Buying a puppy can be an intense experience. Should you adopt or buy? And if you do buy, should it be from a pet store or breeder? Even further, there's a mountain of research ahead for deciding which dog is perfect for you and your family. For this article, we're going to assume that you've decided to purchase a German Shepherd from a hopefully a reputable breeder, but how can you tell that they're as good as they say they are? The following article is going to provide 5 questions you need to ask your next German Shepherd breeder before you buy.
1. Have any of the dogs that you breed from developed degenerative myelopathy?
Degenerative myelopathy is thought to be a disease with a strong genetic component that is particularly rampant in German Shepherds. It is believed to be an auto-immune disorder where the dog's antibodies begin to attack its lower spinal cord. This leads to paralysis in the back legs and soon after, death.
As of this writing in 2010, there is no cure for degenerative myelopathy. The disease is best prevented through proper diet, exercise, and good genes. That is why it is imperative to determine which dogs are at risk for it and decrease demand for them.
2. Are your German Shepherds bred for show or working and protection?
While not always the case, German Shepherds bred for show and exclusively for show can sometimes be hyperactive or even of low intelligence. While the dog will meet all of the standards for the breed, that does not mean that it is a good fit for your family. The telltale signs of a show dog is a long slender body and face and hind legs that are almost unnaturally curvy.
In the same boat as the show dog, German Shepherds bred for work and protection are typically energetic and intense. They want to work and be active. They can also show signs of extreme aggression. Again this may be too much for a family and they may not be able to fully take care of it. Working dogs are typically stockier and bulkier.
A good answer is that the dogs have been mixed between them. This allows them to have the show dog's milder temperament, but the intelligence and vigor of the working dog.
3. How old are the puppies?
It is important that puppies are not taken from their mother for at least 7 weeks. It's during this time that the puppies are socialized by their mothers. Often times, if a puppy is taken away from its mother too early it can become overly aggressive to other dogs as it ages. This can be anything from nipping to full out attacks. This is especially important for large and potentially dangerous breeds such as German Shepherds. A German Shepherd can injure or kill other dogs or even people without much difficulty. One way to help curb this behavior is to let the puppy stay with its mother.
4. Have the puppies been raised inside your home or in a separate building or enclosure?
A dog must begin its socialization early. It needs to be surrounded by daily family activities such as cooking meals, taking out the trash, and having little ones running about. Dogs in separated from these activities at an early age can have issues in adjusting to their new homes. It may be too much stimulation or the dog may become stressed out. Neither of which is good for you or the dog.
5. Have you tested the parents for hip dysplasia and received certificates for it?
Along with degenerative myelopathy, hip dysplasia is very common in German Shepherds. It is a disorder of the hips, where the ball joint of the leg does not match perfectly with the ball socket in the hip. Furthermore, the muscles are usually more lax than they should be, creating a weak hip and leg structure. This causes the hip and leg to begin to move apart from each other and causes osteoarthritis in the German Shepherd. This makes it taxing for the dog to even move about.
There are many questions you should ask your German Shepherd breeder before buying a puppy. Hopefully, these questions will allow you to make a better decision on whether to buy a puppy from a breeder.
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Dennis on February 22, 2014:
Kim McNeil is a fictitious person created by the person behind Pet Harmonics. It is a scam. They prey on people in desperation trying to save their dog. DM does not have a cure at the present time and Sanus-Biotex will neither slow or reverse the disease.
Cindy Rapp on December 22, 2012:
It appears Kim McNeil is also a scam. She is unreachable also. Totally disgusting...
Elizabeth Deevon on November 12, 2012:
Hi Dr. McNeil -
You seem to be endorsing the product distributed by Pet Harmonics. I am a new client and am having a terrible, terrible time in having them reply to my queries. They have no phone number and I'm beginning to wonder if they are a legitimate company. I have seen some negative blogs regarding their company. I notice that you also are not available to be reached via phone and/or e-mail.
Dr. McNeil on August 09, 2011:
Just searching for info on Degenerative Myelopathy and found - what seems to be a great new product in the battle against this disease at http://www.degenerative-myelopathy.com
Just letting you know,
Dr. Kim McNeil dvm