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Currently my wife and I are in the process of replacing our 9 year old German Shepherd, Chelsey, which we recently had to put down due to cancer. We have two children, a 14 year old daughter and an 11 year old son. Or son suffers from a rare genetic disorder in addition to suffering from Autism and Epilepsy. We are in the process of trying to acquire a new pup, but my wife is concerned whether a lab would be a better choice then another shepherd. Needless to say all of our family loved our previous German Shepherd, but my son established a relationship with her which was inseparable. My biggest concern in acquiring a new shepherd would be health and temperament of the dog because of our son. I have always loved the shepherds because of their intelligence and protective nature but am not sure where to look with regard to breeders or what particular line to look for. Our previous breeder is not an option. My wife and I reside in Northwest Illinois, so I was curious on any recommendations on breeder or even whether another German Shepherd is the breed for us? We have a little over 1 1/2 acres of property with an underground fence surrounding the whole property. We are active individuals, but both my wife an I work away from the home, so the pup would be unattended for part of the day. I have been looking at a DDR German Lines and have found a breeder within the area, Vom Gildaf German Shepherds. Is this a good fit in line of dog or breeder; or should we be looking somewhere else? All help would be appreciated. Chelsey was not just a pet, it was a member of the family; thus the importance of finding a new member to add to the family!
 

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If you are in the upper Midwest, you have a lot of choices. I would heavily consider a good, solid American show line dog; if not ASL, there are other working line breeders in this region with solid, healthy dogs.
 

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I’d look for a breeder who maybe runs a smaller operation and really knows their dogs inside and out. I’d look for a breeder who puts a high value on working their bitches and really understanding what they bring to the table, as well as how to find an appropriate stud for them. A lot of breeders look good on paper, because they health test. But there is more to breeding than just slapping two DM negative dogs together who passed OFA, just because you happen to own both of them. Especially in your situation, I’d want to get out to clubs and meet dogs and make sure what the breeder is producing is solid in both temperament and health.
 

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What is everyone's fascination with DDR?

I would look for a breeder with experience placing/breeding service dogs. Biddability is going to be super important in this situation.

Try asking on this page for suggestions
https://www.facebook.com/groups/100827050053129/
 

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Well, this is tricky because it is a multilayered answer, and I mean no disrespect to anyone here but unless you live with kids with disabilities you honestly don't understand how it can be.

And a lot of disabled kids do not have the capabilities of being good TO dogs. A child who can not understand how to be good to dogs due to disabilities, should definitely have a different type of breed (if it is mild behavior issues) and maybe no dog at all if serious behavior issues, unfortunately. I just had to get that out there, and I don't mean "you" the OP because it sounds like your child has the ability to have a loving relationship with an animal, as are mine :) . There is such a variety of disabled when it comes to kids. One of my son's peers bites animals and nothing makes him stop. So, no he should not have a dog no matter how much he wants one. Anyway, I don't want to be a blanket ambassador for saying yes, special needs works with (insert any breed) without specifying the special needs person must be suitable for a dog as well as vice versa. That said...

I have 3 kids 12, 10, and 7. The 10 and 7 year olds are disabled. 10 year old has autism and very serious hyperactivity. 7 year old has CP and maybe autism. Hard to tell how much is due to losing oxygen at birth and if he would have had autism regardless. On paper, I have no business owning the 2 year old and 8 week old working lines that I have. However in my opinion they are the best dogs for my family because they are stable and great with the kids and also fulfill my wants and needs from a dog as well (IPO, protective of the home and kids, partner).

That said a few things really need to come in to play for this to work. First and foremost a trusted breeder who not only breeds genetically sound dogs but understands their dogs and how to place them. Then you, the owner. You must be willing and able to hire a breed savvy trainer to help you when you are not sure of things. Whatever you think you know about the breed, be willing to let an established trainer guide you. Look up a local IPO (now IGP) club and either consider joining ( I go 2 Saturdays a month it does not have to be too time consuming) or if not hang around a bit, ask for opinions on breeders and trainers.

If all those things come to into play nicely it can absolutely be done. I don't know much about ASL GSDs, but I would let the breeder and what they produce steer me more than whether it was a Working Line or German Showline.

Good luck and if you would like to PM me about more specifics and ins and outs of special needs kids and GSDs and life in general, please feel free!
 

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It really depends on what exactly your wanting the dog to do. If your looking for a new friend for your child you can find any well bred shepherd anywhere around close to the job. If your wanting to train the dog as a true service dog for your child you don't want to pick that up anywhere.
 

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Your post was not clear if you were looking for a family dog or a service dog. As what comet dog said about the ranges of special needs and severity recommendations can be difficult on the Internet. With that said though I have a very close nephew with autism who does not live in the house but when he visits the dogs are incredible with him and since is a big part of my family and is treated as one of my kids. I have a asl and a wgsl. I would go to a recommended breeder who produce clear headed and stable dogs regardless of what breed you choose or line.
 

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RESEARCH! :wink2:

Please don't choose a breeder due to close location.
Travel or shipping is A LOT easier than living with a dog with problems for 10 to 12 years!



Choose your breeder, whether you decide GSD or Lab, very carefully and wisely for your particular sensitive situation.


Best of luck!
Moms :)
 

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I'd steer clear of von Gildaf because she consistently has dogs for sale with the warning "-No small children-NO SMALL dogs or animals, NO other female dogs" on her website:

vom Gildaf German Shepherds and McQueen Border Collies

Not the right temperament for your situation.

It has gotten so hard to find the right sort of kindhearted, tolerant GSD that would work for this kind of situation that I've started recommending English Labradors for this. But even here you have to be careful. Best bet I know of is:

Beloved Labs, LLC - English Labrador puppies (Labs) for sale in Minnesota (Mn) with AKC champion bloodlines.

They are in northern Minnesota but will sometimes meet people near Minneapolis.

If you are determined to get a GSD service dog and you can afford it, check out:

Breeder, Trainer & Seller of World Class Pedigree Belgian Malinois, German Shepherds, Dutch Shepherds & Miniature Australian Shepherds. Puppies, Trained Protection Dogs and Service Dogs

He will deliver the dog for a fee and show you how to work with him.
 
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