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Old 08-31-2010, 07:35 AM
 
Location: Taxmanistan
4,027 posts, read 3,612,641 times
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Default Sources for a German Shepherd Dog?

Some of you may recall from my backyard-fencing question of a while back that La Bride and I are planning to get an young, adult, male, purebred German Shepherd sometime this fall.

Just wondering if anyone here has any suggestions as to a particular rescue group or breeder; we are open to both.

I like the idea of adopting, but I have this fear that the rescue groups might steer us toward a 10-year-old dog--and we don't want to bond with an animal just to watch him die in 2-3 years. We also don't want to deal with major behavior problems--e.g., aggression or shyness.

A breeder would ensure we don't get a dog with hip dysplasia or major personality issues--but they can be super expensive, and we weren't planning to spend more than a few hundred. And we don't need a show dog--just a good-tempered, healthy dog. Also, I believe breeders are going to have mostly puppies, and we want a young adult dog.

And yes, we have dog experience and know what we're getting into with the requirements of GSD ownership. Mental planning of the human-dog backyard obstacle course is already underway! Maybe someday we'll have a brood of children for the dog to herd around the yard.

Thanks for any suggestions!
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Old 08-31-2010, 08:00 AM
 
Location: Northern Virginia
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my parents breed german shepherds, but they are in CT. I would recommend that if you want to find a breeder, go to this website and search for breeders. German Shepherd Dog Club of America - Information and resources for owners of German Shepherd Dogs and Puppies

Many breeders may have an young adult that they were holding onto as a potential show dog, and they may then decide to sell them. I will say that a young adult dog will always be more expensive than a puppy and a respected breeder isn't going to sell even a puppy for less than $800 probably.

One option may be to contact the Guiding Eyes for the Blind. They may have a released dog they will allow you to adopt although the have mostly labs, though they do also breed shepherds.
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Old 08-31-2010, 08:22 AM
 
Location: Maryland Eastern Shore
771 posts, read 1,636,785 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carlingtonian View Post
A breeder would ensure we don't get a dog with hip dysplasia or major personality issues
It will lower the chances - but nothing is for certain.

You have to make sure that you ONLY purchase a dog from what is known as a COE Breeder. (This goes for ANY purebred dog)

COE stands for Code of Ethics - here is the GSDCA section on breeding.

http://www.gsdca.org/Noframes/breeders_code.html

Ask if the parents have had their hips and elbows done by OFA and what are the ratings? Hip and elbow problems are mainly genetic - if a breeder tells you that their dogs are "fine" and don't need testing - run don't walk away.

There is so much more to purchasing a GSD than just seeing a newspaper ad and taking a ride over on the weekend.

The "couple hundred" dollar puppy/young adult could end up costing THOUSANDS in health care costs.

Go to a dog show (even though you are not interested in "showing") and when the dog is finished in the ring go up and ask who they would recommend - who to stay away from.........

Dog people are always wanting to educate.

Do your homework and good luck - a dog is an investment of the heart and the pocketbook for hopefully more than 10 years.
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Old 08-31-2010, 08:37 AM
 
Location: Brambleton, VA
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Make sure you go to the OFFA website and go through their database. You can search by breed and then investigate the breeders that way. It shows all health testing records for those breeders that participate in it. My view is that if a breeder doesn't health test, you couldn't pay me to buy a dog from them. After all, what point is there to breed if you aren't going to further the breed? There are some breeders that test but refuse to make the results public. In my book, that is just as bad as not testing. Why wouldn't you not want to share that information unless you had something to hide.

It was worth driving 2,000 miles to get our puppy from a reputable breeder - not a GSD, but still a great dog.

For rescues, definitely look at the sources on the GSDCA but understand that sometimes the rescues have some unusual requirements and that the process may take time. But, it is absolutely rewarding to adopt a rescue too!

Good Luck!!
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Old 08-31-2010, 08:43 AM
 
Location: Northern Virginia
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Virginia German Shepherd Rescue: Virginia German Shepherd Rescue, Inc. Main
Petfinder.com (There are TONS of purebred-looking shepherds in rescue in the area!) Pet adoption: Want a dog or cat? Adopt a pet on Petfinder

I'm seconding Grasonville's suggestion to make sure you get a health tested dog if you go through a breeder. A good breeder will have OFA'd hips and elbows, and probably CERF'd the eyes as well. These results should be available for you to see! Do not just trust "Oh yeah, her hips are good." Request to see the x-rays yourself. A good breeder will be more than happy to show them.

