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Hello,

I've done a lot of lurking/reading and researching on the forum and as we are probably about 6 months away from being ready make a dog a part of our family (we're moving from a condo to house soon), I thought it would be a good time to sign up and start posting.

I've owned dogs before, although smaller breeds (my last was a Miniature Schnauzer). I have known people with German Shepherds and have always loved them. My husband has owned a German Shepherd before (and still does, more on that below).

We're in our mid-30s. I work 3-12 hour night shifts a week and my husband works regular day shifts so there would be lots of time to spend with the dog. We would be looking for a companion animal. There would be lots of time for walks, exercise and obedience training but we wouldn't show the dog or be involved in Shutzhund, etc.

For me, temperament and health is what is most important. My husband has a 12 year old German Shepherd that he loves dearly. Unfortunately, the dog does not live with us. It lives with a relative nearby (who also loves the dog and has a large indoor and outdoor area just for the dog). My husband is there at least twice a day walking, feeding and playing with the dog and his relative is one of the few other people who are able to interact with the dog.

When my husband got the dog 12 years ago, he didn't spend a lot of time researching where to get it from. He'd had German Shepherds before and all of them were wonderful pets.

I came into my husband's life when the dog was 3. He had already been to months of obedience training with the dog (private lessons as the dog could not be around other dogs). More than one trainer told my husband there was nothing more that could be done as the dog had aggression issues that would not resolve with training. When I met my husband, I could not pet or go near the dog. If my husband was there, the dog seemed okay as long as I didn't get to close to it.

I didn't realize how much danger I may have been in until one night about 5 months after we met, we were standing up and talking upstairs (we didn't live in a condo back then). The dog was in the hallway. Out of nowhere the dog charged down the hall growling, etc. and attacked me. It happened extremely fast. The dog was about 3 1/2 at this point and was a very large GSD. He weight 110 lbs and was very strong (and I was only 105 lbs). My husband got the dog off me and I did have 1 bad bite that I needed stitches for as well as some scrapes. I have no doubt that if my husband hadn't been right there the dog could have killed me. After that, the dog went to live with my husband's relative who has a large indoor and outdoor area for the dog and the dog has been very happy there although he still has (and always has had) an intolerance for other animals and most people.

Because of that, my main concern is making sure we get a dog with a good temperament and one that is non-aggressive. I know training is very important, but it did not make a difference with my husband's dog as he took it to training since it was a puppy (he has owned other GSD in the past and this is the only one that had aggression issues).

When picking a puppy, I know going to a reputable breeder is important. However, can you tell when a dog is a young puppy whether or not they are likely to have aggression issues? Thanks for any input!
 

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IMHO...the best thing to do is go to a reputable breeder and let them pick out a puppy for you.
 

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Reputable breeder, best you can do. Yes, even with the best breeding you can still get that weak nerved pup. But your chances are greatly diminished. And tell your breeder your fears/concerns. You can also get an older dog (older pup or young adult), as many breeders have slightly older animals available so you can SEE final temperament.

When you have said puppy, start with training right away. And be very honest and vocal with your trainer about your fears. Because you don't want to OVER do it.

I euthanized my 3.5 year old GSD in July due to aggression issues. So when I got my new little GSD puppy 3 weeks ago, trust me I was a MESS freaking out about his temperament. And then when he was cautious the first week around people because he just flew 1000 miles to a strange environment, I CONVINCED myself he was going to be fear aggressive! And now that he's going through his naughty puppy biting stage I've CONVINCED myself he's going to be a big dominant aggressive dog. In reality what I'm doing is stressing myself out, and in doing so my hurt my pup's training. That's why I picked out a good trainer and started lessons immediately. And I tell him honestly "Now I'm freaking out about this". He probably thinks I'm a nut job, but he's great :)
 

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I would meet both parents and see what type of personalities they have. I would not rely solely on the breeder. Many breeders see their dogs differently than you might. I had one breeder describe a male as a teddy bear, but when I met him the dog seemed very aggressive to me. I would also do intense socialization. Walk the pup frequently down busy streets filled with people. Let it meet other new dogs regularly. Doggie daycare can be good for that. Take it anywhere people hang out..the local ice cream shop, etc. Let people pet it and reward it for good behavior.
 

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You need to talk to some prospective breeders. Spend time with them on the phone or in email until you get a good sense of their competence and their commitment to your needs. You want a breeder who has dogs in all sorts of venues, not just schutzhund and who is not touting dogs because they have a zillion BSP/Siegers/WUSV times in the pedigrees....you want someone who LIVES with their dogs - not kennels them 95% of the time. You want to find a breeder who will make that committment to you that they want what is best for you - because that IS what is best for their puppy!

Do not get taken in by low prices, high prices or levels of prices - super, elite, superlative, Premium etc at different prices - or by people who just say send me a deposit - of course I have a puppy for you. By one who will explain what they have, what the types will bring to the table and how THAT will fit into your life.

When you get references - ask WHY....if it is because so and so on such and such a forum has one and it is cute....or they have all these imports wtih Siegers.....or they have cute pups all the time....or my friend has one....explore your references!!! People recommend breeders all the time without ever having seen a dog from the breeder or having talked to the breeder....recommendations can be nothing more than a popularity contest between people who spend alot of time on the internet.

This is an absolutely wonderful breed. You just have to weed through the information, use common sense and understand what you are looking for.

