Q: I am very interested in finding a great big beautiful and healthy GSD, but I keep reading that a good breeder is hard to come by and others say I should just get a rescue dog. I don’t really want a rescue dog. I read that it’s hard to come by rescue puppies, and they’re usually already juveniles or older when they’re adopted. How do I get a nice German Shepherd puppy?

A: You’re not wrong, it is really tough to find a nice puppy without doing a fair bit of research. I recommend joining some of the German Shepherd email lists (check Yahoo Groups) and forums (such as GermanShepherds.com), as well as searching for German Shepherd or working dog Facebook groups, and get involved there. Not only do breeders hang out and advertise nice litters with pedigrees, parents’ photos, and titles, but their puppy buyers do as well — so you can get a fairly comprehensive picture of what the breeder is producing, just by talking to other GSD enthusiasts.

And of course, nothing beats the experience of attending a trial and watching the dogs at work. Look for IPO, Schutzhund, Ringsport and Mondio competitions to attend (you’ll probably have to use Google to find a regional club). Those can be a few — or several! — hours’ drive, but it’s worth it to see the dogs in action and asking their handlers where they’re from.

Best of luck!

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