General Questions

I tried to sort some of the FAQ’s into categories for ease of finding what you’re looking for; these are just some general questions. If you have a question you can’t find the answer to check the FAQ page for all the questions or please don’t hesitate to text, email or call!


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:


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: 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: 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: 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: How often are your females bred?

A: Generally my females are bred once per year; it may differ based on individual circumstances.


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)
  • Borderline
  • Mild
  • Moderate
  • Severe

SV (Germany)

  • 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: 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: 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:

•Elbow dysplasia

•Osteochondrosis (OCD)

•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:

  • Genetics
  • Overfeeding
  • 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:

Product Form Prot
Annamaet Encore Dry 28%
Diamond Naturals Large Breed Puppy Dry 30%
Eagle Pack Large and Giant Breed Puppy Dry 26%
Eukanuba Large Breed Puppy Dry 29%
Fromm Gold Large Breed Puppy Dry 29%
Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Large Breed Dry 30%
Holistic Select Large and Giant Breed Puppy Dry 28%
Horizon Complete Large Breed Puppy Dry 31%
Iams ProActive Health Smart Puppy Large Breed Dry 29%
Instinct Raw Boost for Large Breed Puppies Dry 37%
Merrick Grain Free Puppy Dry 31%
Merrick Grain-Free Puppy Plate Wet 53%
Now Fresh Grain Free Large Breed Puppy Dry 32%
Nutro Large Breed Puppy Wet 45%
Nutro Ultra Large Breed Puppy Dry 29%
Pro Pac Ultimates Large Breed Puppy Dry 29%
Purina Pro Plan Focus Puppy Large Breed Dry 31%
Royal Canin Giant Puppy Dry 32%
Royal Canin Large Puppy Dry 31%
Solid Gold Wolf Cub Puppy Dry 29%
Sport Dog Elite Cub Dry 30%
Taste of the Wild Puppy Formula Dry 31%
Victor – Active Dog and Puppy (grain free) Dry 33%
Victor – Beef and Rice Dry 23%
Victor – Chicken and Rice Dry 24%
Victor – Countryside Canine (grain free) Dry 33%
Victor – Hero Canine (grain free) Dry 33%
Victor – High Energy Dry 34%
Victor – Hi-Pro Plus Dry 30%
Victor – Lamb and Rice Dry 26%
Victor – Multi-Pro Dry 22%
Victor – Nutra Pro Dry 38%
Victor – Ocean Fish and Rice Dry 25%
Victor – Performance Dry 26%
Victor – Prairie Land Canine (grain free) Dry 30%
Victor – Professional Dry 26%
Victor – Ultra Pro (grain free) Dry 42%
Victor – Yukon River (grain free) Dry 33%
Wellness Complete Health Just for Puppy Wet 41%
Wellness Core Large Breed Puppy Dry 32%
Whole Earth Farms Grain Free Pupp


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



Aus Dem Tal German Shepherds

Quality working line German Shepherd Dogs focusing on health, working ability, and temperament.
(559) 936-1633