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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,

My family and I live on a 20 acre property in Ontario, Canada. We have had 2 German Shepherds in the last 14 years. My goal is to make our land sustainable so that my family's life can be more closely aligned with our land. In order to make the farm work, we were planning to have a mixture of some livestock, produce, and a small breeding program (two females and one male) to help our farm become sustainable. We are not looking for livestock guardians. Our German Shepherds have always been a full part of the family which means they are with us in the home in the evening and working on the property with us during the day.

I have had German Shepherds my entire adult life, but I am new to breeding so I am doing my due diligence to be an educated and responsible breeder. However, that doesn't replace the experience that a mentor can provide who has been doing this for a long time. One of my strengths is content/marketing, so although I plan to have a small breeding program, I also plan to create something like this von.jakoba where brand sponsorships earn substantially more than the breeding program itself. More importantly, I’m actually passionate about German Shepherds and photography/social media.

I own Beautiful Life Studios so I'm in a unique position to achieve this and in exchange pass along some content (photos/videos) to a good mentor.

Regarding breeding, I have extensively researched everything that is involved over the course of the past few months, including talking to other breeders for input. I am familiar with OFA and Pennhip procedures regarding HD and ED. I am aware that all testing for MDR1 gene, Degenerative myelopathy, Haemophilia testing, Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI), and brucellosis should be done before any future breedings. I am also aware that the Dam should be at least 2 years of age and the Sire a minimum of 18 months. I also understand the different lines of Shepherds from American Showline, German Showline, West German Working Line, East German (DDR) working line, and Czech Working lines. The reason that I am stating all this is that I want to demonstrate that I have done my due diligence but that I also understand my potential shortcomings which is why I am looking for a mentor.

Ideally, I am looking to implement a future breeding program to increase the likelihood of producing healthy, long coat, sable/bi-color German Shepherds similar to the image below. Any feedback you have would be greatly appreciated, including if you, or anyone you know, would like to be my mentor.

Thank you for your time.

Image source: German Shepherd Coat and Color Varieties
568113
 

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Just one quick comment before some others come along. The sire should also be at least 24 months old before being bred. A dog cannot have final clearances until he/she is 24 months, so breeding a male before that is unethical as you cannot possibly have the appropriate final health tests done.

Also, what work do you actively do with your dogs? They need to prove that they’re breed worthy, either through actual work (like herding) or by achieving titles. How will you be sure the male and females you plan to breed are a good match for each other? What if your sire is not the best match for either dam? What if one or all of them don’t pass the health tests?
 
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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
@Pytheis My apologies, I wrote down from a source "The Kennel Club won’t register a litter from a bitch of under two, but they will register litters with sires aged from 18 months old" but you are correct that does contradict the health tests that would need to be passed first.

1) I plan to ensure that all health tests are passed.
2) I am not ignorant to the fact that there are likely factors that I do not know, which is why I am seeking someone with more experience to help guide us with sourcing puppies that would make suitable future pairs.
3) In regards to proving they are breed worthy beyond the health testing, I have not yet decided the ideal route to take. What I can say with certainty is that I do have the time, willingness, and passion to dedicate and I'm hoping the route will become clearer as I talk to more of you that have hands-on experience.
4) If they do not pass the health tests it is not the end of the world. I do not rely on revenue from breeding. I've had German Shepherds for the past 14 years strictly as companions; they're just members of the family. They will have a great active life and be surrounded by a loving family at all times. If they are breed worthy and they can contribute to the farm then that is great. If not, we won't hold it against them! =)

Those are all great questions and exactly the type of feedback I'm looking for. I appreciate your time. If you have any other feedback, advice, or you can point me in the right direction I'm all ears.
 

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Ideally there would be a good breeder close enough for you to work with them in their kennel, shadow them and learn from that. Is there anyone near you who you can approach for mentoring? If not German Shepherds, I would look for someone breeding a similar breed to learn the physical aspects of safe and competent breeding, then work with people at a GSD club to learn the best training and to have a place for titling. You also need quality breeding stock and to have a good working knowledge of pedigrees before you ever buy a breeding dog,
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Unfortunately, I do not have a mentor that I know close by. Although, I will be looking for local GSD clubs!

Regarding breeding stock. I do want to keep it to 2 females and 1 male. Are there any major issues/concerns with this approach?

I provided a photo above, it appears to be German working line? My plan is to get them as puppies so I still have a 2 year window to begin joining GSD clubs as soon as possible. More importantly, I'm hoping to find an online mentor I can speak with as well. I can provide services in return. I have skills in photography, videography, social media, and websites.

Do you know anyone who can help me find the breeding stock for the type of GSD I want to breed (image in the first post)? As this is a critical step, I'm willing to work out an arrangement that works for whoever is interested.
 

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yes. there is a concern. Rarely do the owners of females own the males. Breeders choose the best male to compliment the female. You don't buy 3 random dogs and just breed them.

Buying a puppy is a crap shoot. You might spend a year raising the puppy and find out it has bad hips or the temperament isn't what is needed. Go find a club, watch the dogs and learn. Then choose your dog, train the dog and decide if it's breed worthy. You don't buy the puppies and join a club 2 years later.

