I thought I’d add some answers to common questions I’m asked; this is where you’ll find all the FAQ’s. If you have a question you don’t see here please don’t hesitate to text, email or call!
Q: What do your dogs cost?
A: Puppies are priced between $1800-$2500 depending on the litter. There’s no change in cost for males vs females or different colors. Occasionally I will have reduced price puppies who may have a slight breeding fault that won’t affect their health and quality of life. Older dog’s price depends on age, training, pedigree, etc. They typically start around $3000 and go up from there.
Q: Do you ship?
A: Yes! I ship nationwide, and even to most rabies-free foreign countries. The cost for shipping is $400-$700 depending on the size/weight of the puppy or dog. It can be done by air or I have several reputable ground transportation companies I work with.
Q: What forms of payment do you accept?
A: Basically all of them! PayPal, Venmo, Zelle, Apple Pay, Facebook Pay, Credit card, check, cash, etc. Most electronic forms of payment are as simple as using my email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: Is a German Shepherd right for me?
A: German Shepherds are truly amazing animals. However, they’re not for everyone. They’re incredibly intelligent, loving, active dogs who need mental stimulation, exercise and interaction with their human(s). They can often be “one person” dogs who pick their person and ignore all other people. If that’s going to be a major problem for other family members if it happens, the breed may not be for you. If you can’t devote a few minutes EVERYday to working with your dog and an hour or so of exercise a day, a German Shepherd probably isn’t for you. German Shepherds shed. A lot. They also “blow their coat” or molt (lose their entire coat) twice a year. If you’re opposed to dog hair or lots of vacuuming, a GSD isn’t for you. You must also be smarter than the animal you’re trying to train and have a lot patience, so if that’s not the case then a GSD isn’t for you.
Q: Do you sell to pet homes, or only to working homes?
A: I absolutely sell to pet homes with new owners who are dedicated to providing a stimulating home for their pup. Sure, they can be rambunctious but working-line German Shepherds can make great pets given the right management, training and interaction. Most dogs, especially those bred for a purpose do not do well just thrown in a back yard and ignored; they will typically start looking for a job to do and that job isn’t often one that us humans appreciate…tearing things up, starting their own excavation crew or making excessive noise. All these things can be remedied managing your dog’s life. This includes preventing them from making mistakes as well as exercising, interacting with your dog and giving them mental stimulation on a daily basis – do a little training, even if its 10 minutes a day! They don’t have to be in a hard core training program, but they do need to be doing SOMETHING. It’s our jobs as humans with our big brains and thumbs to manage our dog’s environment – if he chews up our shoes we should blame ourselves for allowing the two to come into contact. It also helps to foster a much better relationship with your dog and makes everyone’s life easier to take simple precautionary measures like just crate training your dog and preventing them from making mistake, rather than constantly being mad at your dog for chewing things up or have an accident in the house (ie. acting LIKE A DOG).
Q: Isn’t a dog’s temperament just “all how you raise them”?
A: Short answer: NO. Medium length answer: this may be an unpopular opinion for some, but I’m going to say it. Genetics matter A LOT when it comes to a dog’s temperament. A dog’s genetics give it the make up for what it’s temperament can be. You can raise a Border Collie with herding genetics it’s entire life without seeing a sheep, take it out to a pasture when its 5 years old, show it a sheep and it will instantly have an innate desire to herd. Sure, there are many environmental factors that can come into play: traumatic/good experiences, environment it is raised and interactions with humans, developing or squashing the natural instincts it has. What it cannot change is the dog’s genetic make up. That is why you see 7 week old bird dogs stalking and pointing, 6 week old Malinois biting your pants leg, and 8 week old game-bred pit bulls fighting very seriously with their siblings. GENETICS. I’ve seen many cases where a dog has sat in a back yard, never really interacting with any part of the world, maybe he is neglected and starved, when he is saved and goes out into the world he acts totally normal and is happy to meet every human ever. No one can say that that dog was socialized properly and that’s why he’s so good-tempered, thats just who he is genetically. And on the other hand I’ve heard so many stories of dogs where the owner has put so hard and put so much time into trying to expose and socialize it, taken it to trainers of every type and it is still terrified of everything (or extremely aggressive) and unfortunately, that too is just who that dog is genetically. Genetics vary within litters and within breeds but that’s WHY we have breeds, to have an idea of what the dog will look and act like before we get it, to have dogs which fit a specific purpose. We as Americans have done a poor job with this – we breed dogs for a look and not for a personality type or working attribute and have ruined what the breed was intended to be and our ability to predict what a dog will act like. But thats a tangent for another day. All this is to say good breeders work very hard to breed dogs with temperaments that they would WANT to reproduce, they breed dog’s with the future generation – not just heir pocketbook – in mind, to produce dogs that do what they were bred intentionally to do and to have their attributes that they are supposed to.
Q: What is Schutzhund?
A: Schutzhund is an intensive 3-phased German sport originally developed as the breed test for the German Shepherd, but is now competed with all breeds – in nearly every country! Schutzhund – meaning “protection” when translated from German – involves precision in the areas of tracking, obedience, and protection from dog/handler teams. These 3 phases are done at a “trial,” judged by a certified professional who awards points for the performance. 100 points are possible and you must obtain 70 or higher to pass a phase and you must pass all three phases at the trial to obtain the title. Schutzhund is considered the triathlon for dogs. It requires dedication of the handler, soundness in temperament of the dog and an understanding, working relationship between the two. It is a sport comprised of serious competitors as well as people who just enjoy doing something fun with their dog.
Q: What is a “title” and what do all those letters mean?
