First time puppy, German Shepherd, advice???(49 Posts)
My husband and I have debated getting dog for years and now have finally decided to go ahead. We tho k we want a German Shepherd. Have been looking at litters due, on Champdogs. Have heard v bad things about Pets4Homes.
DH had owned dogs in the past, but I have never, even as a child. I need advice on what I need to buy, what to expect, how to behave with it, how to walk it andwhen. My kids are 8, 6 and 2.5. Are there
Oops! Are there any other websites other than Champdogs, or is that about the only one that's reliable? Thanks in advance.
Gsds are fantastic dogs, I grew up with one and she was brilliant. When you look at litters make sure the parents are hip and elbow scored, the lower score the better, and have good temperaments. Though if you're looking on champdogs I think they list fairly decent pups.
With big breeds like gsds you need to be careful with their joints while they're growing so long walks on pavements and charging up and down Stairs is a no go.
Have you got room for a crate? Crate training is very helpful and means the dog has its own space to go when it wants to. Make sure the kids know not to disturb pup when it's in there, that's pups space to get away from the kids and to rest. Plus useful if you have a chewer!
Do a bit of research on food, feeds like fish4dogs, Arden grange, Millie's wolfheart and Acana are all good foods that aren't full of cereals.
Find a good puppy trainer and classes, Will be important for a big strong breed to have good lead manners and training your pup is a great way to bond ( and get the older kids involved with it too)
There's loads of toys about including ones you can stuff with food, these keep pups occupied for ages and are quite good to leave with them when you go out. You can buy Kongs from pets at home I think but make sure it's the right size.
DONT feed any cooked bones, they splinter and cause massive problems internally.
DONT feed foods like Bakers, pedigree, supermarkets own brand etc. It's basicly the same as feeding your kids macdonalds every meal!
I would use the Kennel club website and look at the list of their accredited breeders (I.e. breeders where the Kennel club have visited and undertaken inspections).
Just don't do it, please!!!
German Shepherds are lovely lovely dogs, but they are highly intelligent WORKING dogs that need a knowledgable and calm home. They can have a tendancy towards being nervy if not socialised and trained properly.
I have never heard of Champdogs, but i dont think Pets4homes is great.
personally i would be doing more research before you make a decision but a GSD is not a dog for someone who has never owned a dog and has a young family. I have owned dogs all my life, worked with dogs and love GSDs, i wouldn't have one though - as lovely as they are, they need to much work than i have time to put in.
It is about what fits in with your family, rather than what breed you like (of course that comes into it)
You will need to vaccinate it - so theres £100 for its first course then £50 a year after that, then wormers and fleas - budget about £50 a year for that. Food for a GSD, they need good quality food - so budget about £5-£20 a week. A consultation with the vet £35 here (south east). Insurance (essential) about £30 a month, possibly more.
You need to be researching reputable breeders, if i were breeding GSD's as a responsible breeder i would be asking you a lot of questions before i let you have one of my pup's. If they don't ask you lots of questions, offer lots of advice, first vaccinations, insurance for first six weeks etc, they are not reputable. I would imagine a GSD would set you back about £800-1000.
They are prone to a lot of issues - hip problems mostly, so you woudl need to ensure the parents are hip scored.
Lots to consider
I like gsd's.
There is excellent breeder that advertises on pets4homes, at least based on what I have heard they sound excellent.
I think it's sheikanah, or something like that.
I will try and find them and post the name.
You can choose from working line, show line and pets.
Personally i like working lines best in all breeds as I think they tend to be more balanced dogs and much healthier but a working line gsd would have an extremely high prey drive (which can make for an outstanding dog if you know what your doing or an absolute bloody nightmare if you don't) as the working dogs are bred for security/protection/police type work so a show/pet bred one would probably suit you better.
You have a choice of long hair or short hair.
I think the long coats are nicer looking but then I prefer long fluffy coated animals anyway.
Don't think a short hair will shed any less, the breed is double coated and sheds year round.
Really, you need to be brushing them everyday else you'll be finding hairs everywhere.
The shorter hairs also like to stick in clothing and fabric where longer hairs don't tend to be so bad.
They also come in an assortment of gorgeous colours - Black and Tan, sable, black, white, liver, blue, blue and tan (especially stunning), cream.
Bear in mind if you wish to show, I could be wrong but I think only short coated Black and Tan and sable are eligible.
