Where to buy a german shepherd

Leia - our 4 month old german shepherd

Where to buy a German shepherd dog

This writing pertains to all dogs, not just german shepherds, but I will focus my story on the german shepherd since that’s what I have.

So you want a puppy. They’re cute, smell great, and you want a companion. Well, after you get that dog home, the newness wears off pretty quick. That next morning when there’s pee on your floor and you need to feed them and aren’t quite sure what you’re doing, reality sets in really fast. Want to stay out later with your friends? Nope, you have to get home to your baby. Puppies can only hold it for as many hours as they are old. So, a 4 month old puppy can hold it for 4 hours, if you’re lucky.

Anyway, this has to do with puppies and where to get them. There are SO MANY places to get puppies. The biggest that comes to mind is a pet store. This is where I got both my cairn terriers, Roxy and Jack. Roxy lived a great life and I miss her so much. She lived until the age of 14 and passed away 10/5/2016…one of the worst days of my life. Jack grew up with her and is 12 and doing well (except for the diabetes that made him blind. He is on insulin shots daily.)

More than likely, my dogs came from a puppy mill… my cairn terriers I got from the pet store. Puppy mills are cheap places to get dogs so the pet stores make more money. Pet stores will say they didn’t get their dogs from a puppy mill. Either they don’t know or they’re lying.

Our 4 month old german shepherd – Leia

How do you define a puppy mill?

A puppy mill is a breeding operation that breeds dogs for profit, prioritizing financial gain over the health or well-being of the dogs. If a breeding operation breeds for profit and sells to pet stores or to consumers over the Internet, it is not a responsible breeding facility. While puppy mills may vary in size and conditions, any breeding operation that places profit over the health or well-being of the dogs can be accurately described as a puppy mill. Puppy mills are usually very dirty, housing dogs crammed in cages all day. Dogs rarely come out of cages, as they are seen as breeding machines. They are given no human interaction or love. I will spare you the rest of the heart breaking details.

Are all puppy mills the same?

Puppy mills are in business solely to make a profit. Veterinary care, staffing, and humane living conditions are expensive and cut into the profit margin, particularly for large numbers of dogs. Mills keep overhead costs as low as possible to maximize their profits.

I’ve heard a lot of different terms used to describe puppy mills. What is the difference between a puppy mill, a commercial breeder, or a puppy farm?

These terms all describe the same thing – a breeding operation that breeds dogs exclusively for profit and keeps the costs for caring for the dogs as minimal as possible. There is a difference, however, between these types of operations and responsible breeders. We will never use the term puppy mill, commercial breeder, or puppy farm to describe a responsible, reputable breeder. To learn more about what makes someone a responsible breeder, click here.

What if a breeder has a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) license?

In order to sell to a pet store, a breeder must obtain a USDA license. The fact that the breeder has a USDA license does not provide an assurance of quality or humane breeding. Instead, it means that it is held only to very minimal standards of care and is most likely a puppy mill. To learn why a USDA license does not mean that you are purchasing a responsibly bred pet, click here. Responsible breeders do not sell to pet stores, and are prohibited from doing so by their breed club guidelines.

The store assures me that my puppy is registered or has papers?

It simply means that your puppy is registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC) and that his or her parents are registered with the AKC as a purebred. Contrary to popular belief, this registration means nothing with respect to the quality of breeding (and whether the breeder conducts appropriate genetic testing) or the conditions in which the puppy was bred. The AKC has a long history of opposing legislation that would improve conditions for dogs living in mills and supports the commercial dog breeding industry. Read more here. If someone says the dog is registered with the AKC, that means NOTHING and your response should be SO WHAT.

The pet store said they only buy from the best breeders?

Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean anything more than that the breeders are licensed to sell to pet stores and that they meet the USDA’s minimal standards. The USDA’s standards for care of companion animals are extremely minimal, and these standards are not adequately enforced. Pet stores will often tout that their puppies only come from the best USDA-licensed facilities, yet the conditions in USDA compliant facilities are often far below what most people would consider acceptable for companion animals. Most pet stores don’t know where their animals come from and they don’t care.

How do you know puppies come from puppy mills?

