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Hi I am looking for a breeder preferably on the east coast (though willing to travel farther) that would be good for getting a perspective service puppy.

I currently own a male German Shepherd who is my current service dog and my first service dog was an Alaskan Malamute/Siberian Husky mix so I am aware of the training and exercise needs required. My current GSD (I adopted him from an abusive situation) is starting to show health issues that are probably going to lead to an early requirement.

For me, health and temperament are the most important. I need a very good work drive as well. We spend a lot of time around children, specifically between ages 2-6. My dog gets about 2 thirty minute walks/jogs a day on top of all the walking we do daily, we hike and bike on weekends. I have an agility course in my yard that we do daily as well as daily obedience and training, search games and about 1-2 hours of combined hardcore play. The easiest dogs to work with for Service Work are generally calm and focused when working.

I have stumbled across a few breeders. Southernwind Kennels, Tre'Good, and Cher Car. I have never gotten a GSD from a breeder so this is becoming very stressful for me, trying to figure out who to stay away from. I would love to know any recommended breeders or if anyone has any experience with any of the breeders I listed. I have had several people tell me to stay away from show lines and to only look at German Working Lines but I'm not sure. Thanks in advance.
 

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I would check out Blackthorn in VA, Christine Kemper (member of this board). She is on FB and has a website though the latter was not up to day last I looked.
 

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I have found and trained service dogs for people for many years. Here's my experience.

Do NOT get a puppy to train for service dog work. Puppies are a total crapshoot and I have never seen this work out. I made this mistake three times before I got smart. I'm sure it's worked for someone but the odds are against it.

You want a female that is at least a year old or a male that is at least 2 years old. By then, any issues with dog aggression will most likely have surfaced.

The so-called "working lines" are now the worst bet for service dog work. (Wasn't that way 30 years ago.) By and large, "working line" means the dog can do sport, not real world work. Insanely chase a flirt pole, you bet. Prance like an idiot looking at the handler without looking at where he is going, you bet. Lie quietly under a table during an office meeting for three hours, forget it. Wag his tail when a little kid bolts out of nowhere and pokes him in the eye, forget it.

The best dog I ever had was a German working lines GSD. But that was 30 years ago. Now you couldn't pay me to take most working line GSDs. (The reasons why this has happened to the breed is a whole different thread, which I will start someday when I have time.)

It takes a superdog to be a service dog. Forcing a dog to do this work when it is against his nature makes the dog miserable and can be dangerous to the public by making the dog unstable.

Thirty years ago, great GSDs were so common that I could find a good GSD service dog from a rescue group. No longer. I won't even look there anymore.

Lately I've had the best luck with the higher quality American showlines, from breeders who aim for kindhearted, stable, sweet, calm GSDs.

If you can afford it, you could get a GSD service dog from Mace's Malinois:

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

Most "service dog" breeders are scammers, but this guy does seem to to know what he is doing.

Good luck!
 

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I usually advise people to find a service dog trainer and then get them to help with selection. Depending on what service work you need, and I would discuss that with the trainer and breeder, any stable, well bred GSD might work.
I don't know why a WL wouldn't do.
 

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I would highly recommend Sitz von der Hose. She has vast experience with breeding service dogs.
I checked out her facebook page--couldn't find a single service dog in several months of posts. Just sport dogs, including a fine pic of one of her GSDs prancing like an idiot looking at his handler without paying any attention to where he's going. The dog could walk right off a cliff. Great guide dog potential, eh?

One of the reviews says she used to work at Fidelco, which breeds and trains guide dogs. If true, she had experience with guide dogs in the past.

But her current interest, judging from her facebook posts, is sport dogs. And one of her puppy videos shows exactly the type of landshark prey-drive freaks that are disasters as potential service dogs.

There's nothing wrong with wanting a sport dog. There's a lot wrong with telling folks that sport dogs make great service dogs.
 

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Lol, your post made me laugh. Not because it was comical, yet rather arrogant. I’ll start off with: all puppies are ‘ landshark freaks’ especially shepherds. that thing you mentioned about the staring at the handler is called ‘heeling’ which is something very important to train those dogs, and service dogs as well. It puts all focus on the handler and on no one else... seems very good for a service dog yeah? Children screaming in the isle wanting to pet the dog? Nope. Full focus on handler, none on children.
As long as these driven dogs get their energy out and have a job which can be * cough cough * service work * cough cough * they will be fine. I doubt jax or whoever was implying that a energetic dog is good for service work, but this breeder breeds level headed, smart, CONFIDENT dogs which is very important for that sort of work.
 

