Buying or adopting any puppy is a big commitment. That commitment is even larger when opting for a big breed, like a German Shepherd. Though they can make lovely companions and are valued for their trainability, German Shepherds can be aggressive if not bred and trained properly, and they may also be prone to a number of health problems, like hip dysplasia and arthritis. You can maximize your chances of a good experience by putting a lot of time and attention into choosing the best German Shepherd puppy. Here are some five to guide you in the right direction.
#1: Buy from a reputable breeder.
When you purchase a puppy from a pet store, it may come from a puppy mill or another less-reputable breeding operation. The best way to get a great GSD puppy is to buy directly from the breeder. The most reputable breeders are registered with the American Kennel Club and will be more than happy to give you a tour of their facilities. Look for a breeder who puts the dogs' needs first, has a clean and well-kept facility, and does not seem to have more dogs than they can handle. A small-time breeder who has just one or two GSDs is often a better choice than one that turns out litter after litter.
#2: Ask to see proof of screening for hip dysplasia.
Hip dysplasia is a common condition that affects GSDs. It is a genetic condition that results in abnormal development of the hip joint, leading to frequent dislocation of the hips. Hip dysplasia is very painful for the dog, and it severely limits their ability to run, jump, and play. Most dogs with the condition are euthanized early.
Since hip dysplasia is genetic, the best way to ensure your puppy does not have this condition is to ask the breeder to show you proof that both of the puppy's parents have been screened for this condition. Do not just rely on the apparent health of the parents. Dogs can be carriers of hip dysplasia without actually showing symptoms themselves. Most reputable GSD breeders screen for hip dysplasia before breeding, so you should not have trouble finding a breeder who can provide this proof for you.
#3: Meet the parents.
Ask to meet the puppy's mother, and if possible, the puppy's father, too. When you meet these dogs, assess their temperament. Are they obedient and calm, or do they seem aggressive and withdrawn? Personality is partially genetic, so if you like the personality of the puppy's parents, there's a pretty good chance you'll like the puppy's adult personality, too.
When you meet the puppy's parents, also pay attention to their size and conformation. Chances are, the puppy will be about the same size as its parent of the same sex. If the parents are larger than the dog you desire, you may want to look elsewhere for a GSD puppy with smaller parentage.
#4: Assess the puppy's personality.
Though a portion of the puppy's personality comes from its parentage, every puppy is different -- so you should also assess the puppy's own personality when making your decision. Puppies that hide in the back of the litter and shy away from you will probably always be timid and a bit standoffish. Those that seek to overpower their siblings will generally stay on the more aggressive side, and those that are always the first to run up and greet you with gusto will probably always be the most loyal and bonded to their owners.
There are plenty of lovely GSD puppies out there. Speak with breeders at companies like Von Anna German Shepherds, LLC to learn more.