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I'm appealing to this forum to help me find the right person to get my next puppy from. Despite being raised with GSDs my last experience was such a nightmare that I've considered righting off pure bred dogs altogether.

Around 2007 I found the sweetest puppy at a breeder just NW of Houston and didn't think twice about the fact that they would need to send the AKC and hip certification paperwork later on; a puppy we got from them several years earlier was a key member of our family, I trusted them fully and even if I didn't they were contractually obligated to provide it as per the sales agreement. I followed up with them several times to offer a friendly reminder but about a year later a coincidental x-ray revealed extremely significant issues with her hips. I left word with the both breeders (mother/daughter combo) to contact me immediately via voicemail, email and Facebook but received nothing but silence. Remember that contract? I looked into to taking them to small claims course, but best case scenario I get my money back and have to hand over the dog (surely for immediate euthanasia).

I'm actually happy that the folks lied to me about the paperwork because this was a gift for my girlfriend, who was currently attending A&M's vet school, and the precious puppy was able to receive the best care and benefit from routine physical therapy. Nonetheless I have no desire whatsoever to relive this ordeal and intend to research this decision extensively. Beyond breeder recommendations I'd love any info (or links to good info) that you guys might be able to provide on the following:

What exactly am I looking for when I look at the hip paperwork?
Should it be hip and elbow?
How's the grading?
Are there companies/organizations that are particularly reputable?
Whose do I look at? Both Parents? Grandparents?
Are these results on the pedigree or do I need to link the dogs on the pedigree to the individual xray results?
Is there a particular age the examination has to be done at for it to be accurate?
Does the risk for problems go up for bigger GSDs?
Any other common hereditary issues that I should be aware?

I'd really like to overcome my trepidation bc there isn't anything like a GSD. I understand recessive genetics and know there is always a risk, but I want to do everything I can to eliminate it. And I do not want to give one dime to unethical, irresponsible backyard breeders. I really appreciate any guidance yall'd be willing to share with me.

Thanks!!!
 

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I prefer to see a breeder advertise the hips/elbows of their dogs. I would want to see this testing on more than just the parents. Pedigree Database (Pedigree Search) can be useful for this IF (and this is a big IF) the breeder has added their stock to the site. I believe Working-Dog.eu is the same or similar.

There are, I think, 3 big grading organisations - OFA, SV, and PennHip.

SV - is pretty common for imported dogs. I have seen lots of dogs with an SV rating that still has OFAs done. I don't know too much about the rating system there. I'm sure someone else can elaborate on it for you.

OFA - you can look online at their site for more info (https://www.ofa.org/diseases/hip-dysplasia) but basically the breeder sends in x-rays and OFA has people to rate them. I think it goes //Excellent, Good, Fair// for passible hips and //Mild, Moderate, Severe// for dysplastic. They do elbows as well, but it's more of a pass/fail than a rating. Pre-lims are done at 1 year, official OFAs are at 2 years.

PennHip - is another one I've seen, usually in conjunction with OFA ratings. I've seen dogs rated in percentiles through this organization. I've seen recommended at 2 years.

Now a lot of breeders in my area as screening additional things.
Degenerative myelopathy (DM) is a big one. I'd like to see this tested for as well.
Some do OFA eye, teeth, and heart exams as well.
It's nice for sure to see, but in my case, my girl's parents had good hearts and she ended up with a bad one (just bad luck).

As for breeders in those areas - is there a specific type of GSD you are looking for or have a preference to (American Showline, German Showline, one of/combination of Working Lines) ? What do you plan on doing with the pup/dog? Any sports or just an active family pet? This might make it easier to find you options to reach out to.

Here's an older thread with some GSD breeders of different lines to check out:
https://www.germanshepherds.com/forum/choosing-breeder/176962-gsd-breeders-texas-2.html
 

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OFA - you can look online at their site for more info (https://www.ofa.org/diseases/hip-dysplasia) but basically the breeder sends in x-rays and OFA has people to rate them. I think it goes //Excellent, Good, Fair// for passible hips and //Mild, Moderate, Severe// for dysplastic. They do elbows as well, but it's more of a pass/fail than a rating. Pre-lims are done at 1 year, official OFAs are at 2 years.
Yes, it's easy to look up dogs in the database, and see the ratings. I just sat here, and looked up random dogs in Scarlet and Carly's pedigrees.
 

