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Nichole,

I think you're on the right track. It's obvious from your posts that you've done some research and aren't taking this lightly and it's great that you're looking for advice on how to get started in breeding the *right* way. Everyone would be better off if more people did that before jumping in and having a litter.

Here are some of my thoughts on the subject:

The strongest advice I can give you echos what many others have said in this thread. Get involved in training. You've said you have a preference for the working lines and that's what you'd want to breed, and in that case the usual (and most widely available) route for involvement would be SchH training.

The best breeders are those who also work/show their dogs in the venues which are standard for their type of GSD, and prove that they and their dogs have what it takes to be successful in these areas. Through training, each dog's strengths and weaknesses will be brought to light. Not only is this important just to determine if the dog is breed worthy or not, but this infomation is imperative to making good breeding decisions and selecting a mate who will enhance the strengths, compensate for the weaknesses, and thus help the breeder reach the goal of improving in each generation.

Involvement in training is also the only way to learn what traits are beneficial, detrimental, or could be either depending on the overall balance in the dog, in order to put together the right mix of traits that constitutes "working ability". Really the only way to fully understand what constitutes a good, bad or mediocre dog for work is to get out and see those different dogs. Work yours and watch other's working theirs. It's amazing what you can learn just by watching others and eavesdropping on the conversations on the sidelines.

Getting out and seeing lots of different dogs will help you learn about pedigrees and bloodlines; when you see a dog you really like, or really don't like, ask the pedigree. This will help you get an idea not only of what traits you appreciate and want to breed for, and what you want to avoid, but it will also help you learn which bloodlines produce those traits. Comparing your dog against others helps keep you grounded in reality, and helps prevent kennel blindness. Additionally, the more knowledge and experience you gain through training, the better able you will be to provide good advice and support for puppy customers. And getting to know other dog people in the area and network with them will give you routes to even more knowledge.

Involvement in training will also help you sell puppies. Good homes are hard to find. And I feel working line breeders have an even harder time finding suitable homes for their pups because of the types of dogs they are. The truth is, the majority of pet owners in this country are not prepared for a working line dog. Frankly, my opinion is that many (if not most) aren't prepared for any dog and would be better off getting a houseplant. A GSD, and particularly one of working lines, is going to be too much dog for many pet owners. These dogs are better suited for working/sport homes mainly because people who are involved in work/sport tend to be more knowledgeable and experienced and also already have committed to an activity that will ensure the dog will receive the training, exercise and mental stimulation it needs. And if good pet homes are hard to come by, working/sport homes are much more difficult. The biggest hurdle you'll face as a new breeder is finding good homes. Having a questionnaire and thorough screening process is a good place to start, but it takes more than that. You need to be able to attract the kind of buyer that is suitable for your type of dog. And that is infinitely more difficult to do when you're the new kid on the block and no one has ever heard of you. Getting involved in GSDs and training within your area will get your name out there and that in turn will help attract suitable buyers.

As for obtaining a broodbitch, there are pros and cons to each option.

Puppy -
The disadvantage is pups are a crap shoot. Even the most well bred pup may develop health or temperament or structural problems that make it unsuitable for breeding. And even if all goes well and the dog turns out to be a great breeding candidate, then there is always the possibility it will develop fertility problems or other issues that prevent it from having pups.
One advantage is cost. Pups are the cheapest way to go. But the biggest advantage is the knowledge and experience you will gather along the way as you raise and train and title that pup yourself. Training a dog yourself brings with it an intimate knowledge of that dog that can't be obtained any other way. And that allows for better breeding decisions. The road to titling also brings with it all the other advantages of getting involved in serious training before breeding.

Proven Broodbitch-
The advantage is obvious. She's ready to breed and has been proven that she can.
The disadvantages are many though. First, cost. A proven broodbitch can run you $5-$10k or more. Good bitches don't come cheap, if you can even buy them at all. Few breeders are willing to sell a good broodbitch for any price. There are probably more dishonest peddlers of adult dogs than there are honest, trustworthy ones. Bargains are usually not to be had, and if they are there is usually a reason. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The other disadvantage is that someone else trained the dog; meaning that person knows the dog really well. But you don't. This is a handicap not only from the standpoint of making breeding decisions, but also from the selling puppies standpoint. There are lots of people who just buy titled dogs and breed them. They aren't involved in training, they just breed. And they are not the breeders who attract the good buyers.

Green dog-
A young, untitled dog. This is kind of a best of both worlds situation. They cost more than pups, but not as much as a good proven broodbitch. But they are more of a sure thing than pups as they are old enough to evaluate for health and temperament. They still need training and titling, giving you a dog with which to get involved in training, and age wise they're ready to jump in and start training right away. No waiting for puppy to grow up. So essentially it has the advantages of raising and training a puppy, without as much risk. But again, you've got to be careful of dishonest peddlers, and you've got to determine why the green dog is available. It may just be any number of circumstances, or there may be something wrong with the dog.