A: In a nutshell, a title basically means you have passed a test. There are titles in lots of different activities that all have they’re own abbreviations. In Schutzhund, the sport we do here, the test contains three parts: Tracking, Obedience and Protection. They are scored by a judge and you must obtain 70% of the points (70/100) to pass and you must pass ALL three phases to be awarded the title. Schutzhund has three levels you can get: 1, 2, and 3. They get more difficult as you go. Any abbreviation located AFTER the dogs name indicate a working title, any abbreviation BEFORE the dog’s name indicates a conformation title. Schutzhund has changed its name 3 times in the last few decades so any title you see that says SCHH, IPO or IGP all mean the same thing. Any time you see a V mentioned, it indicates an “excellent,” where as SG means “very good,” and G means “good.” So if you see a V, SG, or G before a dog’s name that means that is what they were rated in conformation when they went to do their breed survey. A breed survey tests the dog is conformation (the appearance, height, structure, weight, etc of the dog) and a short working portion in protection to test the dog’s courage, grip and ability to protect the handler. Some other letters you might see on this page:
BH – the prerequisite for any other Schutzhund title. This must be done before any other titles; it tests the obedience and temperament of the dog.
SVV – Slovakian equivalent to SCHH/IPO/IGP (Schutzhund)
ZVV – Czech equivalent to SCHH/IPO/IGP (Schutzhund)
FH – a very difficult tracking only title
FH2 – the most difficult tracking titkle
APR – Schutzhund without the tracking (obedience and protection)
OB – Schutzhund obedience (no tracking or protection)
PR – Schutzhund protection (no tracking or obedience)
Q: Why does it matter if a breeding dog is titled?
A: I love Schutzhund, I think it’s a great blend of power and finesse, but I am not all rah-rah Schutzhund when it comes to breeding dogs. Show me some kind of actual test that will expose the weaknesses in a dog that correlate to your breeding goals before you breed it and I’m all for it; I love other sports and jobs that provide some sort of litmus test for the dog to prove its breed-worthiness. Breeding dogs without being tested is like buying a home that was built by someone who didn’t build to code – it may be fine, or it may collapse on top of you. I like Schutzhund because when trained and trialed correctly I believe it gives a very solid temperament test of a dog… courage, hardness, pack drive, trainability, prey drive, aggression/defense, fight, problem solving ability, focus, athletic ability, etc. There are many clubs that train their dogs using purely prey-play; this has give Schutzhund a bad name amongst some. We do not train our dogs in this manner and I focus heavily on having a dog that will protect for real and we test our dogs outside the sport as well. In the summer we do “Environmental Saturdays” this tests the dog in more realistic environments…slick floors, car-jacking, building searches, environmental stressors (sound, visual, textures, etc), as well as multiple attackers, muzzle work, work in water, etc. All this to say, I try to expose my dogs weaknesses and understand their strengths before breeding them so I have all the information that allows me to choose the best mate for that dog. The title also does not MAKE the dog, there are dogs that are titled to the highest point possible that I wouldn’t touch with a 10 foot pole when it comes to breeding, and there are untitled dogs I would definitely breed, or breed to. Why does this matter if you just want a pet? Personally, I think a pet is where a dog must have the most stable temperaments, they have to put up with a lot of situations that many working dogs don’t, that don’t even think twice about as human. Depending on the habits, lifestyle, and experience of the owners, often pet dogs have to go to new environments, deal with children pulling their ears and trying to ride them, strangers leaning over them in an intimidating manner and petting them or coming into their “den,” being taken on to strange surfaces, hear loud noises, etc and they’re expected to deal with all this – a lot of times – with little to no training or proper knowledge on how to make it a successful experience for them. Dogs bear all the emotion of the house living with odd, naked humans without understanding even speaking the same language. Owners obviously love their dogs and don’t do this purposely to stress out the dog, humans are just wired differently that a dog and often don’t realize they may not feel the same way about things as we do. All this is to say, pet dogs should be solid. It sucks when pet dogs are terrified of everything, are aggressive to the people we invite into our home or are just neurotic messes; we all know those people with that dog that runs their life because it has problems. Pets need to come from good stock that have been tested, to reduce the chances of this happening.
Q: What do puppies come with?
A: Normal priced puppies come with full AKC registration, and a full guarantee, as well as all the records of their shots, de-worming, and tattoo/microchip information. Reduced price puppies come with Limited AKC registration and a slightly more limited guarantee. If your puppy is shipped he or she will also come with a crate that’s yours to keep, food/water dish, and a health certificate from a veterinarian.
Q: Do the puppies have shots and de-worming when they leave?
A: My vaccination protocol is such that puppies will have Parvo-only vaccinations at 4 and 6 weeks of age. Then they will receive a 5-way puppy vaccine at 8 and 10 weeks of age. They will be de-wormed at least three times and will also be treated preventatively for coccidia and giardia prior to going to new homes.
Q: Your recommendation for vaccination/de-worming after puppy is in their new home?
A: I typically suggest puppies have a minimum of 4 puppy shots (5 way or 9 way) total. The shots that are later in the series are most important because that is the time in which puppies are losing the antibodies they get from their mother’s milk to help protect them against disease. I also recommend de-worming puppies about once per month until they are about a year old because puppies are gross, they’re constantly putting things in their moth that they shouldn’t, playing in the mud, running through their poop and sticking their feet in their drinking water. This makes them much more susceptible to internal parasites than older dogs and having parasite – even without symptoms – can cause poor nutrient absorption and that can lead to a pup that doesn’t grow at a normal rate. I like to use Safe-Guard Liquid Goat De-wormer which can be found at most feed stores. It is the same active ingredient as dog de-wormer and it’s cheap and easy to dose because it is liquid. The dosage is 1cc/ml per 4lbs of dog’s weight, once a day for 3 days if you’re using it as a de-wormer. It is also effective against giardia at the same dosage but given for 8 days total.
Q: Are they microchipped/tattoo’d?
A: Puppies are microchipped and tattoo’d for permanent identification before they leave. You must REGISTER YOUR MICROCHIP when you get home, god forbid something happen to your pup…it’s stolen or gets lost – a microchip does NO GOOD without it being registered. Go to AKCreunite.org to register your chip.
Q: What does your guarantee cover?
A: The full guarantee info is in the puppy contract we sign prior to getting your new puppy home, but in a nutshell it covers: hips, elbows, ears stand, genetic conditions, non-affected by DM, both testicles drop on males, suitability and home for life. This means if the puppy is not suitable for the purpose it was sold for I will replace it. It also means that if -god forbid- something happens that makes you unable to care for your pup/dog at any point in the future it can come back to me. The pup/dog is to NEVER be given, sold, re-homed, traded, etc to a shelter, veterinarian, rescue, private individual, etc without contacting me first. There is a slightly more limited guarantee for reduced price pups sold on limited registration. Things I do not cover: breeding soundness of either sex, cancer, injuries of any kind, Parvo, coccidia, giardia, etc.
