Frequently Asked Questions
1. Registration Policies
2. Hip Dysplasia and Hip Dysplasia Control Registries
3. Gender Issues: Male versus Female?
4. Questions Concerning Deposits on Puppies.
4. Puppy Prices.
1. Registration Policies
We frequently receive questions concerning registration. Much information and misinformation concerning various forms of registration are to be found on the Internet. The two most common questions we receive concern registries, and forms of registration. I'll attempt to answer the most common questions on those two subjects here.
Answer: There is only one FCI Recognized registry for German Shepherd Dogs in America and that would be the American Kennel Club. We register all litters with the AKC and comply fully with all AKC rules for breeders. All puppies are placed with AKC Registration Applications or AKC Registration Certificates.
Further, the AKC offers breeders the option of placing any individual puppy on either "full" or "limited" registration. The option of placing puppies on a limited form of registration was adopted by AKC after years of request from reputable breeders for a non-breeding form of registration. While dogs with full registration have breeding rights and the right to be shown in any AKC event those dogs with limited registration cannot be shown in AKC Conformation events (they can be shown in all performance events and USCA conformation events) and their progeny are not eligible for registry with the AKC. Dog registered with limited registration can have their status changed to full at the sole discretion of the breeder. Dogs on full cannot have their status changed to limited.
The full vs. limited option is frequently used by breeders for purposes not intended by the AKC. The AKC does not in any way stipulate which puppies be placed on which form of registration and makes no distinction between well bred quality puppies and poorly bred low quality puppies. Thusly, many (sadly most) poor quality dogs have full registration and many top quality dogs have limited registration. There is no difference in quality between dogs based on registration status. While many breeders choose to use registration status to encourage puppy buyers to pay more money for a puppy, there is nothing in the AKC registration status that indicates the quality of an individual dog. Breeders alone decides which puppies are placed on full and which on limited, for their own reasons. A puppy from a low quality breeder is still a low quality puppy no matter what form of registration his breeder chooses for him, conversely, a high quality puppy is high quality no matter his registration status.
We choose to use registration status in a way that mirrors the registration system employed in Germany, where dogs are not eligible for breeding until they have hip and elbow certification and have earned working titles. Many breeders, ourselves included, use limited registration in this way to safeguard our well earned reputations, kennel names, and most importantly our individual dogs. Placing all puppies on limited registration until they are OFA certified and have obtained working titles prevents much unnecessary breeding. It also protects our puppies and dogs from puppy mill breeders, and uneducated breeders as these types of breeders are not interested in complying with even these basic requests. Since we are not interested in placing our dogs in any situation where they are not, first and foremost, cherished companion dogs we have no desire to place dogs with this type of breeder anyway. The GSD should always be a companion dog first, a competition dog second, and a breeding dog last.
To clarify, All our puppies are placed with AKC Limited Registration, no exceptions will be made. There is never any additional charge for changing a dogs registration status from limited to full. We will only consider a change of registration status once the dog has obtained OFA certification (on hips, elbows, thyroid, and cardiac function) and obtained at least one working title (any AKC, USCA, or GSDCA-WDA title is acceptable, "certificates" such as ADs,CGCs, TT, and HICs are not). Changes in registration status are made at our discretion. If we approve the change there is never any additional charge. For owners who plan to spay or neuter their dogs, registration status is not material, and we will change the status from limited to full upon receiving proof of sterilization.
Answer: Many people ask us about registration with the United Schutzhund Club of America (USCA or USA) or with the SV of Germany. Misinformation concerning registry options abounds. USCA offers a couple different registration options, the first being a litter registry for breeders and the second being an individual dog registry for the use of owners.
A common misunderstanding stems from questions concerning German or SV registration for dogs born (whelped) outside of Germany. Please note, no matter what any breeder tells you, that no puppy who is born in America can be registered with the SV (German) registry. Germany has no power to issue SV registration to any dog not whelped in Germany. While the SV does offer the service of printing registration documents for other countries (such as USCA) these dogs are not entered into the same registry as dogs that are born in Germany.