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I’m not commenting on the breeder in question, because I’ve never owned one of their dogs.

But I will comment to dispel the myth that dogs out of Schutzhund/IPO/IGP parentage are inherently nuts. A few years ago I took one of my dogs (National level IPO3 x National level IPO3) on a road trip where I was commissioned to deliver hardscapes, assemble them, and provide professional architectural services. After being dragged across the entire latitude of this country, my dog hopped out of my truck (in the middle of the night) and hung out with children in an orphanage while I got myself situated and set myself up for my remote office.

Don’t. Generalize.
 

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Lol, your post made me laugh. Not because it was comical, yet rather arrogant.
Arrogant is when folks who have never used or trained a service dog prattle on about their fantasies about what makes a good service dog.

I’ll start off with: all puppies are ‘ landshark freaks’ especially shepherds.
All puppies? You've really seen all puppies in the world? Nope. I've known plenty of GSD puppies who were not landshark freaks, although these are getting harder to find.

that thing you mentioned about the staring at the handler is called ‘heeling’ which is something very important to train those dogs, and service dogs as well. It puts all focus on the handler and on no one else... seems very good for a service dog yeah?
Nope. Another fantasy. That's sport dog heeling, and you won't see a real service dog doing that kind of nonsense. Part of a service dog's job is to pay attention to his surroundings. Real world heeling consists of walking calmly at the handler's side looking ahead and around him. When a service dog and his disabled handler function well as a team, verbal and touch cues are all that are needed. The dog does not and should not be staring nonstop at his handler.

When I have asked working line GSD breeders whether their dogs are suitable for, say, mobility assistance dog work, they often claim they are. When I then ask if their dogs could lie quietly under a table for 3 hours, they are shocked at the idea that their dogs could be expected to do such a thing. Typical responses: "Uh no, these are high drive dogs." "Oh, my dogs are way too high octane for that!" "What! These are sport dogs! You can't expect them to do something like that!"

I am way too busy training real dogs for real world work to argue with people about their fantasies of what it's like to train and work with service dogs. So this is my last post on this subject. I do think it is thoroughly rotten to harm disabled people who are seeking a service dog by giving them misinformed advice based on ignorance.
 

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LOL! Silly. I’ve met a few people who have sport dogs as sds as well, who could sit patiently on a 9 hour plane trip. A good service dog should Be alert of their surroundings/forum/images/smilies/smile.gif I never said otherwise. But it should not be paying attention to a child wanting to pet it! You completely went over what I was implying. I’d hope you wouldn’t have any more to say on this subject, as you’re clearly oblivious
 

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Oh! And one more, my dog currently IS a service dog ? please don’t assume I’ve never had one.
I’ve looked through your profile, and you don’t seem to know much about the breed. Certainly not enough to have such negative snarky things to say.

OP, please listen to previous advice given by others. I agree completely with looking towards older dogs with more history behind them. And if service is what you’re looking for, a puppy isn’t going to be ready for at least 2 years. Is there a specific reason you want a GSD? And what type of work do you need out of a service animal?
 

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Hawks Hunt(Suzanne Clothier) would be the person I would get with if you are looking for a good pup for service dog. She doesn't breed often, has a new litter now, probably all reserved, but she may be helpful in connecting you to another litter. My male was bred with her lines(my male was a 'sport' dog, titled in schutzhund). That litter produced service dogs. I don't know if her website is up to date, but you can find her contact info on it:
https://suzanneclothier.com/hawks-hunt-german-shepherds/
 

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Arrogant is when folks who have never used or trained a service dog prattle on about their fantasies about what makes a good service dog.



All puppies? You've really seen all puppies in the world? Nope. I've known plenty of GSD puppies who were not landshark freaks, although these are getting harder to find.



Nope. Another fantasy. That's sport dog heeling, and you won't see a real service dog doing that kind of nonsense. Part of a service dog's job is to pay attention to his surroundings. Real world heeling consists of walking calmly at the handler's side looking ahead and around him. When a service dog and his disabled handler function well as a team, verbal and touch cues are all that are needed. The dog does not and should not be staring nonstop at his handler.

When I have asked working line GSD breeders whether their dogs are suitable for, say, mobility assistance dog work, they often claim they are. When I then ask if their dogs could lie quietly under a table for 3 hours, they are shocked at the idea that their dogs could be expected to do such a thing. Typical responses: "Uh no, these are high drive dogs." "Oh, my dogs are way too high octane for that!" "What! These are sport dogs! You can't expect them to do something like that!"