Your skills in photography, videography, social media, and websites. really are not going to help you as a breeder. No, I'm not going to recommend breeding stock to you when you don't know what you're doing. Go to clubs, learn, meet people, make contacts, learn more, buy a puppy, learn more.

 

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Please learn more about breeding before buying dogs to breed. Find out how reputable Breeders find their breeding stock. It should be carefully planned before you ever buy a dog. You must learn to read and understand pedigrees. If you just buy random dogs and breed them you will be a backyard breeder.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Hi, sorry if there was any misunderstanding. I was not looking for random dogs to breed. I am looking for someone with experience to help me choose dogs that would likely be compatible. I am aware of my own current limitations which is why I am asking for assistance. I do not plan to wait two years to join a club, I will join a club in the very near future and have already been researching local clubs. I also stated that if there are any health issues with the dog and/or if they are not breeding worthy they will just be members of the family, just like my previous shepherds; no issues there at all.

I was just mentioning my skills as a way of stating that I do not expect free help. I was trying to be respectful by stating if anyone was to mentor me I can repay them in other ways.

I am also trying to be very responsible. I have owned German Shepherds for 14 years now so I am already familiar with the breed. I have done extensive research on GSD breeding, health issues, etc. I have spoken to multiple breeders. Joined online forums/groups. Shortly I will be joining a local club; the only reason I haven't is that COVID has caused near-constant restrictions here in Ontario. I am looking for a mentor because I know how beneficial that can be. I have no financial pressure at all, so I have no reason to do any sort of improper breeding. I'm also not a defensive person, if anyone has any more reading material to send my way or can point me in the right direction on what else I should do to become 'more qualified' I really appreciate it. I am a very hard-working, detail-oriented, and professional individual. It's just if you have anything specific I can learn rather than just assuming the worst in me that would be even more appreciated. = )

The main reason I am looking for someone to help me locate appropriate puppies now is that usually there are wait-lists. So even if I was to start breeding it is well over 2 years from now and I'm already looking to fill in any shortcomings on my end as soon as possible. I just figured there were others out there that already know all the reputable breeders and can make suggestions for the type I am looking for.
 

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I didn't assume anything about you. I gave you advice based on what you posted AND posted a link for you to find clubs. I'm sorry you don't like it. Good luck in your search.
 

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most responsible breeders don't start breeding with your type of mindset. They first get a dog, train that dog, learn about that dog, and the lines the dog is from after working that dog. Then they get another dog, after doing much research on what they want for their next partner....researching lines, pedigrees and learning more about the breeds types. As they work that next dog, they may or may not decide breeding is something they'd like to do, so understand their dogs strengths weaknesses and what the pedigree of that dog would match well with. Then the person decides on a program, sets some goals for future generations of the dog they want to use in that foundation of their program. Breeding is an art and not easy.
If you really want to breed, get a dog, train to earn titles, work that dog some more, to be sure you have what you want and then decide on your next dogs future for the next generations.
The GSD's integrity relies on good educated breeders to keep the breed from losing the traits that the standard has in the description. The dog in your photo is a long coat sable which is very common. Breeding for color and coat is NOT what good responsible breeders set as goals...they breed for versatility, solid nerves and healthy dogs.
Edit: along the journey you will make contacts with many, and a mentor may just be in there somewhere...choose wisely who you want to be mentored by.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
@Jax08 Quite the opposite, I like your advice and I am doing exactly what you recommended. Thank you for the link.

@onyx'girl Okay, I see the disconnect. I made the assumption that if someone with more experience helped me choose appropriate/compatible pedigrees at the beginning, that would very significantly increase the probability the GSDs would be suitable in the future and mainly leave me with the task of doing the necessary work with GSDs to demonstrate that they are in fact breed worthy. If they do not happen to be, that is okay, or perhaps could be potentially rectified in another manner. I can understand that without mentioning exactly what traits I am looking to breed for; herding, SAR, Schutzhund, etc that one may conclude I have not done enough due diligence. Thank you for helping me realize this. To be completely honest, I originally thought that if the dogs came from a strong compatible pedigree (as chosen by someone with sufficient experience), had a good temperament, and passed all necessary health tests, that they would likely be suitable for breeding in the future. I now understand that 'purpose' plays a large factor as well which is why dogs do all of these competitions to demonstrate their abilities, thereby proving their breed worthiness in conjunction with the strong pedigree and health clearances. I did mention the preferred coat that I wanted, but that was not intended to be at the expense of any of the other crucial traits.


I have owned two german shepherds and the breed holds a very dear place in my heart. On top of being very passionate about the breed and have the time to dedicate. My intention was to continue learning and joining clubs. I was looking to purchase a puppy shortly, I was just hoping someone would help with one that would be in line with future aspirations as well. Below are a few old photos of the family.
 