Q: Do you allow payments?
A: You can make payments on a puppy prior to it being ready to go to their new home. A deposit can be made at any time to reserve a spot for a puppy and the pup must be paid for in full prior to it leaving our facility. Feel free to ask, I am flexible and reasonable – it never hurts to ask!
Q: Deposits for a puppy, what does that mean?
A: A deposit can be made at any time to reserve a spot for a puppy. A deposit is non-refundable unless I can’t or won’t provide you a puppy. This deposit reserves you a spot for a puppy of the sex of your choice that is usable at any time. Typical deposit amount is $500 and comes out of the total price of the puppy. If there isn’t a suitable puppy in the soonest litter, the deposit is moved to the next litter.
Q: How does the order of deposits go? Do you do “pick of the litter”?
A: I don’t do “first pick, second pick” etc. The placement of puppies doesn’t correlate to any chronological placement of deposits. The deposit guarantees a spot for a pup of the sex of your choice and then from there we choose a puppy based on personality and drive. I don’t sell by color alone. At around 7 weeks of age the pups start temperament testing and we choose a pup together that best suits the lifestyle/desires/intended use of the new home. Why do I do this? For example, I do not want to sell the highest drive, hardest dog to a pet home or on the other side of the coin, I wouldn’t place the lowest drive puppy in a police/high competition home. My goal is to have the best fit for the dog and home for the best chance for a happy home. If you have you mind set on a certain color, that’s ok, but we wait until we get one of that color that also has the right temperament for your home.
Q: What’s involved in temperament testing?
A: Puppies are tested in many different personality traits, tests are done over the course of several days in a variety of environments. I test them on various surfaces, sound sensitivity, prey drive and grip, as well as pain response, response to strangers, other strange environmental factors and rate of recovery from fear if any. This is just to name a few.
Q: What age do you wean your puppies?
A: I start puppies on puppy mush at around 3 weeks of age, but they’re not weaned totally from their mother’s milk until about 6 weeks of age. I start by taking the mother away for an hour, then gradually increase the amount of time she’s away from them until she completely separate from them at approximately 6 weeks. The age depends on each litter and how they are growing and developing. They stay with their siblings for social interaction and short periods at a time with their mother until 8-10 weeks of age.
Q: What do you feed your puppies?
A: I have experimented extensively with what works best for feeding puppies. I have tried many formulas and types of raw feeding and many different dog foods – both grain free and grain-inclusive. At this point, the best results I have had is what I am currently feeding: Royal Canin German Shepherd Puppy. You can find it on Chewy by clicking here. I go on my dog food research tangent in a question lower on this page: “What dog food do your recommend?” I always recommend when you get a new puppy or dog that you buy a bag of what they’ve been eating and feed at least one bag to help them transition smoothly to their new home. After that, if you want to change foods you can use the last of the bag and mix it with the new food slowly to switch them over.
Q: What age do puppies go to new homes?
A: Puppies are typically ready to go to new homes between 8 and 10 weeks of age. If the puppy is to be shipped I wait until they’ve had their 2nd 5-way shot at 10 weeks of age before I ship them.
Q: Should I pick a male or female?
A: Statements made on gender are generalizations of course, but typically I find that females are a bit easier to handle for owners who are newer to working dogs. I feel that females are also generally more protective of their family and males more so of the territory. Males can often be strong – both physically and in willfulness – and can be a little more of a challenge for owners.
Q: Do you accept returns?
A: During the first 7 days after purchasing a puppy I will accept a return based on buyer’s remorse; I charge 15% of the purchase price for returning a dog due to buyer’s remorse. For any other issue for the dog based on health or suitability I only offer a replacement.
Q: How does the replacement process work?
A: A replacement puppy will be given in cases where there is a genetic issue like non-passing hips or elbows or in the case where the dog is not suitable for the use for which it was purchased. Replacements for health issues such as failing hips or elbows are given as a puppy of similar or higher value than the dog when it was purchased. The dog may be returned to the breeder or the owner may keep the dog with proof of spay/neuter and return the original papers. If the dog is to be re-homed based on the health issue it must come back to me.
Q: When I pick my puppy up what should I bring with me to be prepared for the ride home?
A: Please bring a crate, some towels and cleaning supplies with you like paper towels, wipes and non-toxic cleaning spray. Most pups will get car sick on their first ride and it may come out either end (or probably both) on the way home.
Q: How often are your females bred?
A: Generally my females are bred once per year; it may differ based on individual circumstances.
Q: How do I crate train my puppy?
A: Crate training is important. A dog that’s properly crate trained has the benefits of reducing the chance of having separation anxiety because they learn they have their own place and it’s ok to be alone. They’re also prevented from getting in to things they shouldn’t that could be dangerous to the dog’s health (or just annoying to their owner) when you’re unable to supervise your dog. There’s many methods of crate training a dog; this is the one that has worked for me time and time again. It’s a pretty simple, quick thing to teach a dog with a little patience, timing and tough love. One thing I do to help puppies think of the crate as a good place to be is feed them in them in it – in addition to the method I’m about to describe. I start my crate training process when I can be home for several hours at a time, preferably several days in a row, but that’s not completely necessary. I also do this I conjunction with housebreaking so you can kill two birds with one stone. First, I put the crate in a room with minimal stimuli and preferably where it may muffle the noise of a screaming puppy for the sake of your ears (a bedroom in the back of the house is where I start). Second, I put the puppy in the crate. Third, stay near enough to the puppy that you can hear them and get to them pretty quickly. The puppy is going to scream; there’s no avoiding that. Listen closely and when you hear the break in screaming – starting with a few SECONDS run over and let the puppy out of the crate. At this point, play with the puppy, praise the puppy, maybe take them out in the yard and offer a potty break. After the play time I then put the puppy back in the crate, listen for a break run the crying and let them out. The key to this training method is to NEVER let them out when they’re crying. Once you’re getting puppy to be quiet for a few seconds at a time and you’re rewarding that behavior by letting them out, all you have to do is start extending the duration of the time in the crate being quiet before releasing the pup. For example, on day 1 I’ll start letting puppy out of the crate when I get 3-5 seconds of quiet, then up it to 10-15 seconds, 20-30 seconds, 1 minute, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, and so on. Many owners feel bad for their puppy while it’s crying and want to take it out to console it. This only teaches puppy that they get what they want (out) when they cry – effectively teaching the puppy TO cry in the crate. Another common mistake is to take the puppy out when it is crying because it makes a potty because they want to clean it up right away. Smart puppies will learn that if the he or she potties in the crate, that gets it freedom, also training it do something we don’t want. If you start from the very beginning only letting it out when it is quiet you’ll have a pup sleeping all night in the crate in just a few days. Once your puppy is quiet in the crate in a far away room you can start repeating the method as you move your pup closer to you if that’s where you want him/her.