I am way too busy training real dogs for real world work to argue with people about their fantasies of what it's like to train and work with service dogs. So this is my last post on this subject. I do think it is thoroughly rotten to harm disabled people who are seeking a service dog by giving them misinformed advice based on ignorance.
I cannot and will not paint all breeders with the same brush. But I can state that while searching for a breeder I was shot down numerous times by sport dog breeders who openly stated that their dogs were not pets and incapable of being just active companions.
I can also say that my whatevertheheckshewas working dog would have been ecstatic to be dumped in a day care, adored kids. She hung out watching movies, lazed in the patrol truck, schmoozed at BBQ's for food and turned it all on in a heartbeat when it was time to work.
That focused heel? Don't get it but it's a trained thing, not something the dogs just do and my understanding is that it is no longer required in obedience.

Back on topic. I would check the recommended breeders or as I said find a trainer and go with their recommendations, because anyone training service dogs will know where to source one.
 

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I checked out her facebook page--couldn't find a single service dog in several months of posts. Just sport dogs, including a fine pic of one of her GSDs prancing like an idiot looking at his handler without paying any attention to where he's going. The dog could walk right off a cliff. Great guide dog potential, eh?

One of the reviews says she used to work at Fidelco, which breeds and trains guide dogs. If true, she had experience with guide dogs in the past.

But her current interest, judging from her facebook posts, is sport dogs. And one of her puppy videos shows exactly the type of landshark prey-drive freaks that are disasters as potential service dogs.

There's nothing wrong with wanting a sport dog. There's a lot wrong with telling folks that sport dogs make great service dogs.
I see a dog that's biddable, focused, and trusts their handler. Focused healing is trained, not the result of the dog being a mindless drone. There are breeders breeding specifically for sport, however there are plenty of others breeding for balance and the latter can produce dogs capable of sport, SAR, service work, pets....
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I usually advise people to find a service dog trainer and then get them to help with selection. Depending on what service work you need, and I would discuss that with the trainer and breeder, any stable, well bred GSD might work.
I don't know why a WL wouldn't do.
I actually don't officially use a trainer. I have trained four service dogs, mine as well as an Irish Wolfhound for a friend who I raised in my home from 10 weeks old and a German Shepherd for a co-workers brother after he left the military. I have had dogs fail before and I am perfectly fine with that. Just like to start out with a good chance.
 

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OP, please listen to previous advice given by others. I agree completely with looking towards older dogs with more history behind them. And if service is what you’re looking for, a puppy isn’t going to be ready for at least 2 years. Is there a specific reason you want a GSD? And what type of work do you need out of a service animal?
I am actually planning to retire my current one in about 3 years which is why I am looking now. My current GSD I raised from 7 months old and the Malamute/Husky mix I raised from 3 months old. The mix I actually only got because someone I knew got her as a first puppy and a month in couldn't handle her and the breeder didn't want her back. I've grown up around GSD's my entire life, from the ones my grandparents brought over when they immigrated here from Germany. I've been around other breeds, pet and service, and haven't really been happy with anything else.

I once helped another SD handler when they were having issues with training a certain task ( the dog was a golden) and I had to work with him a completely different way then I've ever had to with GSD's. I use a Service Dog as basically a Medical Alert Dog though mainly PTSD. My current GSD does DPT, search and alert work, interrupting behaviors and occasionally forced leading and bracing.

I kind of get the feeling some of the other posters think my dogs' work is almost like a joke for the GSD world. He gets worked every day and contrary to some of the others remarks, no I don't allow strange people or especially children to touch him. Almost all of his gear says "do not touch" on it and I enforce it very seriously. I work 6 hours a day doing private security which half the time is outside and we are NEVER sitting for 3 hours. We're always moving and he is constantly worked with physically and mentally. I have had dogs fail service work before. I keep them as pets but I do just as much work with them and usually do scent work, pulling, etc.
 

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Arrogant is when folks who have never used or trained a service dog prattle on about their fantasies about what makes a good service dog.



All puppies? You've really seen all puppies in the world? Nope. I've known plenty of GSD puppies who were not landshark freaks, although these are getting harder to find.



Nope. Another fantasy. That's sport dog heeling, and you won't see a real service dog doing that kind of nonsense. Part of a service dog's job is to pay attention to his surroundings. Real world heeling consists of walking calmly at the handler's side looking ahead and around him. When a service dog and his disabled handler function well as a team, verbal and touch cues are all that are needed. The dog does not and should not be staring nonstop at his handler.