You can trace the origin of a puppy sold in a pet store through federal and state records. Commercial breeding facilities that sell to pet stores must be licensed by the USDA. Pet stores in Illinois are required to provide the name of the breeder for each puppy. You can look up a registered breeder on the USDA website and see the number of adult animals, puppies, and any violations that the breeder has incurred. In addition, when a puppy is shipped from out-of-state, a veterinarian must file a health certificate with the state department of agriculture for every puppy shipped into the state that identifies the breeder or broker. By looking at the breeder or broker on the health certificates, or by going into the pet store and looking at the name of the breeder, you can see where pet stores are sourcing their puppies from. If you would like to research a breeder on the USDA website, click here.

What is a puppy broker?

Brokers are pet dealers that obtain puppies from breeders, transport them, and then re-sell them to pet stores (in other words, a “middle man”.) Brokers need a Class B USDA license to operate. Brokers are a key part of the puppy mill supply chain as most pet stores obtain their puppies from brokers, and not directly from the breeders. Brokers often ship large quantities of puppies at a time for long distances in crowded conditions, creating a significant risk for the spread of illness.

It’s the breeders, not the pet stores?

Pet stores are the primary sales outlet for commercially bred puppies. Pet stores are necessary to sustain and perpetuate the puppy mill industry. It is imperative to cut off the end of the supply chain to decrease the number of puppy mills. Pet stores often misrepresent the true origins of their puppies and mislead consumers into believing that they are purchasing a responsibly and humanely bred puppy. Focusing our educational and advocacy efforts on pet stores is an extremely effective way to fight puppy mills.

Will there be a puppy shortage?

Absolutely not. There are millions of dogs in shelters and rescues needing homes at this very minute. Many shelters and rescues have puppies available, and there are thousands of puppies available on Petfinder.com. The idea that consumers will no longer be able to obtain a puppy is a myth perpetuated by pet stores that sell puppies.

What dog breeds come from puppy mills?

Unfortunately, puppy mills produce all kinds of dogs. This can include purebreds, but also popular hybrids, aka designer dogs. They sell labradoodles, yorkipoos, maltipoos, pomskies, schnoodles, cockapoos, cavapoos, teddy bear puppies, maltichons, puggles, goldendoodles, sheltidoodles, chorkies, maltese shih tzus, peekapoos, goldadors, cane corsos, shihpoos, mastiffs, bulldogs, basset hounds, collies, shelties, corgis, labs, golden retrievers, shepherds and more.

I worked at a pet store at the age of 16

It was sad to see families, knowing they have no knowledge of dog ownership, come in to look at puppies. The chain I worked for, petland, oops, I said it, oh well, had us spray the puppy down with perfume when we saw a family looking at it. We were told to get it in their hands and make the sale. I hated that and would not do it. Sorry petland! So the parents bought a puppy because their brats begged for one. This is how dogs wind up in shelters. The vet bills rack up, the dog gets sick or the animal becomes a burden. When you bring an animal into your home, you do it with the knowledge that it’s FOREVER! If you question this for one second, YOU DON’T GET A DOG. Imagine if you were pulled from your home, taken from your family and put in jail, never to see your family again, surrounded by strangers crying and scared (other dogs.) I have heard where people abandoned their dogs because their new apartment wouldn’t take dogs. WHAT THE HELL KIND OF PEOPLE ARE YOU?! I called around when looking for apartments and my first question was, do you take dogs. NO? Ok, thanks…and I called the next place. Seriously, WTF. Maybe you don’t agree with me, but this is a life, and one that relies on you. The dog didn’t ask to be bought by you.

So, where do you buy a dog

The list is way too long and heart breaking. In 2017 I started searching for a german shepherd in shelters. I love shelters because the dogs are much cheaper, already fixed and already chipped. They are already house trained and potty trained as well, most of them. The people working at the shelters know the dogs, so they can tell you what to expect. I kept running across, NOT GOOD WITH KIDS, NOT GOOD WITH OTHER DOGS, etc. Well, I have 2 young boys at home and a 12-year-old dog. So, I turned to stores, who want a fortune. There are breeders in your area but I HIGHLY SUGGEST you ask questions and visit the place. See the mom and dad. If at any time you feel odd, then you DON’T DO IT!

