Why buy from a reputable breeder?
You should seek out a reputable breeder when looking for a GSD pup because of health concerns as well as problems in temperament brought out in ill-bred GSD's. Poorly-bred GSD's can also be aggressive, fearful, or fear aggressive (a fearful dog that becomes aggressive when frightened). It is for these reasons that a reputable breeder is more likely to have sound pups, guarantee their health, help you select the puppy most suited to your lifestyle and goals, and be able to guide you as the pup grows.
Frequently Asked Questions
How big will my Shepherd get?
Here at Samherz Shepherds, we follow the SV breed guidelines. A female shepherd should weigh between 50-70 lbs and be 21.5-23.5 inches tall at the shoulders. A male shepherd should weigh 65-90 lbs and be 23.5-25.5 inches tall at the shoulders. Our puppies will generally fall in these ranges, with occassionally producing a pup outside of these ranges. For more information regarding breed specific standards, click on the link:
How old will my puppy be when I take him home?
Your puppy will stay with this mom and littermates until 8 weeks of age. It is VERY important to remain with them for socialization purposes and the lessons they learn from each other.
How important is health testing when choosing a puppy?
It is VERY important, in fact, one of the most important things to consider when purchasing a puppy. Hip dysplasia, for example, can be genetic or environmental. We do our very best to avoid genetic hip dysplasia, but unfortunately, we cannot guarantee 100% of puppies. That is unheard of, and if any breeder does, you should run! Breeding healthy dogs is a step, however, some times genetic HD can skip a generation, therefore, a reputable breeder should be able to provide proofs of at least 3 solid generations of health clearances. This same logic should be applied to elbow testing as well. Finally, avoid a pairing in which a dog that is scored as fair is bred to another dog scored as fair. Although fair is a passing grade, they should never be bred together.
We have other dogs and kids. Is it really necessary to attend training classes?
Yes! Yes! Yes! The 1st 20 weeks of any puppies life is the absolute most important time to shape and mold your puppy. Don't get me wrong, it is a lifetime job, but the 1st 20 weeks are the most critical. It is absolutely necessary to expose your puppy to multiple people, children, other dogs, cats, sounds, smells, surfaces, etc to build his confidence and assurance for a happy future. We proudly offer a $100 refund to our puppy buyers who take their pup through 1 puppy class and 1 beginner obedience class. Please note by class, we are talking about a series of weekly classes, generally lasting 6-10 weeks. This is important for bonding with your new family member, but also to help him be exposed to new things, learn how to act in public and become a good citizen. Additionally, class instructors are always willing to assist with potty training tips, behavior issues and training tips!
We are looking for a family pet. Why should I care about titles?
Although there are many titles in the dog world, we focus primarily on working protection titles and show titles. Why? The Germans developed a working title as a breed temperament test. This is known as Schutzhund. Schutzhund is a very impressive sport as it tests and proves a dogs nerves, working abililty and how clear their head is. Many people think Schutzhund dogs are "mean", when in reality, they are some of the most well trained, well socialized dogs out there! For a dog to obtain an IPO title, he must 1st have an AD title (20 km test which is nearly 12.5 miles!!) and a BH title, which is an on and off leash obedience test as well as a tracking test. The IPO title series is very lucrative and a fabulous representation of the dogs character. The show title representation is a test of structure and adhering to the true breed standard. Different titles are given dependant on age group and whether a dog has a working title or not. For example, a dog cannot obtain a "V" rated title unless he has a minimum of an IPO1 title. Also, a dog cannot obtain a "VA" rating unless he has progeny that have entered and scored in events, as well as obtained a breed survey. Additionally "VA" rated dogs have had 3+ generations of titled and breed surveyed. The "VA" title is truly a very lucrative and award winning title.
What is Schutzhund and IPO?
By Kim Downing
The origins of all training, such as Schutzhund or IPO, are based in Germany. These training tests were developed as a primary method of producing top level German Shepherd Dogs. They were geared to identify suitability of individual dogs for work in several formats:
Stamina and endurance
Temperament and nerves (how well the dog handles stress)
Desire to Work
The founder of our German Shepherd Dog breed, Max von Stephanitz, believed that these tests were necessary to continue to produce dogs of the highest level of working ability and to weed out those that couldn’t handle it from the gene pool.
Schutzhund and IPO
In today’s modern format, there is virtually no difference between Schutzhund and IPO. Both were developed for the same purpose. IPO is the International standard, and at one time had a different set of rules as determined by the governing body of FCI. Following rule changes in 2004, where the SV (via the VDH, all breed Kennel Club of Germany) began conforming to FCI rules for Schutzhund, the standards are virtually the same. German Shepherds seem to dominate many of the Schutzhund shows although a wider variety of breeds can participate and often do in IPO shows. Any breed can technically be trained in Schutzhund work, but as any trainer knows, not all individual dogs and not all dog breeds are suitable for this work. It truly is a test of a dog and requires a high level of ability in several areas.
What are the Components of Training and Trialing?
The public often has a misconception about what this type of training is. They often see photos of dogs doing bite work and see an aggressive and potentially dangerous animal. What they don’t know is how well controlled these dogs must be. As opposed to some police dogs and personal protection dogs that don’t require quite as much provocation, Schutzhund dogs are required to be tightly trained and as a general rule are quite safe in the public. Most people are actually astonished when they meet one! They also frequently don’t realize that training is comprised of three areas with protection work only being one of those areas.
The elements of Schutzhund work are:
Obedience: The obedience work is of a high level that is designed to test the dog’s intelligence, desire to work and please its handler, its ability to take directions from its handler, and its ability to work under stress (heeling around other people, during noises like gunshots, etc.) The obedience work includes heeling work, retrieval work (including over an A-frame obstacle), recalls, send outs, stay, along with position related work such as sit and down. It is important that the dog be a happy worker and interested in what he is doing.
Tracking: The depth of difficulty differs based on the title being worked towards, but tracking is all about testing a dog’s ability to not only scent but also about his ability to stay focused enough to follow the scent without distraction or frustration. It is also a test of how confident a dog is and how well he works in front of his handler. Tracking is not something that a dog can ask you to hold his hand during! The dog will be required to properly identify articles (by alerting in some fashion such as lying down on or near the object) to his handler that have been left on the track by the track layer.
Protection: This is the most misunderstood of the three phases of training and is normally the one the general public focuses on. During training and trialing, there must be a ‘helper’ to do protection work. A helper is the person that will be wearing the padded bite sleeve. This person will also be concealed behind a blind and at more than point during the test will either attempt to escape or pretend to threaten/attack the dog or handler. Initially the dog is required to locate the helper when he is hidden and hold him there for the handler. When the helper attempts to escape or threatens the dog or handler, the dog is to actively apprehend the helper by biting the bite sleeve. A dog must be confident enough and strong enough mentally to handle this work, but he must also be sensitive to handler commands and release the sleeve when requested. It is hard to call a dog off when he is working at a high, excited level (or in high drive mode) so it is imperative that he is trained well enough and is responsive to handler commands.
It is important to note that temperament is a very important aspect in all levels. There are multiple things that are integrated into the testing for evaluating temperament. If a dog cannot pass these elements (by showing fear, nervousness, extreme aggression, sound reactivity, weaker nerves, etc.) he will not be able to pass a test.
What are the Levels of Titling?
There are multiple levels of titles that represent progressively harder levels of work. For each title, there are 300 points available (100 points in each of the three components of obedience, tracking, and protection work). In order to title, a dog must successfully acquire at least 70 points (70%) in tracking and obedience and at least 80 points (80%) in protection. Of course the goal is to score as highly as one can! Here is how titles breakdown:SchH 1/VPG 1/ IPO 1: Beginning level of Schutzhund (obedience, tracking, and protection)SchH 2/ VPG 2/ IPO 2: Intermediate level of Schutzhund (obedience, tracking, and protection)SchH 3/ VPG 3/ IPO 3: Advanced level of Schutzhund (obedience, tracking, and protection) A few additional titles that might be obtained:FH: Advanced tracking workBH: This is a first level for everything else. It is to test obedience and traffic sureness.WH: This is a watchdog test for alertness.AD: This is an endurance test to test a dog’s physical ability and stamina.SchH A: This is only obedience and protection work. Dogs should be 15 months old for BH testing, 16 months old for FH and AD testing, 18 months old for SchH A and SchH1, 19 months old for SchH2 and lastly, 20 months old for SchH3.
What are the top 10 questions I should ask a breeder before considering one of their puppies?
What is the breeders goals/philosophy? Are they breeding for companion animals, service dogs, working dogs, etc?
What is the reason for breeding the 2 dogs they chose? Are they breeding showline to showline and working line to working line? If not, what is their reason behind mixing the lines?
Does the breeder certify hips and elbows on their breeding dogs, in other words have them x-rayed and sent to OFA or SV? If not, run fast! If so, ask for proofs.
Does the breeder offer any guarantees towards the hips and elbows? Ask to see their contract.
Are the puppies well socialized while in the breeder's care? Are the puppies exposed to various sights, sounds, flooring, etc? Can they provide videos or pictures of things they do or have done?
Have the puppies been vaccinated and dewormed prior to leaving the breeder, as well as checked out by a vet?
Is the breeder associated with any local kennel clubs or German Shepherd clubs, and are they active within the club?
Does the breeder actively train and socialize their dogs in the public? Ask them what things they do.
Does the breeder stick to the breed standard, and only use dogs that adhere to the standard?
How many different breeds do they breed, how many litters a year do they have and what age do they begin breeding them?