GSD Breeders: Germany vs Stateside

LLMW has asked the following question:

Thanks again Sandra! Would you mind sharing the kennel you got your latest puppy from? We are still debating getting another German Shepherd and would want one from a German kennel. Or if you have any recommendations. Of course this would be a pet, but I did do a lot of training with our Argos…he was amazing and would love to have another chance…and to fill a hole in all our hearts of course!

Since you are located in Belgium right now, it makes it much easier for you to buy a dog and import it to the US. If located in the US I’d actually recommend to check out the American breeders first. However, Germany is so close to the Belgium Boarder that it’s easy to travel over there and to check out the breeders yourself.

Judge and Indra came from the  Sattelberg Kennel
The Sattelberg Kennel is located in Austria, right behind the German/Austrian border.

I am absolutely satisfied with both of my dogs, even though Judge deals with the Radius Curvus Syndrome it is not due to genetics but because of an accident he had when he was four months of age. So it is not the breeders fault. The breeder really cares about his dogs. Likes to get updates and stays in touch. His kennel was internationally recognized due to the breeders success with Orry vom Gehrenmoos.
Both dogs are highly driven, yet they have an off switch in the house. They have never been destructive and both are easy to train. Both dogs have no issues with other dogs, they have rock solid nerves and pretty much come with everything you’d expect out of a German Shepherd. Obedience training is a must though, especially since they are higher driven dogs. 

Yukon comes out of the Baerenfang Kennel
This is my parents kennel. They breed working dogs. True working dogs. In the past they had some of the toughest dogs that you could possibly find. Some of the most well known dogs out of the kennel are Olko vom Baerenfang, Orly vom Baerenfang, Wotan vom Baerenfang, Champ vom Baerenfang and of course my fathers champion dog Gildo vom Koerbelbach. There are many more highly succesfull dogs out of that kennel. However many of these dogs also lived happily as pets within families. The kennel is not as active as it used to be, however as far as I know there will be a litter in the near future.
Nala comes out of the Kassler Kreuz Kennel
As far as I know they do not have a website and it isn’t easy to find any kind of information on their dogs online which doesn’t mean anything in Germany. Their dogs are well known working dogs. I do know that a lot of these dogs go into the German Police Service. It’s an old kennel just like the Baerenfang kennel, run by a so called Oldtimer. 
Nala has yet an even higher drive than Indra and Judge. She was recommended by one of my parents best friends and both my parents themselves. 
These Kennels produce sport and working dogs, however every single dog of mine wouldn’t have an issue to live as a family pet and that, too, is a very important trait of a German Shepherd: Adaptability. A solid German Shepherd shouldn’t have an issue to go from an outdoor kennel environment into the house and vice versa. It also shouldn’t have an issue to live a life as an active family pet. 
Anyhow, one Kennel I can recommend that produces good working dogs and nice family pets is:
Breeder is Doris Grawe and from what I can tell she is absolutely devoted to her dogs. I know for a fact that one dog out of the I litter went into a home with a teenage daughter, mainly as a dog for the girl. She is absolutely happy with her dog. I had the privilege to follow both of them for quite a while and witnessed how the bitch grew from a puppy into a gorgeous young dog.
It is a small and local Kennel.

However, there are also some Kennels in the US that breed great west german working line Shepherds. One advantage you have with buying dogs Stateside, is that you can possibly travel to them to check out the dogs and the Kennel yourself. 
Kennels that I’d personally buy from are:
Christines dogs are true working dogs. She’s involved with Search&Rescue and has titled quite a few dogs in the sport of Schutzhund. She is absolutely devoted to her dogs. She resides in Virginia. One reason I’d buy from her is because she knows what is important for SAR dogs. They have got to have rock solid nerves, no dog aggression, lots of hunt and prey drive. Simply the best what German Shepherds can offer. 
Like Blackthorn Kennels, the Wolfstraum dogs are active in pretty much any venue you can find. Schutzhund, SAR, AKC Obedience, Therapy Dogs… these dogs are rock solid working dogs and their dogs go back to German working lines. 
If you are more into the German Show line dogs one Kennel that produces nice show dogs with working capability is the Huerta Hof Kennel located in Texas.
Here is a short list of working line breeders that are definitely worth to be checked out:
Importing a puppy is nice. You get the pink papers and the bragging rights, however, if you don’t really know anyone that can help you, it can end in a lot of dissappointment. There are good and bad breeders everywhere and knowing what to look for and having somebody you can trust that can vouch or check out the kennel is absolutely essential. Some breeders are ruthless and send you the runt of the litter, charging good money and by the time the pup is in the US you’ve spend some good 2000 Dollars. 
For the same money you can go to an American Breeder. Yes, the dogs are more expensive but at the same time you can check out the kennel yourself. There is no language barriers, you have a guarantee on the dog. In Germany it’s based on goodwill and handshakes. You don’t get a guarantee for the dog, whereas in the US it’s common standard to hand out a guarantee until the dog is at least two years of age and OFA’ed. 
You can drive there to pick up the pup whereas importing means to go via Petair or Gradlyn Kennels and they are not cheap. If the Breeder doesn’t deliever the pup to the airport you have to pay them to pick up the pup which makes it all the more expensive. And then you’ve got to deal with the Customs as well. 
I’m not saying “don’t ever import a dog”, just be aware of the difficulties that come with importing a dog. There are great breeders on both side of the pond and both have their advantages. I’m lucky to have a family that has contacts and knows where to go so I can always rely on both my parents to evaluate a dog. Not everybody has that and they literally have to depend on the honesty of the breeder.

2 thoughts on “GSD Breeders: Germany vs Stateside

  1. Thanks so much for the rec.

    Puppies of mine are working in SAR and as service dogs and therapy dogs and in herding. Others compete (or play) in agility, flyball, schutzhund, rally, obedience, and dock dogs. Many of them are house companions as their full-time “job”!

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