I found this lady (with hundreds more like her) selling german shepherd puppies online, out of their home. They all said the same thing, the dogs were raised by me with my family. This lady wanted to make the sale and was pressuring me. Then she wanted to meet in a taco bell parking lot to make the deal. She didn’t want me over at her house, I was sensing. Why could that be? Well, as cute as this puppy was, I passed. She was selling the dog for $800, where most breeders were selling german shepherd dogs for about $1800-$2500. I passed. I felt odd about it, but I also felt odd about not saving that dog.

Then we passed by a store in a strip mall that simply said PUPPIES. We stopped in to see two beautiful german shepherd puppies, about 3 months old. They wanted $2,000 each. I was tempted since we both fell for the female. We had no money, so I had to pass. She was really sweet.

Leia – our 4 month old german shepherd

Long story short (too late), I took a look at the dreaded Craigslist, where there are way too many dogs listed for $500-$800, all pure bred, supposedly. I sent a message to one lady, who’s ad grabbed my attention. We hit it off, drove out to meet the pups, her husband, and the parents of the dogs. I felt really good and we took Leia home that night, at the age of 10 weeks. Leia is the most beautiful, sweet, loving and playful puppy. She bonded to us (as most german shepherds bond very close to their owners) and we bonded to her. She is a perfect fit and we love her so much.

You can get lucky and find the right people. You can get a bad dog, whether you spend $400 or $4,000. It’s in how you raise them, but also in the dog’s genetics. This is why it’s important to read reviews and see the dog’s parents. When Leia’s mom trotted out to my 5 year old son to give him a huge kiss on the face, I knew.


You have to really love animals and dogs to have one. You have to spend time with them because you want to, not because you have to. They are so smart, and are always there for you. Be there for them.

There are stories of places that sell bad dogs

This is one story I must tell. It’s heartbreaking to read about these complaints, I know. I do not intend to bash anyone in this writing, but just wanted to let you know what I found. There is a dog breeder known as mittelwest in IL. I first checked out mittelwest in 2007 and had a bad feeling about the place right away. Not a really bad feeling, but just a feeling. Walking up to the property, we were greeted by a crazy caged full-grown german shepherd who was crammed in a smaller than should be cage. If that door was opened, I’d have a serious problem. Julie, the owner, took time to speak with us and was nice. There was a 1-year-old dog on site who I fell in love with and wanted. He was a sweet boy, but too expensive. I have met 4 people who purchased dogs from them over the last 10 years and each time, the dogs to me, look a little off. They look too bulky or bigger head or something. We were at a dog park yesterday and a 6 month shepherd showed up…from mittelwest. The owner said the dog had issues. Not eating much, diarrhea, on special meds, and they aren’t sure what’s wrong. This dog is only 6 months old. This other dog I met while in a waiting room at the vet a few years back, also from mittelwest, just would not listen to the owner at all. I realize this is the owner’s fault, to an extent, BUT, a lot of it is the actual dog and genetics.

Our GSD puppy of 4 months is perfect around kids, listens when we talk, constantly watches us, comes when called, and we never trained her to do it. Her genetics are awesome. We didn’t get her from a backyard breeder. We got her from a family who had both parents on site.

If you are looking for a dog, of any breed, look to the shelters. I have seen many shelter dogs that I love, come home to live with friends of mine. They are so happy and loving. As another resort, maybe check out Craigslist and see what is out there. Listen to the person’s story. One lady had to sell her 1-year-old shepherd due to her never being home due to a job change. That’s sad but it happens.

One last thing, don’t ever buy a dog online. You need to see what you’re buying. My brother lost his maltese dog to old age and was devastated, as we all are. He found a deal on a maltese online. He paid the $500 for the dog and went to the airport later that week to pick it up. The dog never showed up. It was a scam site called Maltese Kingdom. I found two other families that got ripped off as well, from the same person. I researched and found the website was up and running for only 2 months. The site had photos of happy families who bought from this guy. WRONG.

Do not buy from maltese kingdom. Their phone number was (571) 350-0477

I searched the web and do not see them at this time. I’m sure the site was taken down. I reported them to their hosting company…the place that houses the website.

There are bad people out there, looking to make a profit off those desperate, and they do not care.

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