Good luck!

Lee
 

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Thank you everyone for your advice. I really appreciate it. I too love the German Shepherd breed and have always known that was the type of dog I wanted to own. However, I know doing a lot of research and getting the right German Shepherd from the right breeder is so important.

I'm a bit torn because I would love to adopt a rescue, but because this would be my first German Shepherd, I'm not sure I would have the expertise with the breed that would be necessary to solve any problems that particular dog may have.

Anubis_Star - I'm so sorry you had to put your dog down. I can only imagine how difficult that decision must have been and I understand how you would be worried about having a similar issue with your new dog, however I'm sure things will be different this time.

Again, I really appreciate all the opinions and advice and I'm sure I'll be posting more as I continue to research.
 

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I think it's hard to pick a pup because they can change fast. Our pup was the only mail with 7 sisters. Pushed around by them.. he was so mellow. Well, his landshark came out as soon as he was separated from them.
 

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I met the litter, and picked the puppy that seemed confident and not anxious, calm yet attentive. It was pretty easy to find him. All the puppies came running out, some ignored me, some had their tails tucked, some were going crazy with excitement. ONE, walked up to me, sat down, calmy wagged his tail and looked me right in the eyes. So far he's been a great dog. Nervous, anxious pups are more difficult to socialize (not that its impossible by any means). However, ANY puppy not properly socialized can develop aggression/fear/fear aggression. So regardless of who or where you get your pup, just put in the work to properly socialize, build confidence, and train. You will be fine that way :)
 

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I agree that pups can change. Just because they pass a temperament test and come up to you when you visit the litter doesn't mean it will be a great fit.
 

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We got lucky with having the pick of litter. The breeder separated the females from males so we could focus on the girls alone. There were 5 to pick from and while one seemed extra eager to play, we went with a calmer but still attentive female. We joke she's our new kitty, because she's not real bubbly. It's great because indoors she's is usually calm and relaxed but playful when we go outside. Perfect addition to our family. We spent probably about an hour with the litter before picking her.
 

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Curvy One -- I would have kept on looking . A litter should be so consistent that it is like splitting hairs to find differences between the pups -- in a good way. Tail tucked and others crazy with excitement ?
Simsim what a horrible experience . That dog that bit you up is very unstable - he had to have private lessons because he was unmanageable and aggressive around other dogs , and then he was dangerously aggressive with you without any provocation - you are lucky the dog is not living with you. I would have put him down .

" However, ANY puppy not properly socialized can develop aggression/fear/fear aggression. So regardless of who or where you get your pup, just put in the work to properly socialize, build confidence, and train. You will be fine that way " I do NOT agree with this .
It is very important where you get your puppy from . The basis for good temperament has to be genetic . You can not make a dog if it does not have the right material to start with . I also don't see the need for hyper socializing or condiditioning or desensitizing .

As Lee said . Agree.
 

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I'm a bit torn because I would love to adopt a rescue, but because this would be my first German Shepherd, I'm not sure I would have the expertise with the breed that would be necessary to solve any problems that particular dog may have.
If you can find a good foster-based rescue to work with, they should be able to match you up to a dog who is easygoing and issue-free enough to be suitable for your home.

In your situation, I wouldn't recommend adopting straight from a shelter. Even the best shelter has relatively limited information about the dogs, because they aren't living with the animals and the kennel environment can distort a dog's behavior. Unfortunately, in GSDs, there are enough temperament problems in the breed that I think it is prudent to avoid pulling straight from a shelter UNLESS you are pretty confident about what you're doing and have the ability to work through potential problems that might arise -- which doesn't sound like your scenario. But a foster who is living with the dog can develop a thorough understanding of how the dog behaves in a home environment and when faced with everyday stimuli, so a good foster-based rescue should be able to screen their dogs and give you honest information about which animals are or aren't good fits for your home.

There are pros and cons to either buying or adopting a dog. It is harder to find puppies in rescue and their temperaments are almost always big question marks, because we know little or nothing about their genetic backgrounds and we generally don't keep them around long enough to get to know them well. If you want a puppy, buying from a GOOD breeder (following Lee's advice) is your best bet. If you're open to an adolescent or adult, rescue may be an option to consider.
 

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i don't think you got pick of the litter. you picked one dog out of five.
i thought pick of the litter is when the breeder picks the best pup
out of the litter.

We got lucky with having the pick of litter. The breeder separated the females from males so we could focus on the girls alone. There were 5 to pick from and while one seemed extra eager to play, we went with a calmer but still attentive female.


We joke she's our new kitty, because she's not real bubbly. It's great because indoors she's is usually calm and relaxed but playful when we go outside. Perfect addition to our family. We spent probably about an hour with the litter before picking her.
 

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decide on a male or female and color. find a reputable breeder.
enroll in a puppy class. train and socialize. 9 months to 1 yr old
your dog should be trained. 1 yr old to 2 yrs old your dog is going
to be well trained. whatever you put in is what you're going to get
out. it's easy. be consistent.
 

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I think it's hard to pick a pup because they can change fast. Our pup was the only mail with 7 sisters. Pushed around by them.. he was so mellow. Well, his landshark came out as soon as he was separated from them.
ha ha the same thing happened to me. Especially now that hes teething (4 1/2 months)he never stops biting things. Where did my little mellow pup go and who replaced him with this big pawed, mouthy, wild dog:crazy:
 
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