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Hey guys,

I've been researching German Shepherds and have become overwhelmed with the amount of information out there.

This will be the first German Shepherd I have owned, and I've become aware of the many ailments the breed is prone to, so I want to make sure I get this right.

The dog will be a pet. I'm not interested in doing Schutzhund training, or anything like that. I just want a companion dog to accompany me on walks, and help my partner feel at ease when home alone.

I'm confused as to what line of German Shepherd would be best suited to me...

  1. Should I be looking at working line or show lines?
  2. How much should I look at paying for a quality puppy?
  3. Are there any breeders you would recommend in the UK?

Hope I haven't babbled on too much!
 

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Working lines are high energy dogs and need lots of exercise or they turn naughty.
I paid $1800 for a working line dog from proven lines.


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Yes, I agree with Cheyanna, the working lines need lots of exercise and are high energy. My showline gsd - yes still needs exercise, but does not have a high energy level. For the health, I do not know what it is like in the UK, but here in the US, there is OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animal) where dogs hips/elbows, cardiac, eyes, and DM gene ratings are listed. So, I suggest for any puppy you may be interested in, you ask about the hip/elbow ratings (like good, etc.) of the parents, if the parentage was cleared for DM, and any other health clearances the parents may have. For the cost of pup, here in the US, $1,500 and up. You may also want to look into rescue or adopting a gsd.
 

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There are low energy WL and high energy SL, you can't lump them all together. A GSD can live for 12-14 years so research is never wasted :)

Start talking to breeders in your area, if there are breed shows or meet ups those are good places to make contacts. Find a few dogs you like both physically and temperament wise and research the lines, then you'll have a good idea what you're looking for. Vets can be another source of information, they see lots of dogs and their issues so they might be able to point you towards some good dogs

Don't be afraid to ship a dog either, even puppies can handle shipping. That will broaden your chances of getting a really good dog

If you're looking at a rescue, go with one with a good reputation who screens the dogs (and you) throughly to ensure a good match for both of you.

I really hope you find a spectacular dog, GSD's are a very special breed :)
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Working lines are high energy dogs and need lots of exercise or they turn naughty.
I paid $1800 for a working line dog from proven lines.
When you say lots of exercise, how much is a lot?

You may also want to look into rescue or adopting a gsd.
Would it be possible to know if a rescue dog is healthy and has undergone the checks you mentioned?
 

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Hip and elbow issues are not a death sentence. So if you get a rescue, you pay less money out front and IF the dog does have a problem, you may need to provide a surgery or provide supplements and pain management.

No living being is without any ailments for their entire life. Some we may have over looked, others we have learned to manage so that it is not an issue. But the fact is, wherever you get your puppy, you can count on body parts wearing out, disease at some point.

By purhasing a puppy from a breeder who does the checks on the sire and dam of the litter, you are reducing the risk of certain genetic issues, and ensuring that you are supporting breeders who are making an effort to improve the overall health of the breed as a whole. It does not GUARANTY you a dog that will live 15 years and then die peacefully in its sleep.

An alternative is to take in a rescue whose breeding is unknown, but the puppy is already here and needs a home. Buy purchasing this puppy from a good rescue, you are providing for a dog in need, and not encouraging poor breeding practices. It does not GUARANTY more health problems either.

Good luck in whatever you decide. Personally, I am a fan of German Showlines. They make excellent pets, and can do more than that as well. Also, if the sire and dam were imported or their parents were imported, the German breeding programs have been taking note of and rejecting dogs that do not pass x-rays for many generations, so you will have some background there.
 

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I have always adopted. One of my dogs had AKC papers but the others were unknown. Some had health problems and some didn't but there are a lot of people who have bought from breeders and ended up with health and behavioral problems too, there are no guarantees.

Personally, I think rescue is the way to go if you want a great companion dog.
 

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When you say lots of exercise, how much is a lot?



Would it be possible to know if a rescue dog is healthy and has undergone the checks you mentioned?


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Thing is, my previous GSD had no checks and had exellent joints until the end. He was a very athletic dog meaning very very fit and it helped his joints overall being trim and lean. Which is the only way to keep a GSD. Just don't go cheap on a pup from a puppy mill as they sometimes don't have selective responsible breeding and are prone to joint problems because of this. Money is the bottom line for them. Responsible breeders breed the dogs carefuly to insure quality not so much quantity.
 

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To answer your question above, NO.

You can find what your looking for in "any" line. The key is finding a breeder (if that's the route you take), that can match a puppy to YOUR 'wants' and 'don't wants'.

A breeder has spent those first 8 weeks with those puppies and a good breeder should be able to "peg" those puppies and match them with appropriate homes.