Some of the prettier colours might not be kc registered as they are classed as a fault.
As a breed, I don't like to stereotype as all dogs are individual, but generally you can expect a moderate to high prey drive (which is very useful for training), quite a robust, confident personality and an inclination to bark a single warning at people approaching and noises/good guard dog.
They are prone to a LOT of health problems so do your research and get a fully health tested dog, make sure you see proof that health tests have been done.
Off the top of my head they can suffer from epilepsy, cancer, hip dyspasia and hemophilia (boys).
A puppy must be walked only for 5 minutes per month of age, absolutely no bounding on and off furniture and up and down stairs (this is to protect the joints)
Socialise as soon as you get it with kids, people of all ages and colours, calm and friendly adult dogs and different places.
Regarding training, I use lots of treats and once the dogs knows a command eg sit, I only say it once then if the dog doesn't sit immediately I repeat 'sit' while enforcing the command by pushing the butt into a sit then reward.
Get it into the idea early that it obeys a command first time asking, save a lot of grief later on.
Also' no puppy pads. Straight outside for house training.
You want a breeder that can show proof of health testing, a guaranteed they will take the dog back at any age if need be, the mother must be present to see, temperament is partly genetic so mak sure you like the mums personality!
Kc registration is a difficult one, some excellent breeders register, but some truly dire breeders are kc registered so be be careful, it is not always a guarantee of quality.
Raw feeding is good too, makes them smell and shed and poo less.
Not a first time owner sort of dog, why are you after a gsd in particular? You'd be better off with more family orientated breed especially with young kids and limited time to train a dog; gsds are lovely dogs but pretty full on, you just need to look at various gsd rescues to see a lot of older puppies handed in as owner can't cope and the dog starts to give them problems
Speak to your local gsd rescue, they will have loads of good advice and will know who are the local breeders totosee and who to avoid. Steer clear of websites advertising litters, a good breeder breeds to demand and has puppies allocated from or before birth, any advertising full litters are, generally, doing it for a quick buck.
Champdogs is a fairly good place to start looking - they actually check that health tests are in place. As already mentioned there is also the KC assured breeders scheme. Neither place guarantees a good breeder, but it is a starting point. I'd also advise getting in touch with breed clubs.
GSDs are, not an easy breed...they're clever, high energy, high drive dogs, which means they can be tricky for a first time owner.
don't do a working line unless you are prepared to "work" it hours a day....that is not just walking it, that is providing it with mental stimulation.
It is not a breed I would consider as a first time dog owner - esp if you are the one that is going to be responsible for its training etc.ie it will be home with you all day.
Also a thing that I didn't realise that there is a big difference to growing up with dogs, to actually having one of your own and being responsible for all its training.
I agree with those saying - nicely - you maybe need to think again. I have a perfect, gentle, calm, couldn't-wish-for-better dog, but there is no way I could manage her and children of that age. She needs at least two decent walks a day, no matter the weather. She is with me pretty much all the time. In good weather, I'll walk her three hours a day minimum. Do your circumstances allow for that? You can't cut corners with a big dog and exercise.
Dogs really do tie you. They are absolutely worth it, but, until you have one, it's hard to imagine. I wasn't brought up with a dog and had no idea. I wouldn't be without one now (in fact, am looking at getting another), but the whole family has to be in on it, and your children seem very young. My youngest was five when we got ours, but he knows that if, for example, he has a cold and there's no one else here, then he has to come out for the walk with us, that's part of the responsibility.
She needed lots and lots of training, she kills things (we live in a rural area though, so that might not be an issue for you), and she gets filthy on walks at this time of year (even though she's short-haired).
You need to think it over so much - I've been considering another puppy for a year now - but, despite everything, I wouldn't be without her for the world.
GSDs are the best breed ever, but are you sure?
Even basic research on the breed should have told you that you need to find a breeder who health tests both parents and has the paperwork to prove it. Anyone who just reassures you their dogs are healthy is talking rubbish. This breeder has excellent information on major health problems and testing
Frankly you'd have to be bonkers to go for working lines. This is what working GSD lines are bred for
I doubt you'd have the time or inclination to keep a dog bred for this kind of work in this kind of work.
You want a breeder who breeds for temperament as a family pet, very few litters a year (1 or 2), keeps the pups at home and can show you a mum with a very nice temperament.