Another great option for someone wanting to start breeding is to enter into a co-own with an experienced breeder. This is a way to get a top quality breeding prospect for less cost than if you did it on your own. But more importantly it allows you to break into breeding under the mentorship of someone who is already a seasoned breeder, already familiar with the bloodlines, has a reputation you can draw off of while you build your own reputation, and who is vested in your success. It helps new breeders get started off right, with a little less risk and some help getting over the major hurdles, and it allows experienced breeders to have breeding access to their bloodlines without having to always keep dogs back themselves. It can be a great arrangement for both parties.
 

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I also wanted to point out, in case you missed it, down at the bottom of the front page of the board is an Archives. The breeding section down in the Archives houses many, many good threads about this and similar topics over the past few years. Browsing through some of those threads may help you answer some of your questions, or prompt new questions.
 

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Originally Posted By: Chris Wild You need to be able to attract the kind of buyer that is suitable for your type of dog. And that is infinitely more difficult to do when you're the new kid on the block and no one has ever heard of you. Getting involved in GSDs and training within your area will get your name out there and that in turn will help attract suitable buyers.
Good post Chris.

That is exactly why I am showing, learning, networking and then breeding. I dont want to put myself or future puppies in a situation that I cant handle. And I am into the Am bred show lines.

I'll put it like this. I want to have so many people knowing my dogs by the time they are bred, that I have to do very little "advertising"

Not that there is anything wrong with advertising, but I want the reputation of quality not quanity. If you want a nice bred dog from me, you'll probably have a wait time.

There is nothing like actually participating in a sport. Its completely different than just reading about it or hearing about it from other people. In my opinion, it's addictive.

Good luck to the OP.
 

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I don't know Chris but for anyone who is thinking of being a GSD breeder in the future, please go to her kennel website and read as many pages as you can. I think Wildhaus is the kind of hobby kennel that really tries to do the right thing as far as GSD breeding is concerned. You can tell that they really love their dogs, and the dogs and the breed are their priorities, not money, not sports points, not bragging rights.
 

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I still want to see a book by Chris Wild on "The Art of Breeding and Training" xD!!

I think we all do :p
 

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Be advised that even with the best intentions you can still have things happen with litters, the dam, and pups. Nature can be unpredictable.

It is a breeders place to try and do the best you can.... but remember in your heart you are not the force tht becons or the one that makes the calls, be strong and be willing and able to deal with it (G).

You have done your homework... and we wish you the best!

Debi and the Sherman-Ranch herd
 

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Just a few comments. You mentioned the following in your post.

"If you say that you want to breed companion animals, then you will be roasted on this forum (I kind of did that)".

My question is why would you make that comment. I got my dog Timber, from a very reliable breeder, who has been breeding GSD's for the past twenty-five years. My request was for a companion dog, but also a working dog. I am retired, live on an island and the dog is constantly with me. He is a 90 LB. male GSD that has exceeded everyone of my expectations. I could go on and on about Timber,s behavior, but suffice it to say I went to a SCH Training Program, and was disappointed at how poorly most dogs behaved compared to Timber.

So, if someone had a female, as good as Timber, and as healthy, why should anyone object if the dogs are bred.

Frankly, I suspect there is a hugh market for well bred dogs, advertised as companion dogs. Do not misunderstand, I would never breed my dog. The responsibilities are great, and in my opinion if you are doing it for $$$, few new breeders will be successful.

You did mention one other thing I agree with. When someone decides to purchase a GSD, the breeder has a responsibility to make sure the dog is properly placed. In addition to the environment, the person getting the pup needs to have suffice time to train the dog, and sufficient resources to care for the pup.

This is a bit off topic, but far to often someone will post on this board how bad they feel because they had to give their GSD to a humane society or a rescue group. The excuses run the gamit, but my favorite; I just could not afford to keep the dog. Then the person lists the other seven animals they own and far to many of us support those losers.

Bottom line for me is Timber and I are together for better or worse, period. My breeder offers a very strong guarantee, but under no circumstances would I ever use it.
 

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Originally Posted By: Timber1

So, if someone had a female, as good as Timber, and as healthy, why should anyone object if the dogs are bred.
Provided both dogs were OFAed and fully health screened, titled or otherwise thoroughly temperament tested through a strict training program and evaluation by an unbiased expert, and in other ways met breed standard, no one would.

The problem is that very few breeders breeding "companions" for the massive pet market do these things.
 

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Timber1, I made that statement because a lot of breeders believe that the litter should be bred for a purpose. If you are breeding for conformation, for the show ring, your hope is that you will have one or maybe two promising pups in a litter of eight to fourteen. Where do the rest go? Yep, pet homes to be companions.

If you are breeding for working or competition dogs, schutzhund, police work, search and rescue, the chances are you may have several pups in the litter that are just not going to pan out for what you are trying to acheive. These dogs also will go to companion/pet homes.

So we have a lot of puppies that are going to be just companions and that is ok.

Most people that are breeding dogs soley as companions, are not doing anything with their own dogs. I was guilty of this on my first litter, thinking that my dog and bitch were awesome companions and would make awesome companion puppies. They had gone through a basic obedience class, but I had not competed with them.

