Guidance on dealing with health issues in the German Shepherd.

How big is too big? When to STOP puppy food.

Hello German shepherd puppies lovers:

I have so many people calling me to ask if their puppy is too big and if they should stop puppy food.  This is a difficult question.  First let us look at the breed standard and then give some useful benchmarks to to use in making that decison.

For males, height ranges from 60-65 centimeters adn 66-88 pounds.  For females the height is 55-60 (5 cm or 2 inches at the withers…shoulder blade area) and weight at 48-70 pounds.  So the maximum weight for a male it around 88, although they may get to be 90-95 at maturity (4-6 years old), MAX.  An 80 pound female is over standard and may be overweight.  But this is where it takes more discernment.

Frame is very important.  If a dog is over standard in height then it will likely be overstandard in weight.  If a dog is mid-standard in height it should likely be mid-standard in weight.  When dogs are obese is when they have a weight grossly inconsistent with their frame height.

American always seem to want to buy by the pound.  They think they are getting a better deal when getting more pound for the dollar.  But oversize shepherds are more prone to joint problems. They move less characteristically, I would say less gracefully.  They can, if much larger than the standard, start exhibiting characteristics of gigantism:  Drooping jowls, different bone structure in the face, atypical gait, etc.  Shepherds are not a giant breed.   For years the Germans have allowed “creative stacking” in the world sieger show and have been biased toward the more majestic, larger shepherds.  But not the gigantic ones Americans seem to like.  They were maybe a centimeter or two above standard.

But the SV is moving back toward the middle of the standard, trying to correct the tendency toward huge shepherds.  Max Von Stephanitz had a particular vision for the shepherd which was as a working dog, and oversize can negatively impact this.  One could also argue that having shepherd grossly larger than standard could negatively affects other characteristics of the breed standard from movement to appearance. Also, one might argue that the German shepherd joints were not made for such a large dog.

In the next article we will give you some guidelines about when to stop puppy food and some of the dangers of overgrowing puppies.  Bottom line:  Bigger is not better, stick with standard, although slightly over standard is fine.

I hope this was helpful.  Please visit our current litters or import litters pages  for some exciting world class litters with parents with excellent hip profiles, which is one of our major goals as German shepherd breeders, strong joints.














WARNING: German Shepherd Puppies are not toys


Hello German shepherd puppies lovers:

Warning: German shepherd puppies are not toys.

Too many people get puppies on a whim for Christmas and never consider the long term implications of adding an animal to the pack.  Not that most of us would not welcome the extra work in return for the pleasure of ownership, but I have seen so many articles lately of abandoned pups.  It is just logical that post holidays we would see a marked increase in abandoned pups.

They are not toys for two reasons.  First, you can not just put them up when you are tired of them.  They need feeding, potty time, vigilance so they don’t eat something that could harm them, vet checks, toys, training, discipline (pack order style), cleaning and grooming, a place to stay (crate or cushion).  Kids get tired of toys, and they can be put on the dust heap of toyland as their interest wanes, but a puppy is a living, breathing thing whose needs do not end when the entertainment value wanes.

Second, they are not toys because when they break, it harms a life.  Toys can be replaced and repaired, but injuries to you dog can vex them for life.  Some hints:

1.   Do not let your child pull on a puppy’s legs.  The joint are not yet formed and this can hyper-extend the joint, causing damage and eventual calcium deposits and arthritus.  If your puppy gets the leash caught on its legs, don’t abruptly lift up, just weave the leash out of the legs gently.

2.  Be oh so careful letting a small child hold a puppy.   It does look cute and it does make a wonderful picture.  But the child can drop them and squirming puppies can jump out of their arms.  One hard dive can be brutal and bones and joints, let alone potentials trauma to their skulls.

3.  Be careful putting puppies on the bed.   So sleeping with you child is cute.  What is the harm.  But, puppies do not have good judgment and can jump off of high beds onto the hard floors.

4.  Watch out for puppies in between your legs, getting under foot.  Please be careful.  You are heavy enough to do significant damage to your new pup.

5.  Watch out for electric cords.

6.  Never, never pick of pup up by the hind or front legs.  This can certainly cause damage to joints.  Instead reach under the chest and cradle them.  If they are small enough, you can grab them by the scruff of the neck.

7.  Please put them down gently.

8.  Only get toys which can handle the aggressive chewing of German Shepherd puppies.

I hope this was helpful.

Please visit our current litters or import litters pages  for some exciting world class litters.






GSD WATCH: Watch those supplements!!

Hello German shepherd puppies lovers:

This is just a short blog post about an issue I see come up quite a bit.  My clients always ask me about vitamin supplements for their dogs.  They love their German Shepherds and want the best for them. It is their desire to do what is best that motivates this question.  They are intelligent and caring owners.

