Coverage of many other issues such as working vs. show lines, long coats vs. stock hair, etc.

German Shepherd Pigment: HOW RED SHOULD THEY BE?

Hello German shepherd puppies lovers:

So many times when people buying puppies from me preface the purchase of a German Shepherd puppy with the statement “I really want this puppy to have rich reds”.  I think it might be a good thing to discuss this issue a bit.

First of all, the German Shepherd is a very unique dog.  It is one of the top three most intelligent dogs in the world.  It is more multiutility than any canine on earth. Though some dogs may be better at some individual task, no dog on earth is as capable at a multiplicity of tasks as this amazing breed.  There is just so much more to the breed than pigment.  You might buy roses based on color.  You might even purchase a toy dog largely on outward appearance.  But not a German Shepherd.   In the next blog I will discuss the term “temperament” when it comes to the German Shepherd.  But, certainly buying one of these magnificent beasts based on pigment is a critical mistake.  In fact, people who do, and don’t appreciate the multifaced metrics you must consider might end up being unhappy owners. They might insist on a certain pup based on color and end up with a dog with drive they can’t handle or might settle on a litter without considering other important variables such as confidence, dog aggression, timidity.

How red should a German Shepherd puppy be?  First of all, although you can tell a good deal about the final pigment from a puppy, it is clearly not definitive.  For example, Ulk Arlett, the 1995 world sieger, didn’t really red out until 4 years old.  The Arlett kennels had actually sold him to someone, I believe in Italy, only to buy him back later.  But one way to determine the potential pigment in a puppy is to lift up the tail and look underneath.  If you see red/orange/rust there, that is a good indication.

But, although one thing we breed for is pigment, it is clearly only one characteristic.  Conformation, health and termperament are equally important.  The old Rin Tin Tin black and tan has somewhat been replaced by black and red (more mahogany).  But, the amount of pigment varies quite a bit.  It is nice to get some rusting, but don’t expect a distorted deep red.  Most of the pictures you see of World Sieger champs, those done by Urma and others, are all enhanced.  Some of the pictures I get are clearly doctored.  I know because the tongue of the dog is a rose red and the person’s hand which is holding the dog is pink and the grass is way too green.  It makes us expect our pups to also be that red.

So, bottom line, with German shepherd puppies, while we would like some browning/rusting on the lighter parts of the shepherd (chest is usually lighter), on the legs, mane, and maybe face, we shouldn’t expect really rich deep reds, which rarely if ever exist.  And look for balance.  Don’t exclusively look for red or you may get what you want in pigment but not what you will want as a dog.  I would take wonderful conformation, health, temperment and moderate pigment in a German shepherd puppy over a beet red mess anyday.

I hope this is a help to you.  Visit our German Shepherd K9 University by clicking on “GSD K9 U“.













Introducing Dogs to Your Pack

Hello German shepherd puppies lovers:

This is for all of you who have asked me how to introduce new German shepherd puppies / dogs to your pack.  Here are some helpful techniques:

First, a good way to start them off on the right foot is to put the puppy in a crate and then tell you other dog to go find his/her new friend.  Lead them into the area calmly but with enthusiasm.  When they find the puppy, have a treat ready and reward them for finding them.  Do this five times or until your dog is really enjoying the adventure.  Then switch.  Put your dog in the kennel and have the new puppy go find your dog.  This time, when the puppy finds your dog, reward them both.  Do this a number of times.

Once you have done this, it is time for the walk matriculation as I have explained in another article/blog.  You take them both for a walk, dogs on the right, shoulder at your hip, and then stop one dog, control the head and let the other go behind and sniff.  Then continue walking and let the other do the same.  Do this a number of times.  This allows then to scent without challenging and is a good way to break the ice.  And having them go face to face can lead to pack warfare, especially in an amorphous pack.

Continue this with the walk matriculation a few times.  Remember to always watch your dogs together as long as tails are up.  When they drop to their normal position in each others company or wag, accompanied by a relaxed countenance, they are starting to get used to each other.  Still, always watch your dogs for a few months and never leave them alone together.

I hope this is a help to you.  Visit our German Shepherd K9 University by clicking on “GSD K9 U“.











