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experiences with german shepherds please

(156 Posts)
ThatVikRinA22 Tue 27-Aug-13 00:28:19

thinking of getting a german shepherd pup. This would be my first "big" dog , i work in the police and have already enlisted potential help in training from a bobby who is a dog handler and does dog training as a second job.

i have thought about getting one for a while - met quite a few through work, and love them. DD met one while staying with a relative last week and is smitten with them.
i would get a dog rather than a bitch and a long haired GSD. House is not huge but garden is of a good size and the park is just 2 mins walk away.

i do have an aging cavalier king charles. totally going for a change here....(and to soften the blow when my beloved girl goes....she is knocking on)
so. GSD owners.....what do i need to know before i get one.
i have the name and number of a reputable breeder and am prepared to go on a waiting list. not in a huge rush.

ThatVikRinA22 Thu 29-Aug-13 19:25:06

noted chrissie and thank for taking hte time to post - back at work next week.
will email dog unit - its a start.

i wanted a blenheim bitch cavalier king charles - i ended up with a tri colour dog in the i rarely get what i set out to get anyway!

i did end up with a blenhiem bitch but she was a rescue. Someone knocked on my door and asked me to take i did!

ill let you know how it goes. thank you!

ThatVikRinA22 Sun 01-Sep-13 21:40:01

well i emailed our dog section today - i will let you know what they come back with.
i would love to take an ex police dog - but i just dont know how many "ex" or "failed" dogs there are these days with the cuts- our dog section has been halved from 40 handlers to 20.

chrissiegsd Sun 01-Sep-13 22:51:39

I think they've stopped rehoming the ex operational dogs - health & safety - well, that's what I was told. Should imagine that the retired dogs (the ones that don't/can't stay with their handlers) would fall under that umbrella as they'll obviously have done the protection side also. You could always ask, they might make an exception with you working there?
Even with all of the cuts there's bound to be some "fails" before they get to the protection bit - I think that's your best option really.
I think it worked in our favour when we got our ex operational dog that we live in the middle of nowhere with a good chunk of land that he could be exercised on freely.
Hope you hear something soon!

Booboostoo Mon 02-Sep-13 18:06:32

Just to add:
- researchers in the US have identified the degenerative myelopathy gene so some breeders are taking this into account, however it appears to be in so many lines sometimes it's difficult to avoid, and there is some controvercy over the research with other vets claiming the gene has been mis-identified.

- you want to stack the odds in your favour and go with a breeder who breeds for family temperament, not working dogs. Equally taking on a retired protection dog is insanity.

- you cannot set a limit to the training the dog needs and certainly not such an unrealistically short one. Most dogs benefit from a couple of years of group training to achieve the basics, as well as reinforcing all the lessons at home and in other environments. You want to start this training asap, e.g. guide dogs start at 6 weeks which is difficult for pet dogs, but as soon as the vaccinations are done you should join a puppy socialisation class and a beginners' training class. All of my dogs have been able to start with sits, downs, targeting and recall from 7 weeks when I get them from their litter.

ThatVikRinA22 Mon 02-Sep-13 21:03:59

discovered that no dogs available, people do offer their unwanted dogs for police training and i could look at these but for me thats not ideal. The only one going at the moment is a bag of nerves and not suitable for police training so it would be mad for me to take that one on as im just not confident enough. Its sad as the owner just wanted rid of the dog - but as a first large dog i dont feel able to take one on with problems.

ex operations dogs generally stay with their handlers, and the pups that dont quite make the grade for police often go on to private security companies whos needs are less than an operational police dog.

the only other way to do this was as i suspected - puppy walk for 15 months then if your dog doesnt make the grade its yours to keep - too much of a gamble for me - i would get too attached.

so i will go back to the breeder i had in mind and enlist the help of the dog handler who also does training.

my cav is very well trained (by me) but is a cav and the most she could manage is to lick someone to death.

dog handler is able to come with me to choose a pup so when the time comes this is what i will do.

thanks for the advice everyone.

ThatVikRinA22 Tue 10-Sep-13 18:06:48

ok - more advice needed guys.

ive gone onto the kennel club website for a list of breeders in Yorkshire and the Humber.

one breeder has a dog ready now - but from the photos he has a sloping back - he is huge at just 8 weeks, not long haired but "heavy" coated and very fluffy.....adorable looking, she only has him left as there were only 2 dogs in the litter.

another breeder has a litter due later this month, means i could get a pup in November. She is married to an ex police dog man, and has invited me over to meet her dogs. She has had some longer haired dogs from this mating before but doesnt breed for coat.

im thinking that waiting for the pup due later this month might be sensible in order to really prepare and get some time off work....

all are hip/elbow tested. The lady with the litter due later this month actually knows my vet, lives about an hour away, knows the pitfalls of looking for a pup....but i didnt asked if they were straight backed or show breeds. She also said they dont breed often, and this is this bitches last litter, though she has other bitches that she will breed from in the future.

this is a minefield.