However, please, please be careful.  Supplements can lead to many problems in German Shepherds, especially in German Shepherd puppies which have less stable physiologies.  If you go with a high quality commercial kibble that is well tolerated by your dog, you will likely be feeding a very well balanced food with minerals and vitamens in the right proportions and form. I happen to like Royal Canin 24 max for shepherds.  It is a breed specific formula into which much research has gone.  By the way I don’t get anything from Royal Canin.

Let me give you one for instance.  Take a fairly benign, non-toxic mineral such as calcium.  As a good owner, thinking in terms of humans, you want to make certain your dog has the calcium for bone development and growth.  However, too much calcium can lead to joint laxity increasing the potential for crippling hip displaysia.  And you have decided to do a raw diet not specifically formulated to the age or breed or size of your German Shepherd, your dog may not be getting what it needs in terms of nutrition.  This is also a contributing cause to joint deterioration.

Also, be careful with rich holistic and natural foods which are not size nor breed specific.  For example, I was trying Blue Buffalo a few years ago and my dogs had unrelenting loose stools.  I worried about EPI (a pancreas disease in which dogs cannot digest fats).   Then I found out through the grape vine (one of their own sales people) that Blue Buffalo was experiencing multiple complaints from GSD owners for the same problem as I was experiencing.

If you are going to use a raw diet, please be careful to research this first and ensure that you dog is getting a balanced (nothing left out) diet, and one which will be appropriate for your dog’s age and growth.  I would probably recommend not going to a new food with your new puppy until they are used to your water, been through the stress of leaving their siblings, and anything else within the new environment.  I would just stay away from unformulated diets made for all sizes and ages.  I might wait until older, maybe 1.5 and above to switch to raw.

The answer, find a high quality premium food specific to your German shepherd or German Shepherd puppies’ age, size, and breed (if possible).  Be careful with natural and holistic foods not specific to age, size or breed.  Feed the proper amounts of food at scheduled intervals twice a day, with adequate water.    I will discuss bloat at a later time.  With older dogs you may speak to your vet about specific recommended medications/supplements such as chondroitin and glucosamine. But in the growth stages rather rely on the preformulated balanced nutrition of the food rather than intervening and supplementing.  Be especially careful with puppies.  Keep it as simple as you can with your puppy.  Please visit our K 9 University for more useful articles and links.

I hope this post on supplements for German shepherd adults and German shepherd puppies was helpful.  Keep tuned for a discussion of a number of health issues in the near future.






Megaesophagus in German Shepherds


Megaesophagus in German Shepherds:

It is so sad to see a German shepherd suffering from this crippling disease.  And, yes, one does see this prevalent in German shepherds and German Shepherd puppies.  It is certainly not the only breed.  The AKC lists also the Great Dane, Irish Setter, Newfoundland, Shar Pei, Labrador Retriever, and the Miniature Schnauzer.

What is megaesophagus?

It is a congenital condition in which the esophagus no longer has the muscle tone to move food through it into the stomach.  This is the tube which connects the stomach to the mouth.  By peristalsis (contractions), normally the food entering into the stomach is squeezed incrementally into the stomach for digestion.  But with megaesophagus, as the muscle surrounding the tube become flaccid, the esophagus dilates becoming larger and the food sits in the enlarged area somewhat like the sack below the beak of a pelican when filled with food.

What are the causes?

One of the causes is a congenital condition, although it can also present itself as an adult.  In the congenital case it can be caused by vascular anomalies (abnormal blood vessels that encircle the heart), although many times it can be due to an unknown cause.  In the adult onset it can be the result of a disease or appear inexplicably.  But it could also be caused by a foreign body blocking the passing of the food into the stomach.

What are the symptoms

With puppies, the signs can begin at weaning.  Puppies will initially will approach the food with enthusiasm and then back away after a few bites.  They will regurgitate small amounts of food, which will come out undigested and covered with mucous, and then eat it again, regurgitate again and eat it again until it can pass into the stomach.  This process can lead to inhalation of the liquid and bouts of aspiration pneumonia.  You might hear a “gurgling” sound.  They do not wretch up their food with the kind of heaving characteristic of vomiting of partially digested food, but instead the undigested food is just suddenly expelled.

This is such a tragic disease in German shepherd puppies and dogs.  If you notice these symptoms, see your vet.  They can do a barium x-ray or ultrasound to see if there is a blockage of the esophagus.  Unfortunately there are not many effective treatments for this condition.  Please visit our K 9 University for more useful articles and links.