Q: How do I housebreak my puppy?
A: My housebreaking method is done simultaneously with my crate training method and again, with a bit of patience and tough love you’ll have a house-broken pup in just a few days. To me, it is better to have a bit of a tough lesson in the beginning and have a reliably crate and house trained dog than have to battle accidents for long periods of time or a dog who tears up items, and possibly ingests unsafe things. When I am letting my puppy out of the crate to reward it from being quiet I immediately carry it out to the yard and spend 20 -30 minutes outside. If the puppy goes potty I make a spectacle of myself with praise and play as soon as they are finished to let them know that they did the right thing. I call this a “dog party.” Basically, you want your praise so ecstatic that if your neighbor was to peak over the fence while you were doing it you would be embarrassed for them to see. If the pup potties then we go inside and play, cuddle, train, etc (normal things) before doing another repetition of the crate lesson. If the puppy does NOT go potty then they do not earn their freedom and fun with you, they go right back in the crate. Then after you get your opportunity to release your puppy when it’s quiet, then back outside you go. Puppy potties: dog party and freedom/playtime for a while. Puppy doesn’t potty: back in the crate. They typically understand that they earn their freedom quickly by doing their business outside and you have a crate and house trained puppy in a matter of a few days.
Q: What is a fear period?
A: A “fear period” I typically define as a puppy who was previously acting normal and now is acting strangely afraid of things. There is a couple of times in a puppy’s life when it is more susceptible to experiencing a fear period. Typically that is right around 8 weeks and again at between 6-15 months old with the change of hormones entering puberty. A classic sign of a fear period is when your normal pup is let outside and one day he just suddenly starts lighting up barking like crazy at a trash can thats been there his entire life, or is terrified of people when he never was before. When I have a puppy that is experiencing this I try to ignore it, because often times the more we try to work through it, the more we can make it worse and leave permanent damage. Most times fear periods go away on their own and I just put the puppy “up” during this time. One thing that we must make sure we do NOT do is try to console the puppy by petting it and talking to it in a sweet voice. To a human that understands a spoken language this may console them, to a puppy who doesn’t they hear “good job, be afraid, thats the right feeling.” I ignore the symptoms or try to get the pup’s state of mind changed by playing with a toy, ball, flirt pole, etc. I generally don’t use food either unless you can effectively change their mind THEN give them the treat as a reward.
Q: How do I overcome something my pup/dog is fearful of?
A: Let me form this first in a scenario a human might better understand: Let’s say you’re TERRIFIED of spiders. Deathly afraid. Or snakes, or bees, or mice, or clowns, or water it is that you’re terrified of… if I say “here, look, spiders, won’t hurt you” and I try to hold you down and make you touch one, do you think that would make you less afraid? or would it make you freak out and possibly make it way worse? Generally it’s the latter… now if I tell you I need a shovel from the shed out back and I say “just watch out theres a few spiders in there.” You’re responsive is instantly “oh heck no, I am NOT going in there.” Right? Now, on the other hand, if I say “I need a shovel from that shed out back… Watch out because there’s a few spiders, BUT there’s a million dollars in the back of the shed and if you get me the shovel you can keep the million dollars.” Doesn’t that make you more inclined to go get the shovel? It doesn’t have to me money – it can be whatever you’re strongest motivation in life is – that’s just an example because most of us could use the extra money lol. So now how does correlate to a dog, what would be his million dollars? A well bred German Shepherd should have drive. Drive for a toy, drive for food, drive to be with his pack (you), etc. So, in short – we find out what motivates him the most and use that as his million dollars in the back of the shed. I spend a lot of time working puppies, building that drive – especially food and toy drive so that it’s like crack cocaine to them. Then, as I take them out into the world I always have something of high value with me and if I encounter something that bothers him I can pull out that toy or that food and work him through it. His mind focuses on the thing he wants, instead of the thing that is scaring him and he forgets all about it. Pretty soon I can walk him by that machine making that funny noise or whatever is scaring him because he has his toy and he’ll be less inclined to be afraid of it next time because he overcame the fear through drive, didn’t leave with a bad experience burned into his memory forever and is more confident overall going forward. Many people have expectations that their puppy should have no fear at all, none, because they’re from strong working lines – then they’re disappointed and angry that he does, often giving up on him or making it worse with their unhappy feelings (that the dog can feel). But by giving the dog “wins,” we build a dog that when he is an adult, nothing scares him. If we try to force them to “see this traffic cone isn’t scary” using saturation of walking by it 100 times often we can make them more afraid. I can help immensely with building drive in your puppy/dog too, just give me a call and we can set up a lesson as it’s far to in-depth to type out here in a short FAQ page.
Q: Do I have to spay/neuter my dog?
A: You are not required to spay or neuter your dog. If you decide to do so, please do it AFTER the dog is 18 months old. Sex hormones play a vital role in the maturation of the dog and the development of joints.
Q: Do you allow your dogs to be bred after purchase?
A: Puppies purchased from me can be bred unless they’re sold as a reduced price pup with limited registration. The only stipulation on breeding dogs with full AKC registration are: the dog must be two years of age or older and must have official hip and elbow X-rays (OFA or SV).
Q: Are your dogs health tested?
