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When it comes to family/kids/ etc by hanging around IGP clubs and people for two years I have seen from both SLs and WLs dogs that I would walk right in their house if their handler was not home, and dogs I would NOT lol You are not going to work or compete with your dog so the intricacies beyond "socially safe" and health tested genetics should not muddy your immediate research.

As far as SL vs WL, nevermind difference in temperaments (there is variety in lines of both, both in the negative and positive aspects) you will pay a lot more for a SL, and if you aren't doing show, you'd have paid more money for a popular idea by show people of aesthetics. Which is fine, just realize they are more expensive because people do shows with them and apparently that is where the money is. So if traveling all over to Siegar shows and winning ribbons isn't in your plans, just know you paid a lot extra to admire the deep reds and blacks in your dog..from your living room :) A well and properly bred SL will cost significantly more than a proper bred WL.

1) use a good breeder. Jax08 gave a blessing on one. You can trust that poster's recommendation.
2) communicate to the breeder everything about your life and what you are picturing out of having one of their GSDs in your life. If they are a good breeder, they will be the best to pick an appropriate dog for you.

As for kids. I have 2 WLs in my house. One has very high defense drive/suspicion. One has very high prey drive. I also have 3 children ages 13 (neurotypical), and 11 year old boy (hand flapping hyper active over the roof squealing hopping on toes everywhere hand flapping autism) and an 8 year old boy (CP, severe global delay, non verbal). I also have social workers in and out of my house for home therapies after school 5 days a week. My daughter has friends over. We even got a kitten that has been around 4 months now. Nobody has died.

BUT..my kids are good with animals. They are patient and forgiving with them. My daughter was a great help being the 2nd set of hands with a landsharking puppy. We kept tugs holstered in pants constantly for redirection. Kids need to be good with dogs before you can expect a dog to be good with children. And they need supervision. I don't expect a child of an age that I would not allow them to cross the street alone to be 100% trustworthy wit the lessons on animal etiquette they have been given. I expect even less out of an animal. Until dogs are trustworthy oh...18 months or more and kids are trustworthy over..oh..8..expect the unexpected out of each.

Your grandchildren will feel needle puppy teeth on them at some point unless every adult involved is from the not human inhabited planet I Am Too Perfect To Ever Not Pay Attention For A Second. So just make sure they know all this. Give them the tool of knowledge and a good puppy tug so they can learn too. It will help them feel in control and will help in the patience department on their part. I have a book my daughter read about raising a working puppy. It helped a great deal.

I also use trainers. Privates when I need help with a home behavior. I go to IGP training maybe twice a month. I walk eachdog a good hour a day, I incorporate structured OB exercises into their walk, and stop at a public service field I got permission to run them on, and play 2 ball. I have a career where I work from home at least 2 more often 3 days a week. On the days I go out to meet with clients, if the weather isn't extreme in either direction the dogs come with. In between stops with clients I can run them if I see a spot, or do a quick Petco or Lowes outing. Just detailing what is involved in my version of "making it work".

1)You have to make sure the kids understand what a GSD puppy is all made of. They need to work with you. 2)Make sure that even if you are not doing structured sport or work with a dog, you have the type of life where you can give them the relationship with a handler they need, physical and mental stimulation. It doesnt have to be every blessed day. I have missed larger chunks of tiume and as long as I kept them engaged with me in the house in periods here and there..they were fine.

All that, in combination with a good breeder and a good breed oriented trainer, the puppy months will be worth it in spades.

Just illustrating how I am enjoying having the dogs in my life despite what a type of life that most would say "pass". There was a great sentence posted by someone recently. may have been this thread. How will anyone ever become a second time GSD owner if they never become a 1st? After your 1st GSD your next dog will either be another GSD...or not.
 

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Discussion Starter #82
Again, I just go back to luck and genetics. We had one boxer, backyard bred and fed Dad's dog food, live to be 13. Died of a seizure most likely due to a brain tumor. Spayed prior to 6 months.
Another Boxer, spayed at 3, fed Purina. Lived to be 12. We had to let her go due to arthritis and she developed an infection that was super hard to treat. Even if we could cure it, the arthritis in her back was still an issue.
Note: It's not common for Boxers to live past 10 years.
I lost my first German Shepherd to hemangio at just 10 years old. Minimal vaccination, raw fed. Spayed at 4 months because I adopted her from a shelter.

There is literally no rhyme or reason to who lived longer. You can only do your research and find a breeder that has longevity in their lines to stack the deck in your favor.
You have all been very helpful and I understand that at the end of the day it will be the luck of the draw as each puppy will be an individual. I also owe it to my family to do my best in the selection and that it is not due to my lack of research that the right puppy doesn’t end up in the wrong home.

Once I feel I have done my best, then I’ll know the rest is up to how the puppy is brought up, that we do the best we can for its health and training so the puppy is well adjusted to the family and vice versa. The right breeder, the right parents and the right puppy from those puppies is just a part of the entire process; the rest is up to us. The right foods at the right time, the right vet, the right exercise at the right time, the right training at the right time will also play a big part in that puppy’s life and ours. Then there is the luck part, which I know we have no control over.
 

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Discussion Starter #84
I don't have much to add regarding the WL / WGSL issue since I have never owned a WL, I own two WGSL one female and one male. With SL GSD's in general and I have seen the full spectrum from extremely hyper, territorial etc., to very calm, laid back and friendly. I think this could be the case in whichever lines you choose, depending on the kind of breeder and the type of dog that you ask for, so it's definitely good that you are doing your research!

Also in regards to the male / female question. My female is much more intense, energetic and unsociable with strangers and my male more open, calm and friendly, which is the opposite of what I think the usual conception is! I don't think this is always the case, but I think it points out how individual personality will be far more important than gender.

My female is 2 years old and has not been spayed, she has only had 3 heat cycles in that time, she didn't have her first heat until she was over 11 months old and has them roughly every 6 months. For me it's not a problem, hardly takes any management at all. I have never seen any stray dog try and come to our property whilst she is in heat, I have taken her on walks whilst she has been in heat, and never been bothered or seen any dog hanging around. What I read before I purchased her made me believe that I would be fighting off dogs left right and center, but that has not been the case at all! I have a pair of dog pants for the mess and / or I just keep her mostly in the kitchen (where there is tile floor). I don't leave her outside unsupervised whilst she is in heat, but she can run around our yard, I just keep an eye on her. She gets a bit clingy in her heat and wants to stay inside more anyway, so it's not such an issue.

I think the risk for mammary cancers is extremely small and over-inflated by vets and others who are more interested in getting every animal spayed / neutered at 6 months purely because of routine population control (not for the health of the animal). However, as a responsible pet owner that is not an issue, so I agree that waiting until they are over 1 year (preferably 2) has been shown in the research to provide optimal health benefits for large breed dogs (male or female).
Thank you, Kari01. I understand each dog is an individual, which may not conform to the generalizations of gender and type. I too was under the impression that with an intact female I would be fighting off males from all over and that taking her out would be unwise. I'm glad to see that may not always be the case.

As far as the health risks/benefits of spaying/neutering, I don’t need much convincing to understand that doing it before 1+ year can have negative health effects. It is also logical that there would be no ovarian cancer where there are no ovaries. On the others, the studies only consideration were breed and age neutered, nothing about their family history or other possible contributing factors.
 

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Discussion Starter #85
I would not consider show lines because of the odds you will get a dog with a weak temperament. I would start educating yourself about training and purchase the book "Purely Positive Training" by Sheila Boothe and start to teach yourself the fundamentals of operant learning and how to apply them to foundation training for a pup. You can find a pup in a working line litter that is not over the top. If you go that route, you need to research different working lines and try to find out the type of dogs they produce. I would also look locally because there are a ton of breeders in FLA. Go to the United Schutzhund Clubs of America website, click on clubs and events, then click on the region FLA is in and look for clubs in FLA and there will be a few e-mail addresses so you can contact people in FLA who can lead you to a good working line breeder.
Thank you, Chip. I have looked into a couple of Clubs and will be attending their local event when held.
 