Male or Female? Which do I choose?

Hello German shepherd puppies lovers:

So which gender do I choose?  For all you German shepherd puppies buyers, please see my new article at:  The K9University to get some help making the difficult decision.

I hope you find it helpful.  Good luck searching for that perfect German Shepherd puppy!








ATTENTION: Get Hips X-rayed at ONE YEAR or TWO?

Hello German shepherd puppies lovers:

So what is the right answer?  Should you get your German shepherd puppies hips x-rayed, OFA’d at one or two years old?

I say resoundingly, at one year old for a couple of reasons.  First the Germans do it then, and I believe they have a good logic for it.  First of all one wouldn’t want to put in all the training, time, and energy into a dog whose hips were going to be dysplasiac.  It is very expensive to title a dog to BH and Schutzhund titling, which can all be done prior to the two year xray.  Extraordinary effort goes into showing these dogs and preparing them for the ring.  It is a great investment of time and effort.  In addition to trainers and handlers, there is vet bills and food, as well as the use of limited time resources devoted to the dog.

Secondly, many dogs begin serious training in the second year of life.  But some buy them as pets, while others use them for sport or work.  Up until one years old, dogs are treated fairly equally.  However, between 1 and 2 there can be a great disparity of how much stress hips get from one dog to another.  So, where one dog is worked heavily and shows more change/deterioration in the hip profile, another may not be worked.  So even if the unworked dog had slightly worse hips at one, they will look as though they are better at two, and this can be attributed to erroneously to genetics.  It is better to do it at 1 when you are comparing “apples to apples”.

I require all of my clients to do the OFA prelim which they tout as being an accurate predictor of future hip health.  But I do it for a third and very important reason, the good of my clients.  You hear of lifetime warranties given on hips.  But how many people are going to bring their dogs back to a breeder, their faithful and loved companion, in order to trade in for another pup.  I know that the longer they wait the harder it is emotionally to make the break and take the pup back.   So I would rather they do it at one year old, when they are more likely to return their German shepherd puppy so I can replace it, rather than them waiting until two years old and being less likely to part with it and therefore be saddled with a miserable dog in pain, with costly medical expenses.

So I say resoundingly, for these three reasons, get German shepherd puppies hips done at one year old as they do in Germany.

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.







German Shepherd: Working vs. Show Lines

Hello German shepherd puppies lovers:

I can’t forget getting the phone call. A family needed help.  They had purchased a working line German shepherd puppy from one fo the top working line breeders in  the United States and needed to find it a home.  The female puppy was relentless.  It was so mouthy and too dangerous for their children to be around.  It had unmanageable drive, and an attitude to boot.  They dropped the $4,000 puppy at my kennels and asked me to just take her.  I then trained spent time training her and found a man living alone in a rural area with a farm who wanted a companion.  She was perfectly suited for this situation.  It was a match made in Heaven.  He came and bought her and I never heard from him again.  This family was a first time shepherd owner.

Working lines are on average much more driven and quite a bit sharper (easier to bite) than West German show lines.  As opposed to the West German show lines which are all big black and red dogs, they are normally a bit smaller, and are black, bi-color, sable and a few other variations.  They have a bit flatter backs which is why they normally have a show dog somewhere in their pedigree which serves to improve conformation.   They can be quite intense, very driven, and do better on average in the Schutzhund sport ring.  They can bounce off the walls at home if not given proper exercise and if they are not given a task to do.  Certainly all shepherds need a purpose, but these need a constant immersion in that purpose.  They are very intelligent, as are the show lines, but so driven that without a good deal of exercise and time working they can become destructive.  They can be somewhat easier to train due to their drive, but also a bit more dominant and certainly on average more aggressive.

Does this mean they are less desireable as a line?  Not at all.  It just means they are more suited toward different purposes.  They are better suited for tough personal protection and police work, to be sent into an open warehouse alone to confront a tough character.  They are tenacious protectors.  They can be like loaded guns, but with their own minds.  They have tougher nerves and intense energy.

