you live?
Do you live in an apartment or a home?
Do you have a fenced-in yard?
GSDs need lots of activity and exercise an apartment may not be ideal. This can make sure your GSD and your neighbor are safe, as GSD needs to run as they grow and mature.
Do you work long hours?
And will your puppy be left alone for extended periods during the day?
GSDs cannot be left alone for more than 4 hours a day (2 hours for puppies), so the breeder will want to make sure that you can spend plenty of time with your pup.
Do you have children in your household?
Owners should understand the importance of puppy socialization and training to keep your family and children safe.
Do you have other pets in your household?
The breeder will want to ensure that you know how to properly introduce a new puppy to other animals, such as older dogs or cats.
You may also like:
Are you financially and emotionally ready to take on a German Shepherd puppy?
This is the reality check, as German Shepherds can be expensive to care for depending on training and health needs.
Read more: (Source: AKC)
Don’t be intrigued by the fact that a responsible breeder may turn down a buyer. Their main goal is to find their puppies the best homes so they can grow happily.
So if you are not ready, don’t rush. Continue to do your research and work your way towards it. If you have a good understanding of the temperament and needs in training, exercise, or grooming, you will be in good hands.
What questions should you ask a breeder?
This will not be too tricky if you have already found a reputable/responsible breeder as he/she may already give you some of the answers while meeting you.
ACK has a list of 9 questions for you to ask a breeder before making your final decision. The idea is to make sure the breeder is responsible, reliable, cares for their dogs, and will be a valued resource for you throughout your dog’s life.
I will just list them out and not go into details because these questions are pretty straight forward:
- Is it possible to meet the parents?
- Have health tests been performed on the parents?
- How long have you been breeding? What is your experience with this breed?
- How do you socialize your puppies?
- Are the puppies up-to-date on vaccinations?
- Do you provide a health guarantee and a contract?
- When will you be able to take the puppy home?
- How can we contact you after picking up the puppy?
- What requirements do you have of people looking to get one of your puppies?
Read more: 9 Questions to Ask Your Potential Breeder
The paperwork you will get from a breeder
Once you are convinced that the breeder you select is legit and ready to pull the trigger, here’s what to expect in the transaction: (Source: gsdca.org)
- A signed pedigree
This shows tracking of a dog’s family tree
- A current Health Record: including de-wormings and vaccinations
- American Kennel Club registration papers or application
- A sales contract:
The contracts will include the puppy’s date of birth, breed, gender, registered and call name, color, and coat, as well as any markings or necessary description. Other terms may include:
- The number of months from the date of the contract to return the dog for a full refund of the purchase price.
- The buyer may return the dog to the breeder at any time and for any reason.
- Feeding schedule including the type and amount of food
- Copy of OFA certification of sire and dam, if available
DNA test kits offered by The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA), and also by many labs around the country, test for specific genes that will identify an animal as either clear of disease (if they do not have any copies of the gene in question) or as a carrier or affected animal. (Source: OFA)
Hopefully, this article has equipped you with the knowledge and tools to help you find the perfect pup for you and your family – easier, smoother and more effectively along the way.
Let us know in the comments below about your experience regarding finding a responsible dog GSD breeder.