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Discussion Starter #86
I think a WGSL would be the right lines for you. Not all of them have weak temperaments. I only know of one breeder I would recommend. She is in Illinois. Excellent breeder knows her lines titles her own dog’s. Does not breed often. If your interested in knowing more you can pm me.
Good morning BigOzzy2018. Thank you for willingness to share.
 

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Discussion Starter #87
There's nothing I've done for a couple of years now with my dog, that you can't do with a good dog from any lines, male or female. Research is fine Misty, but at some point it needs to be hands on, in person. There's so much that comes down to likes and preferences with any breed that you need that perspective of seeing the actual dogs while you talk to owners or breeders.
I understand, Steve. I know research will go only so far. I have met a few German Shepherds and have a general idea of what I’m looking for, obviously not enough. Since I started this thread I have also found a couple of people I actually do know that have had GSDs all their lives. Incredible what you find out when people know you are looking for something specific, one is a gentleman I have worked with for over 15 years. I rarely ask questions and only know what people volunteer, he found out I was looking for a GSD and shared some information.

I will be attending some local dog shows, there I can meet some of the GSDs and their breeders/handlers, I am also aware those breeders/handlers will be participating with their top dogs, which have many hours of training (from people that know their stuff) and not necessarily the one I would be bringing home.

For me (and I could be totally incorrect here) it still boils down to finding the right breeder, who I feel I can trust, and have them use their knowledge in selecting the right puppy for our home.

I can tell you that there isn’t a single GSD I have met since I started this quest, which I wouldn’t want as my own. They have all been very well behaved, novel and absolutely gorgeous animals. Oddly, none of them have been obtained from the type of reputable breeder we have been discussing in this thread. They have been good owners and it shows on their GSD; from the description of the breeder and the breeder’s facility where they got their dog, I am tempted to say they were just incredibly lucky with their find.

The Malinois breeder my son knows will be taking me to meet another police officer that breeds GSDs who he knows, in the very near future. We will see what that yields. Normally, I would not impose on someone’s time, unless I have read about them and seen their reviews and was completely satisfied with everything I knew. I figure everyone’s time is valuable and is disrespectful to abuse it; however, they did offer and agreed to no strings attached. I do trust the person that is taking me, and we are talking of AKC registered dogs, so it is a good starting point.
 

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Discussion Starter #88
I definitely do not recommend working line. I think from what you’ve said I would look at a west German show Line. Check out Theishof German Shepherds in Idaho. She ships and has amazing steady dogs. I too have grandchildren etc and was a first time GSD owner and my boy is 9 mos old and fantastic. I do not recommend a high drive one. I can’t even imagine how much work they become. Mine was considered low drive as a puppy but away from his litter I would say he has grown to a medium drive dog. Very confident and can be a handful. Training isn’t just classes. It every minute of every day and every single interaction with him. In my opinion GSDs should be their own breed. Completely different than any dog I have ever trained. They keep you on your toes and are lots and lots of work. I’m not trying to discourage you. Just being honest.
Thank you, simplystacey69. I have expanded my line search, actually, I have removed the WL requirement (learning the acronyms as I go). Thank you for the recommendation. I will be checking them out next.

The main reason I have not considered having another dog for these many years is because I am aware they require as much time as a child. We have all been watching videos and reading about training, training classes are mostly to ensure we are learning the right way to train/teach the dog. As it would be with a child, the real training and education is the one done at home day-in and day-out via reinforcement.

Coming from someone with little to very limited knowledge, I know any large breed dog can be extremely dangerous to its family and others, if not properly trained and cared for. I know it will take a lot from me, I am also at a time in my life where that is also exactly what I need for my own mental, physical and emotional well-being.

I’m not expecting it to be easy, but I am expecting it to be rewarding.
 

