Black Paws Farm and my search of the perfect puppy - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 27 (permalink) Old 07-09-2019, 06:52 AM Thread Starter
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Question Black Paws Farm and my search of the perfect puppy

Hello everyone,


As you can see from my profile, I originally made this account over three years ago with the intent of vicariously living through others, as it was going to be at least 4 years before I was in a position to keep a dog... and many years have passed! I am looking at a point in my life where I would be able to properly care for a companion in about 10 to 16 months, and am looking to start my search well in advance to secure myself the best friend I have always wanted.

Let me begin with what is most important: the kind of dog I am seeking. To begin, I suffer from both anxiety and depression, and I know that GSDs can actually be trained to tell when their owner is going to have an anxiety attack, and help calm them down. From what I understand, GSDs are trainable to be amazing emotional support animals - I am looking for a dog that will be my best friend and companion, will sleep on the bed, and wants to be a lapdog. Ideally, the dog would be able to tell when I'm feeling down or anxious and seek to comfort me like an emotional support animal intrinsically. I also really want my dog to prefer spending time with me to attention from other people or dogs.

I have done loads of research but cannot seem to come up with this is better suited to a "working-line" shepherd (which actually seem to be a fancy term for a sport dog here in the US), or a showline, which may suffer from a sloped back. From what I understand, working line usually is tied to physical work, such as herding or protection - I don't know if emotional support is the kind of "job" that would even satisfy it's drive. I am very athletic and tend to walk a lot, and don't anticipate a huge couch potato lifestyle, on the other hand.

I would like a puppy rather than a rescue because I have had a personal experience with a rescue that was not raised with humans - improper socialization is nearly impossible to reverse in adulthood. I am fully committed to training the puppy myself and understand the commitment a puppy is.

Lastly, this is sort of a cherry on top type thing, but I absolutely love the look of black german shepherds, and even the ones that are mostly black with tan markings around their eyes and feet. I'm not as much of a fan of the traditional "saddle" type sable, though I definitely wouldn't turn up my nose over coloration.

My search has mostly lead me to Black Paws Farm, where I was immediately impressed by their guarantee page: guarantee

While their graphic design certainly leaves something to be desired, the sheer amount of health guarantees alone is impressive - even some $2000-2500 top of the line kennels like Blackthorn and Mittelwest don't gurantee as much as they do - this breeder promises a MINIMUM of three wormings, along with the standard puppy shots, vet exam, written guarantee for hip dysplasia and congenital defects, and a full pedigree (4 generations minimum). They also seem to be really committed to the puppies given the "rebates" for things like obtaining a CGC certificate. I also really loved the temperment the breeder states they are breeding for - it seems very fitting for me. Her facebook is overwhelmingly positive, with 15 five-star reviews, and just one disgruntled lady who didn't seem to have a problem with a dog but rather the fact that she got a 2 word reply. Icing on the cake - they seem to have some black GSDs. However, I can find not much about this Kennel on here, and wanted to ask for opinions and personal experiences if you have any.

PLEASE FEEL FREE TO TELL ME ANYTHING "NEGATIVE" IF THEY ARE ACTUALLY A PUPPY MILL OR SOMETHING. SCREW THAT RULE, PUPPY MILLS ARE INHUMANE. I don't know how this forum is supposed to work if no one can warn you when you're going to a backyard breeder but I really want negative opinions if they're out there! Also, I am open to recommendations - any breeder that could possibly provide me with a GSD you think would be good as an emotional support animal is a welcome recommendation, and if they have black shepherds all the better I am looking pretty much anywhere north of North Carolina and east of Iowa, though I am sort of based in both New York and Michigan, so have a very wide range.
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post #2 of 27 (permalink) Old 07-09-2019, 06:56 AM Thread Starter
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I am also looking a bit at Wildhaus if anyone has experience with them, also.
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post #3 of 27 (permalink) Old 07-09-2019, 07:44 AM
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Any kennel, you want to see if you can make a visit. If you cannot do that ask to see videos of what the breeder is doing with the pups from whelping up to 8 weeks. Be patient. Breeders will be busy and can't drop everything at a buyer's whims but if you are reasonable they should be able work something out.

As far as guarantees go, they are a sketchy thing. Most breeders understand that if a pup is not healthy, the owner has already bonded with the little thing and won't want to give it back to the breeder to be euthanized. The breeder we bought from told us honestly that she would honor her guarantee but actually doesn't want pups back. She would hope that we would take care of the original pup as long as we could and then later she would offer another pup. We appreciated her candor. As it is, we have two wonderfully healthy dogs. Of course this is a different thing than a breeder taking a dog back that is a poor match for a buyer. A good breeder will take a pup back which can then go onto a more fitting situation.

Our dogs take many of their cues about their surroundings from us and if you are unsure, they may be as well. If you want a dog to help you with anxiety you will need a dog with rock solid confidence. That will mean the dog will also have rock solid stubbornness so make sure you have an excellent training mentors on speed dial.

Here is a good podcast about what to watch for in breeders in general
Episode 83: Whelping, raising and training - The Canine Paradigm
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post #4 of 27 (permalink) Old 07-09-2019, 09:15 AM
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You are asking for a lot. Have you contacted any service dog organizations? Either for a dog or to help with proper training to attain what you are asking for?
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post #5 of 27 (permalink) Old 07-09-2019, 10:12 AM
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I think you should go visit some different dogs, in person.

You can read about differences in drive/temperament for hours and weeks and months and years. Until you actually see and put your hands on the different dogs, the concepts are abstract and what sounds good in theory may not suit you at all.

Some people are excellent word crafters, some people are great with a camera, others hire someone with graphic talent to put together a gorgeous online presence.

At the end of the day, you're buying a living animal - and there's really no substitute for looking at the animals themselves. I've run into numerous people this year who are legitimately mismatched with a puppy they bought. They fell in love with the idea of the dog, the breeding, the breeder, the kennel. The descriptions sure sounded nice, but the reality is something quite different. The dogs aren't bad dogs, and the people aren't inept - but I feel very strongly that buying based on websites and online reviews can leave an awful out out of the bigger picture, especially when you don't have a very specific idea of what you are looking for.
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post #6 of 27 (permalink) Old 07-09-2019, 10:42 AM
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No advice on the breeder you’re looking into, but advise in general.

Unless you have previous experience with a service animal, or medical alert dog, I strongly recommend an older established rescue unless you plan to send the pup out for professional training, and are completely okay spending money on a pup and the training, just to have that pup fail, and leaving you with a pet, and another search for a service animal.

People who train these pups professionally never pick a pup because it’s cute, or they liked the flashy websites the breeders use, or even a specific breeder. They chose the pup based on specific criteria they look for in a pup that MAY get past all the hurtles of becoming a service dog.

A lot of foundations/companies look for older pups because their temperament and drive has already been established and it’s a better bet that they can be trained and pass all the testing. And it’s never foul proof, many dogs that have begun the training as service animals end up being placed as pets because they just couldn’t pass the tests.

If you just want a companion, that’s a different story. But even a companion should have less criteria than you’re listing.

I have three dogs currently. 2 rescues (not adopted from a shelter) and one purchased from a reputable breeder. One of my rescues (Husky/GSD male) is the biggest dork ever, and has the energy of a 20yr old on coke. He was originally purchased based on his looks (blue eyes, white/black coloring), and was turned over to me because the owner could not handle his level of drive. He literally goes nonstop. He’s fun, he’s beautifully graceful when at work (agility), but if more of his energy isn’t worked off with swimming, fetch, walks, or pulling my son on a skateboard full steam ahead, he wrecks the house.

My pup was purchased from a reputable breeder in Washington. She’s a black shepherd. She’s crazy smart, had medium drive, and is a treat to train. She’s very biddable, loves to cuddle, but gets right to work when training starts. We didn’t choose her, the breeder chose her for us based on our lifestyle and living situation. We had zero criteria, except it being a GSD. We lucked out and got a great pup suited for us. Our roommate got a pup from the same litter, but he insisted on a black male, and gave the breeder the lifestyle he wants, not the lifestyle he has. Which means he has a puppy that is very unsuited for him, and I watch that pup being ruined on a daily basis. Breaks my heart, but there isn’t much I can do about it.

My rescue GSD is my heart. She was basically a feral dog when I got her, and we had over a year of steady, daily training with a trainer familiar with the breed. She has come a long long way, but still needs management, because she has certain traits that cannot he trained away.

Out of the three I have, only my old girl has my back. She is very well in tune with me, and helps pull me out of my darkest depression, and actually alerts me to an oncoming anxiety attack. So I am able to take my meds before the attack sets in, and it lessons it greatly. She wasn’t trained for it, I honestly think we just created an incredible bond, learning to trust each other completely. I was trained as much as she was trained, and I would easily take 10 more of her over my other two dogs, even with the hectic first year.

Don’t get your heart settled on specifics, and allow whatever breeder you eventually chose to chose the right fit for your actual lifestyle. There aren’t many breeders out there breeding blacks, and if they are breeding specifically for color, they are neglecting the actual important things like temperament and health. You may not get what you “wanted” but you will get what you actually need.
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post #7 of 27 (permalink) Old 07-09-2019, 11:21 AM
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First of all a breeders guarantee means nothing. For a couple of reasons. Puppies, all puppies are a crap shoot. Not God himself could guarantee that a baby puppy will grow to be a stable, healthy adult. A breeders guarantee says a couple of things, either at two years old you are going to return a puppy that you have loved and raised or be saddled with vet bills AND you are going to take a second puppy from the same defective lines that the first one came from.
Don't get me wrong, I look for guarantees because it speaks to the confidence of the breeder, but they really mean nothing and you need to look carefully at how they are worded.
I know of a few breeders who offer money back for titling, again be sure to read the fine print and keep in mind that putting a title on a dog costs money, not a little bit of it, so you really aren't coming out ahead if that's your thought.
Titles mean nothing to me at the end of the day, especially in a day and age when they can be bought, however I like breeders who do SOMETHING with their dogs. I don't actually care if a dog does tracking or rally, protection or agility, conformation or obedience, herding or scent work. I want proof that the dog left the yard, hung out at events, travelled, was around other dogs, learned something and worked successfully with a handler. Failing that show me a dog that has been successful at patrol work, detection work, as a service dog.
Health testing is VITAL. Hip scores are only part of it, and a pretty small part. Go to the OFA site and look up the health tests recommended for GSD's. Start your breeder search with that list in your pocket.
Look at longevity, it is important, and look for some sort of breeding plan. What is the breeder trying to produce?
Avoid breeders who have a mish mash of lines and types. This generally indicates BYB's or mills. And if your goal is service work look to a breeder who has produced service dogs.
Keep in mind that GSD's overall are not well suited for anxiety work. Not saying it doesn't happen but they tend to be TOO in tune with their owners.
Good luck.
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post #8 of 27 (permalink) Old 07-09-2019, 11:29 AM
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Often German shepherds actually make poor psychiatric service dogs because your anxiety can make them react to try to protect you. Do you actually want a service dog, or just a companion and emotional support animal? If you just want a good buddy to make you feel better, I think you’ll be fine. If you want a serious service dog, I would be careful about which dog to bring home and which breed to go with. An older dog may be a better fit. Speak with breeders, meet some dogs, watch them work, do what you can to see what the dogs are really like. And be completely honest with any breeder you contact.

While I agree that you should get out around some dogs as much as possible, I just brought home a solid black Wildhaus pup on Friday without meeting any Wildhaus dogs. I did contact a couple owners and ask lots of questions about day-to-day life with the dogs though. Chris was amazing at listening to all my rambling and understanding what I need in a dog. I gave her the information on my home and what life would be like with the pup, and she picked the puppy for me. So far, he’s great! The littermate that I met is definitely much more dog, and I’m glad Chris knew he would be too much for me. I spoke with Chris for about a year and a half before I finally brought my boy home. I just wanted to build up that relationship.

Anyway, good luck! Dogs are awesome, but be warned that first few weeks/months will probably increase your anxiety. Puppies are so hard.
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post #9 of 27 (permalink) Old 07-09-2019, 12:38 PM
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I am not sure the level of your anxiety, and you don’t have to impart, but dogs in general are pretty amazing at knowing when we are not at our best and are naturally supportive. At least mine are. If I am down all of them know, and are extra sweet and caring towards me. I also know that the worst part about depression is the lack of ambition to do anything, the more you sit around the worse you feel. A dog, especially one like a GSD, will encourage you greatly to get up and out with your life. And your best buddy will be there alongside you so you will enjoy it.
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post #10 of 27 (permalink) Old 07-09-2019, 03:46 PM
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Guarantees are really warranties, like Sabis said, not God himself can guarantee a puppy.
"this breeder promises a MINIMUM of three wormings, along with the standard puppy shots, vet exam, written guarantee for hip dysplasia and congenital defects, and a full pedigree (4 generations minimum)"

Three wormings?? big deal... doesn't mean anything.
Full pedigree?? Not even sure what that means? All purebred dogs have a pedigree... it goes on for generations upon generations...

They are not a good breeder. I spent 5 seconds looking on their site - breeding dQ colours, oversized dogs and have done nothing with them...
I agree with what others have said, if I "NEEDED" a dog for a specific purpose, I would not get a puppy.

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