A: Yes! Every dog I breed has a minimum of clear hips and elbows and non-affected by DM.
Q: What is DM?
A: Degenerative myelopathy is a progressive, genetic disease of the spinal cord in older dogs. The disease has an insidious onset typically between 8 and 14 years of age. It begins with a loss of coordination (ataxia) in the hind limbs. The affected dog will wobble when walking, knuckle over or drag the feet. This can first occur in one hind limb and then affect the other. As the disease progresses, the limbs become weak and the dog begins to buckle and has difficulty standing. The weakness gets progressively worse until the dog is unable to walk. The clinical course can range from 6 months to 1 year before dogs become paraplegic. If signs progress for a longer period of time, loss of urinary and fecal continence may occur and eventually weakness will develop in the front limbs. Another key feature of DM is that it is NOT a painful disease. It is caused by a simple recessive trait. Simple recessive means that it needs 2 copies of the gene to express itself (show symptoms); but also means it can be carried, but not expressed by a dog that has only one copy of the gene. A dog with no copies of the gene is considered clear or negative for it.
Q: Why would you ever breed a dog that is a carrier for DM?
A: Many of us have had older dogs – myself included – who in retrospect likely had DM. It was hard to watch our older dog lose coordination and eventually ability to walk in their later years. I would never wish this on any family or any dog and now that there are genetic tests for this, it might be easy to conclude “one must never breed an at-risk, or carrier dog, ever. Period. End of story.” However, there are a few problems with trying to eliminate this disease by strictly breeding away from it based on this test. Problem number one: the genetic test for this disease is highly unreliable in determining whether or not the dog will actually show symptoms and it only tests for one type of DM (there are several types). That means a dog with 2 copies of the gene is considered “at risk” – they don’t call it “positive” for the disease because a significant number of dogs who have 2 copies of the gene never develop symptoms. It also means that a dog that is considered “clear” or “negative” COULD develop this disease because it either had a false negative or the dog was really negative for that type of DM and had a different type that there’s currently no test for. Problem number 2: let’s say this test is 100% accurate, that’s awesome, but there are a large portion of today’s dogs that are superb dogs in all other ways – temperament, ability, hips, elbows, everything – that are carriers. Does that mean we should immediately throw out all that breeding stock (that will never develop the actual disease) because of that one trait? It may be easy to – on first thought – quickly and adamantly say “yes!” Unfortunately when we throw out that large percentage of dogs for the one trait, what are we left with? There may be a few truly great dogs left after this culling, but there will be a larger percentage that are sub-par; so then we are supposed to rebuild the breed with either extremely few dogs or low quality dogs. One leads to excessive line-breeding on great dogs due to lack of genetic diversity and that increases the incidence of a genetic mutation popping up that might produce far worse effects than DM, or we just have a breed of dogs that are no longer what they were intended to be because of breeding subpar dogs; we know what happens with that just based on looking at all the results of irresponsible backyard breeding in this country. So all this is to say: genetic tests are great information, and that is what they should be used for. The test isn’t reliable, but it’s the only information we have right now until the science gets better so in the mean time I use genetic tests to make an educated choice of mates for each dogs based on ALL the factors, not just one, and try to shape the breed going forward with each generation to hopefully end up with a breed that is great AND all clear. I avoid breeding two carriers and prefer to breed clear to clear, however I won’t throw a great dog out of the breed program based only on being a DM carrier. This is why I guarantee pups to be non-affected – not “clear” – for DM and how I advise buyers and other breeders to think about this.
Q: What do the hip and elbow scores mean?
A: Each country has their own hip and elbows scoring systems. I will list the ratings of each scoring systems below. Despite the country of origin I will list all dogs on my site by either OFA ratings if done in the US, or Slovakian ratings if done overseas.
- Excellent (Normal)
- Good (Normal)
- Fair (Normal)
- A Normal
- A2 Fast Normal (Near-Normal)
- Noch Zugelassen (Mild, still permissible)
- Mittlere (Moderate)
- Schwere (Severe)
- A (Normal)
- B (Near-Normal)
- C (Mild, still permissible)
- D (Moderate dysplasia)
- E (Severe)
Czech (Left joint/Right joint)
- 0/0 (Normal)
- 1/1 (Near-Normal)
- 2/2 (Mild, still permissible)
- 3/3 (Moderate)
- 4/4 (Severe)
Q: My puppy has diarrhea, what should I do?
A: At least once in most puppies’ life they will experience diarrhea. The most common reasons for diarrhea are often as simple as stress from shipping, changing environments, changing diets, etc but there are several different conditions that can cause some runny poop. Stress – like moving to a new home – can often trigger gastric conditions, like coccidia and giardia, to bloom; Coccidia and giardia are protozoan parasites that can be picked up in the environment easily, but they are naturally found in low numbers in all dog’s lower GI system too. Most dogs can test positive even if they have no symptoms; if you do a fecal when you get the puppy and it comes up with coccidia/giardia but DOESN’T have symptoms (ie. It has good poop) – I would wait to treat them until the pup has settled in and is done with the stress of all the change of a new home because often the drugs can add more stress to the dog and can cause more harm than good. It is only when these protozoan grow to large numbers that we see symptoms with the dog. They are not a major problem, but they are a pain because they are hard to kill outside the dog – resistant to chemicals, live in the ground of most places, and thrive anywhere there is moisture; areas with long-standing water are an ideal place for giardia to grow. Because we have puppies that are always into mischief and almost always have something in their mouth, it is inevitable to have upset stomachs some times. Coccidia and Giardia (if not a severe case) generally go away on their own, but may take some simple, inexpensive drugs to treat. Classic symptoms of coccidia are mucous in the poop and a small tinge/streak of orange or pink color. Classic symptoms of giardia are dark-colored, smelly diarrhea. My puppies are treated for these conditions, preventatively, several times before they reach their new homes but they easily re-infect themselves playing in mud, drinking from puddles, running through poop we missed in the grass, picking up things they shouldn’t, etc. and as I mentioned it is impossible to eradicate it from the environment since they are raised in a ranch environment with many types of animals around. So what should you do if you see runny poop? IF THERE IS BLOOD or if you have vomiting or a very lethargic puppy, contact your vet immediately – it could be parvo. If not, you can contact your vet, but you should also contact me. I also de-worm my puppies once a month until they are 6-8 months of age. I use liquid Safe-Guard goat de-wormer that you can get at about any feed store. It is the same ingredient as the dog de-wormer but much cheaper and easier to dose as it is in liquid form. This also kills giardia. If the puppy has good poop but it is time to de-worm them I will give them 1ml/cc per 4lbs of body weight once per day for 3 days in a row. If the puppy has a bit of loose poop then I will do the same dosage but for 8 days. This is a very safe and effective drug.