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I eventually got my GSD elsewhere but while searching for a dog. I considered Gunbil from Colorado due to the offering of 5 year guarantee that your pup is free of any genetic defects.

Link: http://www.worldclassgsd.com/guarantee/guarantee.html

For those of us who wants the easy way to counteract the risk of sick pups and price isn’t that much of an issue. Best to get one with a warranty. ?

My reason for going elsewhere is due to timing. There isn’t a pup available when I wanted one.

Not sure if others offer similar waranty in your area.
 

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I eventually got my GSD elsewhere but while searching for a dog. I considered Gunbil from Colorado due to the offering of 5 year guarantee that your pup is free of any genetic defects.

Link: Gunbil German Shepherds Guarantee

For those of us who wants the easy way to counteract the risk of sick pups and price isn’t that much of an issue. Best to get one with a warranty. ?

My reason for going elsewhere is due to timing. There isn’t a pup available when I wanted one.

Not sure if others offer similar waranty in your area.
Wow they have a lot of dogs.
 

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What exactly am I looking for when I look at the hip paperwork?
Puppies won't have hip/elbow paperwork. the parents will.
You want to see documentation from the parents thru OFA or SV or Pennhip.
I prefer to see generation of the lines including siblings of the parents and any previous progeny
Should it be hip and elbow?
Yes
How's the grading?
OFA is Fair to excellent. SV has different grading as does PENNHIP
Are there companies/organizations that are particularly reputable?
Yes. see above
Whose do I look at? Both Parents? Grandparents?
IF you can. A good breeder will provide this information.
If the breeder waffles on showing you, RUN, don't walk
Are these results on the pedigree or do I need to link the dogs on the pedigree to the individual xray results?
Results are often listed on pedigreedatabase, working-dog.com. but no necessarily. It's usually thru the hip/elbow organization
Is there a particular age the examination has to be done at for it to be accurate?
Yes. But it varies per organization. 6 months is usually the youngest.
Does the risk for problems go up for bigger GSDs?
No. This is a multifaceted isssue. Genetics and enviroment matter. Size (bone structure size not obesity) does not matter.
Any other common hereditary issues that I should be aware?
All breeds have hereditary issues. Bloat, DM, HD, cancers, allergies.
All you can do is find a reputable breeder and stack the deck in your favor.


Thanks!!!
See red answers above

For example, here is my dog in the OFA database
https://www.ofa.org/advanced-search?f=sr&appnum=1791807

Pedigreedatabase (dependent on individual's entering info so accuracy should always be checked)
http://www.pedigreedatabase.com/german_shepherd_dog/dog.html?id=2093839-seger-vom-sitz-von-der-hose

Working-dog.com (again accuracy should be checked)
https://www.working-dog.com/dogs-details/6490916/Seger-vom-Sitz-von-der-Hose
 

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And you can buy a dog without even speaking to anyone.
I saw that. I personally want some sort of relationship with the breeder of a dog I hope to have for the next 12 or so years. I want to know why they matched certain dogs and what their breeding goals are. I want to know they understand the health and temperament of the dogs they are breeding. But maybe that’s not for everyone.
 

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I saw that. I personally want some sort of relationship with the breeder of a dog I hope to have for the next 12 or so years. I want to know why they matched certain dogs and what their breeding goals are. I want to know they understand the health and temperament of the dogs they are breeding. But maybe that’s not for everyone.
It just concerns me that they don't seem to care that much where the puppies are going. How would they know if I would be a good home or someone that is looking for a dog fighting dog, based purely on the money I'm paying?
 

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Something else to keep in mind....

What are they doing with their dogs??? Are they actively participating in anything with their dogs. This helps to show temperament, nerve stability, bidability, etc...

Besides talking to the breeders, also talk to some of their puppy owners. (Not referring to Gunbil, that's not one I would every consider.)
 

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Each to their own. As a buyer I just want to excellent health and temperament which they provide. I like that the dam and sires are at least sch trained and I know they enter their dogs in shows. But that’s secondary.

And really? Dog fights? Why would they spend over 4000 for one unproven pup when they can get maybe around 4 pups for that money and spread their risk.

Only restriction they place on buyers is that they have first option if you want to give up or sell your dog which is reasonable.

