Frequently Asked Questions
Got questions? Check below for answers!
If you would like clarification on any of these subjects feel free to contact me directly!
"What 'lines' do you use?"
"Lines" are a hot topic in the GSD world these days. The breed, while relatively new, boasts perhaps the most diversity within any pure breed of dog that can be traced back to its original ancestors. Be it "working line," "show line," "DDR," "Czech," "West German," "East German" the list seems to go on forever and can often be confusing to somebody who "just wants a dog." Each style is slightly different in appearance and character and each breeder of those styles will insist (sometimes vehemently!) that their dogs are the BEST! The truth is that any CORRECT (as per the breed standard) example of those lines or styles of GSD are all GSD and all are good dogs.
It is important that you, as a buyer, are honest with yourself about what you want from your dog. Are you training your dog for police or military service? Does your dog need to compete in high intensity sports involving leaping over barriers and biting a "bad guy" with a sleeve? Different activities require different levels of drive and intensity and different breeders plan litters with these specific traits in mind. It is VERY important that in your search for a companion animal, you ask your breeder what their goals are for each litter of puppies.
Me? I while my dogs are German by ancestry, I am proud to say that they are "All American" in every other way. I breed to the AKC standard, participate in AKC events and am a member of the German Shepherd Dog Club of America. I have found that a CORRECT example of the GSD from the American "show line" of dogs makes the best overall companion animal. I choose the parents of my litters carefully and will occasionally use animals of European descent, but only select animals with the stable temperament and noble character most appropriate for the home, conformation show, obedience or herding applications.
I do not breed dogs for "bite sports" or police and military work as I do not believe that the drives required for these activities lend themselves to produce sane and enjoyable pets for the average owner's household.
"What are all these health tests and titles with your dogs' names?"
Prospective pet owners often overlook breeders who may be more expensive or a greater distance away because they "just want a pet." While it is tempting to simply open the newspaper and roll half a mile to snatch up that $600 puppy you see advertised, it's important to take a moment and think about whether or not you are really getting a bargain on that "pet" puppy. A $600 puppy could easily turn into a $5000 double hip replacement surgery when you discover he needs it! While it is impossible to fully guarantee that any animal will never develop a problem in his life, it has been found that a great number of the health and temperament issues that can affect a GSD are indeed hereditary and traceable! "Purebred" puppies, even those registered with the AKC, are by no means necessarily "well bred." The show and performance titles you see are a further testament to the quality of the animal and the dedication shown to that animal by his people through hard work and recognition in the face of competition. Why settle for the illusion of a bargain when you can have confidence that you are getting the best?
My puppies are bred with careful consideration for temperament and are guaranteed to be free of crippling hip dysplasia.
"I have noticed in your pictures that your dogs are posed in a certain way and there is a "slope" to thier backs. Can you explain what I am seeing?"
GSD structure and presentation is unlike that of any other breed. Why?
They are bred to fly! No, seriously. They are!
"At a trot the dog covers still more ground with even longer stride, and moves powerfully but easily, with coordination and balance so that the gait appears to be the steady motion of a well-lubricated machine. The feet travel close to the ground on both forward reach and backward push. In order to achieve ideal movement of this kind, there must be good muscular development and ligamentation. The hindquarters deliver, through the back, a powerful forward thrust which slightly lifts the whole animal and drives the body forward." - the AKC breed standard
If you look a the picture you can see that there is indeed daylight visible under the dogs as he is briefly suspended above the ground. One of the many traits that makes the GSD special is their motion and balance of structure. The breed standard indeed calls for a wither (shoulder) that is slightly higher than the hip, resulting in a moderate slope. Many times in pictures the dogs are posed (stacked) in such a way that exaggerates this trait, but standing naturally the dog should be balanced and athletic with bone structure that enables correct locomotion and type.
While it may not seem important for the average pet owner to concern themselves with breed standards, that long stride and effortless suspension which wows the judges in the show ring is also what helps your dog efficiently herd sheep, go with you for a long jog, keep up with the mountain bike or simply take your breath away when you watch him stride across the yard with a stick in his mouth.
"When can I come and pick out my puppy?"
In the state of Pennsylvania it is legal to sell a puppy, with health certification from a vet, at eight weeks of age. That being said, you still will not be able to simply come and take your pick. The reason for this is that I know my puppies better than you do. Just because one puppy seems like the calmest, or most active, or most playful on the day that you visit, doesn't mean that he indeed is! One of my most important responsibilities as a breeder is to match you and your home with the right puppy. Sometimes there will be a small group of similar personalities that you will be able to pick from, but in most cases I will send you home with, to my knowledge, who I think is right for your home.
"What if I do not want my puppy anymore, or my life changes and I can no longer care for him?"
My puppies are ALWAYS welcome back home with me. In fact, if you choose a Hammersmith puppy, part of your purchase agreement is that if for any reason you can no longer take care of your dog (no matter if he is ten weeks or ten years old) you are to contact me and I will take him back, no questions asked. This provides peace of mind knowing that your dog will never end up in a shelter or the wrong hands if you can no longer keep him.
Please feel free to contact me with any other questions!