By now you know that you don’t only want a dog, but that you can have one and that it will be a German Shepherd dog. Now what? Well, first you have to figure out what you are looking for in your German Shepherd puppy. I’m assuming that if you are reading this article you are looking for either a pet or a show dog.
Since a pet quality puppy is a lot easier to choose, let’s analyze the show dog option. Bear in mind that if you are an experienced breeder, owner, or have shown German Shepherd dogs before, this article is not intended for you. I’m writing it to help people who are new at this and who still need a little guidance. If you are looking for a show quality German Shepherd puppy you will have to decide first what type or variety of German Shepherd you prefer. Basically, you can choose from American lines and German lines. If you don’t know the difference, you can read my posts on the topic; “ The German Shepherd Dog Breed- Which Are Better; German Lines or American Lines?” and “ The German Shepherd Dog Breed- Difference Between German Lines or American Lines ”. You will get a very good idea of the main differences if you read these articles.
If you choose American lines I can only help you with the first part of the process, since I’m not as familiar with them as I am with German lines. Either way, in both cases there are some general steps you should take in your purchasing process, but when it comes to choosing a quality German Shepherd of American lines, I’m not qualified to tell you what physical characteristics you should look for.
The first thing you should realize is that the only way to get a German Shepherd puppy of show quality is to purchase it from a reputable breeder. Pet stores don’t sell show quality dogs, regardless of what they say. Furthermore, no one will give you a show quality German Shepherd puppy for free, unless you agree to some form of co-ownership, or it’s a very close friend or family member, and even then, the chances of getting it for free are slim. Reputable breeders are not in this for the money, but for their love of the breed. Nevertheless, they need to cover some of their expenses and they do so by selling their puppies to people they trust. Most importantly, they want to make sure that their show quality German Shepherd puppy goes to the right person; someone who will show their dog and is open to their advice.
So how can you find the right breeder? Well, I would start by getting in contact with my local club and getting a list of breeders and the schedule for the next few specialty conformation shows. When you do, make sure the club you are contacting is the correct club. If you are looking for a German Shepherd puppy of American lines it should be a local club, member of the American Kennel Club and if you are looking for a German Shepherd puppy of German lines, your best bet would probably be to contact the United Schutzhund Clubs of America, if you live in the United States, or find your local German Shepherd club if you live elsewhere.
The next step; go to a few shows, familiarize yourself with the rules and talk to the people attending the show. Make friends. Ask questions. Research as much as you can. If you like a particular dog, talk to his owner or to his breeder. People love talking about their dogs. Find out what others think of that breeder or that particular dog. Find out who has recent litters and which breeder has litters planned for the near future. Schedule visits to their kennels. Once you have narrowed it down to two or three dogs, or kennels, you need to find out as much information as you can about the possible litters. Examine the stud and the bitch. Which dogs are in their pedigrees? What particular genetic problems do their lines carry? Make sure the breeder you choose has all breeding stock tested and cleared for common genetic problems in German Shepherds, like hip dysplasia.
Now it’s time to choose the right German Shepherd puppy for you and I will explain what you have to look for on my next post.