Alright, before anyone says "Leave breeding to the professionals," breeding is simply an interest of mine at the moment, and I know there are enough people out there breeding German Shepherds without someone like me potentially contributing to the overpopulation/bad breeder problem.
Now, a year and a half ago I purchased my beloved GSD from a BYB, at the time I didn't know any better but I love her to bits. Anyway, needless to say this guy was pretty bad and pretty much the stereotypical picture of a bad breeder. Junk everywhere, mother and father chained up (And quite aggressive), a few puppies huddling in the corner of the yard, automated feeders, bad food, those sorts of things.
It baffled me why people could treat dogs so badly, and why they would do it just for money. I always wanted a German Shepherd when I was younger, and when I finally got one it was happened to be from that guy. Ever since seeing how horrible some BYBs can be, I've gained an interest in German Shepherds and (possible) breeding, and I was wondering what a good breeder needs to know before even beginning to breed. All I wanted was a good quality GSD, that are well taken-care of and a good example of the breed (Temperment, Drive, etc). I didn't hate the guy at first, but as I started to research the GSD breed and look into what the good breeders thought of BYBs, I've grown to really be disgusted with what he did. I understand ignorance, but in this day and age I don't understand how someone can't simply get on the internet and start asking questions. I have a niece and nephew, both of which are very young. I would like them to be able to get a quality German Shepherd from someone who is genuinely interested in the breed and cares for it's future than someone like the BYB I got mine from.
I might not take up breeding in the future, and I might lose interest. I know that breeding takes a LOT of work (Time and frustration too) and that I'll need to committed see it through to the end once I start down the path of breeding German Shepherds, but that's for the future. I know that if I ever got a breeding prospect, I would have to train and title the dog rigorously, and that training is a valuable learning experience as it allows you to learn about the dog and it's personality/temperament/quirks.
Anyway, my questions are the following:
1. What do I need to know to be a good breeder?
2. What do I need to know about the bloodlines?
3. I know titles aren't everything, and that even a titled dog can be 'unworthy' of being bred, so what makes a dog worthy, and how do you know if it's worthy or not?
4. I know conformity is more important in the show lines, but how important is it in the working lines, and where can I find more information on it in general?
5. I know working-line GSDs are generally not recommended for a pet-home, but shouldn't well-bred German Shepherds be able to exist in a pet-home as well as work?
6. I've heard you shouldn't cross the bloodlines, I know genetics are a fickle thing, but is there more information as to why it shouldn't be done?
7. Again, breeding isn't a near-thing, but if I were to buy a GSD, how can I minimize the chances that the dog I'm buying has the highest possible chance of being 'breed-able' genetics-wise?
8. I only have one GSD at the moment, when I first gained an interest I considered breeding her (for ALL of the wrong reasons), but after researching I know now that she shouldn't be bred. My
question is this, is owning a well-bred German Shepherd a valuable learning experience, and if so, what can you learn as a (potential) dog-breeder/owner from having one?
9. I know hips and elbows should be tested at 2 years, and that even puppies that come from parents with Good/Excellent hips can still have bad hips, my question is this, is there anyway to mitigate
the genetic factor? Vitamins perhaps? I've heard these things can be tested earlier, but that seems kind of unreliable.
10. I know you shouldn't breed puppies unless you have homes already lined up, but how do you go about 'getting the word out,' and making sure that good people are the one's getting the puppies?
11. I've heard that if a breeder ends up with dogs in the shelter, they shouldn't breed again, my question is this, what are some things to look for in a potential-owner to minimize the risk of a puppy ever ending up in a shelter, even years down the line?
10. I've heard that good breeders should sign up at their local kennel club, why is that? Do these clubs provide a sort of information that can't be found elsewhere?
11. How do you recognize a good example of the breed (and Bloodline)? I understand at dog shows the dogs there are supposed to be the best of the best, but pardon my skepticism.
12. What is the difference between a dog being trained to do something, and being GOOD at something? How can you tell the difference?
13. Is the GSD breed IMPROVING, or has it stagnated? And if it has stagnated, why has it happened?
14. I don't know if this is true, and pardon my ignorance - But if Max von Stephanitz was the one responsible for the GSD, and his ideology of quickly and aggressively removing health defects and other problems from the breed is a sound concept, why is it not used now? I understand that from an ethics point of view, mass cullings and the like is wrong, but I don't understand why feelings and ethics should be a factor when it comes towards improving the breed as a whole. Do ethics and 'good practices' really matter when it comes to the integrity of a species?
If I have an incorrect thought process about this and need to be educated, please correct me. It's just, seeing people like that BYB makes me so angry, and I would like for the future generation to not have to worry as much that their dog might have health problems, temperament problems, or the like. I know I might not ever breed, but I do know that it's not for the faint of heart, and if I'm to even consider this, I should know what I'm getting into first. Thanks for the help.
PS: If you think question 14 is horrifying, I'll have you know that it isn't intentional, it's just my Aspergers coming through.