Booboostoo Wed 11-Sep-13 07:29:25

Sorry to repeat myself but you really need to research the lines and choose a breeder who breeds for temperament. Good breeders have long waiting lists.

They should also check for haemophilia and ideally for degenerative myelopathy.

ThatVikRinA22 Wed 11-Sep-13 21:14:26

the lady with the litter due later this month has all those tests plus a couple more - she sounded very very good and really knew her stuff - and the pitfalls.

i like that she asked me over to meet her and her dogs. She also tattoos her dogs before they leave. She certainly sounded like she breeds for temperament and not for looks/coat etc.

The other lady whose dog is ready now was sired by a german import, but she didnt ask as many questions of me as the lady with the litter due later this month.

Booboostoo Thu 12-Sep-13 07:35:47

What lines is she breeding from? There are quite a few knowledgeable GSD people on HHO and I can ask on there for you.

What are the hip scores?

I would be very interested to know what she said about degenerative myelopathy as I know breeders are struggling with that one (I lost a dog to DM last March and we are tentatively thinking about another GSD but I am not sure what to do about DM).

Asking you to come over to meet the dogs is a good sign, and if a breeder wants you to just turn up and pick a puppy you should avoid them. Responsible breeders will want to meet you, see how you react to the dogs, etc., at the same time you want to meet at least the mother and see what the home environment is like.

ThatVikRinA22 Sat 14-Sep-13 04:22:47

ive no idea what lines - how do i find that out? i will post hip scores etc when i get them.

think im going to go with the lady im going to meet next week - just hoping that when the litter is born there is a woof with my name on it.....

this lady has lots of accolades on the KC website and really sounded like she was very experienced, and picky, about where her dogs go. i took that as a good sign.

Booboostoo Sat 14-Sep-13 07:56:37

Ask the breeder for the dogs' registered names. The breeder should also tell you a number for both hips for both parents. The score will be something like 4:8 for each dog (0:0 being the lowest and best, a total of 19 being the average for the breed but IMO you should only breed from dogs with a total of 10 or under). If you visit the breeder should show you paperwork on all this (hips scores, haemophilia negative for the dad, genetic test for DM).

If you get a moment please ask her about degenerative myelopathy I would be really interested to know what lines she has used to avoid it.

ThatVikRinA22 Sun 15-Sep-13 06:20:17

thanks for that - i will ask.

im gutted really that i feel i cant take the dog thats ready now - think his hip scores were good - 7/7 i think.

feeling guilty now as breeder emailed me saying im missing out on a lovely pup.

chrissiegsd Mon 16-Sep-13 14:03:34

If you have the kennel name you can type it in here:

and a list of all the dogs registered to that kennel should appear, click again & you should be able to see the individual dogs' pedigree, which will give you an idea as to its lines.

If you haven't the name of the kennel, then the breeder's name + location on google should find it for you.

Please don't be rushed/made to feel guilty - as far as I can see you're doing everything exactly right.

Personally, I never go to see the puppies unless I have researched thoroughly (including a general search of breeder - both name & kennel), as I wouldn't want my heart to rule my head, if you see what I mean.

If the puppy you are referring to is from the Northallerton area - a quick look indicates that she also breeds 2 giant breeds as well, which you should investigate a bit further into. Google is your friend here.

Good luck!

MrRected Mon 16-Sep-13 14:09:02

my only recent experience is what I have experienced with my NDN's GSDs. They need more attention than they are given and they definitely need more exercise. They bark incessantly and dug under our fence and brutally attacked my whippet.

My blood runs cold to think what might happen if they got out and encountered my children.

We had one as a child and it killed a toy breed on our street for no reason at all. I have no trust in this breed around children.

SaskiaRembrandtVampireHunter Mon 16-Sep-13 14:12:03

No advice about choosing one - I had one but he was a rescue - we also had one when I was a child, but obviously had no part in choosing him. However, I can say that they are lovely dogs. Very intelligent and loyal. Very vocal - I used to have long chats with mine, which probably made me look a bit bonkers grin. They can be a bit highly strung though - mine used to hide in the airing cupboard during thunder storms, bless him. On the whole though, he was a great dog, and brilliant with children, other dogs, small, furry creatures etc.