Decent GSD breeders have waiting lists, easily a year long, but there is a reason why someone may have pups easily and quickly available - you pay for it for the next 15 years.
Also with small children have you considered the practicalities of a large breed? The pup will need to be carried up and down stairs for quite a few months, it will knock the younger DCs over, the puppy will take time to lead walk train and it may not be easy to walk it with the children/buggy until it does.
I'm a huge fan of GSDs...have two who are failed guide dogs,
Socialisation is a HUGE essential, out meeting and greeting folks right from teeny tiny, we get the pups at 7-8 weeks, and start with that right away.
..that's going to be a chore with a toddler.
They are usually bright and trustworthy, but can vary from being supremely confident to really needy.
One of ours likes to know where everyone is and will sulk if any of the children goes missing
without his permission, they are all teens, and two of them are uni students,, I spend a good deal of my time telling him "she'll be back on WEDNESDAY!...no she is not up the stairs"
The other is my baby, he was down in the dumps yesterday because I had been at work and had the gall to leave him with dh/dd from 10-4. He wanted to sit on my lap to make up for it.<sigh>
ALSO, your parenting will be judged six ways to sunday....GSDs mostly see themselves as excellent parenting models and it's fairly disconcerting to find yourself justifying yourself to a dog. Our very first dog was a GSDx and she did not care for my leaving ds1 in the pram in the garden, she would sit out there under the pram and refuse to come in.
Thank you everyone. Great advice. Just having a proper look through now.
Quick question, is a dog crate a good idea, no matter what breed of puppy we decide on? I thought some dogs would really hate it.
Yes, crates area great idea, especially as you have young children.
You don't need to close the door but the kids need to know that it is absolutely, without question the dog's space and they don't bother it at all when in there.
Crates used properly are fantastic - they're basically a nice den for the dog and a safe place to keep a puppy when you can't supervise it all rolled into one.
Occasionally some adult dogs are too distressed by them, but usually and with puppies it's that people don't train them slowly enough, they just shut them in and expect them to get used to it, which of course is upsetting if they haven't been sufficiently shown that it's a nice comfy safe space.
Can recommend a lovely breeder in Notts/Lincs if that helps. She breeds them for family pets and they are generally straight backed and fluffier coated. We got our pup when the children were five and six months old.
Can second a lot of the advice here. Will also add that it is essential to teach them to have a soft mouth. Dh did a lot of 'biting and fighting' play when she was a pup and she will now be ever so gentle when accepting titbits of food, extracting things from her mouth or checking her teeth. Really important never to be timid with that!
They are such intelligent dogs and very easy to train. I would love to have the time to devote to doing more with her but we are lucky that dh can walk her to work and back and she'll spend the day with another gsd and acres of fields for lunchtime off lead bounding around.
A good book to read is by Kathleen Powell called The German Shepherd Dog 'A Passion For Life' (IBM 978-0-9569441-0-8)
Will add that the insurance is really expensive too. We have a lifetime policy with Pet plan and it costs around £35 a month!
I don't think I could have a dog without a crate.
Absolute lifesaver, I never leave my dog alone in the house (although I am 99.9% sure she would never trash my house) she goes in her crate whenever I go out, she sleeps in her crate and if she ever feels stressed out by anything she usually will take herself to her crate voluntarily.
Yes, crate training is soooo worth the effort! My 3 1/2 year old still lives hers, if I get crates out for new foster puppy she gets all sulky if she doesn't have hers out too!
I have 2 GSD, both from the same breeder (different mums, same dad). They are like chalk and cheese, one has issues about everything and the other is the perfect family dog. I walk mine with my 1 and 2 year old DC's, I think every person I pass alway comments that I have my hands full.
We thought about a GSD and then SIL got one - and I tried walking her. She hadn't been trained to walk on the lead and was so strong just about pulled me off my feet. It made us reconsider what we wanted!
Yeah, train it walk on a lead properly straight away as a baby.
I made a big mistake with this one and left it too late.
Over a year it has taken me to train my dog not to pull on lead and she still isn't 100% reliable!
Perfect in every other way but you let them get away pulling just once or twice and boy is it a hard behaviour to fix.
If you don't teach any dog to walk on the lead you'd struggle - one of my neighbours gets dragged by a westie, lol.
But yeah a big dog does make it an issue sooner because they get big fairly quickly.
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