USCA registration documents are only recognized by the USCA and are not usable for any purpose other then entry into USCA sponsored events. While some USCA registration documents are printed by the SV (German Shepherd Clubs of Germany) they are NOT "German papers" and in no way are they acceptable in SV events. The USCA simply contracts with the SV to print these documents based on the SV's data. Many people believe, partially due to misinformation provided by breeders, that USCA litter papers are the same as SV registration, this is not true, and indeed USCA documents cannot be used for entry into SV events, AKC documents must be used. USCA litter papers are printed in the fashion of SV documents and they do contain wonderful information not available on AKC Certified Pedigrees. USCA registration documents can also be used for entry into USCA events (conformation shows and breed surveys mainly) but since this registry is not recognized by the FCI they cannot be used for entry into AKC or GSDCA-WDA events. This registration document is intended as an "addition" to AKC documents not as a sole form of registration.
Additionally, the USCA offers an individual registry for the USCA registration of individual dogs (vs. litters of puppies). ANY dog with AKC registration is eligible for USCA Individual registration (since the AKC is the FCI accepted registry for America). USCA offers two types of individual registration, one processed through the USCA office (in this form they issue a pedigree in the German style) and the latter processed through the SV office (in this form they simply stamp the registration number on your own AKC Pedigree). Individual registration also used for entry into USA breed events (conformation shows and breed surveys) but not for entry into non-USCA events. All our puppies are eligible for entry into the USCA individual registry. For those owners who desire to obtain this registration the following items are needed. An AKC Registration Certificate, AKC Certified four generation pedigree. All our puppies are tattooed, as is required for USA registration. Once the needed documents are obtained by the owner the forms needed for USCA registration can be downloaded along with instructions from the USCA website. Be prepared to wait, we have been waiting two years for the last group of papers we sent to USA.
2. Hip Dysplasia and Hip Dysplasia Control Registries.
Here are a few questions we get concerning hip dysplasia:
We do not get too many questions, actually, regarding hip dysplasia in our dogs because we print the OFA information for each dog on their individual web pages, our visitors are not left to wonder about the hip status of our breeding dogs, which organization we prefer, or if our dogs are 'a' stamped, Penn-Hipped, OFA "prelimed," or OFA Certified.
However, we do get lots and lots of questions concerning hip dysplasia, its causes and methods of prevention.
For those who are don't know what hip dysplasia is or who need more
information on the particulars of this disease please first visit the
following link before reading my answers.
First of all, no matter what some breeders may say otherwise, hip dysplasia is at it's root a disease of genetics: the environment a dog is raised in does seem to play a small role in the development of the disease, but the basic cause is genetic. This means a dog who inherits the genes for hip dysplasia is never going to have normal hip joint conformation no matter what you feed it , how thin you keep it, or how you manage its life, period. Conversely a dog who has the genes for normal hip structure is going to be a sound dog and develop normal hips, assuming the dog has adequate nutrition, is kept in normal weight, and lives a normal lifestyle. ( If you would like to learn more about raising healthy dogs read our "raising healthy dogs" FAQs segment.)
We have found that the breeders who have the greatest problem with hip dysplasia are often those who blame the environment (and thus the owners) to the greatest degree, while those breeders with a sound breeding program that produces less then the breed average of affected dogs are often the most willing to admit this disease is genetic in origin.
Just because this disease is genetic in origin does not mean any breeder can predict if any particular puppy is going to inherit this disease; the very best any breeder can do to reduce the incidence of this disease is to use sound breeding practices based in an understanding of this disease and how it is inherited as they plan their breeding program. Breeders with a desire to produce sound, healthy puppies can find all the information they need to formulate a breeding plan on the website of the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (www.offa.org).
The OFA, along with several other registries in Europe, screens dogs for this disease (and others) to assist breeders in reducing the occurrence of disease in purebred dogs. Unlike most registries in Europe the OFA is not affiliated with or run in any way by the breed clubs or breeders themselves, but is instead a stand alone, not-for-profit organization that exists purely to assist breeders in reducing genetic diseases in dogs.
