The German Shepherd Dog Council of Australia and its affiliate member clubs receive many questions and requests for information from intending and new owners of German Shepherd Dogs. Over the years, many articles have been published in the GSDCA National Review Magazine to inform GSD enthusiasts on topical items of interest. From our records, we present hereunder the most frequently asked questions, categorized under headings of Purchasing, Rearing, General Information and Breed Improvement Schemes.

Breed Improvement Schemes:

For questions regarding breed survey, hip and elbow dysplasia, tattooing, tooth certificates or haemophilia see the Breed Matters Section: Breed Survey, Hip & Elbow Dysplasia, Tattoo, Tooth Certificates, Haemophilia

Purchasing a GSD Puppy/Dog

We suggest that you contact your local GSDCA Affiliate Club Puppy Listings service, for Club Breeders who comply with the Breed Improvement Schemes. This gives a greater assurance that you are buying a quality puppy with a minimised chance of suffering defects and hereditary diseases. Links to all affiliate clubs appear on our Links page.

A puppy that is purchased through the GSDCA Affiliate Club Puppy Listing service comes from a breeder who is a member of that local State GSD Club, and has complied with all of the Breed Improvement Schemes and Breeding Guidelines. This will provide a greater assurance that you are buying a quality puppy, that will have less chance of suffering from the hereditary diseases that may occur in the German Shepherd Dog.

No ! – It is against all the state/territories Kennel Controls and GSD Clubs rules for Breeders to sell puppies from Pet Shops or Markets or Gumtree. There is very good reason for this. Purchasing a puppy is a lifetime decision, and therefore should be carefully and seriously undertaken, not an impulse decision. You will also have no ability to view the parents or the environment in which the litter was reared, and therefore cannot be confident of the background of the puppies, especially if they are purebred.

The most important thing when purchasing a puppy is that you get a puppy that is healthy, physically sound, and of good temperament. A guide to assessing these things is that:
– the puppies must be clean, healthy (immunised), active, bright and outgoing (happy to see you),
– both parents must be Breed Surveyed (have PASSED all of the Breed Improvement Schemes, especially Hip and Elbow Schemes),
– documentation (such as pedigree, vaccination, worming, diet sheet, etc.) must be available,
– the kennel/yard must be clean and tidy.

The GSDCA recommends that you purchase a puppy through its Affiliate Club Puppy Listing service as these Breeders have complied with all of these requirements.

A German Shepherd is a working breed and therefore can be quite “industrious” when left alone for long periods of time and this can be directed towards destroying its environment or via problematic barking. The question regarding the size of an area to keep a GSD in is really a twofold question about whether you have enough time to devote to the puppy/dog. A GSD can be kept in quite a small backyard, provided that GSD is not left to its own devices for long periods of time without company, training or exercise external to its housing. If you have plenty of time to devote to the dog a small backyard is sufficient, but should you work long hours and have little time you may wish to rethink about keeping a GSD in a confined space.

The purchase price for quality puppies that are from one or both GSDCA Breed Surveyed parents vary across the country, we strongly recommend you enquire from the breeder prior to purchase if the parents are Breed Survey classified in the GSDCA Breed Survey Scheme.

Pedigree registrations are controlled by the State/Territory Kennel Control. Puppies/dogs registered with that body have been registered from pedigree parents on the Main Register and pedigree details of the puppy have been recorded for many generations. There is a Code of Ethics which breeders registered with the State Bodies must uphold in their breeding practices and this ensures that the purchaser of a puppy can expect that their puppy should be reared under those practices.

Pedigree registrations are issued by the State/Territory Kennel Control, after application by the Breeder. The “Main Register” pedigrees are blue in colour, whilst the “Limited Register” pedigrees are orange in colour, and are both A4 size. Dogs registered on the “Limited Register” may not be exhibited in conformation shows, nor can they be bred with, but can still be entered in Obedience, Agility and Tracking Trials. Dogs registered on the “Main Register” are eligible to participate in all aspects of the Kennel Control sanctioned activities, ie breeding, showing, trialling and breed surveying, etc

Yes ! – This type of pedigree is prepared and signed by the breeder and shows the preceding five generations from which the puppy/dog evolved. It should also contain details including linebreeding, tattoo number, coat colour and markings, and names/sex of litter mates (siblings). The Five Generation Breeders Pedigree is used to participate in the GSDCA Breed Improvement Schemes. Details on this pedigree should co-incide with those like details on the Registration Papers.

Rearing a GSD Puppy/Dog

There are many different diets suitable for feeding puppies. The breeder of your puppy should provide you with a recommended feeding program (diet chart) at the time you buy the puppy. This is a requirement of all Breeders who sell through the GSDCA Affiliate Club Puppy Listings service. A puppy should receive a balanced diet in order to allow for correct growth and to ensure that no bone or joint abnormalities eventuate in the growing process. Puppy food formulated specifically for puppy growth are available to purchase at your pet food supplier. Access to clean, fresh water is essential at all times. A good diet is complimented by proper exercise according to the age of the dog.

This depends on many factors such as the sex of the dog, the age, the height, etc. As a guide an adult male should weigh between 30 and 40 Kg, whilst adult females should weigh between 22 and 32 Kg. Puppies/dogs that are overfed and become overweight can develop serious physical problems. See Weight for age chart on our Health articles page.

Your puppy should have been vaccinated at 6 weeks of age (if you buy through the Puppy Listings service), and you will receive advice from the Breeder on further vaccination. As a guide your puppy will require the next vaccination at 12 weeks, with a “booster” at 16 weeks. After this your dog must be vaccinated every 12 months. The GSDCA Affiliate Club will need to sight your puppy/dog’s up-to-date vaccination certificate if you are training at one of those Clubs.