Getting their due: Puppy Mills and cruelty

Hello German Shepherd Puppies owners and breeders:

On Tuesday Ohio, one of the centers of puppy mill style dog breeders, known for their cruelty to their animals, finally passed a landmark bill.  The bill restricts the ability of breeders to mistreat the dogs they are raising for sale. Ohio had virtually no legal oversight of breeders and became an unregulated epicenter for puppy mills,  They keep their dogs in confined, cruel and unsanitary conditions, a strategy for maximizing profit.   I can’t imagine this happening to these beautiful German shepherd puppies.

The Ohio Law, among other things, “requires state licensing and inspection of breeders who annually sell 60 dogs or at least nine litters; authorizes Ohio’s agriculture director to specify standards of care; and denies licensing to anyone convicted of animal cruelty in the last 20 years.”

We at Banffy Haus only do 4-6 litters per year.  Please take a look at our amazing kennels and nursery, where classical music and hymns are piped in to toasty young pups on sweet smelling cedar chips, fed only the finest, Royal Canin, lounging casually in a large whelping box.  I am so proud of how serious my family is about how we treat our dogs and how much concern they all have for the puppies we whelp.  That is why I want to complete the construction of my kennel design page with videos and articles.  Then hobby breeders can see a reasonably priced way to do it well, and create a superior environment in a well planned micro-kennel.  Visit our home page at Banffy Haus.

Some of these poor animals suffer from dental disease, eye infections, ear infections, covered in feces and urine.  It is about time that the government stepped in to stop this travesty.  There is absolutely no possible rational for this despicable behavior.  We as German shepherd owners need to stand firm against this unforgivable behavior.


Taping German Shepherd puppies ears

Hello German shepherd lovers:

This blog is a continuation of one I began on how to deal with German shepherd puppies ears which do not stand erect.   It will also tell you when you should begin being concerned.

You can see the full article by clicking on my German Shepherd K-9 University.

So you have determined it is time to artificially aid the ears. But first, no matter what technique you use, carefully clean the ears with an ear cleaner.  This can be purchased or at you can consider the solution I offer in the article, but at your own risk.

There are a number of ways to aid the ear including:

1. getting your vet to tape them with a surgical tape, hopefully one that doesn’t stick well to hair.

2. Some people tape foam hair rollers to the inside.

3. Purchase foam GSD ear forms from a friend in Germany (around $20 per set)

4. Moleskin glued to the inside of the ears

But here are a couple of solutions that have worked for me. These have been a real help. First of all you can buy “Tear Menders” glue on amazon. It is actually sold as dog ear glue. I found this glue to be the best glue by far for artificial ear support solutions. Here are two solutions:

1. If the ears are not to large yet and or they only need a little aiding, maybe only the tips, buy Breath-rite strips, the large and stiffest ones. Place them on the inside of the ear to support standing. They may last in the ear without any Tear Menders. But if they keep coming out, you can use the glue. If they stay in for a few days, that is successful.

2. If you need more help, you can use any of the ideas above and glue them in using the glue. You can then wrap tape around the ear at the bottom and top to secure it, although you may not have to.

3. Another idea: I make my own forms out of a piece of leather or gray pipe foam insulation. You can get a nice sized piece at a leather store for a reasonable cost considering how many forms you can make out of it. Wet it, roll into shape, and let it dry. It shouldn’t be too thick to put weight on the ear but just a natural support. You can experiment with different shapes. I got a form from Germany and then used them to make my pattern. But larger ears need larger forms, smaller, smaller forms. Foam insulation also works well.

Make certain to check the ears for infection often. If you smell something foul, it is probably bacteria setting in. Keep them up for a week or two and then see if they stand and stay there. If they begin to drop again, start the process over. The oldest I have heard of remediating floppy ears was around 10 months old. But this is unusual.

Good luck, and I hope this helps those of you who own German shepherd puppies and have to deal with this issue.

CAREFUL: German Shepherd Puppies ears… some advice





Hello German shepherd Lovers. This is Dr. Banfe:

In this blog post I want to help owners of German Shepherd puppies with questions about ears.

Yes German shepherd ears should stand on their own, but don’t always do so.  Some have “soft ears” or soft cartilage.  It is possible they may never stand completely.  But the vast majority do.  And with proper care and intervention even soft ear problems can normally be rectified.

At about 4.5-5 months, if your puppy is not teething, it is time to consider intervening.  If they are still teething or just stopped teething, then you may still be fine and won’t need to support the ears.

If they have been flopping for a while, then the cartilage can become creased and needs to be artificially supported to regain rigidity.  I have posted an article on my k-9 University about addressing these situations.  Just click on the link K-9 U.   But since the writing of that article I have been experimenting and come up with some novel ways to support the ears.  I will discuss those in an article and upcoming blog post.