Frankly it’s not nice to even subtly put down other breeders. I see it a lot here in this forum that you guys tend to put down foreign breeders a lot or those that isn’t in your circle.

My opinion is that as long as the dog’s temperament fits you, he/she is healthy and you have an easy transaction with the breeder, then it’s good.

I prefer not to go through the hassle of checking the health, docs, etc. myself, if I have to pay more for assurance and convenience then so be it.
 

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I hesitate to post in these breeder threads since I don't buy from them but...since Louisiana is on your list....please know that this is the Land of Irresponsible Breeders down here -- culturally many people simply view dogs as money-makers. They put two dogs together, sell as many as they can, and dump the unsold or sick ones at public shelters, and if the adults don't produce, they get dumped too. There's no vet care at any point. They don't care about "breed" --they'll take purebred anything off CL and do this. I have ghastly stories about where breeding stock comes from -- even those pretending to be serious breeders here. We even have encountered circumstances suggesting "faked" paperwork -- dogs sired by unregistered/unknown parentage dog X, registered as sired by the registered (but not producing) dog Y. It should surprise no one that the Continental Kennel Club is based here, with it's send-in-a-picture way of registering allegedly purebred dogs! There's also one here who's "Internet famous" (meaning notorious) on PDB for bad behavior -- I know of good breeders who know of this one out of state who won't sell their dogs to be this one's breeding stock, but this one may still get them on the secondary market and gloat about what great lines they're offering. And almost none of them give a rat's patootie what happens to the pups after the sale -- you're on your own if it doesn't work out, and they expect rescue to deal with any that land in shelters that get traced back to them.


That said, I do know of one -- and only one -- local person of integrity who has puppies on the ground now, and she's pretty close to Houston in Lafayette, LA. She runs a small IPO club, competes, has offered pet dog training through the local university extension classes for years, and only breeds when she wants another competition dog for herself (she definitely works what she breeds). When you're breeding for yourself, you're not going to knowingly breed unhealthy dogs! I first met her when she did training for some rescue adopters who were having "adolescent butthead" problems, and she ended up helping to keep that dog in its home and turn him into a magnificent pet. We've become friendly over the years because she's one of very few local working dog people who's been helpful to my rescue work -- figuring out where the WL dogs who land in shelters came from, helping me brainstorm what to do with them, giving me good advice when it's "a lot of dog." I have no idea whether what she breeds is what you (or anyone else will) want, as I'm a rescuer not a puppy buyer -- all I know is it will definitely be "a lot of dog" (as that'swhat she likes to work). But I'm confident in saying that she's "good people," and she cares deeply about "her" dogs for their whole lives (meaning she's not going to sell them and stop returning phone calls). Her name is Kat Richard - here's her web page: https://www.acadianaworkingdogs.com/
 

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Each to their own. As a buyer I just want to excellent health and temperament which they provide. I like that the dam and sires are at least sch trained and I know they enter their dogs in shows. But that’s secondary.

And really? Dog fights? Why would they spend over 4000 for one unproven pup when they can get maybe around 4 pups for that money and spread their risk.

Only restriction they place on buyers is that they have first option if you want to give up or sell your dog which is reasonable.

Frankly it’s not nice to even subtly put down other breeders. I see it a lot here in this forum that you guys tend to put down foreign breeders a lot or those that isn’t in your circle.

My opinion is that as long as the dog’s temperament fits you, he/she is healthy and you have an easy transaction with the breeder, then it’s good.

I prefer not to go through the hassle of checking the health, docs, etc. myself, if I have to pay more for assurance and convenience then so be it.
We don't put down breeders because they "aren't in our circle." We aren't even allowed to put other breeders down anyway. We're simply stating things that should be done differently or are red flags. There are things that need to be done for a breeder to be responsible, no matter who they are or how nice they may seem. We don't want people buying from irresponsible breeders, period. If you find some brand new breeder that no one has heard of, but they work their dogs, have the health tests done, have solid dogs in the pedigree, no one would put that breeder down.

And yes, I highly doubt someone would actually buy one of those puppies for dog fights. But, maybe they would see all the titles behind the adults and think, "Wow! Those dogs know how to attack and bite! Perfect!" That was just an example. The new owner could have a history with domestic violence or previous animal abuse or neglect cases, as another example. The owner may just throw the dog on a chain in the backyard. They will never know since they don't even bother to ask any questions at all.
 
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