Some of the most frequent questions we get in this regard concern the difference between the OFA's program and the program of the SV of Germany (the 'a' stamp).
No one with any understanding of our breeds history could ever state that the German's have not done an excellent job of reducing the incidence of hip dysplasia in GSDs and that the rate of affection in modern dogs is at an all time low (about 19%) in Germany, despite the breed's history of having up to 90 percent of GSDs affected in the early days of x-ray evaluation. This is due to the unwavering commitment of the SV in encouraging the use of dogs not affected with the disease and the discouragement of the use of dogs affected with the disease in breeding programs (although dogs mildly affected can be bred in Germany). However, in the interest of maintaining genetic diversity in the early years, this program did allow the breeding of dogs who have hip dysplasia. Interestingly, to make up for shortcomings in the 'a' stamp system the SV has in recent years developed additional safe-guards to prevent dogs with hip dysplasia who obtain 'a' stamps from wreaking too much havoc within the breed. The first of these was a requirement that popular stud dogs (who have the greatest influence on the breed) be re-evaluated by x-ray after 30 breedings (one breeding season for a popular stud); second, a complex program giving dogs a numerical value for hip dysplasia risk was set up for breeders. This excellent program, which is too complex to go into here, is an excellent tool for breeders in Germany, but sadly is of limited use for breeders in the USA.
In our opinion the OFA, which is not affiliated with any breed club and has a more rigorous screening protocol, renders more accurate results for American breeders. Since the OFA is not affiliated with any breed club there was never any consideration of certifying dogs who have hip dysplasia and thusly only dogs with normal hips can receive OFA Certification.
We have not included Pen-Hip evaluations on this discussion as we do not believe this evaluation is reliable enough for breeding purposes and it is not recognized by any FCI registry as a suitable test for this disease. Nor have we included registries from other countries; you can find additional information on these on the OFA website.
Here are Austerlitz Shepherds (AGSD) we follow the OFA's recommendations for breeders. We breed only from OFA Certified breeding stock, never OFA Preliminary Opinions, and only rarely rely on 'a' stamps. Further, we take into account, as the OFA recommends, sibling studies; and as our dogs are all of German descent, the 'a' stamp ratings, hip numbers, and siblings studies of our dog's German ancestors are subsequently available. We feel this commitment to doing everything we can to produce dogs with healthy orthopedics is the reason why our program consistently produces a much higher rate of normal hips (99%) then the current average for our breed (82%).
A short comparison of OFA vs. the 'a' stamp follows. Keep in mind the 'a' stamp program is well proven and works very well for Germans but we believe it's use for American breeders is very limited and that the OFA presents the best choice for breeders in America.
Comparison of Hip Rating Systems
|Question||German 'a' stamp||OFA Preliminary Opinion||OFA Certification|
|Age requirement?||Minimum of 12 months for breeding purposes.||Minimum of 3 months, no certification is possible.||Minimum of 24 months for certification.|
|Number of Vets (DVM) who render opinion?||One DVM.||One DVM, a Board-Certified Radiologist.||Three DVMs, all Board- Certified Radiologists (blind opinions).|
|Ratings offered for dogs with normal hip joints and no disease present?||
|Ratings offered for dogs with borderline hip structure (almost or nearly normal, but no signs of disease at the time of x-ray)?||
||Certification not possible, dogs are rated borderline.|
|Ratings for dogs with hip dysplasia?||
Certification not possible.
|Notes and Caveats.||Due to the young age at certification and the increased chance of error when using one DVM for evaluation, some dogs with the 'a' stamp may have better or worse hips than their evaluation states.||OFA states Preliminary Opinions are NOT to be used as an evaluation of breed worthiness in regards to hip dysplasia. These evaluations are offered only for informational purposes.||
|In use at AGSD?||Occasionally, and for ancestor studies.||No.||Yes for all breeding dogs.|
Please note all this information reflects the opinion of Austerlitz Shepherds
and is not intended for any purpose other then general information.
