Choosing the perfect puppy with the personality that best fits your family’s lifestyle and needs can be quite easy once you have decided on the correct reputable breeder. First, you must ask yourself what you want. Are you a jogger that needs a running partner and added security while running public trails? Are you a homebody and not that active? Are you an entertainer and have several people over to your house on a regular basis? Do you live in a bad neighborhood and worry about being burglarized every time you leave your house? Do you live on acreage and have farm animals such as chickens? These are just some of the questions that you may want to answer before to choosing a specific puppy from a particular litter. While if the breeder has done his job well all the puppies in the litter should have the same general temperament, the puppies are individuals and will have different personalities and propensities for certain behaviors.
The following analysis is based upon my interpretation of the Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test (Volhard). While I do not accept the theory that there are distinct puppy personality types, I do believe that there is a continuum of personality traits and those puppies can be graded on this scale with some degree of accuracy for discussion purposes. It also must be noted that different litters develop at different rates and that a puppy at eight weeks that grades as a submissive puppy may actually be a very dominate puppy if reexamined at ten weeks. We have used the Volhard for many years and believe it an useful tool for predicting personality tendencies. However, Volhard is not completely accurate in predicting the adult temperament of a German shepherd Dog because environment including training, socializing, life experiences, and time spent with the new owner is more critical for the final expressed personality of the German Shepherd Dog. The below discussion delves into personality types that the new puppy customer should observe and consider while selecting a puppy from a litter.
The more dominant puppy will appear to be the more rebellious puppy with a lot demonstrated independence. This puppy will not like being held for any period of time and the most dominant puppies will actually try to bite at the person holding them. Dominant puppies will resist the new owners attempt to be the pack leader. This is not the German Shepherd Dog for the new or inexperienced owner. These dogs will make excellent herding dogs and home protection dogs if properly trained. A more dominant puppy would be good for a family placing home protection as a priority or for a rancher wanting help with herding farm animals. However, if improperly trained these can be the dogs that chase cows rather than herd them. Also, for the jogger that is an experienced German Shepherd Dog owner, the more dominant puppy would be good choice.
The independent puppy will not grade as a high in dominance as the dominant German shepherd Dog. However, the independent puppy is dominant, but will be a little more accepting of an inexperienced owner and not look to take the leadership role every time the owner exhibits submissive behaviors. The independent puppy has high confidence and will readily try and explore new things. These self-assured puppies are naturally protective and are not generally too aggressive, but in improper hands may demonstrate dog and/or people aggression.
The docile German Shepherd Puppy is a good choice for most families and while the moniker of docile sounds derogatory it actually describes a solid, confident puppy that is willing to learn. The docile puppy will be protective, but accepting of strange animals and people. This personality type would be great for families with young children that have very active social lives.
The docile/affectionate German Shepherd Dog puppy will be much as the docile puppy, but requires more affection and reassurance from their owners. These also make excellent puppies for large active families with children. These puppies will often become involved in play or an activity, stopping suddenly to return or look towards the owner as if to ask permission to continue. These dogs would rate as low to medium submissive.
The last puppy personality type is the timorous or true submissive dog that lacks confidence or has very low self-assurance. These puppies are most suited for inactive elderly people that will spend several hours a day with their puppy. With the correct owner these puppies can develop self-confidence and become great companions. They should not be considered if home protection is a priority. These will be the puppies that will run or hide from new people after age of ten-weeks-of-age.
Our Heidelberg German Shepherd Dogs’ personalities generally will range from low dominate to docile/affectionate, which is the personality types that most families are realistically looking for in a German Shepherd Dog. Unless you are a professional trainer that trains military or police attack dogs, you would not want a high dominant dog. The high dominant dog is rare and can become a complete disaster for the dog and new owner if in the wrong hands.
Before scrutinizing the litter you will be choosing your new German shepherd puppy from, you should have fair idea of the personality type that best fits you and your family. Start by getting the entire litter out and observe the litter as the puppies are playing around you. After observing and making mental notes for several minutes play with the puppies and pick them up while trying to recognize specific behaviors such as timidness and confidence. Also, note any aggressive behavior towards the other puppies. Notice any puppies that tend to wander off to explore on their own. These puppies are likely more independent and self-confident and may be a little more of a challenge to train. Ask the breeder his opinion of each of puppy’s personalities. Utilize his opinions because the breeder knows these puppies better than anyone. Also, if the breeder has employees that clean the kennels and feed the puppies and if they are present, ask them for their opinion.
Once you have narrowed your choice down to two or three puppies based on personality types, ask the breeder to put up all the puppies except your two or three choices. Only now start making your decisions on physical attributes such as structure, size, coat length, coat color, markings, etc., respectively. I recommend that you make your decision in the above order giving priority to structure over size, etc. Structure is the most important to form and function and the overall beauty of your German Shepherd Dog.
Good luck and I hope that this has been helpful in choosing your next German Shepherd Dog puppy.
Because this is probably one of the most important discussions I can have regarding German Shepherd Dogs, I will be editing these three posts and adding to them over the next couple of weeks with the plan to add this discussion as a new page on my web page so please revisit these posts as they are refined and improved.
Ask me a Question and I will provide my opinion. Also, please see our web page: KeystoneGermanShepherds