Q: My young dog is limping, what should I do? Is it hip/elbow dysplasia?
A: Panosteitis – also known as Growing Pains or Wandering Leg Lameness – is inflammation of the long bones of the legs. It is common among large breed puppies and can last until two years of age. It affects males more frequently, but females are affected. The most common cause of limping in a young dog is “Pano” so don’t freak out immediately assuming it is hip or elbow dysplasia! Pano causes pain that generally shifts from one leg to another quickly, but it can stay in just one leg too. The dog is often suddenly lame one day, which could last for 2-4 weeks or act normal the next day. These are classic symptoms of “Pano.” There are no long-term, ill effects of “Pano” and dogs eventually grow out of it. If your puppy experiences this, limit his activity and keep him very lean, feed a dog food with around 20% protein and a calcium/phosphorus ratio of as close to 1:1 as possible. If he is VERY painful or lameness lasts for more than two weeks continuously you may want to take him to your veterinarian to be examined. They will generally prescribe pain relievers/anti-inflammatories and take some x-rays which will diagnose pano and rule out hip or elbow dysplasia (depending on the age of the dog). Using baby aspirin to treat pain in dogs is a controversial topic; I personally have used it on my puppies when/if they go through “Pano” although veterinarians have varying opinions on the safety of this drug. I do, however prefer other drugs like metacam or carprofen. If you do give aspirin, it should always be with food and never for any extended periods of time due to the possibility of gastric issues.
Q: Should I limit training/exercise for puppies?
A: Although activity is a must, it is important for large breed puppies’ growing bones to not be over exercised for the first year of life, which can contribute to hip and elbow issues. Avoid hard training, long hikes/walks, excessive jumping in/out of trucks or running on hard surfaces. You will have a much healthier dog that lasts much longer with moderate exercise in the first year.
Q: Where should I go for training? Do you offer training?
A: I do offer training here and I can also recommend someone in your area if you’re not local to me.
Q: Do I need to socialize my puppy?
A: Socialization is another key element to having a well-balanced, happy member of the family. After your dog is fully vaccinated, take him/her as many places as possible, experience strange sights, sounds, smells, textures, flooring, etc. I don’t think of socialization as the puppy needs to be friends with everyone and every dog they meet but I do think they need to see lots of new sites. I play a game called “value no value” with the puppy. So in a nut shell, if you go somewhere and the puppy wants to meet a new person, I will let them sniff/interact with the person but then I’ll call the puppy back to me and have a big party, give them treats and pets and be silly. This teaches the puppy that those other people or dogs are ok, no reason be scared of them, but THEIR person is the best thing ever. This will create a dog that ignores new people, dogs or things it is unsure of. Remember: You are responsible for your puppy’s safety and growth! Pick how new people and dogs approach your puppy carefully as a bad experience could affect his personality/working ability permanently. Try to set your puppy up for success, not failure, and make each socialization experience is fun and rewarding. Present each new experience in a way that would be least likely to scare the puppy and take meat, treats, or a favorite toy with you to reward the puppy every time he conquers something that could have been potentially scary. If the puppy is scared do not pet or try to sooth it with your voice, this encourages fearful behavior; try to get the puppy focused on you or play with the puppy to conquer its fears using drive. NOTE: SOCIALIZING A PUPPY WILL NOT AFFECT ITS PROTECTION ABILITIES AS AN ADULT DOG. A WELL-EXPOSED DOG WILL HAVE BETTER NERVE AND STABILITY IN PROTECTION.
Q: How should I keep my puppy/dog when we get home?
A: I usually recommend you invest I a quality exercise pen – one that is taller than you this you’ll need, because they learn to climb – I teach the puppy that it is not ok to climb/touch the exercise pen but you’re better off to have one that’s taller than you need. Having an exercise pen allows the puppy to be near you and interacting without having free roam of the house. I give them iterative toys, raw bones and chews to keep them occupied. I strongly recommend crate training your puppy ad having them sleep I the crate at least until they can earn the freedom of being loose in the house. If you don’t have a perfectly safe back yard, buy a kennel run for your puppy to stay in the you want him or her outside but can’t be there to supervise your dog. These are all precautions to keep your dog out of trouble – they’re far easier than having a dog tear up your $2000 couch because you left your 8 month old dog loose in your house while you went to work, or eating something he shouldn’t and having a large vet bill, or worse: a dead dog.
Q: Positive only training vs. balanced training?
A: Another unpopular opinion, probably: positive only works positively…right up until it doesn’t. By that I mean, we can teach a dog something using positive only methods and he will appear to know that command, right up until he doesn’t want to or something else is more interesting, important or distracting to the dog. I teach everything to my dogs positive in the beginning then I moved to a balanced approach. Here’s an example that may help you understand why I feel this way: let’s say you have a very reliable recall on your dog, that you’ve trained positive only. You give them a treat every time they come to you and that’s worked well so far. Let’s say your dog’s food drive is a 6 on a scale of 1 to 10… One day you’re in the park with your dog who is off-leash and you call your dog to you, he comes, you give him a treat and allow him to go back to playing. This time, your dog sees a squirrel and his prey drive is an 8 out of 10. He chases the squirrel, you call him and he blows you off. Why did that happen? Because his prey drive is always going to out motivate him than his food drive and he’s never had any consequences for not coming when you call, even though he knows the command well. Another example: same dog with a 6/10 food drive has 10/10 motivation for dog aggression. Let’s say your dog sees another dog and goes nuts, jerks you down from pulling the leash so hard, gets away from you and attacks the other dog. When you get up and make it over there, they’re in a full blown dog fight. What are you supposed to do? Wave a cookie around and say “No no Pookie, stop attacking that other dog and I’ll give you a treat” ….? How many of us think that is going to work? I hope the answer is zero but likely there are people think that. This is not to call anyone stupid, but I am thinking the way a dog thinks. A pack of dogs don’t work like that so why would it work when I tried to do it? All this is to say is that there is a time and place for corrections. The level to which you correct a dog varies exponentially based on the dog’s personality – it may be just saying “no” to a soft do and it make be a hard jerk on a prong collar for a harder dog… the timing in which you give the correction is very important as well. I start every dog using positive methods. Once the command is understood by the dog, I add consequences to not following the command, which gives me a trained dog who is reliable in obeying. It can be a life or death thing…if the dog runs out in the road, I call them and they don’t come then they could be hit by a car and killed. I don’t want to be Hitler to my dog, but they still HAVE to do what’s asked of them.
