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Discussion Starter #1
Hey all!

I would like to get some recommendations for German Shepherd breeders so I can get to know them and learn more about the breed while I am still in school!

I currently live in Oklahoma however, I would travel for the perfect dog!

Little background info on me: I am 20 years old and still currently in school (I will graduate in 2022) and won’t be moving into my own house for another 3 years or so. I obviously don’t know how my future job schedule is going to look, or if I will actually be able to move out in 3 years. This is not my first time owning a dog (My family and I currently own a byb Cocker Spaniel, who will stay with my parents when I move out.) however, it would be my first time owning a German Shepherd.

As this will be my first time owning a GSD, I think I would prefer medium energy and drive. I would like a dog who likes to work and learn but, I would not want them to completely lose their mind while I am at work. Or if I got sick, I would want them to be able to chill in bed with me.

My personal interests: I enjoy hiking, running, biking. I would also like to go on a road trip (a couple of weeks at most, when I get out of school, and the dog would definitely be coming with me.)

Interests for the dog: I would like to get into obedience, trick training, frisbee, and possibly bikejoring, agility, and/or scent work.

I know there are different lines of GSD’s working and showing, but I don’t know which would be more suited for me.

I would even take recommendations for another breed if it suited my interests better!
 

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Since you are three years out from being ready to get a dog, you might consider volunteering for breed rescue, or a dog sport club, or your local AKC OB club -- or even at a local all-breed animal shelter -- to make some contacts and get involved with dogs.

Even if you plan to buy from a breeder eventually, maybe ask your parents if you can foster now, with you taking primary responsibility for all the training, vet trips, and behavior modification for the foster dog. You'll learn SO much from every dog that passes through your home on the way to a forever home -- including what you like and don't like in personalities and genetics.

I have no idea how good breeders feel, but in rescue, I'm never excited about adoption applications from newbie owners who are "new adults," in their first-ever apartment, with a new job after graduating from college, trying to adopt the first dog they will be fully responsible for. I imagine that good breeders who have multiple possible applicants for every puppy they produce might feel similarly. Young people getting their first dog always have big plans to walk, train, title, whatever...and it somehow never works out once they get busy adulting. There are too many landlord/moving/can't-take-the-dog issues, job/finance issues, and getting-married/new-baby issues that have popped up historically for many of us in the past with such adoptions at that fluid phase of early adulthood--not your fault, but when you look like one of those on paper that have a high failure rate historically, we worry.

OTOH, I very feel differently when the young person has a lot of dog experience (not just "plans") -- worked as a vet tech, participated in dog club events, has a history of fostering/volunteering (and references who say great things about how responsible and dedicated to dogs the young person is), and/or parents who were involved with the breed who will be "back up" in case their son/daughter needs help with the dog. Build your base of experience in the next three years, and you'll look like a really good owner-candidate and end up being WAY more dog savvy when its time to get a dog!
 

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Since you are three years out from being ready to get a dog, you might consider volunteering for breed rescue, or a dog sport club, or your local AKC OB club -- or even at a local all-breed animal shelter -- to make some contacts and get involved with dogs.

Even if you plan to buy from a breeder eventually, maybe ask your parents if you can foster now, with you taking primary responsibility for all the training, vet trips, and behavior modification for the foster dog. You'll learn SO much from every dog that passes through your home on the way to a forever home -- including what you like and don't like in personalities and genetics.

I have no idea how good breeders feel, but in rescue, I'm never excited about adoption applications from newbie owners who are "new adults," in their first-ever apartment, with a new job after graduating from college, trying to adopt the first dog they will be fully responsible for. I imagine that good breeders who have multiple possible applicants for every puppy they produce might feel similarly. Young people getting their first dog always have big plans to walk, train, title, whatever...and it somehow never works out once they get busy adulting. There are too many landlord/moving/can't-take-the-dog issues, job/finance issues, and getting-married/new-baby issues that have popped up historically for many of us in the past with such adoptions at that fluid phase of early adulthood--not your fault, but when you look like one of those on paper that have a high failure rate historically, we worry.