Ask about titles in the pedigree. You say you don't care about showing, which is fine (I certainly don't either!), but if you're going to pay $1000 for a dog, you should be getting the best possible specimen of the breed. It doesn't have to be show titles, but the parents should be proven in what they were bred to do. Otherwise, it's not really a German Shepherd--it just looks like one! Maybe they have titles in Schutzhund, maybe in search and rescue, maybe TDI's for therapy work--maybe all of the above and more!

Ask why the breeder is breeding. Why did they choose to put Mama and Daddy together? What is the purpose of their program?

The contract should always, always have a return clause in it. If at any point you decide you can't or don't want to keep the dog, the breeder should want it back. A good breeder's dogs never end up in shelters, contributing to the problem. They want to know where their dogs are at all times--how else will they know if their breedings are successful, unless they see what their adult offspring have accomplished?

Finally, you may look into a "retired breeder". Often times breeders have several females at 4-5 years of age who are past their prime breeding years. In order to continue their program, the breeder will sell off those dogs to make space for new females. It's kind of hard for me to stomach seeing dogs as such a business, but I know a few people who have gotten very nice dogs that way.

Edited to add:

Also, a good rescue will NEVER "push you towards" a dog that isn't a good fit for you. Be honest and up front about what you're looking for. Tell them you want a dog in a certain age range who has never demonstrated aggression, and they should only point you to those dogs. I volunteer with rescue all the time, and have never tried to push the wrong dog on someone. If I did, it would only backfire on me down the road when they have to return the dog because it's a bad fit.
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Old 08-31-2010, 08:44 AM
 
309 posts, read 504,964 times
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I think if you're stuck on a purebred dog, going thru a rescue group won't guarantee this. We recently went through Hart (www.hart90.org) to get our dog and we were impressed with their diligence to find the right dog for every family. Most of their dogs are fostered so you can get a sense of the dog's personality and quirks. You can also foster a dog before deciding if you want to make it permanent. I don't know much about GSD dogs but if a breeder was trying to eliminate hip dysplasia by breeding dogs that didn't show signs of this (at the time)to produce puppies with a minimal chance of inheriting the problem, why not go with a mix?
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Old 08-31-2010, 09:03 AM
 
Location: Taxmanistan
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Wow, thanks for all the helpful responses! Great advice, one and all--which we will certainly take to heart.

Grasonville, we will definitely insist on OFA testing and going through a COE breeder. (I'm assuming the latter is a universally adopted standard?)

Alley01--thanks for that tip; we will make sure to search the OFFA database.

Arielmina, where in CT may I ask? We have a friend in Bristol, so if your folks are near Hartford, there might be a chance we'd be in that neck of the woods. (Actually, we'll be driving through there in December.)

CaliTerp, thanks for that insightful reply; good to know that they wouldn't try to push us to take an older dog.

Claire, I would actually be OK with a mix if we could be certain as to the parentage and health of the dog, but we both really love Shepherds--their personality, intelligence, bearing, and their protective nature.

We'd be up for fostering, but we might get too attached to an animal who gets adopted by someone else or is not right for us in some way.

OK, thanks again--and I'll post an update when I have one.
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Old 08-31-2010, 09:11 AM
 
Location: Northern Virginia
4,489 posts, read 5,258,055 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carlingtonian View Post
We'd be up for fostering, but we might get too attached to an animal who gets adopted by someone else or is not right for us in some way.
Foster parents always get first crack at adopting their foster dog... Although I can honestly say that I have been elated when every single one of my fosters got adopted! Fostering is tough. You get 'em when they know nothing. You house train them, teach them to take treats without eating your hand, teach them not to jump on you, yank your arm off on a walk, and sit/stay/lie down. Then, just as they're becoming good household dogs, they get adopted! It's rewarding though--so I keep getting sucked back into it!

Anyway, good luck! Good for you for doing the research up front!
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Old 08-31-2010, 09:44 AM
 
629 posts, read 641,721 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carlingtonian View Post
Claire, I would actually be OK with a mix if we could be certain as to the parentage and health of the dog, but we both really love Shepherds--their personality, intelligence, bearing, and their protective nature.


OK, thanks again--and I'll post an update when I have one.
I know you want a pure GSD, but also keep in mind, mixes are generally more healthy than purebreds. So even if it's mostly GSD (in looks and personality) it still may be a good match for you
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Old 08-31-2010, 09:51 AM
 
309 posts, read 504,964 times
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Just a thought, but one of my biggest criteria when deciding to adopt was a dog that had been living in a home with a family for awhile. I don't think you can get a true sense of a dog's behavior when in a kennel environment. Just something to keep in mind if you aren't looking for a puppy.
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