Breeding Philosophy

Our breeding goals:

As far as German Shepherds and breeding, we believe the GSD should be a working dog, a dog capable of police work, service, search and rescue or competition level Schutzhund and also a wonderful companion and house dog. We expect a lot from our dogs! Our absolute top priorities are health, temperament and working ability.

Our occasional breedings are solely to the best stud dogs we can find to complement our female. We breed when we are ready for our next puppy, so we plan our breedings extremely carefully by taking in to consideration temperament and physical attributes as well as in depth pedigree analysis. We take great pride in our breedings and strive to improve the German Shepherd breed. We believe that the female is key in this endeavor, and that she should be strong in mind and body.

We always use health certified and titled breeding stock. Health screening cannot provide a guarantee of perfectly healthy puppies, but we believe responsible breeders should always screen their dogs.

We train and title our own dogs in Schutzhund (now called IPO). Schutzhund was originally developed to test a German Shepherds capabilities prior to breeding to ensure that all breeding stock had the required traits. This includes temperament, tracking ability, obedience and protection instincts. All our dogs are trained from puppies by us and live in our home. We only breed dogs which have proven their exceptional quality during Schutzhund training as well as shown their versatility in other venues and are also able to live calmly in the house. We don't believe titles mean everything, but we do believe that through the years of training required, we come to know our dogs in detail. This helps us to find the best breeding match as far as temperament and trainability.

How we raise our puppies:

Puppies are raised in our home, and exposed to the "Super Dog" program and as many indoor and outdoor experiences as possible before they leave us. Around 5 weeks old, puppies are started with clicker training for sit, down and recall, and also begin scent pads and rag work. We start their toilet training by getting them used to going outside after every meal. They are tattooed and/or microchipped and an information pack is provided with each puppy.

Our puppies are fed a premium diet by starting to supplement mom's milk around 4 weeks. This consists of a carefully prepared raw diet and also some kibble, and in our experience, pups have no trouble transitioning to either diet when they leave.

We temperament test our puppies for resilience, focus and energy as well as drives including toys, food and social attraction and we match each puppy to their new owners with great care, to ensure that the puppy fits with the new owner's requirements.

We provide all puppy buyers with a simple contract, extensive puppy pack including health records, info about parents, bedding and food and lifetime help and advice. We always welcome any of our dogs back home for any reason, at any time.

Preference and discounts are always offered to working homes.

Registration:

All our puppies have limited registration until they have hip & elbow ratings and working titles. the pups are still eligible for AKC and other performance events. By doing this, we try to ensure that new owners commit to title and health check their dogs prior to further breeding. As soon as the dog has passed the requirements (health certification and working titles) we will be very happy to change the registration to full AKC registration.

Before you buy a German Shepherd puppy:

Research the German Shepherd breed and the various types and lines and ask yourself which type best fits your family and if you have the time and space to dedicate to training and exercising your dog. German Shepherds are an intelligent breed that love to work for their handlers and need lots of exercise.

Visit obedience, agility or Schutzhund trials to meet dogs and their handlers, these people can often recommend good breeders. People who spend time training and exhibiting their own dogs are usually the most passionate and caring about their dogs and their breeds.

When choosing a breeder, ask lots of questions, if the parents have been health screened and titled. Ask if the breeder themselves titled the dogs. Ask the breeder what they do with their dogs and what their breeding goals are. Choosing the right breeder requires time and research, but is crucial to ensure your future dog is healthy, stable and a good fit for your family. Be prepared for the breeder to ask you lots of questions about your plans for the dog, as well as experience with previous dogs and living conditions. A breeder who does not ask these questions does not care about where their puppies end up.

As far as health records, A-stamp, OFA etc, ask to see certificates. An example of a hip certificate is pictured on the right of this text. The OFA also has a website where you can search for a dog's name to see the record - click here. Be wary of missing records, the OFA allows the owner to choose not to display failing results, and German Shepherds should have both hips and elbows certified, so if one is missing, that might be a red flag.