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Discussion Starter #89
I second a West German showline. If you aren’t planning on working a working line GSD DAILY (mentally AND physically), then be prepared for a bored, potentially destructive nightmare. Working lines are not usually good candidates for family pets, because their drive is off the charts. West German show lines and good breeders of them are the epitome of the Golden Middle- good structure, health, and FANTASTIC temperaments.
I had excellent luck with Haus Juris in Virginia. I’m on my second GSD from there.
Thank you, Athena’s mom. This is exactly what I am looking for. Breeders you all know that have had good experience with (directly or indirectly). I have added them to my spreadsheet and will start looking into them now as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #90
I'm not going to encourage you to get a puppy from any particular line. I have west german working line, my close friend has american showlines, and my other close friend has west german show lines. We all belong to the local German Shepherd Dog Club. All our dogs are health tested and titled in something before breeding. Dogs are socialized at club and puppies get the benefit of club members handling. We follow Puppy Culture for raising our litters (to the best of our ability). I work full time and am on my own most of the time, so I do what puppy culture I can. The three of us are currently taking herding lessons with our dogs (both of mine), the others just one or two of their dogs.

I guess my point is, look for a breeder that is health testing the breeding stock, doing something with them (obedience, tracking, agility, SAR, IGP, herding, nose work), takes an interest in the betterment of the breed (breeding goals). My foundation bitch came from Austerlitz German Shepherd Dogs. First German Shepherd for me, spent 6 months looking, researching lines, emailing two different breeders, settled on them. I wanted a solid black bitch. I just had to put her down at 13 yrs 4 mos of age. She gave me a few wonderful litters. The one daughter I have from her last litter doesnt have the best conformation. She is built more like a Mal than a GSD. Her coat is very short, but it is full. Her front toes out a bit. She has crazy drive, is social, great with other dogs, full grip, biddable, agile. So I did some experimenting with her breedings. Bred her to a west german showline male, very nice puppies, great drives, although I would have liked to see better conformation. Next breeding, bred to an American Showline male. Kept a bitch puppy back from that litter. At 6 months of age she had taken a Best In Show in a UKC show, has since earned her UKC Champion and has been in herding training since 6 months of age. She is a go anywhere, do anything puppy (11 mos now). We also dabble in AKC shows, but has only been in a few.

I dont think you have to get a dog from working lines. I dont think you have to stay away from American Showlines. Find the best fit for you. There are West German Lines out there doing IGP, and there are working lines that couldnt do it at all. Titles are NOT everything, but they are something. Right now I would want you to get out and meet some different dogs (adults). AKC shows, trials, events. UKC shows, trials, events. USCA trials, GSDCA has a list of events.

The terminology used is subjective to the person using it. Boots on the ground is the best way to figure out what is going to best meet your needs. I did have prior exposure to German Shepherds before getting my very first (to call my own), so I had some knowledge of owning them already.
Thank you, vomlittlehaus. That is what I am doing now, met a couple and will be going to shows. The more I learn, the least restrictive I become in many of my original requirements (I had the wrong requirements). I don’t need a dog that will win competitions, but I do need one that is generally healthy and has the right temperament and fit to our family. You have mentioned other shows/events I didn’t have in my list that I have added so we can go see those.
 

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Discussion Starter #91
I have had WGSLs with so much energy they were bouncing off the the walls. My first female came from strong herding lines and never slowed down much even at age 13. My WL has high drive in that he goes from 0 to 100 in a second, but he has medium energy and if given good daily exercise is a bit of a couch potato. Generalizations don’t help anyone and they are usually wrong. I didn’t expect some of the WL behaviors but once I got used to him, he is possibly the smartest and best trained purebred GSD I’ve ever owned.
Thank you, LuvShepherds. It sounds like your WL line GSD would be my dream dog! While I am not looking or expecting a couch potato, I definitely wouldn’t mind a dog I can sit with, every so often, to watch a good movie. I am not into watching TV, but have done so as well at times.

Now all I need is a breeder that will help me select that dream GSD.
 