When I have asked working line GSD breeders whether their dogs are suitable for, say, mobility assistance dog work, they often claim they are. When I then ask if their dogs could lie quietly under a table for 3 hours, they are shocked at the idea that their dogs could be expected to do such a thing. Typical responses: "Uh no, these are high drive dogs." "Oh, my dogs are way too high octane for that!" "What! These are sport dogs! You can't expect them to do something like that!"

I am way too busy training real dogs for real world work to argue with people about their fantasies of what it's like to train and work with service dogs. So this is my last post on this subject. I do think it is thoroughly rotten to harm disabled people who are seeking a service dog by giving them misinformed advice based on ignorance.

I'm honestly not sure if your bashing other people's views on the matter or if your bashing mine, but either way I firmly believe there is a difference between a High Energy dog and a Hyper Active dog. My dogs get more than enough physical and mental energy throughout the day. Personally, my GSD is never in a situation where he has to lie under a table for 3+ hours. I'm constantly on my feet and if I wanted a less active dog I would get a different breed altogether but this is a breed that works best for me and my lifestyle.

My dogs are PTSD trained so they are trained to pay attention to me more then a guide dog or mobility dog would, rather than their surroundings. Though I do agree there is a significant difference between heeling. I have seen high energy and high drive dogs be used as service dogs, though they do take a lot more work and training.

I have full confidence in my own training skills for service dogs. I also know a retired cop who spent most of his career training police dogs and a friend I served with was as a canine handler. Most of the dogs I hang out with these days besides my own are mostly Belgian Malinois and if I wasn't looking to eventually replace my current GSD at his job I would consider one of those.
Thank you for the advice.
 

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I checked out her facebook page--couldn't find a single service dog in several months of posts. Just sport dogs, including a fine pic of one of her GSDs prancing like an idiot looking at his handler without paying any attention to where he's going. The dog could walk right off a cliff. Great guide dog potential, eh?
Well, there is a difference between guiding a blind person and actual heeling. Contextual cues like being in a harness and cued to move forward versus not wearing a harness and being cued to heel have a lot to do with it. And the OP didn't say they needed a guide dog.
 

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I see a dog that's biddable, focused, and trusts their handler. Focused healing is trained, not the result of the dog being a mindless drone.
OK, this is a ten minute response so here goes.

Biddable my barnacles.

Biddable means that the fact that you tell a dog to do something and he understands what you want is enough for the dog to do it as long as it's reasonable—even if he’d rather not. No toy needed. No treats needed. This trait has been almost completely bred out of German Shepherds.

The dog prancing like an idiot in that pic cares about only one thing, and it’s not his handler. That poor prey-drive freak is focused alright, and it's not on his handler. He is insanely focused on getting the chunk of rubber or whatever toy was used to train him. He “trusts” the handler to eventually give him the toy that is the most important thing in the world to him.

I could not possibly have trained my working lines GSD from 30 years ago to walk in such an idiotic manner. If I had tried, he would have looked at me like I was nuts and stalked off in a huff. He knew—without any training—that one of his most important jobs was to pay attention to his surroundings.

If I had started waltzing around snapping a flirt pole like a moron, he would have walked away from me, laid down with a grunt of disgust and waited for me to calm down.

Totally worthless as a sport dog. But he stopped some thugs from hijacking my girlfriend’s car, tried to go through a window to stop a burglar, and bit a fool who broke into my car. He also came to a halt whenever he saw a disabled person—no matter how weird looking—or someone in distress and begged for permission to go and do what he could to console the person. Which he always got if the person wanted him to, which they almost always did. There was one kid with cerebral palsy who was thrilled with him but was so spastic that his petting amounted to slapping my dog. And my dog just cuddled up closer to the kid. None of which is worth anything in a sport dog competition.

One of the tests some guide dog schools use for potential service dog candidates is to get the dog settled next to a handler, then have someone out of sight roll a ball past the dog. If the dog goes after the ball, he flunks. Period. No excuses. The risk is too high that he won’t be able to focus on his job. Sure rules out the prey-drive freaks.

Sending a disabled person to a breeder of prey-drive freaks to get a puppy who will almost certainly fail as a service dog is just rotten. This isn't some stupid thread about eastie-westie feet where it doesn't matter if you're wrong.

And now I really am gone, much to the relief of those who hate having their fantasies disrupted.
 
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