Some Questions & Answers

This list of questions and answers is here to help you make
a better decision in choosing a German Shepherd for you, be it with us or another breeder.  Good luck in your search and thanks for stopping by our site.

What are your puppy prices?

Puppies are priced at $1200 - $1800.  This depends on the litter.  Dogs sold into pet companion homes with limited papers are typically $1200. 
Here is a sample of our contract for a pet companion.

Why is there such a variety of prices in German Shepherd puppies with other breeders?

You see some advertised for $250 and some advertised for $5000 for a puppy.  Price can not guarantee quality.  Most of the time back yard breeders breed anything with AKC papers and try to make some money.  They know nothing about the temperament of the dog and do not hip certify the dogs.  It's a crap shoot when dealing with these types of breeders; people often experience severe health and/or temperament problems with these cheaper dogs.  They also promise the gimmick of "first pick."  If a problem arises later, you are out of luck.

Seriously, if you buy a puppy for $5000, it better drive you home and clean the house when you get there.  This price cracks me up for a puppy!

We deal with so many great families that simply can't afford dogs higher than our pet companion prices.  I would much rather have our dogs with great families and working homes than only place dogs with the wealthy.  It's true that our dogs have incredible pedigrees and have many accomplishments, but we still feel our puppies are priced with working people and families in mind.  So, if you wonder why we have the same pedigrees, the same titles (and in some cases more titles than others), and the same types of dogs, yet are so much cheaper, this is our reasoning.

WARNING:  If you buy from untitled parents (maybe they are "imported" parents), ask their reasoning for their prices.  Many breeders can't afford to title or lack the resources or flat out don't have a dog that can be titled, yet they charge a lot of money for their pups.  This is because they are all about making money.

What is the difference between the American style of German Shepherd and the European German Shepherds?

I hear this one more and more, so I'll try to give a short answer.  Many of the dogs showing in the AKC conformation ring are the American style.  They tend to be long dogs with extreme hip angulation; very few have working titles.  Many have skittish temperaments and are unstable.  The working drives have long been bred out of most.  This is just not my style of dog, as I like the versatile nature of the German style dog.   

Europeans focus more on temperament, working structure, and stability.  A German Shepherd is a working breed.  They are an all-around dog.  They are in every type of canine endeavor.  In order to do this, they must have trainable drives, a solid temperament, a desire to work, and a structure that will hold up to strenuous activity year after year.  This is why I have dogs from Germany and Slovakia. 

This is my personal opinion and my preferences in a German Shepherd, so take it for what it's worth.

Why are pet companions sold with limited AKC papers?

Most our of puppies are sold on limited papers. Not every dog should be bred, nor every owner should be a breeder.  Hip & health clearances are important as well as temperament tests for the potential breeding prospects.  You also need to have a basic understanding of the dog's pedigree and other lines to use or stay away from altogether.  I am by no means the know-all-end-all in the dog world, but have worked hard to build a program with stable, gorgeous, healthy, driven, and intelligent dogs.  If I allowed all of my puppies to be bred, I would be doing each puppy, as well as my program a disservice.  Most back-yard breeders sell all of their puppies with full breeding rights, as they don't care what happens after the money is exchanged.  I care a great deal about what happens to my dogs.

Please, do not ask for breedings rights on your pet.  If you're not willing to title and certify hips, there is no reason for you to breed your dog.  If this is important to you, there are lots of other breeders for you.

Why do you recommend spaying or neutering wait until after one year of age?

The secondary sex characteristics have been allowed to develop yet.  Many vets scare owners into this too soon.  Trust me when I say that males will look like its and females will look masculine if done too soon. Sometimes females become incontinent.  I am all for spaying and neutering, but please, wait until one year of age.  You will not regret this decision.   Starting July 2010, this is requirement in my contract.  Spaying and neutering too soon is a huge mistake that I don't want anyone making.

Why don't you have puppies available at all times?

We're a small kennel and want to stay that way.  The dogs are part of the family.  In order to stay that way, we stay small. 

Why can't I just pick my own puppy?

Not every pup is for every person or family.  We puppy test to ensure we're placing the right puppy with the right home.   I've spent the time with them as they grow to see their temperament and drives.  You can't determine that from a picture or from five minutes with the litter.   I have lost several sales due to this policy, but I remain firm.  You'll find good breeders do the same thing. 

Also, watch for the "pick" puppy advertised by some.  Most of the time this term is used to lure people into buying.  When someone claims to have a pick puppy, ask what it was picked for.  I select or pick a puppy for people based on their needs and wants in a puppy.  So, if done correctly, each person feels like they got the "pick" of the litter for them.

If you are a working home, by all means come do your own evaluation of the litter.  I'm pretty confident you'll make the same selection I would for you.

Pet owners -  if are set on picking your own despite reading my reasoning, go to a puppy mill or someone who is all about the money.

Why can't I select the name?

We've adopted the German custom of naming each litter with the same letter, then our kennel name.   We're proud of our kennel and our reputation, so we ask that each of our puppies carry the name.  This is a very common practice in the German Shepherd world.  If you are on the early waiting list, we'll ask you to come up with the first part of the name, as long as it is consistent with the letter of that litter.

Why do I need to keep in contact with you and send picture updates?

