Responsibly breeding German shepherds can be a daunting task. German shepherds are one of the most popular and recognizable breeds. They are loyal, confident, and courageous dogs that make excellent companions and working dogs. When you take the steps necessary to be a responsible breeder, you can look forward to producing a litter of healthy German shepherd puppies with good temperaments.
German shepherd health considerations
Do not breed any dog that has major health issues. Many health issues are genetic and can be passed down to puppies. One of the qualities of a responsible breeder, according to the German Shepherd Club of America, is the willingness to offer a written health guarantee for each puppy.
The American Kennel Club recommends hip and elbow testing for breeding German shepherds to rule out dysplasia. In addition to testing your female, make sure the male you select has also had the necessary health screenings.
Evaluate your female German shepherd
To produce a quality litter, your female should meet the breed standard and have a pleasing temperament. Female German shepherds should measure 22 to 24 inches tall and weigh 50 to 70 pounds. Dogs should be strong and well-muscled with a chiseled head and pointed ears. Her back should be straight and slope slightly downwards from the withers to the tail.
In addition to the required health testing, review your female's veterinary records and take her to your veterinarian for a complete evaluation. If your vet gives her a clean bill of health, she passes her health screenings, and is free of diseases like degenerative myelopathy, it is time to select a stud dog.
Select a male stud dog
Only breed your German shepherd to an acceptable male who meets the breed standard and has passed the required health screenings. Consult experienced breeders to discuss policies on outside studding and address any questions or concerns you may have. Responsible breeders will be willing to answer any questions you have about the stud's lineage and health. They will also share the breeding fee schedule, which may include a puppy from the ensuing litter.
When you select a stud, the owner will likely request to see your female's documentation including vet records, show records, and health certifications. Many breeders may ask to evaluate your dog in person. Once you agree that the stud will be a good match, you will sign a contract with the breeder to finalize the agreement.
German shepherd mating
Female dogs go into heat about twice per year at an interval of four to 12 months. Monitor your female for signs of heat, which may include swelling of the vulva, vaginal bleeding, and more frequent urination. The heat cycle usually lasts two to three weeks. Your veterinarian can also perform tests such as a vaginal smear or Serum progesterone test to determine the best time to breed your dog.
Discuss the options with the stud dog owner and your veterinarian to determine when the breeding or semen collection will take place. Most breeders prefer that you deliver your female to the breeder's kennel so that she is onsite and the stud dog has the opportunity to breed the female on the appropriate days. If you opt for artificial insemination, you can arrange for the collection and transportation of semen from the stud dog and take your female to the vet for insemination.
Schedule an examination with your vet to ensure the mating was successful. There are several ways to check for pregnancy. Your vet can check for pregnancy by palpating the uterus around 28 to 30 days after breeding. Other methods include an ultrasound at 25 to 35 days or a hormone test 25 to 30 days after the mating. X-rays are also effective later in the pregnancy, usually around 55 days after mating.
- German Shepherd Club of America: Types of Breeders
- American Kennel Club: Health Testing Requirements
- American Kennel Club: German Shepherd Dog
- German Shepherd Club of America: German Shepherd Dog Breed Standard
- VCA Hospitals: Estrus and Mating in Dogs
- American Kennel Club: Dog Pregnancy: Signs, Care, and Preparing for Puppies