Your German Shepherd will accompany you for many years and occupy an important place in your everyday life. Before you buy one, be aware of the tasks and responsibilities you can expect. German Shepherds are reliable partners and companions, but they also demand a lot of time, discipline and sufficient engagement from their owners.
Plenty of exercise, grooming and meaningful engagement – the time factor is extremely important for dog owners. Take a look at your everyday life before buying a dog, and ask yourself key questions such as: which family members can take on certain tasks and responsibilities related to the dog on a day-to-day basis? Maybe you’re even able to take your German Shepherd to your place of work? Before you buy a dog, plan your daily, weekly and yearly schedule carefully with your dog in mind to ensure that the dog is always optimally cared for.
In addition to the purchase costs, you shouldn’t underestimate factors such as dog tax, insurance, food, veterinary costs and material costs (e.g. collars and leashes). You should therefore always include daily fixed and annual expenses in your financial planning. In addition, costly examinations, treatments and operations are not uncommon throughout the long life of a dog, so it doesn’t hurt to set aside even just a bit of money.
The question of how much space a German Shepherd needs is difficult to answer. With its size, it is certainly not a dog for a small apartment; however, it ultimately all comes down to the right workload, social contacts and enough exercise. And if you own a large property where the dog can move freely, but is always on its own, you aren’t doing it any favours either. It is important to always have a clearly defined safe place where the dog can be undisturbed. Getting your landlord’s approval to have a dog is always a good idea.
State regulations and taxes
Each German state enacts its own dog regulations. Find out in advance which regulation applies to dog owners in the state and city where you live. You should not assume that they are all the same. For instance, the dog tax is collected by the municipalities and differs greatly from place to place. There is no uniform regulation stipulating when you have to register your dog with the municipality. Nor are the rules for concession rates and exemptions standardised, such as for guard dogs, service dogs and guide dogs. And last but not least, the question of proof of dog owner liability insurance has not yet been regulated uniformly between all states. So, as you can see, a visit to your municipal government office is always worthwhile.
Selecting a breeder
The easiest way to find a suitable breeder is through SV. We are happy to advise you and provide you with information about breeders in your area. Then you can arrange visits with some breeders and get a first-hand impression of their dogs and facilities. Are the kennels clean and the dogs looked after? How do the adult dogs and puppies react to people they don’t know? Does the breeder introduce the puppies to environmental stimuli, such as other animals and everyday noises? Particularly if you still have little experience as a dog owner, the socialisation that takes place with the breeder is the first important building block for an agreeable and resilient family dog. And the breeder should also show interest in you and ask about your job and your family if they want to make sure one of their protégés is going to be in good hands.
The breeder’s job
Puppies are usually sold starting from the age of eight weeks. The puppy has already begun to perceive its environment (second to fourth week, transition phase) and develop its urge to explore (fourth to eighth week). Everything that the puppy encounters will shape it for the rest of its life. As such, the breeder’s influence is extremely important and forms the basis of all of the dog’s relationships with other people. Responsible breeders familiarise puppies with people as well as strange smells and noises (e.g. hoovers) and always offer the puppy new stimuli, such as exploring different surfaces. You can recognise a well-shaped puppy by the fact that it reacts impartially and confidently to the situation during your visit.
The first contact
When you choose your puppy from the breeder, love at first sight is not uncommon. The little balls of fluff are just too cute. But still, trust the breeder’s expertise; they know the dogs best and can give you the right advice. This also applies to assessing the later appearance of the animals as adults, which is difficult for a layperson to do. What you can look out for: the puppy’s eyes, fur and nose should be clean and there should not be any bulges in the navel area (evidence of umbilical hernia). The characteristic floppy ears are normal.
What kind of dog suits me?
Whether shy and calm, or brave and confident, the breeder can pin it down.
Puppies’ behaviour does, in fact, give a first indication of their later nature. A puppy who remains shy when you visit may be reluctant as an adult dog, as well, and may be a bit anxious.
Of course, some puppies are real daredevils who will jump fearlessly right on to your shoelaces. This is a possible indication that the dog might become brave and dominant in adulthood.
You will receive help in the selection of a puppy from the breeder, of course, who will have a good eye for their protégés and tend to be able to predict the nature of their dogs as adults.
Family and sporting dogs
Before buying a dog, the most important question of all is: do you want a German Shepherd primarily as a companion for your family or are you aiming for a career in performance or exhibition sport? Depending on your answer, it is worthwhile to inquire in advance about a breeder’s focus. When it comes to German Shepherds, the division into performance and show animals is very advanced. As such, you should tell your breeder what tasks you want your dog to take on in the future, and they will give you the puppy that best suits you in its nature and abilities.