However, for most family situations, on average, the West German show lines are much better suited to the task.  Let’s be clear.  The West German lines are great working dogs and perform as herding dogs, service dogs, guide dogs, search and rescue dogs and sport dogs, and they make exceptional family companions and protectors.

Although still having drive, they are not insanely driven as many working line shepherds.   They are more forgiving on average and not with triggers cocked.  For my taste, the West German show line has much more attractive conformation and have beautiful black and tan/red pigment.  They are better with kids and present less probility for biting someone and incurring liability for the owner.  Considering that my market focus is getting the finest imported German shepherds for families, A WEST GERMAN GERMAN SHEPHERD PUPPY IS FAR SUPERIOR for the task.  They are amazing for this purpose and why they are the most popular of the German shepherd lines in Germany.

Please visit our K 9 University for more useful articles and links.




OVER THE TOP: Staggering figures on what we spend on pets.

Hello German shepherd puppies lovers:

Listen to these staggering figures.  How much do you spend on your German Shepherd puppy or older dog?

The APPA states that total US pet industry expenditures totalled a staggering $51 billiion in 2011.  I am dumbfounded.  In a previous article I mentioned 38.  That is because I was using a figures from 2006.  So, in the last 5 years the industry grew 34%, and that even during considering the financial crisis.  Of that almost 40% went to food, 13% to vet care (ouch), 13% on supplies and medicines,  4% to live animal purchases, and 8% to grooming and boarding.

So by far we are spending the most on dog food.  I spend about $53 on one 35 llb or dog food.  In fact, what they have been doing is reducing the size of the bag and keeping the price close to the same.  In all their marketing wisdom they have figured that we will not notice the smaller size and the number of times we have to refill.

However we get another troubling stat when we combine vet care and suppplies/otc medicine.  That is 26% of the total.  This means that food and vet care accounts for over 75% of the 53 billiion in expenditures.  That is an absolutely mindboggling $170 for every man, woman, or child in the United States every year.  The average family spends over $1,500 for their dogs and cats per year.

And if current trends with designer foods and exotic supplements, mouth wash, electric toothbrushes, beauty treatments, bird pedicures and nail polish, yoga classes for animals, massages for animals, faux mink coats for your pet, matching jewel and leather collared leash sets, monogrammed sweaters, every new gadget and trendy toy etc. continue, we will be spending even more.

Figure, over three billion people in the world live on less than $2.50/day.  That means they survive on less than $912 per year.  Some on less than $1/day.   At the rate of $2.50/day, the estimated pet expenditures for 2012 in just the United States would be able to feed 58 million starving people.

Lets put this in perspective.  With what we spend on our pets, we could feed the entire population every year in Haiti, Liberia, Zimbabwe, Central African Republic, and Togo, some of the poorest countries in the world.


Certainly we are fond of our dear animal friends, but maybe, just maybe, we should do some deep thinking about our priorities.

Please visit our K 9 University for more useful articles and links.










TREAT ME LIKE A DOG: People gone wild.


Hello everyone:

Maybe “Pookie” may look very cute in a wedding dress, but what a hideus distortion of nature.   Reindeer antlers, bumble bee costumes, tuxedos, what has happened to us?  I tell my clients, somewhat jokingly, that if I ever see one of my beautiful, natural, goreous coated German shepherd puppies denegrated by clothing, I will rescue it from its humiliation.  Treat them like a dog.

I talked to a manager of PetsMart who told me not to worry that the meat ingredients in a popular pet food were higher than human grade quality.  I listened to a lecture from a prominent expert on healthcare entitled “please treat me like a dog”.  His premise was that our human healthcare is not as high quality, less responsive, that that for a dog at a veterinian.  My goodness, maybe I would rather be treated like a dog.

I have look in awe at the amazing culinary fare in specialized dog pastry shops, eye-popping masterpieces created for our dogs….or for us I think.  A number of my students at the university have researched the incredible world of designer dog clothing with human designer price tags.  I have lived to see PetsMart build doggy hotels with premium rooms with TV.  I have supped on dog frozen yoghurt (with of course better than human grade ingredients, lactose free, etc. etc.).  I have been seen people shell out a pretty penny for a birthday party at PetsMart for their dogs, spent money for Christmas pictures for their dogs with Santa.  I had one client who told me, in front of her child, that she loved her dog more than she did her children, and her daughter verified it.  Doggy weddings, pet limos with chaffeurs, jewelry….what are we doing?  The pet industry in the United States is over 40 billiion a year.   What a mess we are.  Treat them like a dog.