In our opinion, the best breeders are those which have a maximum of 2 or 3 females at home though they may lease or have other females who are trained by others. Their females do not live full time in a kennel, and are not bred on every heat cycle. We choose breeders who spend time training and then proving their training by gaining titles in a performance arena. These breeders know their dogs' strengths and weaknesses and usually know enough about dogs to be able to recommend the right puppy to each buyer. The best breeders may recommend another breeder or even a different breed, or an adult dog which will fit your requirements better. They may suggest a rescue dog, there are some very nice dogs in shelters who are there through no fault of their own, be sure to take someone experienced with you who can help you choose so that you don't fall for the first set of cute brown eyes!

Breeders who import or buy titled dogs are probably trying to do the right thing, but cannot possibly know the dog unless they continue it's training further. Many adult "import" dogs are not superior to dogs already in the USA, in fact, they are usually sold out of Europe for a reason, and it is often because they are not good enough to stay. We are also wary of breeders who always use their own or one local male for stud on all their females, how can this one male possibly be a good match for all their females?

About guarantees

A guarantee from a breeder does not mean your puppy will not be dysplastic or have other problems. It usually means that the breeder has some sort of replacement policy. Think about that for a moment, you raise a puppy until 2 years and now it has bad hips, are you willing to give that dog back to a breeder and get another puppy? The dog you just gave back could go to a pet home or could be put to sleep. The replacement puppy will probably be from similar lines and has a chance to have that same problem again, then what? Or do you keep the original dog and spay or neuter it, then pay less for another puppy, now you have 2 dogs, do you have the space, time and money for both of them?

We have recently found that most breeders offer some form of hip and/or health guarantee even if they don't x-ray or health screen their breeding stock. Breeding is a cheap proposition for breeders who use their own females and males and don't x-ray or title their dogs, and replacing a puppy when they have 4 litters per year is not a big loss. A hip guarantee appears to be an industry standard rather than a guarantee of quality.

Guarantees have to include a lot of detail to protect both the breeder and purchaser, and are subject to abuse on both sides, most buyers cannot reasonably complete all the requirements to ensure the guarantee stays valid and many breeders don't honor their guarantees.

Having said all this, please remember that a dog is not a machine and even the very best breeders can only do so much to ensure their pups are healthy.

But I only want a pet, I don't want to pay more than $500!

We have lost count of how many times we have heard this comment. Do you want a dog with great temperament and health that will be a good family member for 12 or so years? Yes? Then in our opinion, you should look for a puppy from a dedicated breeder with titled and health tested parents, and you should expect to pay around $1500. A "show" or "working" quality pup should not be any better than a "pet" quality pup in regards to intelligence, trainability, health and temperament.

Conscientious breeders who really care about the breed are not making a profit at this price. The cost of raising a brood bitch, training, titling and health testing her and then breeding her to the best stud possible and raising the puppies with the best nutrition and care possible is much higher than you might think.

By insisting on buying low cost "pet" puppies, you are encouraging puppy mills and people who buy cheap dogs themselves, do not train or health test them, breed them, and then do not raise, feed or socialize the puppies correctly.

Breeders are often blamed for the high number of dogs in shelters and being put to sleep every day and it is true that too many dogs are being bred, but it is the buyers responsibility to make sure they are ready for a dog, to commit to doing the best for that dog for it's lifetime, to educate themselves about a breed and research breeders and to buy from breeders who truly care about their breed and try to produce the best puppies possible.

Further Reading - How Life Will Change With a German Shepherd - click here

Further Reading - What Characterizes a Good Breeder - click here

Further Reading - Wildhaus Kennels - More about choosing a breeder, different types of GSDs, temperament and raising puppies - click here

Further Reading - Von Tighe Haus - Even more about choosing a breeder and different types of GSDs - click here

Further Reading - Ian Dunbar's free E-Book - Before You Get Your Puppy - click here