I have always had "working lines", sure some had more energy than others and required more exercise / stimuli to keep them happy, but they have always been easy dogs to live with. And I agree , there are probably alot of 'sport' dogs that would be impossible to live with as 'companion only'.. But the same goes for 'any' line.

It's not about lines, it's more about the individual dog.

If you list your general area/state, someone may be able to suggest a breeder for you to go, check out their dogs, check them out etc.
 

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So, should I avoid looking at working line GSD's, if I only really want a pet?
Absolutely not. There are dogs of varying drive and energy levels in all lines. A well balanced working line dog can make a fine pet. Health is important. Mental stimulation is important. For me, social stability is vital. I do not want a dog that is reactive in mixed settings. I want my dog to be able to be at ease in ANY setting. Noises should not disturb him. Mixed company should not up set him. You should be able to take him into a crowd and not worry about a child or stranger getting bit by your dog because they just reached down and petted it . The dog should be able to discern an real threat and be protective when needed rather than flee to hide behind you.

I would start by talking to these guys. Tell them what you are looking for. They have enough experience with high quality German Shepherds that they can point you in the right direction;

Vislor Dog Training Centre
 

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do remember that this is a working breed !

the qualities that you want should be represented in the working line .

you want and need a stable character. Don't go for extremes on either end - not hyper active , which has nothing to do with drive , and not the other extreme either because then very important aspects will have been neglected - and that could lead to problems.
 

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Try Rinus Bastiaansen in Belguim. He can ship worldwide easily. Many of his dogs are high level sport dogs but I've seen/heard of some more medium to low drive. Everyone I know with one of his dogs has been pleased with his ability to match them with the type of dog *they* ask for. I believe the puppies were under $2K shipped to the US so might be cheaper shipped to the UK.
 

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Here is the website for Rinus Bastiaansen: http://www.daelenberghutte.be/index2.htm

Note I do not know anything about this breeder, just providing a link because I noticed the site was difficult to find.

For the record, I have a rescue with zero health issues. I just picked a sweet, attentive dog from a shelter that I thought I could train easily. She is not perfect, but having her has helped me understand what to look for when I get my next shepherd. It's really hard to know what you actually want in terms of drive/temperament until you have interacted with the dogs in person.


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I think another element that is often overlooked on this subject is owner training and involvment. Getting one of these dogs either working or show line is somewhat a life changing event. Make sure your ready for the commitment it takes because it's not only the dog it's also the owner.

I always looked at it in most cases as far as my dogs, I got out of them what I put into them.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not discounting breeder importance here, just wanted to point out that even with good lines or certain lines of GSD's, you still need to be involved with them as much as possible. It helps with a better outcome for both dog and owner.
 

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Rescue all the way! Your situation sounds perfect for an older german shepherd from someone with some knowledge on the breed, I would look for 2-4 year old. No working line for you... Its not that it cant work, it sounds like you will not have the time energy or will to devote to those lines. Breeding low energy, low time invest working dogs equals over price pet breeder. Not a correct working line breeder. Also shepherds require a bit more work as a puppy as well.

If I were in your shoes with the info provided I would go with a rescue, a slightly older gsd, outside of teenager. Try some of the rescue pages on facebook for your area as well. There are lots of shepherds needing a good home that will be put to sleep today and tomorrow, from people whom made the wrong decision or fell on hard times. Its no free ride you will have to ask questions and do your homework no matter which route you choose.


JD
 

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So, should I avoid looking at working line GSD's, if I only really want a pet?
I think a lot of people are enamored by police k9s and want one just like them. If they are generally working lines, they want working lines. They want to get one whose sire is a police dog.

Maybe you can get a really nice family dog from people that breed police dogs, have a lot of police dogs out there. Maybe that should be a probably. But be careful not to go with someone who says their sire is a police dog.

Some people call all GSDs police dogs or k9s, and some some people flat out lie about it. But there are a lot of people who actually are using police dogs as sires. Some cops out there are perfectly willing to let their boys breed, and people are happy to have a pup out of a police dog even if there are no papers.

The problem with this is that whoever is orchestrating the breeding may not know the first thing about how to determine which of these dogs are going to have super high energy and drives that will drive the average puppy owner crazy.

It's a working breed, but unless you are willing to put the time and energy into working with the dog, willing to train a dog that really needs to be trained for more than sit, down, stay, heel, then you will need to be careful, and be clear about what level of drives and energy you are looking for.

Even with showlines, there are dogs that require more than just sit, down, stay, heel. But they tend not to need as much as the working lines often do. I think it is more important to have a knowledgeable breeder help match you with a puppy, and they can only do that if you are very clear about what your are looking for.
 

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Seer, I don't think that anyone was saying "find a breeder who has 'low drive' working lines" They are saying that in every litter there is a chance of a dog with less drive. It happens, just like every dog won't be show quality.
 
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