As of this writing, you can expect to pay between $1,000 and $2,000 US dollars for a quality-bred German Shepherd puppy.

Why are German Shepherd puppies so expensive?

The main reason German Shepherd puppies cost so much is that the cost of breeding German Shepherds and raising the puppies is not cheap.

Below is a chart breaking down the approximate costs associated with breeding.

Approximate cost1
Training and showing $3,500/year
Health screening $500
Stud fee $1,000+
Whelping supplies $100
Vet bills $750+
Food $100 per litter
Registration $25 + $2/puppy
Utilities $300
Emergencies $700+
Total (approx.)

1. Based on estimates from “Cost to Breed and Raise a Litter” and “Litter Costs.”

When you add this to the cost of feeding and maintaining the dam for one year, a single litter is often setting breeders back by $8,000 or so. (Not to mention the cost of buying a quality bitch and/or sire and raising them to adulthood!) Add to this the intangible expense of the breeder’s time and expertise in whelping, raising and training the litter.

I found GSD puppies advertised locally for $400. Why do I need a dog from a fancy breeder?

Once you start asking your $400-per-puppy breeder a few questions, the answer as to why anyone would want to pay more for a German Shepherd puppy will become obvious.

Here are the questions to ask any breeder from whom you are considering buying a puppy:

  • What health testing have you done on the parents (sire and dam)?
  • Do the sire and dam both have a ratings, OFA grades or PennHip scores declaring them free of hip and elbow dysplasia?
  • Do either the sire or dam have allergies – chronic ear infections, drippy eyes, skin problems, poor coats?
  • What kinds of health problems might be typical in the lines that you breed?
  • How old do the dogs in your lines tend to live?
  • Have your dogs ever growled at or bitten a person?
  • How are your German Shepherds with young children?
  • How do your German Shepherds behave around cats?
  • Can I meet your dogs before I decide to buy a puppy?
  • What titles do your dogs have?
  • Do you sell your puppies on a contract?
  • Does your puppy contract include a guarantee to take back the puppy at any point in its life, if I can no longer keep him?
  • Does your puppy contract include a hip guarantee?
  • Are your puppies crate trained?
  • How do you socialize your puppies before they leave?
  • What vaccinations will my puppy have before I take him home?
  • Can I talk to some of your previous puppy buyers?

In addition, the breeder you are considering should ask you questions about your lifestyle and reasons for wanting a GSD. He or she should also ask you what your plans are for training and exercising your new puppy.

Saving enough money to buy a German Shepherd puppy

If you can’t afford a quality German Shepherd right now, don’t worry. You can always start saving today! You’ll have time to build your savings, as most breeders of good pups only breed a few litters each year. Finding a breeder may take several weeks of research, as well. Expect to pay a non-refundable deposit to get on a waiting list.

In addition to the cost of your puppy, don’t forget to factor in the initial costs of a crate, toys, veterinary appointments, training classes, pet insurance, a basic pet first-aid kit, good-quality food, and a starter supply of flea and heartworm treatment.

Here are a few savings tips I’ve used for a puppy savings fund in the past:

  • Set a savings goal. I love SmartyPig, because it lets you break your savings account into goals and track them online. It’s free and features automatic withdrawals, too. But you don’t need to get fancy — your regular savings account or a glass jar will do, too.
  • Save all unexpected cash flow. Once your bills and credit cards are paid, stash any “surprise” income into your savings account. Bonuses, tips, extra odd jobs, birthday and Christmas checks, rebates or refunds fall into this category.
  • Set aside a certain amount each month. Even if it’s $25, that’s an extra $100 towards vaccinations or a crate after just four months! Automatic withdrawals from your checking into a savings account will save you from remembering.
  • Do extra work or odd jobs. Do you have a marketable skill that you can trade for a few dollars? Can you wash cars, walk dogs, or help a friend with his or her web site? Adding $50 here and there can get you to your savings goal faster than you’d think.
  • Give up another expense until your savings goal is met. Whether it’s fast food, coffee, an online subscription, or impulse buys at the grocery store, most of us can find a way to save an extra $5 or more each week by skipping those purchases. Remind yourself — it’s temporary, and for a good reason!
  • Sell something you own. Regularly clearing out stuff you no longer use is not only healthy, but can be profitable as well! List your used goods on eBay, or hold a yard sale. See if there’s a Facebook group that lists the stuff you’re trying to sell, and join.

Is spending the money to get a high-quality German Shepherd pup worthwhile?

After 19 years of owning and raising German Shepherds, and helping other people with their GSDs’ behavior, I can say without hesitation that any money you spend on a good-quality pup from a reputable breeder is well worth it. A German Shepherd with a stable, friendly temperament, in good health and properly socialized by a knowledgable breeder is priceless.

The rest — making sure your German Shepherd is a terrific canine citizen — is up to you! But by investing up front, you’ll be motivated to continue where the breeder left off and have a fantastic companion to share with the world.

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