Veterinarian here. Would encourage you to re-think this. While she may do fine there are increased complications at that age. Also have you xrayed her hips and elbows yet?Please keep in mind the cost. These days very few practices will see after hour emergencies and send everything with complications to the emergency clinic. I do relief work and can tell you that many clinics refer any complications or even end of day emergencies out. If you go to an ES you will likely be looking at 1500-2000 for a C-section. If that is any way a hardship for you don't do it. German Shepherd puppies are difficult to place in appropriate homes as well and you could end with 10 pups you have difficulty selling.
Yeah, well, we have a 24 hour clinic that has a reproductive specialist, as well as many other specialists, and I would be happy for my regular vet to send me there for complications. The problem is that it is over 2 hours away.
Believe it or not the C-section at my regular vet is every bit as expensive as the one at the 24-hour clinic that has repro specialists. And at that vet, I can watch the procedure and work on the puppies the moment they are removed from the uterine horns. My regular vet is like, "No." Whatever. And, my regular vet does not even have an incubator. So, if you take a puppy up there that is not thriving, (they are just four miles from my home), they will warm the puppy with sub-cutaneous fluids (not good) and by keeping them in a box with warming bottles/packs. Which is not the end of the world, but they used to have an incubator and it is no longer protocol -- not enough pet owners ever have puppies. So regular vets are just not as prepared as they used to be. They will warm a two day old puppy to over 100 degrees. Not good. The puppy should be no more than 97 degrees.
And, they don't have a lab. So, to do that C-section we're talking about, they have to send out a progesterone test, and get the answer tomorrow. But if you waited for your bitch to have puppies naturally (ideal), then you have complications, straining, no puppies, or exhaustion -- no longer trying, then you don't have time to wait until tomorrow, your bitch will die. So they do the C-section. But if your bitch's puppies are not ready -- they are only incubating for 9 weeks total, so if you are a week early, then your puppies probably won't make it. Even if your bitch goes into labor early, if they do progesterone, and she should not be ready yet, they can give them something to try to prevent the puppies from coming to early, IF you are with someone who does this for their main deal.
Your average veterinarian, the guy/gal on the corner, they have to know about LOTS of things. They have to be surgeons, and they have to do cats, dogs, fish, birds, horses, cows, sheep, chickens, parakeets, etc. Jack of all trades, master of none. Which is not quite true. They have a lot of education, and they often have a ton of experience, and a goodly amount of common sense. Expecting them to understand specifics of one dog breed, whelping, neonatal puppy raising and such, is probably unrealistic. Like the vet above: have you checked hips and elbows? Yeah, 10 years ago hips and elbows would be the most concerning. But now its DM has your bitch been checked for DM, Hips and Elbows should be checked, yes, but so should Cardiac, and Cerf-testing (eyes). I am not even worried about hips an elbows at this point, what you really need to know about your lines is whether there is MegaE, EPI, SIBO, Pannus, Epilepsy -- these are heart breakers.
Which leads into the next thing you should ask yourself. Yeah, yeah, you can have 10 puppies that might be difficult to home. Not too worried about that. With such an old bitch having a first litter, chances are the puppies will have trouble connecting to the uterine walls, and so instead of a litter of seven you have a litter of one or two. And they grow BIG in there, and you do need a C-section. But let's say it is an average litter of 7 puppies. You have ten families waiting in line for them, so you pick the best 7 and they take their puppy and you're done, right?
Errrrh! One of your puppy-buyers calls to let you know that their vet found a heart murmur. Another brings the pup back because it barked at his adult children who does live there. One waits six months and brings the puppy back because they've injured the dog and pretty much let their kid torment the puppy until he is kind of afraid of it. When they are 9 months old, they let you know that the puppy is barking at people, what should they do. When they are 18 months old, or three years old, someone has to move and need you to take back the puppy.
Or, maybe they don't want to give you the puppy back, maybe their puppy is showing some symptom of something, and they are calling you to ask what it is. They call from the ER, saying that they want to spay their bitch they think it is pyometra. So you ask them what the symptoms are, and out of your head, though you have never dealt with pyo before, it doesn't sound like pyo to you, so you KNOW where THEY should take their dog at that hour where they live. I've actually been there and done that. And had they spayed that bitch at the ER, they would have threatened her with an unnecessary surgery, because the bitch had a blockage, not pyo. I got the people to take her to the 24 hour clinic I spoke of above. And they quickly determined it was not pyo, and were able to help the bitch.
But, most of the time, folks will call you, and you will give them your best advice, and they will generally throw it out the window and go with whatever their vet says. And, you know your lines and know what they need, but you tell your buyers what training they should do, how to socialize, what not to do, and you can pretty much guaranty that some of them will do the exact opposite and then blame you.
Puppies are cute and fun. But breeding is neither. It is stinky, sticky, messy, and heart-breaking at times. There is nothing better than seeing a puppy that you helped deliver begin to breathe and cry out, to smell puppy breath and to watch them gain weight before your eyes. It is hard when a puppy you've been struggling with for 2-3 days finally succumb. Losing 2-3 puppies in a litter is excruciatingly painful. It is not for the feint of heart. You will love each puppy and have to be able to give each of them up, and have to be civil to some yayhoo who wants to barter about the cost and how much the puppies are down the street. Creating a litter of puppies is science and art and religion, and someone comes along and says, "oh, their big." The next person says, "they're kind of small." And that you can take, but when they say they do not like something about their looks or structure or temperament, it can be like a slight on you. It is worse than them telling you, "Gee, you're fat." It is more like them telling you that your kid has a funny nose, or ugly ears, or is too fat, or too thin, or is mean spirited. Only they are a whole lot more likely to say that about a puppy.
Ah well, it is late. Breeding GSDs is life. And you HAVE to like people, because breeding is mostly about people, dealing with people. If you don't like people get your animals altered and do not breed whatever you do.