Your puppy will have been wormed regularly prior to your buying it at 8 weeks. It is best to consult your local veterinarian who is aware of conditions in your area (as there are many types of worms), however as a basic guide: Puppies should be wormed at 12 weeks, 4 months and then bimonthly, and Adults (from 12 months) every 3 months. The breeder of the puppy can usually make recommendations regarding products to use.

Heartworm is prevalent throughout most of Australia, and preventative treatment may be needed. Your puppy/dog should be on a heartworm preparation according to its weight, via a monthly heartworm preparation or a yearly vaccination via the veterinarian. Consult your puppy breeder and/or local veterinarian for advice regarding the dosage and frequency of dosage for your pup

There is a mistaken belief that a young puppy (up to 12 months of age) should have “plenty” of exercise. That belief is incorrect ! As a general rule up to 12 months of age, “on lead” exercise should be very limited. Natural free running is the best form of exercise for a youngster, because when they tire they can easily stop. Serious or extensive exercise should not occur until the dog has reached the age of twelve (12) months. When twelve (12) months of age, X-ray your dog’s hips and elbows under the GSDCA Scheme to see what the status is. This may influence the type and extent of future exercise. It is important that extensive exercise should not occur within four (4) hours, either before or after, the puppy/dog has had a meal, food or lengthy drink.

A well bred puppy will have all the basics for the making of a sound, well adjusted puppy and adult dog, however this is just the foundation for the future. Once you take the puppy home it then becomes your responsibility to continue the development of the puppy. This means exposing and reassuring the puppy to and around people, other dogs, the home environment, and the community environment, so as it learns to be confident in all circumstances.

The GSDCA Affiliate Clubs encourage new owners to socialise their puppy from a very young age, and therefore hold puppy classes for puppies from 8 weeks of age. Please ensure you bring your puppy’s up-to-date vaccination certificate with you.

Yes ! – It is your responsibility as a dog owner, to ensure that your dog is a well behaved, accepted member of the community. Obedience Training will assist in teaching you how to work with your dog, and teaching him good habits, and if necessary overcoming undesirable behaviour. A well trained dog is a pleasure to own, and please always remember to be considerate of other people who may not be dog lovers like us.

No ! – The GSDCA affiliated Clubs do not support the training of Schutzhund, or any form of Protection training and do not believe this form of training is necessary. It is a requirement of Victorian law that any dog that is trained to attack a person or animal must be reported to the authorities and will probably be declared a dangerous dog. Use the following link to view the GSDCA Policy – Policy on Schutzhund Training.

This varies, but generally 12 months of age is regarded as the end of puppyhood. By 12 months, your pup would have reached maximum height. The period between 12 months and 24 months is a transitional period of gradual muscular development filling the skeletal frame. More serious physical and mental training of your young dog can now gradually commence. Most experts agree that the GSD reaches, or should reach, adulthood at 2 years of age. Further physical and mental development can occur after this with full maturity being attained at about 4 years of age.

General Information

This varies greatly, but generally somewhere around 10 to 12 years of age. Some have been known to reach 15 years of age.

The GSD must be of well balanced temperament, steady of nerve, self assured, absolutely free and easy, and (unless provoked) completely good natured, as well as alert and tractable. He/she must have courage, combative instinct and awareness, in order to be suitable as companion, watch, protection, service and herding dog. Upbringing can affect character.

A “long coat” has a long, wavy, soft top coat (not lying closely) without undercoat, usually with a parting down the back, flags on ears and legs and tail. The “long coat” is a disqualifying fault within the Breed Standard, and as such is not suitable for Showing or Breeding. However this in no way detracts from its ability as a pet and companion, in fact many people have a preference for them. Long Coats will generally be sold on a “Limited Register” Pedigree.

A “long stock coat” has a long double coat (Long Stockhaar) with long, wavy, topcoat not lying closely, with undercoat, feathering on ears and legs, bushy breeches and bushy tail forming flags below. Long Stock coat GSD’s may be shown and bred.

The correct coat of the GSD is a double coat (Stockhaar) with undercoat. The top coat should be as dense as possible, straight, harsh and close lying. It should be short on the head, including inside the ears, the front of the legs and on the feet and toes; it is a little longer and heavier coated on the neck. The hair lengthens on the back of the legs to the pastern or hock; on the back of the thighs it forms moderate breeching.

Permissible colours are any of the following – 1. Black with reddish tan, tan, gold to light grey markings. 2. All black, and 3. all grey; in greys with dark shadings, black saddle and mask. The nose must be black in all colour types. Lacking mask, light to piercing eyes, as well as whitish markings on chest and inner sides of legs, light nails and red tip of tail are undesirable. The undercoat is of a light grey toning. The colour white is not permitted.

No ! – It is a fallacy that a bitch should have a litter before they are speyed. Breeding is a serious responsibility, it is not simply a case of producing puppies. Breeders have a responsibility to breed quality, healthy puppies and to ensure all puppies can be found loving and suitable homes. It is the policy of all GSDCA Affiliate Clubs to only breed with animals that have successfully passed all the Breed Improvement Schemes, particularly Breed Survey. All pet dogs should be speyed.

Matings should only occur with adult dogs (over 18 months of age) after having successfully passed the GSDCA’s hereditary disease schemes and Breed Survey. Only those males and females are deemed suitable and recommended for breeding by the GSDCA and its Affiliate State/Territory Clubs. Breeding puppies can be an expensive business and should not be attempted without commitment to betterment of the breed.

The acronym GSDCA stands for the German Shepherd Dog Council of Australia Inc. The GSDCA comprises all the Australian states/territories GSD Clubs. All GSD Breed Improvement Schemes have been developed and are controlled by the GSDCA. The GSDCA is an affiliate of Dogs Australia, formerly the Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC).