Adoption vs breeder - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-30-2019, 03:45 PM Thread Starter
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Smile Adoption vs breeder


Was hoping for some expert advice regarding current situation:

Background: I lost my beloved male Working/Show line American GSD in 2008 after 12 happy years with him, and have been unable to get another dog due to being in medical school, residency, having 2 babies, living in pet unfriendly apartment in NYC. I've felt a massive void since I lost him and I would like to get another dog. For me, there is no other breed, I am a GSD owner for life. I bought my dog from a breeder in PA at 8 weeks, trained him, did IPO with him biweekly, agility, tracking and it is my passion (second to medicine). I would say that I am a confident owner, admittedly, maybe a little rusty at this point. I was able to navigate well with a 135lb-er who had severe thunderstorm anxiety with flight response and train/medicate accordingly. (who knew that was genetic???)

Situation now: My kids are almost 6 and 2.5, we lost our 17 year old cat last year and have a female rabbit (worst idea ever). My schedule at this is doable for properly including a dog into our family. By that I mean IPO training and being a 3rd child

My husband and I are at odds. I believe that knowing where your dog came from, meeting parents if possible and having full available pedigree is very important, especially with GSD temperament and personalities having small children in the house. I also believe that its important to shape the personality of the dog from the beginning and creating a long lasting bond.

I would like to find a good breeder and have considered getting in touch with my old one, (who's website I have been lurking around for years). I am very hesitant to adopt an adult GSD with small, although dog respectful children. I have also had a traumatic experience with an adopted a 1 year old Weimaraner that I had to surrender within 3 weeks.
My husband on the other hand, has never owned a dog, and is adamantly against buying from breeders, he wants to adopt any dog but is respectful of my breed choice.

Are there any valid arguments for/against this path? Perhaps a suggestion?
What is the average price for a puppy at this time?

Our perfect dog would be medium/large size (my boy was 28" and 135lbs), calm demeanor, good with small children, will have to become comfortable with traveling (my husband is an international banker).
Should I be looking for show lines? Working lines? Need help deciding this as well.
Anything else I need to consider?

Thank you!
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-01-2019, 11:03 AM
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Based on your preferences, goals and situation I'd go 100% for a pup from a breeder you like. I have given up on rescues for a long time.
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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-01-2019, 11:25 AM
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The first thing you have to do is have you and your husband on the same page. Maybe educate him on the differences between a truly reputable breeder and backyard breeders /puppy mills. Point out that is everyone only did the "adopt don't shop" thing, you are basically signing up to extinguish the existence of pet dogs in oh..20 years.

I have done my share of rescues. Some were train wrecks, some were best dogs ever, One cost me easily over 6k in vet bills, trainers, behaviorists for what in the end turned out to be not fixable. Another rescue I had never had a single issue, was super easy to train, and never needed the vet beyond routine care.

What are you getting for your money when you buy a well bred GSD? If it is really well bred? (best to check with experienced people..maybe here or at an IPO club before signing up with a breeder). Well, you get better odds in your favor for temperament, health especially genetic issues like HD and DM. You are not guaranteed these things (beyond the limited health guarantee the breeder will give), but you are guaranteed a lifetime of support from a caring and knowledgeable breeder. One who will always take the dog back if there are serious issues that you can't deal with.

I have 2 working lines (23 months and 10 weeks old) and 3 little kids (12, 10, and 7). With proper training and breeder knowledge/support things are great. You just have to tell the breeder your lifestyle, your expectations from the dog. A good breeder will match you to the best of their prediction and will not place a pup if they think it wont be a good fit for that particular pup.

What do you get with a rescue? Well, obviously that warm fuzzy feeling. It can be addicting. If you go to a reputable rescue (they need to be vetted just as much as breeders) odds are they foster before placing. So you will have someone who can tell you how they are in a home. If they are good with kids, cats, etc. Any issues to watch out for. What they can't tell you is if a large breed will develop HD or other breed issues like DM. They also can't tell you if the dog can do work or sport (if you are still interested in that). Fosters are usually family homes only. Like a good breeder, a good rescue will always take a dog back. However, unlike a breeder they will re advertise the dog for placement again and then you will just have to avert your eyes from the 10k comments from people who will say you are horrible for giving him back even though they arent stepping up to take him either lol

The only donts I would say is don't use a breeder that doesn't health test their dogs and really they should work their dogs in some type of fashion. Don't choose a breeder based on what they say about their dogs alone..research the progeny. Post a pedigree here for input, hang around your most local IGP club and ask. If you just post a location here, you WILL get leads on great breeders.

The other don't I would say, and this is just me...because you have kids ...don't go to a city or county shelter and leave with a dog that was "assessed for temper" by their staff. Especially larger strong dogs. A lot of times they are there 3 weeks before getting adopted out and nobody truly knows what they are made of until they get into a home and decompress. Their staff isn't always as knowledgeable as they present on paper. Sticking a rubber hand near their bowl and using a toddler sized doll walking around does not count as testing for resource guarding or the "good with kids" badge. Look up 3 week shutdown period from dogs. Going to a rescue that fosters lessens the chances you will see a drastic change in a dog that lives in a shelter and now has a home.

Good luck, hope you and your husband find a common ground you are both happy with! And sorry about the loss of your other beloved pets. We all know what a hole in the heart that leaves <3
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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-01-2019, 12:14 PM
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I don't want to over-generalize, but you may have difficulty finding a GSD-rescue who will adopt to familes who have young children. If you're interested in IPO I believe that is a valid reason to choose a breeder. HOWEVER, I would choose a good rescue over a bad or questionable breeder. If you go with a breeder, I would choose one who works/trains/titles their dogs, who understands their lines, health tests their breeding stock, and who will help you pick the right puppy for your household, particularly since you have small children.

If you start with a puppy, you may find there are times when you have to (or simply want to) keep the pup and your children seperate. GSDs can be very rambunctious and bitey (during the teething stage). They aren't called landsharks for nothing. Sometimes breeders will have an older puppy or a young dog available, and that can be an option as well.

As far as determining what line is best for you, much depends on your goals and your personal preferences. If you want to compete in IPO, the usual advice is to choose a working line. Though any line can be a healthy and stable family companion. My West German showline (WGSL), Asher, is a wonderful family dog, and were my circumstances different, he could accomplish much more. We have two children (an almost four-year-old and a two-year-old), and we have never had any problems integrating children/dogs. He is very stable at home and in public, and I can easily walk him with one hand while pushing a double stroller in the other.

Since you want to participate in a protection sport, I would find some local clubs and attend some of their events or training sessions. That way you can see some dogs in person, determine what you like, and perhaps find a breeder. I haven't priced puppies in a few years, but I would expect to pay somewhere around $2000-$3000, with some working lines on the lower side of that range and the WGSL on the upper end. I've never priced American showlines (ASL), so I can't comment on them.

Best of luck in your search. Let us know what you decide.
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Last edited by sebrench; 05-01-2019 at 12:36 PM.
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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-01-2019, 12:18 PM
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There's a difference between adoption out of a shelter or kennel-based rescue, and adoption from a foster home. Some good breed rescues have foster homes with young kids -- they observe the dogs around kids for weeks before adopting them out to homes with kids, and they tell homes with kids that they only will match them with dogs known to be good with kids because someone has lived with them with kids.

Being careful about kid-safe dogs makes a lot of adopters with kids mad -- which defies logic, but it's just ignorance. They want to choose from any dog listed with the rescue, and get upset when told "no, that one wasn't fostered with kids or exposed to them through social visits while fostered, so we have no good information about them being safe with kids -- we don't want to risk putting your kids in a situation where we can't be sure the dog will be great with them." They also get mad when told, "no, we don't match puppies with toddlers because normal puppies are biting machines that view toddlers as the best squeaky toys."

We've literally NEVER had a placement in a home with toddlers work out with a very young dog with our rescue -- they always came back because people underestimated how unhappy the toddlers would be and how constant a puppy's mouthing can be (it's like having another young kid to supervise!). If you try to adopt and have rescues resist putting a young dog with you...that's why. Hard experience. We just got tired of the returns from people who swore they had the experience, knew what they were getting into, and understood puppy land-sharking -- so we stopped taking the chance and now put puppies in homes with older, dog savvy kids who can help with redirection because they can understand what's going on.

