Breed Information

Guide to Buying a German Shepherd Puppy

Having decided to purchase a German Shepherd puppy, you should try to find the best representative available to you. The German Shepherd Dog Club of America hopes the following suggestions will result in a relationship that will be fulfilling to both you and the dog you choose.


Many sources offer purebred German Shepherd puppies, but finding the best source takes time and study. Buying a puppy is a commitment that cannot be taken lightly. Hopefully by choosing the right puppy, you will be taking on a responsibility that will result in a healthy, well adjusted dog that will give you joy and happiness for many years.

Pet stores occasionally offer purebred German Shepherd puppies. These puppies are mostly from puppy mills or the occasional back yard breeder who`s 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.

The German Shepherd Dog Club of America recommends you purchase your puppy from a reputable breeder who specializes in German Shepherds. By taking advantage of a breeder’s knowledge and experience, you have a greater chance of your dog being a credit to the breed, and the companion you wish him to be.


Reputable breeders can be difficult to locate. They do not sell to pet stores and, only occasionally, do they advertise in the local papers. A good way to find a reputable breeder is:

· Check the classifieds on this site under the Puppies section.

· Find a local all-breed or specialty club by contacting the American Kennel Club ( They operate a breeder referral representative program.

· Specialty (German Shepherd) Clubs that are member clubs of the G.S.D.C.A. are listed under the icon on the Home page under REGIONAL SPECIALTY CLUBS.

An alternate source of information is to contact a veterinarian in your community.

He can recommend local breeders who breed responsibly and have healthy, well adjusted dogs.



First ,you need to evaluate the kennel. Tour more than one kennel if possible. Good nutrition and cleanliness help to produce a healthy, well adjusted puppy. Secondly, you need to 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 kennel. All breeders appreciate this concern from a possible buyer.

In looking for a puppy, visit the kennel you select more than once and preferably at different times of day. The puppy that appears lethargic and slow in responding to you may have just eaten, or is resting from an extensive play period.


The following are suggestions that you should consider on your initial visit to a kennel:

The breeder should not hesitate to show his or her kennels 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 off-spring from at least the dam. This gives you some idea of what your puppy might look like.

In your evaluation, you would want this breeder/kennel to breed the type of animal you would want to own and the breeding and maintenance of the facilities should be done is a manner acceptable to you.


The following are questions any kennel/breeder should be able to answer:

Have the puppies been started on a program of vaccinations and wormings?

Do the sire and/or dam have hip and elbow OFA number to certify they are free of hip and elbow dysplasia? (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. Web site If not certified, have they been x-rayed and what were the results?

Do they use a sales contract? A sample copy of such a contract can be found on this web site under " FORMS."

Ask for a pedigree. Four or five generation pedigree is preferred but the minimum should br a three generation pedigree.

Ask what the breeder was trying to achieve with this breeding? (competition, pet, etc.)

Ask if the breeder is a member of the German Shepherd Dog Club of America? If he/she is a member, are they a signer of the "Breeders Code of Ethics"? A copy of this "Code" may be found on this web site under "FORMS".


A conscientious breeder wants the best available home for their puppies. Expect them to ask you questions about fenced yards, an 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 items that should be supplied by the breeder. The following are some suggestions:

· A signed pedigree

· A current Health Record. Including wormings and vaccinations.

· American Kennel Club registration papers

· Sales contract. Type of contract varies and must be mutually agreeable to the breeder and buyer. Much depends on want you expect from the puppy. ( show, pet, or performance).

· Feeding schedule including type and/or brand of food.

· Copy of OFA certification of sire and dam if available.


First, you should 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 are larger and heavier (24-26 inches at the highest point of the shoulders and 65 to 90 lbs). Females are somewhat smaller and lighter in weight (22-24 inches in height at the top of the shoulders and 50-70 lbs). Secondary sex characteristics should be pronounced for males and females, e.g. a male looks like a male with pronounced masculinity and a female should look feminine with more delicate features. Females will also have a season twice a year. If you choose a female and do not wish to have puppies, then it is recommended that she be spayed. The time to spay should be recommended by your veterinarian. The differences in the sexes in puppies is not as pronounced as in the adult dogs.

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. No matter what the function you desire in your puppy, all of the litter will have the same blood-lines.

In the search for your puppy, you want to observe the puppies together, at first. A German Shepherd puppy should have, first and foremost, a good temperament. They should be inquisitive, outgoing, and completely unafraid in his advances towards everything and everybody. They will also demand and exhibit affection without inhibition.

Many times 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 will usually assert himself when he is away from his litter mates,

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 for if you owned one of this type you would be embarrassed by its lack of true German Shepherd temperament. The perfect definition of German Shepherd temperament can be found on this web page under "ILLUSTRATED STANDARD".

What color should you choose? 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 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.


What guarantees you can expect with your new puppy are between you and the seller. If there are hip and elbow guarantees implied in the verbal contract, make sure they are also included in the written contract.