3. Gender Issues: Male vs. Female?
Here are some questions we get concerning choosing a male or female puppy:
This is only a very small sampling of questions we receive concerning the differences between the sexes in GSDs. There are many myths regarding the matter of choosing the "correct" gender of your dog. In attempting to answer these questions and address the myths, I must first clarify my answer with the following information:
When we speak to the differences between the males and females we must always keep these to factors in mind because both play a part in how a dog will behave.
Obviously the most important factor in adult behavior in a dog is environment. We have often found that very similar litter-mates grow into very different adult dogs because they have grown up in two very different environments. How a dog is raised, trained, and the environment he lives in plays a huge role in his behavior as an adult dog.
However, it is undeniable that genetics also plays a role in adult behavior, and many of a dogs natural behavioral tendency's are inherited.
The overlying lesson would be that, no matter which gender you choose, you should select a puppy from parents whose behavior is similar to the type of dog you are looking for. For example, if your household is full of teenagers who often have teenage friends over, you may wish for a gregarious dog who is open and friendly with those he does not know well (i.e. your kid's friends). If you choose a puppy from parents who are naturally suspicious with strangers, no matter if you choose a female or male, you are likely to have problems. On the other hand, if your spouse often travels, and you would prefer a dog who is a natural protector (i.e. aloof and naturally suspicious) you might be unhappy with an outgoing, I love everyone, type of dog (even if you choose a male).
Once you have determined what your basic needs are and you have found a puppy with parents who are very close to your "ideal" GSD in natural behavior you can then take responsibility for making sure your puppy grows into the dog of your dreams by ensuring he, or she, is raised and trained in such a way that you are guaranteed of success. Never assume a puppy raised without such a plan will grow up to be a dog you would like to own; make it happen through careful consideration, preparation, and training.
Now to the myths...
Myth number 1. Males are more aggressive then females. (This can also be restated as: males are better for schutzhund or protection; or the converse, that females are less aggressive and thus not good for sport or protection, but are always good for novice owners with small children, or with lots of visitors running in and out of their house.)
Busted! This is a common, and completely unfounded, myth even among many breeders, and it is very common among not-very-experienced schutzhund folks. But anyone who has raised very many dogs from puppy hood knows this is just not true. Some females are exceptionally courageous and some males are cowardly. Some males are good with other males and some females are fighters. Having raised many sets of male/female litter mates (such as Hasso and Helge, Frisco and Fina) it is very obvious to us that behavioral tendencies run in families and that if a male is very aggressive (or fearful) it is likely that his litter sisters are also very aggressive (or fearful). We do not see courageous, hard fighting, over-the-top males without also finding very similar full sisters. The other end also holds true; if a dog lacks courage, or even confidence, it is very likely that the siblings do as well. So, if a female puppy is lacking in confidence choosing a male from that litter is likely only going to mean that you will end up with a male who lacks confidence.
What does seem true is that there is a great degree of similarity between well-bred siblings in regards to behavior. What is also true is that each (good) breeder has a preference for particular type of temperament and that "ideal" temperament is subjective, and may be very different between breeders. So, the temperament and personality of our males is very similar to those traits in our females, however, our dogs may be very different in these traits than those from a different breeder with different priorities, even if the dogs are of the same gender. This means a male from me is most likely very similar to my females but he may not behave at all like a male from someone else's breeding program.
So, when considering any puppy from any breeder what is most important is NOT the gender of the dog but instead the behavioral tendencies of the parents/grandparent, etc. So, if you desire a particular type of personality in your adult dog, do not select a puppy from parents whose behavior is markedly different. Do not fool yourself into believing that a puppy from parents who show any unnatural aggression (i.e. handler aggression, dog aggression, toy aggression, or food aggression) is not going to have a strong tendency towards these behaviors himself or herself. So, if you do not want any of these traits in your dog do not consider getting a puppy from parents who posses any of these behaviors themselves.
Instead, choose a puppy from parents who themselves are very close to your ideal. If you need an aloof, one family/person type dog to protect you or your family, do not select a male puppy from two "lab-like" social butterflies and think that just because he is a male he is going to be a natural guardian. This will not be the case and your needs would have been better met by a female from two naturally protective parents.