Q: Do you have any other do’s or don’t’s for pups?
A: DO NOT TAKE YOUR PUPPY TO PARKS, PET STORES, OR ANY HIGH TRAFFIC AREAS UNTIL IT HAS HAD AT LEAST 4 PARVO SHOTS. PARVO IS HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS AND CAN BE TRACKED ON THE FEET OR CLOTHES OF PEOPLE. IT CAN LIVE IN THE GROUND IN THE RIGHT CONDITIONS FOR UP TO 5 YEARS. I even recommend using some diluted bleach water to spray the bottom of your shoes before you come home if you have been in any of these areas. An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. After they are vaccinated DO follow the socialization recommendations here on the page, DO go to training and have fun with your dog. DON’T worry about where your puppy is in comparison to other puppies – you are on your own journey. DO play with your puppy, DON’T let the puppy get crazy with jumping out of your truck and running down stairs. DO correct your puppy, but DON’T squash it’s exuberance with too many corrections too early – let them be a kid, there’s plenty of time for having a soldier later. DO feed your puppy good dog food, DON’T be fooled by advertising for boutique grain-free brands. DO understand that dogs are living creatures, they’re not going to all be the same, act the same, respond to you the same. They’re going to have idiosyncrasies and quirks, they might get sick, they might get hurt – it’s life. DON’T DON’T DON’T ever feed cooked bones – only raw – they can splinter and harm your dog. DO pick up your poop ASAP, as some pups will eat it. DON’T leave balls and toys around for self-entertainment, they should be a symbol of your relationship with the puppy. DO give bones, interactive toys, frozen Kongs filled with meat, etc for self-entertainment. DON’T get mad when your puppy bites you, puppies play bite. Redirect them with something you WANT them to bite. DO have some courtesy for your company, if you have a wild puppy who hasn’t learned to not jump on people, put the puppy away before they get there… unless you don’t want company. DO work with the puppy on allowing you to touch all parts of him,, restrain him, cut his toenails, look in his mouth and at his teeth – your vet will thank you later. Ultimately the most important thing I can say about raising a puppy is: you are responsible for your pup’s mental and physical welfare. Use some common sense with what might create a bad experience for your puppy. I would rather no exposure than bad exposure. If you see an excitable – maybe not even aggressive – looking dog running around off-leash while you’re walking your puppy. Get your puppy out of there. It’s not worth that dog running up and attacking your puppy or even just trying to play gets too rough and hurts it or scares it badly. It’s just not worth a big vet bill or a dog thats scarred for life.
Q: How do I bond with an older dog I’ve purchased?
A: A common misconception is that a dog won’t bond with you if you don’t get it as a puppy. I have raised puppies and bought dogs that were already IPO/IGP3 and although an 8 week old bonds quickly and easily to the family, with just a little effort an older do will too. The protocol will change slightly with each dog, but one thing I recommend is to skip a meal with the dog and then feed them out of your hand and eliminate the food bowl until the dog is bonded. Sometimes dogs just need a little time after their whole world changes. It is not unusual for a dog to be unsure of a new environment or a little depressed. Many times, the answer for them is just to let them settle – I use an ignore method where I basically isolate the dog until he is seeking human interaction and then I show him I am the most fun thing and the food-bringer. Some take almost no work and some will take a little more, but it is so rewarding when the dog accepts you as their leader. One thing I will say is a hard DON’T with older dogs is: don’t give corrections or formal commands to a new dog until you’ve formed a relationship. I can further assist this question if you give me a call or set up a lesson.
Q: Do you import dogs?
A: Yes! I have partners in the Czech Republic and Slovakia that help me locate great dogs. We can find just about anything you’re looking for. Just contact me and we can discuss!
Q: What kind of dog food do you recommend?
A: I used to be a hard core dog food snob. Only the most expensive, grain-free brands would do because I thought it was a symbol of how much a person cared for their dogs. After a long period of feeding those dog food s I had provokes. I was feeding a very large volume of food and couldn’t keep weight on my dogs, some were eating 8-10 cups a food a day. Then, I had over a year and a half where I could not get a single female pregnant. I did all kinds of tests… bloodwork, semen analysis, cultures, tests for diseases, you name it. So, after countless hours of research I find a ton of information that indicates that there are reproductive issues (and heart issues) caused by feeding grain-free. The legumes that dog food companies use to balance and extend their formulas instead of grains cause contain a type of taurine that dog’s don’t digest well and touring his essential to heart health in dogs so many dogs were coming up with DCM, a diet-induced cardio-myelopathy. They also increase estrogen levels in the dog which causes reproductive problems. One of my females stopped coming into heat altogether. So, I switched dog foods to one that was grain-inclusive; within 2 weeks that female came back in to heat and I bred her, she had 10 puppies and I haven’t had those issues since then. All this is to say, feed what works for YOUR dog. Don’t buy into the grain free hype unless your dog has been diagnosed with true grain allergies. If you would have told me two years ago I’d be feeding a Purina program I probably would have had a heart attack. Now I am having super results with a few dog foods. For adults: Purina Proplan Sport (30/20), Sport Dog Elite K9 Hero (and several other formulas), and Inukshuk 32/32. For puppies I really love Royal Canin German Shepherd Puppy and Sport Dog Elite Cub. In the next question I go over dog food’s correlation with hips and elbows and have an ever-growing list of dog foods that have appropriate nutrient content and calcium/phosphorus ratio.