OTOH, I very feel differently when the young person has a lot of dog experience (not just "plans") -- worked as a vet tech, participated in dog club events, has a history of fostering/volunteering (and references who say great things about how responsible and dedicated to dogs the young person is), and/or parents who were involved with the breed who will be "back up" in case their son/daughter needs help with the dog. Build your base of experience in the next three years, and you'll look like a really good owner-candidate and end up being WAY more dog savvy when its time to get a dog!
Great thank you so much for the information!
 

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@Magwart that is so true! Some friends are picking up an older puppy this week from a young adult who loves the dog but can’t keep him. The person didn’t understand the expense or the commitment to living in a place that allows big dogs.
 

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or the commitment to living in a place that allows big dogs.
This exactly. Leasing situations often come with breed or weight restrictions but so too do Home Owners Associations and Condo Associations, etc.

A total peeve of mine is all the new home construction in "master planned communities" that are going in around me - and they all have 4-foot tall block walls around the tiny backyards with strict HOAs. I suspect that hindering big dog ownership is part of that master plan. I have no HOA and luckily my adjoining neighbors were cool with me increasing my block wall from 6 ft. to 8 ft. to keep my dog out of their backyards at least until he figures out he can scale that easily. (Shhh they still think he is a wolf.)

But yes, OP - take this time to fully understand and explore big dog logistics and the fact that the size of a dog creates double standards and it's increased if you have a breed with upright ears. Taking your cocker into the Walmart in the shopping cart is cute but ferrying a shepherd around under the same circumstances gets you escorted out by security.
 
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Austerlitz German Shepherds are in OK, you can follow them on facebook. Very knowledgeable breeder, committed to raising quality puppies. I am sure they would love to talk dogs with you and make sure the breed is the right one for you when you are ready.
 
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Only you know what you can handle and can commit too. I got my first GSD when I was 21, in college living 8 hours away from my parents and sharing a house with 5 other girls. She was high drive working dog (German Grand Seiger and 2nd place Seigerin breeding) and I knew I had the time to work her because I was in college and connected to working dog people. On paper, I probably didn't look good. She passed away after 3 apartment moves and 1 house at aged 10 years from Lymphoma. As a single, young female at the time, having a GSD was a great deterrent and I owe her my life.

I would recommend you be honest with a reputable breeder about your lifestyle, time available, your parents as a back up (which really we all should plan for) caretaker and what you are looking to do with the dog. Keep an open mind on colors and coats. I suggest you get the opposite gender of your parents' dog.

Also consider rescue if you are looking for a companion and want to do the things you mentioned for fun. Many GSDs are under 1-2 years when they are turned in and need active homes. Plus, their personality is better know and your Crocker may help you choose their new dog sibling.
 

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I have to disagree with some of the above comments in some regards. I do realize I may be somewhat of an exception as a “young adult” who has his life together pretty well though, and I do not think many/most of my
friends could handle a dog/GSD in college or right after.

That being said, as someone currently in school (Masters) who has worked “in the real world” for a year before going back to school - college can be/is the best time in the next 10+ years (until you have family perhaps) to raise a puppy. you’ll never have the amount of time and flexibility that you do now once you start working. In fact I would say it would be nearly impossible for most single people in their 20s/30s to raise a puppy if you’re working full time 40+ hours a week. Depends on your job/flexibility of course.

I’m extremely glad I chose to get a puppy this year. The amount of time it has taken so far is considerable and I could not have done it with a normal work schedule (no chance in ****). So being in school was the only opportunity for me to be able to dedicate the time required in the first year to raise/train a puppy, and that will likely hold true for the next 30 years of my life. Sure, if I have a partner/wife/family we could raise a puppy together, but there’s no way I could spend the amount of time and effort on raising my own dog then that I can spend now. I could probably adopt an adult dog while working, but that would not be as rewarding to me as raising my own puppy. You can also better Train the puppy for your specific lifestyle goals if you have a blank slate from the start. I will only be able to take care of an adult dog once I start working full time if the dog is well behaved, trained, andcan fit into my lifestyle well (go everywhere with me -outdoors and traveling).