On the other hand, if you know that you prefer an "novice friendly" dog who is gregarious and won't mind lots of company, kids, and other visitors, don't even consider a puppy from aloof, naturally suspicious parents. Even if you choose a female puppy you will find she is still going to be aloof (and perfectly able to act on her suspicions).
Myth Number 2: Male dogs do not get along with other male dogs; female dogs do not get along with other female dogs; and finally, the ever-popular, opposite-sex pairs always get along well.
Busted! If you have a dog already, do not think that simply choosing a dog of the opposite sex is a guarantee of success. Instead invest some time in truly understanding the temperament of your dog, if your grown dog is not always sociable with other dogs fix that problem first, before you bring a new puppy home. Do not think simply adding a dog of a different sex is the answer, some dogs are far more tolerant of rude behavior from another dog and some have a very low tolerance, know your dog and know the social tendencies of the parents of any puppy you are considering. Well matched dogs of any sex can get along well together. Our males and female mix freely. Obviously we have more females then males and all our girls socialize freely with each other (and the boys) during long “turn out play times” in our yard. We have no problems with female to female aggression among our dogs and indeed many of our girls are BFF with other female dogs, and these friendships often last their entire lives.
Many males are tolerant of other males too, those neutered early and raised in a dog social environment are the best, while some intact males, raised in social isolation are the worst. Many of our visitors would comment on our two males Frisco and Hasso and how well they interacted together and indeed these two males spent hours together, unsupervised, in our play area with all their lady friends. Our intact and neutered males socialize freely in most cases, we occasionally have intact males that require supervision when playing with other intact males and this is most common in “teenager” males between the ages of 2 and 4 years. Some bloodlines produce males exceptionally well suited to multi-male environments, for example our male Hasso was exceptionally good with other males and he has passed this trait onto his sons and grandsons, who have no interest in “posturing” or other boy dog games. Our male Xano tended to produce “social climbers' who often engage in social posturing and other boy dog games, these males are not well suited for multi male environments except with experienced trainer/owners or if they are neutered prior to puberty. Being able to recognize traits such as these is one benefit of going to an experienced breeder/trainer for your puppy.
Finally, some male/female teams are not good either. Dogs, like people, can sometimes rub someone the wrong way and and a pair of mismatched dogs can, even if they are male/female, not enjoy each others company... and when the dogs don't get along nobody is happy.
For most novice owners one male dog per household is enough, while multiple females are rarely a problem (if well bred and raised) raising multiple males can be a challenge. We most often recommend male/female pairs, but this is not always the case as each situation and the dogs involved are unique.
Remember, if you desire a multi-dog household, start with a puppy from social parents who enjoy the company of other dogs (as all GSDs with correct temperament should) and then raise your dog in such a way that your dogs respect each other and get along well together (we are happy to help out in this!). When raised properly a well bred GSD will enjoy the company of familiar dogs almost as much as they enjoy their human family.
4. Questions Concerning Deposits on Puppies
We get so many questions about deposits that I have decided to write this to answer the most common ones. If you have a different question please let me know.
First, AGSD reserves the right of first selection in every litter, as well as the right to select puppies for each client. We have found that a small number of guidelines help us select puppies for each family with a minimum of competition among our clients.
A deposit is encouraged, but not required, when purchasing a puppy from AGSD. Deposits are always $400, regardless of litter. A deposit is required if you wish to hold a puppy from a particular litter, but a deposit is not a guarantee that you will get a puppy from that litter (for further explanation, please see below).
A deposit for a puppy may be placed as soon as the female's pregnancy is confirmed. Pregnancies are confirmed via ultrasound about four weeks after breeding. No deposits on a litter will be accepted until a pregnancy is confirmed! We can usually get a fairly accurate puppy count during the ultrasound, and this count indicates the number of deposits we will accept for that litter.