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You can train a dog to snuggle if you want them to. It takes a lot of time and patience. As a puppy, he hated restraint of any kind. I taught him to lie quietly at my feet during meals. Then I worked on hugs. It took a long time.
 

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I can tell you that there isn’t a single GSD I have met since I started this quest, which I wouldn’t want as my own. They have all been very well behaved, novel and absolutely gorgeous animals. Oddly, none of them have been obtained from the type of reputable breeder we have been discussing in this thread. They have been good owners and it shows on their GSD; from the description of the breeder and the breeder’s facility where they got their dog, I am tempted to say they were just incredibly lucky with their find.
I've met a lot of amazing dogs from unreputable breeders. Great temperaments and such, but one thing many of the purebreds particularly the shepherds share is eventual health issues. With the trend of rehoming problem dogs, no longer as commonly euthanizing aggressive dogs, and breeding anything that isn't altered I've noticed a marked surge in dogs with unstable temperaments now versus unhealthy dogs with stable temperaments so I think nowadays its getting even more important to find a good breeder. 10-15 years ago in my area dogs that bit especially children that wasn't a warranted bite were put down. Now a lot of those dogs are rehomed and some are bred.
 

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It seems like an overwhelming task but once you meet breeders and see their dogs, you will find a breeder with dogs you like. Then you do the best you can.
 

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While I am not looking or expecting a couch potato, I definitely wouldn’t mind a dog I can sit with, every so often, to watch a good movie.
I have no idea what you're talking about. 🤣 (My working line girl Cava)


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I wouldn't worry that you're wasting a breeder/dog person's time talking about their dogs. My dad is a professional trainer (retrievers). Believe me, people like that love nothing more than talking about their dogs. Example A: GermanShepherds.com LOL
 

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Kona will 'snuggle' with me in the evenings to watch a movie. I still have to watch out for a flying paw or tail when she rolls over, but you know. 🤷‍♀️:ROFLMAO:
 

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HI Steve,

It seems like you've gotten amazing advice. What a friend told me who's in the dog world is to write what you want in a dog down, then look at breeders that fit those specific requirements. Also look at the contract x guarantee - how long is it for, do they take their dogs back (who knows), how are they raised, socialized etc.

My big guy is WLxSL bred, he's from a reputable breeder in Ontario; was my first shepherd (previously had Dalmatians). He has a great temperment but his drive is high.. which I've been lucky and can handle it. The breeder gave me a bit more drive then what I was planning on but as she said you can handle it. He is strong, I almost killed my hand when I had him out on his long lead and a squirrel went whizzing by.. as off he went at full tilt..hence working through leave it and the drive to get it.

To echo what others say.. be ready to walk, run, wrestle.. a lot. They don't care if it's cold, snowing or rain.. hotter temps seem to slow them down a bit. Because of his drive and stamina my guy is a good 2-3 hrs per day of exercise... my friends balk at that one, but it's what keeps him sane.

I'd find a good trainer to work with and as the pup grows find out what it likes.. scent, agility, tracking, loving people etc and then give them a job. Kai is a certified therapy dog so he goes into visit patients in my local hospital and I do a bit of dog sport training with him as well.

They are cool dogs, that have amazing hearts. It seems like you are well on your way to finding the right fit.
 

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@vomlittlehaus I just ran into the idea of Puppy Culture as a behavioral method recently. I got a bit turned off because it seems directed toward a different breed, but I’m also curious what results you get with German Shepherds using this methods VS dogs haven’t been raised with it. I think they offer feeding as well as behavior advice. It’s also hard to find a breeder who uses it and it must be started when pups are newborns. The breeders I looked at were all breeding different breeds than ours,
Look up Austerliz German Shepherds. She has a FB page and posts tons of videos that show the progression of each litter, and the use of Puppy Culture. There is also a Puppy Culture FB page, and Positive Breeders reinforcement page. I do my best with my litters, working full time, mostly doing it by myself, no video capability. Doing what I can is better than nothing. And puppies that are litter trained are much easier to clean up after. :)
 
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