Since then I have done a bit with both adults and pups. Not only does this test the temperament of the breeding stock, but it really provides the receptive breeder with reams of information, experience, and insight into the dog-world, the problems it faces etc. I guess it is a statement as to the commitment of the breeder. Until, one day they wake up and hear people talk about breeding litters for companion animals and they cringe, for a minute before remembering.

You got a pup as a companion dog that could also do schutzhund and you are very happy with him. Good. It sounds like your breeder was breeding to produce dogs that would perform well in schutzhund. If you check out breeders who are breeding simply for companion animals, a good number of them will be very green and some of them will not be very reputable.
 

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Selzer, you right regarding my breeder. She breeds for Schuzhund and has been doing so for a number of years. You pre-pay for her dogs and, excluding her right to keep one female, the dogs are sold in the order the payments are received. On the litter Timber was in I had first choice and selected Timber specifically as a companion dog.
 

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Originally Posted By: Timber1As always you hit the nail on the head, thanks.
Timber - I think you and I read Chris' response differently. The training and testing by an unbiased person to mean reads "titled" ie schutzhund.....

All my breedings "produce companions" - mentally sound, solid social and environmental nerves - Why should a companion home want a lesser pup than a working home in temperament? If anything, the companion home needs the most solid of social temperaments in the litter!

Yes - people looking for pets want that perfect pup - but unfortunately - the first thing out of their mouths is - "I don't want to show - I just want a pet - I only want to pay $300 or $500" They can live in a 200K house and drive a 40K pickup truck but want a cheaply priced pet for their kids. I had a guy whining at me this week, citing all the ads in the paper for pups - they had looked at several litters and he told me of the mother that hid and showed her teeth, the listless and skinny pups in a chicken wire pen and the "rare silver gray" (blue) who was more money than the rest of the litter. He was a car salesman, trying to get me to sell at his price, using his kid's desire as a tool, and I sent him on his way to next Sundays want ads. I can repeat this story in quite a few variations BTW since I have been screening people like crazy on a plush companion pup...one lady got mad because I had the audicity to ask HER a question and hung up after telling me it was none of my business where she lived or what size/fence yard she had....

Very few well bred balanced working pups will not make good companions if owners are willing to become educated and dedicate themselves to raising the pup properly. Unfortunately, there are too many people who jump into breeding, buy an adult and start off thinking the buyers are going to flock to their doors because they have a litter. Just look at the ads on the database, look at lists like these - lots of people with pups. How many are workign dogs? How many are buying males and females and just instantly have a "breeding program"? How many are active in schutzhund or even AKC performance? How many have trialed or titled a dog, even one purchased already titled?

This whole thread has been very diplomatic IMO - trying to explain that just breeding working dogs of good lines is no guarantee that you will be able to sell those pups to working homes. A good compaion home who is willing to and can properly care for and raise a working pup is just as desireable as a working home, because there are not enough working homes to accomodate the numbers of pups bred in the US. Sport clubs are too hard to find, and it behooves us to breed for the temperament and balance that makes our dogs stable enough to function as companion dogs as well as working dogs. Carefully considering the comments here, it is being said, maybe TOO nicely, that the OP needs to educate herself - in real life, not just by reading on line - which WILL take years before she understands the breed, the lines, the sport, the training and makes contacts who may decide to buy a puppy from dogs owned by her. Unfortunately, she seems to not be considering this advice very deeply. So to be more clear - working homes with experience are not going to buy pups from someone just because they have them for sale. You must go out and build some recognitition factor for yourself, if you get ONE pup in a litter to a workign home from the first litter, you will be lucky. IF that pup gets titled, then you are very very lucky. You have to start off slowly and build momentum, and train and title your breeding stock and produce to prove yourself and your dogs. Buying a proven female bred to a proven male is not a bad idea. But again, the DB is full of ads like that. How many of those pups make it to workign homes?

Lee
 

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Sorry for stepping in, as I'm not a breeder, but I really would like to put more accent on the future of the litters from working line parents.

Working line pups need special, working homes and many people are willing to get working line pup, promising moon from sky, but pup will end up on chain or in humane society as his/her owners will be too lazy or just to busy to work with the pup or they will not have the power and knowledge that these dogs need. I was working my guts out trying to find suitable homes for one litter of rescue pups and my experience says that it is very very hard task. Out of 12 I'm really happy only about life of 6 pups.

There are many people who like noble look of GSD, like to see their archievments, their titles and perfect beheivior, but how many of them are ready to invest their time and money to rise such a dog? Especially without clubs, training groups and all that staff awailable at the doorstep? I presume, not many.

Just for example - bored to death, untrained and unsocialized Yorkie is still not a serious danger for society, but GSD under these conditions - is.

So before considering about breeding working lines I would reccomend to do the potential market research. Maybe getting into training, establishing the training group by yourself would help you to find the potential future buyers who would be able to learn the difference between 200$ pup from BYB and serious breeding pup, to find future buyers who are not only able to put 2000$ into a pup but many more in weekly training and titling... It may help you to find the realistic current market situation for working lines.
 
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