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I have tested one litter for myself, but most of my dogs were chosen by their breeders. Well, up until I started breeding. Now I chose my own.

I look for good working structure. I happen to like a pretty dog (pretty in my opinion, not in the show ring), an older style, Lierberg looking type dog. They must be balanced in structure and movement with a dark face and dark eyes. Extremes don't hold up to work. First and foremost, though, is I am looking for working potential.

What I want in a working prospect is not necessarily what someone else will want. I look for a very pushy, confident forward puppy. They must be environmentally sound (no sensitivity to strange locations, noises, flooring, heights, etc) and explore new places with tremendous confidence. I like pups that will chase and pick up strange objects. Don't care if they bring them back. I want a full hard and calm grip and the hint of fight and aggression that can be seen in really good puppies. I also want very strong hunt drive. I also like pups with what I call "tude". I want them to think they own the world. I don't want the energizer bunny types. These pups are the ones that never seem to be able to settle. No off switch. I have seen these pups end up having nerve issues. I don't want a Mal in GSD clothing. :)
 

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Probably the best thing you can do is go watch dogs train, watch trials and join a club. This way you can get a feel for the dogs. Then I would start talking to breeders.

As a breeder I will not allow people to test my litters, but they are welcome to watch. I use my own puppy test and none of the standardized tests that I found pretty useless for working prospects.
 

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This is a really old thread but I can't resist throwing in my 2 cents worth. Our puppies chose us. 1) We knew what we did not want (high drive and a SchH candidate). 2) a willingness to please us and not just thier natural instincts and whims 3) a beta so mom and dad were always the absolute authority. 4) a bonding ( when we were allowed to interact with the puppies ) and the one that was drawn to everything I did and loved the praise - that was the pup. The majority of new GSD owners are over their heads when they get the "little toughie", the high drive and alpha pup. The newbies don't have a clue how to deal with those characteristics and although a GSD is one of the very best and most versatile, a bad owner or trainer can easily create a very unforgiving and unpredictable behaviour. Don't think you are getting a protection dog or schutzhund prospect unless you are totally and complete aware of what you are getting into in terms of time, effort and liability. GSDs are pack dogs and want to be with you - a lot. They are best inside with you but given tons of exercise (with you) and do not like to be left in an environment that is away from you. As for breeders - that is a toss up. Good breeders will do their best but most just want you to take the pup and give them the money. So there are two choices: know in advance everything you want and how to go about getting there or buy from a very reputable breeder and know what their track record is on providing great GSDs.
 
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