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Hello all, I'm new to this forum, I am planning on getting a German Shepherd puppy next years as my psychiatric service dog prospect and I currently caught between two breeders. I was looking for a dog between $1,000 and $3,000 and both places are $2,500 which is perfect. I was also looking for either a longhair or a west show-line German shepherd as their temperaments tend to be a bit more toned down, perfect for service work. Right now I have two breeders on my list:
Vom Hismerh Kennel
Alexanderhof Kennel
Has anyone gotten dogs from either of these breeders, if so what was your experience? Or if anyone in general has experience screening reputable breeders take a look at the websites and offer your thoughts.k
Vom Hismerh German Shepherds
Alexanderhof Kennels
Thank you all.馃槃
 

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The first kennel has a large number of litters. While breeding Dobermans doesn鈥檛 disqualify them, we tend to prefer breeders who specialize in one breed. I would pass on that kennel. The second one has some recognizable dogs in their pedigrees. I鈥榤 not an expert on WGSL pedigrees, but I liked quite a lot of what I saw there. I will search a little for you.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
The first kennel has a large number of litters. While breeding Dobermans doesn鈥檛 disqualify them, we tend to prefer breeders who specialize in one breed. I would pass on that kennel. The second kne has some recognizable dogs in their pedigrees. Im not an expert on WGSL pedigrees, but I liked quite a lot of what I saw there. I will search a little for you.
Thank you so much! I'm determined not to support any puppy mills or backyard breeders.
 

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Neither looks like a puppy mill or a BYB, but I can鈥檛 find any information on either one. I鈥檓 still searching.
 

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I haven鈥檛 looked into the details of these breeders. But I would suggest that you ask the breeder if they have placed a dog into a service home similar to what you expect. What you want from the breeder is not only the ability to breed a good prospect but also the ability to select a good prospect. Don鈥檛 be shy in asking about their experience in breeding service dogs.
I think you are right in focusing on temperament. I think that is the biggest bottle neck one might face in service dog success.
 

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Why did you settle on a GSD as your service dog?
I wanted a dog breed that was bred to work with people specifically, I studied labs and goldens for months and have just come to find both breeds suffer from so many health problems especially goldens, and it proved very true as the breeders I researched all over the country have horror stories trailing them of dogs getting cancer before 4 years and hip dysplasia at only 12 months. I know German shepherds suffer from health problems as well but it was much easier finding good bloodlines among them with good testimonials. I also want a high energy high working drive dog breed that can keep up with me as the service dog will need to go with me to work and elsewhere. Lastly I wanted a dog breed that is somewhat imposing as I am a young female who will need to travel alone, debilitating anxiety and fear of men is one of my disabilities and having a dog people tend to steer clear of and are less likely to run up and grab is another plus.
Another plus that is more of a trivial preference is I prefer dogs with erect ears.
 

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I haven鈥檛 looked into the details of these breeders. But I would suggest that you ask the breeder if they have placed a dog into a service home similar to what you expect. What you want from the breeder is not only the ability to breed a good prospect but also the ability to select a good prospect. Don鈥檛 be shy in asking about their experience in breeding service dogs.
I think you are right in focusing on temperament. I think that is the biggest bottle neck one might face in service dog success.
Thank you, I'll do that. The man at Vom Hismerh did say he had people who used his dogs as service dogs and were satisfied with the dogs they got.
 

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Do you have a trainer to work with? Temperament is very important as the dog will be with you all the time. Service dogs are not supposed to show human aggression, so even a formidable dog will need to be non reactive to people.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I wanted a dog breed that was bred to work with people specifically, I studied labs and goldens for months and have just come to find both breeds suffer from so many health problems especially goldens, and it proved very true as the breeders I researched all over the country have horror stories trailing them of dogs getting cancer before 4 years and hip dysplasia at only 12 months. I know German shepherds suffer from health problems as well but it was much easier finding good bloodlines among them with good testimonials. I also want a high energy high working drive dog breed that can keep up with me as the service dog will need to go with me to work and elsewhere. Lastly I wanted a dog breed that is somewhat imposing as I am a young female who will need to travel alone, debilitating anxiety and fear of men is one of my disabilities and having a dog people tend to steer clear of and are less likely to run up and grab is another plus.
Another plus that is more of a trivial preference is I prefer dogs with erect ears.
An added note is I also wanted dog that was not happy-go-lucky with strangers. Both golden and labs can be a little to over friendly with just anyone for my taste. From what I've research and experienced in life in general is that German shepherds tend to be one person dogs.
 