A dog needs to be treated as a dog.  Do you really think dogs can distinguish between a dirty old rage or a designer dress (they probably would like the rag better), or the difference between table scraps and haute cuisine?  We do this to please our own vanity.  And, in the process of not treating dogs as dogs, we distort who they are, confuse them, hide their natural beauty, keep them from doing what they do naturally, feed our own need for affection and control.  Treat them like a dog.

And please, get your priorities right, humans first, animals somewhere after.  Please don’t get me wrong, we have a responsibility from God to be trustees over this earth and all his creation.  I go to great lengths to protect my dogs, watch after their health, feed them the best food, get them good exercise, find them a purpose, and give them the pack leader approval they crave.  My dogs appear content and respectful and have a sense of purpose.  So many of the aberrant behaviors we see are the result of treating dogs as humans, thinking they have the same emotions, fulfilling our own needs in them.  For us they are substitutes for human emotions that we should give to our children, to family and to other human beings.  We refuse to discipline them as we also will not our children.   We might want to guard against being duped by the pet industry into carelessly wasting our financial resources on things that really are for us, every new fad catering to our emotions.  We need to help these animals fulfill their natural purpose and we should enjoy them for what they are in their natural state, dogs.

These animals are majestic and beautiful creations.  But, even if you won’t be, they will be happier if you TREAT THEM LIKE A DOG.   I hope these blog posts help you enjoy you German Shepherd puppy or dog to its fullest.  They are truly amazing ANIMALS and more easily remain so if treated as such.  Please visit our K 9 University for more useful articles and links.


The Critical Training Tool for German Shepherds: THE WALK

Hello German Shepherd puppies lovers:

Walking your dog is one of the most enjoyable and useful bonding AND training experiences you can have together. It cannot be underestimated. It is tool for correction of bad habits, setting pack order, superior exercise, wonderful for developing your relationship, good for socialization. It is so essential for your dog from German shepherd puppies to older dogs, that I would like to elaborate some important facets of the walk.

First, get rid of the flexilead. This can only lead to less than optimal behavior. First, the dog can wander too far from you. Secondly with the variable distance from you they won’t know the limits and can start learning to pull. Thirdly, unless you have your finger ready at the button, your dog can veer into danger or into a fight with another dog. Flexileads can lead to lazy supervision and getting your German shepherd puppy into trouble such as eating other dog’s feces, poisonous plants, etc.

What you need is a good strong 3-5 foot lead (I like 4). Your German shepherd should always be on the left side, his/her right shoulder on your left hip, on a loose lead. When you head out on the walk, allow them to get excited and dash too far forward. Then quickly yank the lead and pivot to your right and say “phooey”. This will set the tone and initialize training mode. As you walk intermittently stop, they sit, start, you walk. When you stop and they sit, it is time for positive reinforcement. Every once in a while have them platz (lie down). Do a number of reverse turns.

When a dog walks by, tell them “look at me”. And when they do obey and switch attention to their two footed bipedal friend (you) you can reward them for their effort. When you stop to talk with someone who has no dog with them, your dog should sit courteously at your side. If the other person has a pet, your shepherd should be disinterested but pay attention to you. It is not cute to have your dog jumping all around and getting your leashes tangled. If dogs fight, this can make it difficult to intervene and you could end up being bitten.

Do not ever let your dog step out ahead and pull. If they do, use this time to set pack order ad address this dominant behavior before they pull you through the mud. When you round the corner home, they will sometimes begin pulling. But the walk is not complete until the kennel door shuts. Be sure to keep them in order, loose lead, by your left side. Please visit our home page links to our litters and our K-9 University. Most of all, make this a time enjoyable and rewarding for your German shepherd.


CAUTION: Dog Parks

Hello German Shepherd puppies lovers:

Well I feel I should deal with this issue.  A client just emailed me and said her German Shepherd has an aggression problem.  When she brings her to dog parks she can be aggressive with other dogs.  Please don’t blame Hilda yet.