When we have a good home with toddlers, we match with a bomb-proof, easy going adult that has shown us it really LIKES kids in the foster home. They get a dog that's done with mouthing, doesn't jump on little people and knock them over, with some impulse control when kids start yelling and running around. People who listen to us end up really happy -- often telling us it's the greatest dog they've ever owned. OTOH, we've had quite a few who got mad at us, and bought a puppy anyway, and then contacted us sheepishly 6-12 months later asking us to take it off their hands because they are miserable.

You may be one of the few who can manage a puppy and toddlers. Think carefully about your medical practice commitment and your spouse's travel/work schedule -- family time, dog training and exercise time, and how much time you can REALLY commit to raising a puppy. If it's not realistic, a 3-5 y.o. bomb-proof, kid-loving adult dog that's already house-trained with some basic OB could be a lot less stressful. If you need to know the lines to feel comfortable, maybe see if your past breeder has a retired breeding female they need to find a home for and give a slightly older dog a happy retirement home.

Last edited by Magwart; 05-01-2019 at 12:26 PM.
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-01-2019, 12:29 PM
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I had a rescue that was wonderful with my then toddler daughter...but it isn't an exact science. Your hubby, who has never had a dog, might have a little trouble with the mouthiness of a pup. You could find a middle ground and research breeders who retire their gals to family homes. That way you can get a well bred mature dog. In a few years, when your sweetheart is wise in the ways of GSDs you can consider a pup.

IPO is great but it is very time consuming with kids. If you chose a sport like Nosework or Man-trailing the kids can help you with it. Not to say that IPO can't be family friendly if you find a great club.
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-01-2019, 05:56 PM
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I hate to suggest this but with your current place in life and your husband never having owned a dog do you think that a GSD is the right choice for you at this time? No offense intended but maybe something to consider. I had great luck with adopting 3 adult rescue GSD's but I was just lucky. Since then I have chosen my pups directly from the breeder. Good luck in whatever you decide.
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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-01-2019, 06:12 PM
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It's definitely personal preference, along with what you want/need in a dog. A reputable breeder may be best for your situation.

I adopted a 2 year old shelter GSD, when my kids were 10, 6, and 2. My 2 year old had a birth defect that caused him to be small and have mobility issues. My shelter GSD was awesome with the kids. She was especially considerate of the little one and took pains to ensure she never knocked him over.

You would probably wait a long time to get a puppy from a rescue, if you decided to go that route. There aren't that many puppies, so any puppy will get a ton of applications. I currently have a GSD mix from an out of state shelter. She was 8 weeks old, when I adopted her. She is about 75% GSD. She is a sweetheart and loves kids.

Best of luck, on whatever you decide. Please keep us posted.

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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-01-2019, 06:34 PM
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Originally Posted by JnMD819 View Post
My husband on the other hand, has never owned a dog, and is adamantly against buying from breeders, he wants to adopt any dog but is respectful of my breed choice.

Here's my rationalization and logic regarding that opinion.......getting your dog from a quality breeder and giving it a wonderful life with all the upfront due diligence performed....... and then following through with ALL the essential requirements the breed thrives in......not just talking dog food......will ultimately keep your dog from ever becoming a dog which needs to be rescued at a later date.

Those that adopt and rescue dogs have my utmost respect.......but in the interests of procuring a proper GSD which will fit your situation......I'd go with your highest percentage odds of finding the "right" dog so you never have to rehome your first choice.


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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-01-2019, 08:47 PM
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I do also like to get a pup especially a breed that is large and powerful and known to have aggression from a reputable breeder with young kids. I was tempted to get an adult trained dog since our first shepherd was trained but first I still feel safest with raising a pup and second the expense of a trained dog is quite high these days. Raising a pup is the best way to learn all about the dog in my opinion. All their quirks all their strengths. I’m not a real puppy person but having young kids it made me become one. It’s also a gift to watch the family grow together. I also like dogs who have a deep bond with me but also capable of having a nice bond with other members of the family. Find a reputable breeder meet the dogs find something that fits schedule you will enjoy doing with your dog and fits your families needs and have fun searching!

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