Q: Can dog food affect hips and elbows?
A: The science today says that hip and elbow dysplasia is called by several factors. Genetics of course are large component but it’s not a simple genetic equation. If that were the case we would have been rid of this terrible disease soon after the implantation of breeding dogs with clear X-rays. Unfortunately, other than breeders only breeding clear dogs and buyers only purchasing pups from those breeders we can’t change what genetic make up our dog has, so let’s talk about what factors you CAN change… Dysplasia also has environmental factors that play a role from the day your pup is born. We talked earlier on this page about exercise and limited traumatic impacts but joints can also be affected by what you feed your dog and how much. Two major components of that are: calcium content and calories fed. Feeding a food that contains too much calcium can significantly increase your puppy’s risk of hip dysplasia and other crippling bone diseases. Which is why I urge you to choose a dog food that’s designed to be safe for your puppy’s breed size…even if this line of thinking is proven wrong with the science of tomorrow, it certainly doesn’t HURT your pup to be fed the correct calorie content of a dog food with proper calcium/phosphorus ratio.
What’s Your Puppy’s Breed Size?
Even though in the grand scheme of things, the German Shepherd Dog is considered a MEDIUM breed, males are not supposed to be larger than about 90lbs (I don’t want to hear about your cousin’s dog who “was 180lbs”). However, when we are talking dog food, large breed puppies are defined as those whose adult weight is expected to be over 50 pounds. Feeding the best large breed puppy food can significantly lower your dog’s risk of developing hip dysplasia. That’s because the nutritional needs of large and giant breed puppies are different from those of small and medium breeds.
Ignoring those needs can lead to crippling bone and joint disorders like:
•Canine hip dysplasia (CHD)
•Developmental orthopedic disease (DOD)
Why Large Breed Puppies Are at Greater Risk?
When compared to smaller breeds, two unique factors about the way they grow make large breed puppies more prone to skeletal problems: They grow faster and they remain puppies longer. A GSD can grow from just under a pound at birth to over 70 pounds in a year. That’s a whopping 70-fold increase in size in just 12 months. In comparison, a human being can take 18 years to achieve results that are less than half that much. What’s more, unlike smaller breeds that can be fed as adults at about 9-12 months, many larger breeds continue to grow and can still be considered puppies until 12 to 24 months. Rapid growth means the bones must change quickly — a factor that can put them at risk of forming improperly. And it is this remarkable rate of growth that makes large and giant breeds so sensitive to nutritional imbalances. Your young dog doesn’t necessarily need a “puppy” formula until it’s two years old but it is helpful to pick a formula – puppy or adult – that has a proper ration of calcium and phosphorus.
The Protein Myth
Unfortunately, the Internet is awash with misinformation about how to feed large breed puppies.For example, many insist that high levels of dietary protein can lead to hip dysplasia. Yet contrary to that popular myth no evidence exists to link high protein intake to skeletal disease in large breed dogs.
So, if high protein isn’t the problem…
What Causes Hip Disease in Large Breed Dogs?
Hip disease in large breeds appears to be the result of at least one of 3 proven factors:
- Excessive dietary calcium
So, since after birth there’s nothing you can do to change your puppy’s genetics… It’s important to avoid feeding too many calories or too much calcium, two factors that can significantly increase your puppy’s risk of hip dysplasia.
Free choice is a popular feeding method in which the food remains in the bowl and continuously available — so a puppy can eat whenever it wants. Sadly, many owners of large breed puppies mistakenly believe that this form of uncontrolled eating is the correct way to feed their pets. However, free choice feeding has been shown to cause a puppy to grow too fast — and lead to serious problems. For example, a 1995 German study of Great Danes demonstrated a significant increase in the risk of developing skeletal disease when the puppies were fed free choice. In another study, one group of Labrador Retriever puppies was fed throughout life a restricted calorie diet while a second was fed free choice. The restricted calorie group experienced a much lower incidence and later onset of hip joint arthritis.
Too Much Calcium
Like overfeeding, excessive dietary calcium has also been shown to increase the risk of skeletal disease in large breed puppies.That’s because puppies can have trouble regulating how much calcium is absorbed from their intestinal tracts.And that’s not all. Feeding too little calcium can also lead to problems. That’s why it’s so important to feed a dog food that contains an amount of calcium that’s safe for large breed puppies.
To meet the more rigid safety guidelines for large breed puppies, a dog food must contain:
•1.2 to 1.8% calcium
•1.0 to 1.6% phosphorus
•Calcium-to-phosphorus ratio 1:1 to 1.8:1
Here’s a list of SOME formulas that have proper ratios for a growing large breed dog, you should be able to click each one and it will take you to more info and where you can buy it:
Q: How do I tell a reputable breeder from a backyard one?
A: This one is tricky because I really don’t like to speak ill of other breeders, but I see so many people with bad experiences because they weren’t educated on some of the major red flags that should indicate a backyard breeder; I just want to put out a quick blurb about some things that should be red flags to a buyer (these will be constantly updated as I think of more):
- breeder doesn’t work or show their dogs in any way
- breeder that doesn’t health test
- breeder can’t or won’t show you proof of health tests or titles
- breeder doesn’t provide you with a contract/written health guarantee
- breeding dogs that don’t conform to the breed standards such as: oversized, non-standard colors like blue, liver, white or panda.
- uses the word “rare”
- uses the phrase “Straight-backed” or “Old style”
- they will ONLY accept payment through Walmart and nothing else
- has different prices for different colors or sexes
- is overly pushy about you putting a deposit down
- is very vague in answering questions you’ve asked
There are some things you should expect that are NOT signs of a scam or poor breeder too:
- you should expect to pay for the dog in full before it is shipped or allowed to be picked up
- you should expect some breeders to not want you to come to their home. Outsiders can bring diseases and there have been set ups to get invite to their home then rob or hurt them.
- you should expect a breeder to ask about your lifestyle and home environment
- you should expect to be asked about your experience with the breed
- you should expect to NOT be able to just pick your puppy with no input from the breeder