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Do you have a trainer to work with? Temperament is very important as the dog will be with you all the time. Service dogs are not supposed to show human aggression, so even a formidable dog will need to be non reactive to people.
I have two training facilities in mind that have programs for training service dogs. One is a place called "Downtown Dogs" its about 45 minutes away they have a course on owner training. The other is Off Leash K9 which is 20-30 minutes away, I spoke to one of the trainers who recommended their "Therapy" dog program, it is not only aimed at therapy dogs (dogs who visit hospitals) it is to prepare any dog for public access, socialization, and manners.
 

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Temperament has been described to me as the funnel to handle a dog鈥檚 drive. I have found drive is awesome for service needs, that drive channeled properly can be calm and steady but still very focused. Temperament lets me use that great drive in a service setting.
That said, if you want a high drive dog you will also want trainers that can help you shape drive. I have found that many dog trainers are not accustomed to a GSD鈥檚 high drive. So you might want to explore whether these trainers have breed specific experience.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Temperament has been described to me as the funnel to handle a dog鈥檚 drive. I have found drive is awesome for service needs, that drive channeled properly can be calm and steady but still very focused. Temperament lets me use that great drive in a service setting.
That said, if you want a high drive dog you will also want trainers that can help you shape drive. I have found that many dog trainers are not accustomed to a GSD鈥檚 high drive. So you might want to explore whether these trainers have breed specific experience.
A breed specific trainer makes sense, I'll look into it, I also think Vom Hismerh Kennel offers training and boarding as well as puppies.
 

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M.J., You may want to look at the site "GoodDog". They have a way to evaluate breeders and it may help you frame some questions to help your evaluation. I am expecting a puppy next month and have gone through the process of tying to sort this out. It is not easy. It helped me. Good Luck!

 

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I would not use a generic website to make such an important decision. I have checked that site before and they list some questionable kennels I including one that doesn鈥檛 even breed anymore. The OP is among a good decision to ask for personal recommendations.

@Fodder can you addd any suggestions?
 

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This is a different perspective on service dog selection from someone who's placed several PTSD service dogs with veterans, through a rescue -- we actually ask the trainer we work with to help us pick the dog. When I have a bomb-proof, solid young adult candidate, the trainer gets to spend some time and tell me whether he thinks it will work. I would think your service dog trainer would know breeders in your state that are producing rock-solid pups for service work and, for a reasonable fee, might help you pick a puppy. What I've been told is that even among a big litter of GOOD puppies with excellent genetics, not all of them will be ideal for service work -- so I would want the person with the expertise in training for that work involved in the puppy evaluation.

The one caveat I would add is that for SOME people, sometimes puppies aren't the right choice because puppies are so HARD -- they destroy a lot of stuff, put their needle-like teeth on everything, can be very aggravating, and get on your last nerve. It takes a lot of patience and emotional resilience to get through the first year -- there are a lot of "I hate my puppy" threads here! Everyone's situation is different, so it's worth examining whether that stress is something that would be okay in YOUR situation. If it's not, look for an slightly older adult dog with a rock-solid temperament that's already done with the puppy chaos -- they're not easy to find, but they're out there. A good service dog trainer can help evaluate them, but it's important to be emotionally ready to walk away from candidates that the trainer isn't excited about. If you find a good adult prospect that's been fostered, someone else may have already laid basic obedience on them, which puts you several steps ahead for starting service training.
 

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IME - Off Leash K9 franchises are very heavy on electric and shutting down the drive of the dog. Please go visit these trainers prior to selecting a dog and agreeing to any training program.
 

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Just as a data point. My breeder, had need for service dogs for an autistic child. They got labs trained by a service dog organization. They did not attempt to train one of their gsd for this job.

Another data point; when I was in university, a completely blind student had GSD seeing eye dog. He was amazing to watch work.
 

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@Fodder can you addd any suggestions?
i agree with a lot of what Magwart said and seeing Jax鈥檚 opinion on Off Leash K9 i think the research lies in selecting the right trainer before anything else. of the two breeders, Alexanderhof is more appealing to me... I have no experience with either but personally wouldn鈥檛 bother with the first. Although it pushes the price point up some - Tre鈥橤ood could be worth looking into, especially for a young adult that鈥檚 been started (so many puppies end up washing). if nothing else, an in-depth conversation with them for comparison sake when talking to other breeders, would be worth it to me. i also don鈥檛 think that the OP needs a high drive dog - not 鈥渉igh鈥 in the context of GSD anyway.
 
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Discussion Starter #20
Thank you everyone for the helpful info, as I said before this is my first time getting a puppy from a breeder and owner training a service dog so all of this advice is astronomically helpful and appreciated, I will look further into finding a breeder through a service dog training program, one who is savvy with German shepherds particularly. :)
 
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