First of all, let me say that taking dogs off leash in dog parks is just a bad concept for dog in general for a couple of reasons.  First of all, as I have written in another one of my blogs, dogs thrive on a clear pack order. In a dog park it is in constant flux and undefined.  For natural dogs, with strong natural instincts this can create a situation where they might feel their position attacked or need to fight for position at any moment as the fluid pack moves around off leash, not connected to the authority of the owner, left to its own to defend itself.   This is a dangerous situation for owners who can be bitten while trying to separate dogs that are in battle for position.  Secondly, you cannot really be certain that other owners discipline their dogs as you do.  Dogs may have developed behavioral problems due to the environment in which they have been raised.  Third of all, not all owners believe in spaying or neutering their dogs.  This can really spice up the situation.  And dogs mate largely by smell.  This smell is a powerful attractor and can be smelled from a good distance and can be irresistible to males.  Also it is clearly unsafe for your German Shepherd puppies.  Can you be certain that all of the owners have had their innoculations up to date?

Lastly, I believe that our dogs should be taught to bond to us as their owners and friends.  We should be their focus, their world.  Playing with other dogs can lead to a redirection of focus to other dogs rather than toward the master.  Playing with unknown dogs can lead them to think this behavior is acceptable in public even while on lead and your friendly Fido could end up dragging you through the dirt to get to that buddy they just have to meet across the street.  Now imagine this happens while you are on inline skates.

It is so enjoyable to take a couple of balls, a frisbee, some things to track with, and take your German shepherd puppy or dog to an open field, undefiled by the undisciplined riot one can find at dog parks, and enjoy come private time with your best friend.  As a common practice I would never let my German shepherd dog play off leash with other dogs.  Please visit our K9University for more useful articles and videos.

Long vs. Stock Coat: Are long coats subpar GSDs?

Hello German Shepherd breeders and owners:

I would like to give  you a foundational understanding of this issue.  Those who see German shepherd puppies for sale might ask the question as to what is a long coat and are they subpar dogs.

First of all, there are really two types of “coats” or long-coated dogs.  A plush coat is not a long-coat but a dog with a full normal coat.  The longer coat is a recessive gene and therefore must be present in both the male and female to get a longer coat.  And this is not always so.  For example, I am not aware of a “coat” coming from VA1 XBox Dei Precision in probably over 100 litters.  It is normal for about 25% of a litter to be “coats”.

The first type of long coat is a long stock hair.  This type, just as does the normal coated shepherd, has both an under coat of softer hair and a denser, coarser outer coat.  But its outer coat is markedly longer, especially around the ears, the flanks and tail.  The second is a true long coat.  This type has not undercoat and when it gets wet the hair parts and you can see skin underneath the hair.

The longer coated shepherd tends to have a bit of a straighter back.  Although they are not allowed to participate in standard GSD shows, they have now been given there own standing and have shows of their own even in Germany.  I haven’t seen definitive statistical analyses, but anecdotal evidence indicates that they may produce on average tighter hips.  Some say they have a more easy going, almost jovial temperament.  But again, this is anecdotal.  For certain there is no evidence to the contrary that they can do just as well in schutzhund events as normal coated shepherds.  They do tend to be a bit larger than the normal coated also.  Also, it is my understanding that they do not shed any more than the normal coated shepherd.

So, in conclusion, other than preference, there is nothing that supports the conclusion that these are subpar GSDs.  There is even some evidence that they might have some superior genetic qualities.  So then, it is probably best to say it is a matter of preference, although I prefer the normal coated shepherd.

I hope this is helpful for all of you considering purchasing a German Shepherd puppy.  If you happen to get a longer coated puppy, don’t fret.  If it comes from normal coated parents, likely it will be a long stock hair and may not have appreciably longer hair.  Also they still have all of the other characteristics of courage, tenacity, intelligence, obedience, trainability, protection instinct, etc, as a normal coated shepherd.  From time to time we do get these rare pups so check our litters page at puppies for sale on the home page of Banffy Haus German Shepherds.