Choosing a puppy
If you are choosing a German Shepherd puppy for the first time there are some things that you need to be aware of.
One of them is the different lines of German Shepherd there are, in the UK they basically fall into three lines, Show Lines, Working Lines and Companion dogs.
Show Lines - These dogs are bred for looks and conform to the current breed standard set by the Kennel Club. They are usually a bit more laid back.
Research has shown these German Shepherds can be nervous in crowds and harder to train due to their lower drive, also a concern in the research is these dogs are bred with a sloping back which can cause the early on-set of Hip-Dysplasia.
Working Lines - These dogs are bred to work, if they are not given things to do they will find their own entertainment, usually by destroying the furniture as they get bored quickly.
They have a higher drive and are more powerful than show lines, some say they are also quicker to learn.
Looks can be a bit hit and miss with working lines as they are bred for function rather than their looks. They also have a flatter back line so are less prone to Hip-Dysplasia.
They can be a handful in crowds or around other dogs if not trained and socialised from an early age.
Companion Dogs – are somewhere in the middle of the two, bred to be companions rather than a show or a working animal. They have a slightly lower drive but are relatively easy to train.
All lines will require plenty of physical exercise and mental stimulation if you are to prevent behavioural problems from occurring.
Dog or Bitch?
When choosing a puppy you also need to consider if you prefer a dog or a bitch.
Males tend to be bigger than bitches and are prone to pee-marking whenever you take them for a walk.
Bitches grow to be smaller than the males and come into season every six months.
Short Haired or Long Haired?
Shepherds come in a choice of coats, the shorter coated Shepherd is easier to groom and keep the coat tangle free, the long coated variety will require much more attention with almost daily grooming to keep the coat in good condition and tangle free.
Shepherds are notorious moulters as they have two coats, the outer courser hair which moults occasionally and a more fluffy down-like undercoat which sheds constantly, especially with dogs who live in warm houses.
So, you have decided which type of German Shepherd you would, like now to find one.
Do not buy from puppy farms or bargain pages in local papers but from a reputable breeder or even consider a rescue.
A reputable breeder should answer all your questions and advise you if their pups are suitable for you, also be prepared for the breeder to ask you questions, after all a breeder who cares for their pups will want to be certain they go to the right home.
One of the best ways to choose a breeder is to visit German Shepherd clubs or training clubs that have German Shepherds and if you see a German Shepherd you like the look of approach the owner and ask about their dog, ask questions about temperament, any health issues, are they good with people etc. there is nothing a German Shepherd owner likes more than talking about their own dog. They will also be a lot more honest than a breeder that is in it purely for the money. They can then point you in the direction of the breeder they got their dog from.
Next step is to contact a breeder and arrange an appointment to see the pups, bear in mind some of the more popular breeders may have a waiting list for their pups.
Once there spend some time observing the litter. Watch how the puppies interact with each other to get an idea of each one's character, noting which ones are assertive, submissive, boisterous, calm, shy or friendly. You should already know about the size and weight differences between a male and female adult German shepherd dog and have an idea of which would work best for you, though you may want to discuss this further with the breeder.
Examine the puppies' coats, which ought to be thick and healthy, not thin or patchy. Also look at the puppies' eyes, ears, noses and anuses, making sure they are clean and free of excess mucus or discharge. The puppies should not have a pungent or unpleasant smell.
Select a puppy that appears even-tempered and best suited, in both structure and temperament, to your intentions, whether competition or companion. German Shepherds are known for their fearless, inquisitive, outgoing, self-confident natures, so avoid a shy, introverted puppy. Also steer clear of those that display any aggression or that bark incessantly, as well as any that seem to back away from human contact. A good breeder will be able to advise you on your choice, but look for a curious, playful and friendly puppy.
There is also the sentiment that the puppy chooses you and not the other way round.