Once pregnancy is confirmed and a puppy count obtained, we open the litter to deposits. An announcement is sent to everyone on our "To Contact" list stating that deposits on a litter are being accepted (to be placed on our "To Contact" list please e-mail Susanne). After this notice has been sent the website is updated as well. Puppies are selected for each owner/family in the order deposits are received. There is never any additional cost for first puppy selected, nor is there any difference in quality among our puppies: they are all of high quality. Once we have received deposits equal to the number of confirmed of embryos in the litter, we close that litter to deposits.
Occasionally the number of puppies whelped is different from the number of embryos seen on ultrasound. If the number of puppies whelped is less than the number of embryos seen on ultrasound, we will refund deposits in either the reverse order of which they were received (last ones first) or the most preferences (i.e. gender, sex, coat, color) first. Conversely, if the number of puppies is greater then expected we will contact those on our "To Contact" list first and offer them the chance to send a deposit before we open the litter on the website.
Deposits can be made by personal check, teller check, or cash.
Deposits are non-refundable unless the desired puppy is not present in the litter (e.g. no males, no solid black, etc), in which case the client may choose a puppy of a different gender/color/etc or have their deposit refunded. Deposits are never "held over" for another litter unless the client prefers this option. Clients whose deposits are held over are automatically placed first in puppy selection for the next litter.
Yes, you can place a deposit on a puppy of a specific gender, color, coat, etc. If there is no puppy that matches the preferences in the litter your deposit is refunded or held over: your choice.
However, because the long coat trait is not visible in puppies until a puppy is older, this presents us with a problem. As most puppies are selected for their families before the age when this trait starts to show, and since we want to make our selections in a timely fashion, clients who have no coat preference are always given priority over those who do. Clients with the fewest number of preferences always give us the greatest flexibility in helping them find a puppy that meets their needs, in regards to temperament and personality first and cosmetic issues second. That said, many of our clients have very strong ideas about what they are looking for and we do believe that every owner should have the dog they dream of. So, if you want a black sable, stock coat male, feel free to place a deposit for one (assuming that the color and coat is possible in the litter you are considering; we place color and coat possibilities on each litter page) and we will do our very best to help you find the dog you are dreaming of.
It is always our goal to find our puppies the very best, loving, permanent homes, and we work very hard to attract these hard to find, wonderful, people to our program. We have found that it is often the case, since we have been breeding for a long time and our reputation is well known, that all the puppies in a litter are spoken for before they are born. We strive to have a family or owner approved for each puppy before it is born, and we often meet this goal. However, I do understand that for some people the idea of placing a deposit on an unborn puppy is new, and because so many breeders have trouble finding homes for their puppies it is not uncommon to see breeders with entire litters of puppies to view with all the puppies available, but this is rarely the case with our program. It does sometimes occur that we have puppies "on the ground" that are not reserved; this is most often the case if we have a much larger then expect litter. If you would prefer to meet and greet the puppies before placing a deposit this is not a problem; we will gladly send you a note when the puppies reach the age of visitation, and let you know what is available at that time. We also post such things on the website.
5. Puppy Prices
Before I can answer questions about pricing, let me first discuss some common misconceptions concerning puppies.
Here at AGSD we believe that every dog deserves and desires to be a companion dog. While many of our owners do compete with their dogs in a variety of events, from agility to schutzhund, if they obtained their puppy from us, be assured that these dogs are first of all beloved companion dogs and not sports equipment. We never place dogs in situations where they will be living in a kennel, nor where they are only valued for their breeding potential or competition potential. We are looking for loving, permanent, indoor, family homes for our dogs.
We have three price points for litters, and these prices are based completely on how many awards, titles, and accomplishments the parents have earned, and not in any way on the quality of the parents. Unfortunately, we have only so much time to train and show our dogs, and some dogs, despite having much potential, do not get as many chances to compete as some other dogs. Be assured that all our dogs are of similar quality and that there will be no difference in the quality among these litters.
Please note all puppies carry the same guarantee (please see our guarantee page), and all puppies are placed with AKC Limited Registration (please see our registration FAQ for more info on this). All breeding dogs carry the same health clearances (please see our litter planning protocol for more information).
Deposits are always $400, please see our deposit FAQ for information on placing a deposit.
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