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To be completely honest, I originally thought that if the dogs came from a strong compatible pedigree (as chosen by someone with sufficient experience), had a good temperament, and passed all necessary health tests, that they would likely be suitable for breeding in the future.
No. My male, well bred and from a great breeder who I absolutely would buy from again, IPO3 at regional level, breed surveyed. Health tested, great temperament and pedigree. And not breed worthy, IMO. He's a great dog, some of his siblings are breeding and certainly breed worthy, however he is not for different reasons that I wouldn't have known about except thru training and trialing (where the stress will show).

Testing the dogs thru training is just so very important regardless of which venue you choose. Not every dog makes the cut.

So take a step back and go watch dogs. THEN find a breeder from the dogs you like.

As far as the long coat, you will probably not find reputable working line breeders purposely breeding for a long coat. They pop up in litters because the gene is recessive and both parents must have it but it's not bred on purpose. It was just recently the SV allowed them to even be shown in conformation and they still have requirements that a stock coat can not breed to a long coat (stupid but that's their rule).
 

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You are off to a good start by asking. If you want a quality breeding program, please take the time to do things the best way possible. The last breeder I bought from started out titling dogs in what was then called Schutzhund and ran a club before ever thinking about breeding. She started titling as a teenager because she has dogs that were suited for it. She didn’t get into breeding until she had titled, breedworthy dogs already, then started to realize she could produce dogs similar to the ones she had purchased. I would start with a club. Since your dogs pictured are WGSL, you would want to meet people trainng those lines.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Hi, thank you for the feedback. I spent the majority of today researching all of the different clubs in my area. Many events have been cancelled due to COVID but I'm still reaching out to see if there are any online discussions/mentors in the area.

I must admit, you have set 'very' high standards for what you find an acceptable path to becoming a breeder. I'd estimate that it's likely only about 5% of people currently breeding GSDs have followed the path that you are suggesting. Even for me, it's not like I'm brand new. I have the experience of owning two German Shepherds over 14 years, I've done my homework on pedigrees/health-testing, understanding proper breeding practices, and I'm speaking to experienced individuals such as yourself for advice. Based on your advice, I'm also joining clubs and finding local mentors. Don't get me wrong, I completely respect and agree with the suggestions that you have made and I wish more current/future breeders would follow suit.

The main reason I was 'eager' for help in choosing a puppy is that I was looking to get one anyway. I just wanted to make sure it was likely to be suitable for future aspirations. My first GSD passed away over 2 years ago and I lost my other boy in the divorce so I only see him part of the week. If you're looking for unconditional love, you can rely on your shepherds more than anyone. I now have a 20-acre property with my family and I'm looking forward to having GSDs play a much larger role in my life.
 

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In addition to the above advice, find a bitch the seller wants to sell with breeders terms. With the right breeder, you may get the mentor you're looking for. You may find the experience enough to put you off wanting to continue breeding dogs.
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From a great dane breeding kennel....


Breeders terms means a dog or bitch is offered up into a pet home ( generally at a reduced price, depending on their age) for the purpose of breeding the dog/bitch later on, this is done for a variety of reason, but generally the dog or pup is valuable to the breeding program but may not have that "spark" or perfect coat markings for the show ring. Placing a dog like this into a home means he/she gets to enjoy a happy pet home whilst still being a valuable part of the breeding program.

Before entering into a breeders terms arrangement ensure you are comfortable with the whole thing, for bitches, it means the bitch goes back to the breeder, sometimes necessary when the mating is to occur ( depending on distance from the breeder, or if AI is being done) but always when she is due to whelp, this means she will be away for aprox to 8 weeks. In return the Co-Owner is offered a puppy or the cost of one. Taking on a bitch on breeders terms is not a choice to be made lightly.

Dogs on breeders terms, are a lot easier and are basically to be made available to the breeder when needed for stud duties, depending on distance the dog may stay with the breeder for a few days but this is a mutual arrangement.

There needs to be a high level of trust and communication with your breeder, if you are wanting a pup on breeders terms.
 

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I don’t know how most breeders get started, but I would guess they don’t start out doing everything right. That can have disastrous consequences. The first breede I bought from lucked into a Vom Kirschental sire who was a good producer and who had many levels of titling. The dog were awesome. Her next breeding with the same dam used a different sire and a friend got one if the puppies. That litter had both hip and elbow dysplasia and the breeder ended up switching breeds as a result of that awful experience. She has since become very successful with a smaller breed. Her mistake was relying solely on titles and temperaments and not doing enough genetic and health research into the male lines. Health testing isn’t always enough.
 

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I'd estimate that it's likely only about 5% of people currently breeding GSDs have followed the path that you are suggesting.
therein lies the problem!!
no one who has dealt first hand with the health and temperament issues that plague this breed is going to suggest cutting corners to an aspiring breeder.
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
This forum has some phenomenal information! I have been going through some past threads on pedigrees, inbreeding/backmassing, and titling.

On a separate note, I have reached out to a local club to get more involved. Unfortunately, our province has just been issued with another stay home order due to COVID so any in-person meets will have to wait at least a few more weeks.

I have also put together a short doc outlining what is important to evaluate when purchasing a new German Shepherd. I made a copy and have enabled editing/commenting and would really appreciate any feedback Copy of German Shepherds

Thank you for all the help so far!
 

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