Always clean the ears, deep in and the folds of the ears and bases prior to any inserts or support. You can read one of my articles on ear cleaning for directions.  And be really careful of calcium supplements as they can cause joint laxity and bowed legs if you are not careful.

Also, besides a good quality food, make certain your puppy is stimulated with sounds and other stimuli to use the muscles around the ear.  And also, be careful that you are not crated them in a crate which does not have enough room for the ears to stand up straight when they are standing in their crate.

The latest I have seem an ear which is not standing be remediated was at about 10 months.

I hope this helps you with your German Shepherd puppy.  For us as German Shepherd breeders, we are concerned that you have information to obviate problems in the future.

German Shepherd Breeders Beware: EPI

Hello German shepherd puppy and German shepherd dog lovers:

Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency in German shepherd dogs. Symptoms include:
1.Foul smelling feces
2.Yellow of mustard color feces
3.Consistency soft unformed like a cow patty, oily
4.Brittle coat, loss of hair
5.Weight loss. Inability to keep weight on even with appetite
6.Voracious appetite
7.Constant thirst
8.Rumbling sounds in the stomach and gas

EPI is a common disease in the German shepherd dog. I myself have been fortunate to only have one myself. Also I have only had one reported in hundreds of pups I have sold over the last decade. But 70% of reported cases of EPI are in German Shepherd dogs. It does not normally present itself in German shepherd puppies. Sometimes it takes time for the pancreas to atrophy (die) prior to the dog becoming symptomatic. It usually appears in young dogs ages 4-5.

This disease is basically caused by the malfunctioning (or lack thereof) of the pancreas. The pancreas either incrementally fails to excrete enough enzymes to digest food or completely shuts done, preventing the proper digestion and absorption of nutrients. Basically, due to the failure of the pancreas to produce the enzymes necessary to digest the food, the dog starves, even if they eat lots of food. The pancreas does not produce the proper amounts of amylase (to digest starches and sugars), lipases (for fats), and proteases (for proteins). The dog literally can starve to death.

There are thought to be two major causes of EPI. One is pancreatic atrophy, which may be due to an inherited condition. The second could be stress to the pancreas caused by multiple bouts of pancreatitis. There is no cure for pancreatitis and life long treatment are expensive, using pancreatic enzyme supplements.

We at Banffy Haus have been very fortunate in this regard.  We have had a very low reported incidence of EPI in the German Sheperd puppies we have sold.  If you are interested we have German shepherd puppies for sale listed on our page:  Current litters (just click to visit).

INTERESTING NOTE: I have heard of a nurse friend of mine who treated EPI in her German shepherd dog with sheep pancreas for a much lower cost than the supplements. I am not certain how she did this but it may be something to look into.

The Holiday Minefield for German Shepherd Puppies.

Hello GSD lovers

Making the Holiday Safe for Your German Shepherd

Many holiday items create a mine field of potential problems for you dog, but especially for your German Shepherd puppy. The GSD has a very sensitive stomach and certain foods like turkey can cause diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration and death fairly quickly in a puppy. Chicken and Turkey bones can splinter and cause a dog to choke. Chocolate is a deadly toxin for dogs. If you suspect they have eaten it, get in contact with your vet or pet emergency/poison control center immediately.

Be careful that your puppy or dog does not consume food wrapped in foil or plastic. Watch out for poinsettias and holly. It is advisable to not feed human food to your dog or radically change their diets during the holiday season. Also remember that it an obese German shepherd puppy or dog is not cute but grotesque, cruel and unhealthy. Be safe and don’t let the kids slip them a cookie or other treat.

Be careful and watch for potential aberrant behavior during this season. It is stressful and confusing for your dog to have all of the visitors, interlopers into his/her pack. Be careful not to turn your back with all of the new toys, especially with your puppy who can quickly ingest small pieces of things.

Please visit our German Shepherd K-9 University for further useful articles and videos.

Above all, love and cherish your German shepherd puppy, keeping them safe this holiday season.

German Shepherd Puppies Hips


Hello GSD lovers

WARNING:  Bad hips:  I just posted a new youtube video on proactive practices for hips for German Shepherd puppies and dogs.  These are helpful ways to obviate some simple mistakes.

Please take a look at it on our growing instructional video webpage. (click here).

Although we have reduced the cases of hip dysplasia in the GSD, especially with ther German import lines, it is still a sad and crippling disease that is prevalent with the magnificent working breed.

It is our hope that this advice, much of which is very common sensical, will help you and maybe help you to avoid trauma to your puppies’ hips.

My goal is to make your life with your German shepherd as enjoyable as possible.