ThatVikRinA22 Mon 16-Sep-13 14:51:33

can anyone just give me an opinion on the following please - the pup ive missed out on is from the northallerton area and looked beautiful.


this breeder has pups due and is the lady who has asked to meet me and invited me to go and meet her dogs - a good sign i think.....

chrissiegsd Mon 16-Sep-13 15:00:27

Yes, I looked at this breeder when I was searching, from what I remember he has both show & working lines. I (personally) would be more happy going to this kennel than the other in northallerton, but you definitely still need to research the lines thoroughly.
For example - a quick look on the link I gave you above shows two gsds registered for the northallerton breeder affix, both with sires from a certain show kennel, then a quick search on the ped.database gsd forum brings up a large thread about this exact same show kennel & epilepsy.
It truly is a minefield & absolutely heart breaking if you get it wrong.

ThatVikRinA22 Mon 16-Sep-13 15:06:46

thanks so much chrissie - im a bit useless with google....can you help me do a bit of research on the breeders im meeting? i can sit and google all day and get nowhere, the lines this breeder uses are on the website i think....i will also continue to google
thanks again - if felt really guilty about not taking the available pup....

idirdog Mon 16-Sep-13 15:23:40

Do not feel guilty about taking a puppy that is being pushed at you by a breeder - there will always be a reason as to why it has not already been sold. The breeder is just after the money.

I don't mean to be negative but just look at those dogs from the breeder you have linked to. Do they look like healthy working dogs? They have been breed to an inch of their life to have that dreadful sloped back that is just fashionable and does nothing for the interest of the dog.

Please be very careful you could end up with a large dog with major health problems, that is not only heartbreaking but require very special care and a lot of money.

chrissiegsd Mon 16-Sep-13 15:43:36

Vicar - exactly what idirdog said about that lady pushing the puppy! I looked at that person's website (northallerton) & couldn't see one photo where the dog looked to be inside a house.

As to the other breeder - I looked at them when I was looking for my female (she'll be 8years old next week), but I didn't visit them. They do(I think) both show lines & working lines - which type are you looking for? If you let me know I'll try & have a google for you later on.

I feel I must be honest with you & also agree with idirdog about the sloping backs of the show lines - but it's entirely your choice, & having given my opinion, am quite happy to do some digging around online for you.

ThatVikRinA22 Mon 16-Sep-13 17:51:10

i would prefer a straight backed dog if im honest - i just dont know where to go.

i went on the kennel club website and clicked "yorkshire and humber" region but i would be more than happy to travel for the right pup.

ThatVikRinA22 Mon 16-Sep-13 18:35:24

every single breeder that i click on sounds promising but then when it comes to the gallery or photos they all have sloping backs - does anyone breed straight backed dogs?

chrissiegsd Mon 16-Sep-13 19:34:19

O.k., well I've had a look around & can't find very much at all regarding that last kennel - just one post from someone who had one of their dogs - no problems with his, but he didn't want to recommend them as he knew someone that had one of their dogs that did have problems. He didn't say, but should imagine they were behaviour issues as he said that these "problems" could be down to its owner. I've only checked on the kennel/owners names as I didn't know which bitch & dog the due puppies will be out of - if you have this information perhaps you could let me know if you'd like me to check, well as best as I can.

Re the sloping backs - it's the show lines that mainly have these, the working & pet lines tend to have the straight backs.

If I were you, I would go along & have a look at her dogs (but don't take your purse!! - believe me, this is a top tip!), at least then you'll be able to compare them to your friend's working one.

Another tip is that every single breeders' website is geared up towards making you believe that their dogs are the best - take it all with a pinch of salt, it's all simply marketing.

I think you should go & have a look at adults from the different lines & then make your mind up which type you prefer. Be prepared though, as they'll all try to tell you their lines are the "proper" ones. Just have a good look & try to see the adults in situ & how they interact/pay attention with their owners. And again (I learnt the hard way) the easiest way is not to take any money/cards with you at all, then you can come away & have a proper think without being persuaded.

ThatVikRinA22 Mon 16-Sep-13 20:02:43

thanks - i have just spent all night googling and definitely prefer the old fashioned straight backed dogs.

so i googled straight backed german shepherds.....found a few breeders and am willing to travel and wait for the right dog.

ive left messages on voicemails and emailed a couple so ill wait to see if they get back to me.

really not keen on the look of the show lines - they just dont look right somehow - they look permanently as if they are about to sit....

this has really helped me make up my mind about what it is im after so thanks....

chrissiegsd Mon 16-Sep-13 22:18:57

Just be really careful as some of the pet lines have epilepsy as well as really poor hips in their lines. As soon as you get a kennel name or better still a dam/sire name - google is your friend.

Good luck.

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