That being said, you have to make sure you do have the time to commit (depends largely how you prioritize free time in college), and the money to pay for all the costs of owning a dog. On top of the purchase price, you should be prepared for:

In the first year, Toys/crate/pen/grooming/treats/leash/etc can easily get you up to $1000-$2000 in the first year. Surprising how fast everything adds up. Food, another $750 easily. Training, $500+. Vet bills, if everything goes well the first year, $500 maybe. If things don’t go well (eating things the puppy shouldn’t, infections, injuries, whatever) and you can be up to $2000+ in no time without even having to do any major procedures (which can run in the thousands). Finding an apartment that will rent to a GSD owner is very difficult. Most newer apartment complexes will not because of their insurance policies. Expect to pay $300-700 more a month depending on where in the country you live to find somewhere that allows a GSD. It’s not impossible, but it’s difficult. You basically need a yard or very easy access to a grassy area during the first 3-4 months for potty training.

Having a puppy is like having a kid. Their needs have to come first. If your dog is sick and you have a final the next day, you have to go to the vet, not study for the final. For the first few months you can’t leave the house for more than a few hours. Dating, relationships, going out, friends- all have to take a backseat. You can’t predict/prevent all the things that can go wrong - your dog eats something hazardous, has any kind of disease/disorder, whatever - you’re not going to have a choice to pay that $500 vet bill. You have to pay it (or on some cases people have to give up their dog if you can’t).

You have to walk/play/train/exercise them every day. That will take up most/all of your free time. Especially for a breed like a GSD. School also isn’t fun/easy when you’re up every hour overnight because your puppy has diarrhea. Expect it will happen at some point. Taking care of a puppy with worms, giardia, etc is common and you should be prepared for what that entails.

All that being said, I’m glad I chose to get a puppy this year. I’m a first time dog owner. I didn’t even really have a dog growing up, just helped out with neighbors and extended family. No prior GSD experience. I did research a ton. Read many training books, went through the head forums, etc. for a year. Raising a dog isn’t rocket science, and there are a lot of great resources available (books, online). Having a good breeder who will answer questions is critical. It is easy to do a lot of things incorrectly raising a puppy, but if you get instruction from professionals early and often it’s not that hard. It appears you’ve done research already, so I’d imagine you can figure it out.

I love my boy Kai dearly and he’s made my life better in only the way a dog can. All the time, money, frustration, worry, laughs, tears have been worth it.

in summary: only get a puppy if you’re ready to commit all of your free time (and more) to it for the first year (and the dog will really still be a puppy until 2+ years in some regards). And as an adult still a big time commitment. Only get a puppy if you can afford $5000+ in costs (on the high end) the first year plus the cost of the puppy. Only get a GSD if you’ve researched housing options for the next couple years and know you have viable options you can afford. Only get a GSD if you truly understand what it takes to train one (it’s not easy, but getting the right dog from the right breeder makes it so much easier. It’s a breed that really needs structure, enrichment, exercise, clear expectations, and a firm owner. If you can commit to all those things, then it’s a great idea and you won’t regret it.

As others alluded to, many people our age don’t know what they’re getting into and can’t handle everything it entails, which is why many dogs go up for adoption. It’s not easy.

There are other breeds that are a lot easier in general. Labs, goldens usually a lot easier first dogs that can keep up with you being active. Generally will be easier/more forgiving in regards to training, socializing with dogs and people, finding housing. I grew up around a lot of them and think they’re great dogs - but when I met German Shepherds I fell in love with the breed. So smart, athletic, charismatic, beautiful. Even as a male in his 20s I feel safer having a GSD around (currently living in a rougher neighborhood). I high recommend you talk to to Austerlitz German Shepherds, they have an amazing program. They are selective about puppy owners - if you’ve done your research and can show you are prepared they might sell a pup to you.

Overall if you get a GSD I’d recommend west German showline. Will generally be lower drive and energy, easier to raise and train for a first time owner, and not quite as “hard” of a dog as most working lines. Meet the breeder and her dogs to see if the breeder produces what you’re looking for.

Feel free to DM me if you want to talk more (have a few other breeder recs), from someone how has/is going through all of this for the first time currently. Definitely been an eye opening/learning experience even with tons of research and preparation.
 
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