Vaccinations and type of diet are controversial subjects that may be taken up in another article at this web site. See the links listed at the end of this article for information on these subjects. It is advisable to consult your veterinarian with-in the first twenty-four hours after picking up your puppy. Have him do a complete physical exam and show him the health record including the vaccination schedule and the worming schedule. He is one of your links to a healthy puppy .

If this information helps you choose the right puppy for you, then our purpose has been served. The main thing we hope you derive from reading this article, is that, we (German Shepherd Dog Club of America) want TEMPERAMENT to be the most important thing for you to look for in a German Shepherd Dog.

Additional links:



So You Want a German Shepherd Dog?

 For many years, dog fanciers around the globe have been drawn to the noble German Shepherd Dog (GSD) for its intelligence, strength, courage and trainability, making it one of the most popular breeds registered with the American Kennel Club.  Made even more popular by  movie dogs such as Rin Tin Tin, the German Shepherd Dog is also one of the most recognizable of breeds.

 However, no breed is ideal for every home or family situation.  If you are considering adding a German Shepherd Dog (adult or puppy) to your family, please ask yourself which of the following statements is most accurate:

 1.  I want a dog that will be easy to train.

 CONSIDER A GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG.   A GSD is one of the most intelligent, versatile and trainable of all breeds, making it suitable for almost any type of work.  The American Kennel Club states, “German Shepherd Dogs are utilized often as police dogs, service dogs, agility dogs, conformation animals, obedience dogs, and sentinels. Their high trainability and extreme loyalty and commitment make them an excellent choice for any agenda.”

 2.  I work long hours and want a dog that will be content to stay alone in the backyard until I have a few minutes to spend with it on weekends.    

 DO NOT GET A GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG.  The very intelligence that makes a GSD so appealing to many requires a commitment of time on the part of its owner.  The GSD who is left alone for long periods of time and isolated in this way will become miserable, resorting to undesirable and even destructive behaviors, such as excessive barking or diggingHe may even try to escape his confinement to be with his family.  All dogs need to be part of a “pack,” and this is especially true of the GSD breed.

 3.  I want a dog that I can take on hikes, that will jog with me, or that I can teach to play Frisbee.

 CONSIDER A GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG.   The GSD is an athletic, active breed that will greatly enjoy any sport you share with it.  She has the stamina to keep up with your every activity and will appreciate the exercise, but most importantly, will enjoy your companionship.  These are the same qualities that cause GSDs to excel in agility, obedience and rally sports, and make them renowned for their work as search dogs and service dogs for the blind.

 4.  I want a dog that will be a good companion for children and at the same time a steady protector of its family.

CONSIDER A GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG.  A well-bred GSD has a steady, even temperament and many learn to look upon children as their special charges.  However, keep in mind that the GSD is a large breed, and an exuberant adolescent dog could easily knock down a very small child without intending to cause it harm.  As with all dogs, care should be taken to supervise them around children; and at the same time, children should always be taught to be considerate of dogs.

   The GSD is also legendary for its protective instincts.  Its very size and appearance alone are sometimes enough to ward off those with unpleasant intentions.  The GSD will quickly learn to protect and guard what is his, without any special additional training.

 5.  I’m not a professional, but I’ve always wanted an “attack” dog.

 PLEASE DO NOT GET A GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG!  Professionally-trained guard dogs, K-9 unit dogs and military dogs should always be in the hands of a professional trainer.  Any GSD with a sound temperament, treated with kindness, will learn to love her family and will protect it with her very life if the need arises.  There is no special training needed; this is the GSD’s natural instinct.

 6.  I’m not very active, live in very confined quarters, and don’t get out much.  I want a dog that’s a “couch potato.”

 A GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG MAY NOT BE A GOOD MATCH FOR YOU.  Although temperaments of individual dogs can vary within breeds, the GSD is a large, active breed that requires a certain level of physical exercise and mental stimulation.  An owner who, for example, lives in an apartment would need to find a way to satisfy his GSD’s physical activity requirements and prevent boredom.

    It should be noted here that some GSDs trained as guide dogs have adapted well to apartment dwelling in many urban areas.  This is especially true in inner city settings where persons needing assistance are in high crime urban areas.  The mere presence of a breed such as the GSD in this role adds an extra measure of security.

    Sometimes an older dog can also be ideal in an apartment setting.  Care would have to be taken to find the right individual dog.

 7.  I want to make money selling puppies.

PLEASE DO NOT GET A GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG!   Please speak to a reputable breeder of any breed.  They will tell you that done correctly, the breeding of puppies is not a money-making proposition, but one that requires an investment of your time and resources.  And once you have made this investment, a number of things can go wrong: the mother dog can lose some or all of her puppies.  The mother or puppies may require expensive medical care.  Or you may not find enough suitable homes (and German Shepherd Dogs typically have large litters). 

    There are countless puppies and dogs of all breeds needing homes and many Purebred Rescue services trying to place them.  Unless you believe your bitch can make an honest contribution to the breed, as evidenced by her success in the show ring, her adherence to the standard, or the value of her bloodline, please think twice about bringing even more puppies into the world.

Updated 5/25/06