I'm constanting evaluating my program.   I can't fully assess a breeding if I can't see the dogs and hear from the owners.  I try to help if problems arise and love to hear the funny stories about our kids.

Why do you recommend obedience classes when I just want a pet?

Going through with at least one course really helps your dog socialize with other dogs and people, builds a stronger bond as handler and dog, and makes your dog a much better dog to be around.  At the vet's office, I am appalled at how many ill-mannered dogs are dragging their owners or knocking down others.  Who wants to be around that type of dog?  Basic obedience training makes a better pet.

Dog classes also allow you to improve your handling skills.  Everyone benefits from obedience classes.

German Shepherds are such bright dogs; obedience training helps stimulate their brains. Doing something with your dog at a young age is kind of like reading to a child when they are young.  It truly helps their brain development.

What if I don't have time to go to an obedience class?

Then you probably don't have time for a dog. 

Why is your deposit non-refundable?

A deposit is a committment to one of our puppies.  After receiving the deposit, we hold a puppy in that litter.  I have found that some people place several deposits with several breeders, wanting the first available puppy anywhere, then calling in the other deposits.  This wastes lots of time and energy for the breeders.  Please, make sure you are serious about a puppy before you place a deposit.

Deposits are half of the purchase price. 

Why are more breeders claiming to be trainers?

Unfortunately, some people lie in the dog world.  I have to laugh at some sites that claim they are dog trainers and give lessons, but most of their dogs are untitled.  If most of their dogs are untitled, ask them specifically why.  If they are titled, ask about their performances under pressure, and so on.

I work with my own dogs in obedience and tracking.  I enjoy competing and practicing.  For the Schutzhund titles, I have hired top notch trainers to complete the titles.  The bottom line is that I work my dogs to ensure they are exactly the type of dog for my program.

Why do some breeders claim to be breeding just for pet companions and no show or working dogs?

This is code for "my dogs probably lack correct temperament or structure and I don't want to put any money/time into my dogs.  I just raise them to make money."

I want an over-sized German Shepherd that is 120 lbs.  Do you have any?

No, I don't sell Shetland ponies.

Are over-sized German Shepherds really the way Shepherds used to be?

This is a great marketing ploy, but not true.  The original German Shepherd was a smaller dog.  The German standard is very clear that a GSD is not an over sized breed.  Some Americans in the last 20 years have developed huge lines.  A GSD is never supposed to be 120 lbs.  The athleticism and quickness is lost.  Their structure is completely different.  Many are plagued with health issues. 

What do you feed your dogs?

We feed Taste of the Wild.  Here is a link for more information on this outstanding food.  We also recommend K-9 Kraving dog treats.

Can you give me information on other breeders?

Talk about a loaded question.  When I can say something nice about another breeder, I do.  There are lots of quality breeders that do a super job.  Unfortunately, there are more breeders that just aren't good breeders.  I don't bash others. 

If I don't have anything that fits your needs, I am always happy to recommend another quality breeder. 

Why do you caution about buying puppies based on a website?

The Internet is a great tool for researching and reaching breeders that wouldn't have been possible even ten years ago.  This said, please be careful basing decsions only on a website.  The very flashy and extremely professional sites may just be all flash, covering the fact they are puppy mills.  Ask questions of the breeder and press them on the working ability of their dogs.  What do they personally do with their dogs?

When a website pictures dogs only behind a fence or in a kennel, run away!  Taking nice dog pictures is tough to do, and it takes multiple people.  If the WHOLE website is full of junky pictures and dogs in terrible positions, why would you ever buy from them?  If the facility looks dirty in the pictures, why would you buy from them?  If it looks like each dog crawled out from under a porch, why would you buy from them?  I don't care if the pedigrees look nice, raising dogs is a big committment.  If they don't care enough to take decent pictures, why would you support them?

What questions should I ask breeders when looking for a German Shepherd?

Why was this breeding done?  Specifically, what are the goals for this particular breeding? 
What do you expect from this litter in terms of temperament, drives, & structure?
What titles do the parents have?  (ask about the working ability of both parents)
What makes each parent breedworthy?  What have the parents done that justify breeding?  ( "The parents have been good pets"  is a terrible answer )
What are the hip ratings for both parents and grandparents?
What are the health guarantees for the dog?
What does that breeder do to improve their program?
Can I meet all of your dogs? 
May I see your facility?
What vaccination and de-worming schedule is the puppy on?
May I speak with your veterinarian about the health of your dogs?

These are just some examples.  Breeders that are doing it for the money alone or are back-yard breeders just can't answer all these questions.  Do not be fooled by cute pictures or fancy websites, do your homework.

*HUGE TIP - if each dog is pictured behind a fence on their site, run away! 

Remember, you are always welcome to come visit our kids and meet each one.  Meeting the dogs tells you more about a breeder and their program than pictures or write-ups on a website.  Feel free to ask lots of questions before you make a decision to bring a new family member into your family or new working partner into your life.

This list of questions and answers is here to help you make a better decision in choosing a German Shepherd for you, be it with us or another breeder.  Good luck in your search and thanks for stopping by our site.

Jennifer Holtgrew
27921 K42
Merrill, Iowa  51038

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A State of Iowa licensed facility - AW0009774-00

Canine Good Citizen Evaluator for the AKC

This page was last updated on: June 23, 2011
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