The loyal and imposing German Shepherd is one of America’s most beloved dog breeds. These highly intelligent pups are known for their devotion to their families and their ability to fill many working roles, from police K9s to service dogs.
However, finding the right German Shepherd breeder in Arizona can feel like a daunting task. With so many puppy mills and disreputable breeders around, how do you know you’re getting a healthy pup from responsible, ethical sources?
This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about finding your perfect German Shepherd puppy from the best breeders that Arizona has to offer. We’ll discuss:
- What to look for in a breeder
- Recommended German Shepherd breeders in Arizona
- Questions to ask any potential breeder
- How to spot puppy mills and backyard breeders
- Preparing your home for a German Shepherd puppy
What Makes a Reputable Breeder?
When searching for German Shepherd breeders in Arizona, there are a few key signs that indicate responsible breeding practices and devotion to the breed. Here are some things to look out for:
Health Testing and Guarantees
Reputable German Shepherd breeders will perform health testing on their breeding dogs to screen for issues like hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and degenerative myelopathy. They should be able to provide documentation of this testing for you.
Responsible breeders will also offer health guarantees, usually for 1-2 years, against any genetic conditions. They will take back any puppy that develops health problems and provide a refund or replacement.
AKC Registration and Titles
The AKC does not guarantee quality in breeders, but membership is a good sign. Ethical breeders focus on titling their dogs in areas like conformation, obedience, agility, and more. These titles help prove their dogs meet the breed standard.
The best breeders focus on quality, not quantity. They often only have a few litters per year from just a handful of dogs. Their dogs should be housed in home environments as part of the family.
Reputable breeders want to ensure their puppies go to good homes. They’ll have an application and interview process and require contracts for puppy buyers. They’ll also offer resources and support for the puppy’s lifetime, not just when purchasing.
Recommended German Shepherd Breeders in Arizona
Now that you know what makes a great breeder, here are some excellent German Shepherd breeders to consider in Arizona:
PuppySpot is an online marketplace that connects potential buyers across the country with responsible, vetted breeders. Their breeders must meet strict requirements around health testing, facilities, and more.
The benefit of using PuppySpot is you get access to quality breeders you may not find locally. Puppies can be shipped safely to your home in Arizona. Plus, their staff is available to offer guidance through the entire process.
2. Schönheit German Shepherds
Schönheit German Shepherds, located in Scottsdale, AZ, breeds German Shepherd dogs from proven German and Czech bloodlines. Their dogs hold various titles and championships in Schutzhund, conformation, tracking, and more.
Owner Jon Holmes grew up with Shepherds and focuses on producing dogs with strong working ability, trainability, and stability. Their puppies are raised in home environments and go through extensive socialization.
3. Far West Shepherds
Based in Queen Creek, Far West Shepherds is a small hobby breeding operation run by Tracy Oakes. Tracy hand-raises all litters, focusing on socialization before they go home.
Their dogs, like sire “Bear,” come from strong West German show lines. Dams and sires are OFA certified and AKC registered. Puppies go home potty trained.
4. Abbott’s German Shepherds
Abbott’s German Shepherds, located in Maricopa, breeds German Shepherds for various working roles and family pets. Their sires Axel and Lary and all dams are OFA certified.
As a family-run kennel, all their dogs live as part of their family. Their focus is on temperament, health, structure, and versatility. They occasionally have puppies available.
Questions to Ask Any Breeder
Before committing to a breeder, make sure to ask plenty of questions to confirm they are ethical and reputable. Here are some important topics to cover:
- Health testing – Do you perform testing on your breeding dogs? Can I see documentation of those results?
- Genetic guarantees – What is your guarantee if my puppy develops a genetic condition? For how long?
- Parents – Can I meet at least one of the parents? What are their temperaments like?
- Socialization – What do you do to socialize the puppies before they go home?
- Vaccinations/deworming – Will the puppy be up to date on vaccines and deworming before placement?
- AKC registration – Will I receive AKC registration papers with my puppy? Are there any restrictions?
- Contracts – Do you require a purchase contract? What are your policies if I can no longer keep the dog?
- Lifetime support – Do you offer support and guidance after I take the puppy home? For how long?
Responsible breeders will happily answer all these questions. Be wary of any who seem offended or evasive.
How to Avoid Puppy Mills and Backyard Breeders
While you want to find an ethical, quality breeder, there are also many disreputable sources to avoid, like puppy mills and backyard breeders. Here are some red flags:
No Health Testing
Puppy mills and backyard breeders do not perform health testing on their dogs to save on costs. Getting a puppy from untested parents is risky.
AKC Papers Only
Some shady breeders advertise “AKC registered” pups to appear legitimate. But AKC registration alone means nothing in terms of health or quality.
Lots of Litters
Quality breeders focus on just a few litters from their top dogs. Puppy mills churn out litter after litter for maximum profit.
Ethical breeders have a strict process to approve buyers. Puppy mills just want to make a quick sale.
Advises Against Spay/Neuter
Reputable breeders require spay/neuter contracts for companion pups. Otherwise, it suggests they just want you to breed more dogs.
Won’t Show Parents
If a breeder makes excuses for why you can’t see the parents, there may be something to hide about housing conditions.
Offers to Ship
No reputable breeder will ship a young puppy alone without personally delivering them.
By avoiding these red flags, you can find a breeder who truly cares about their dogs.
Preparing Your Home for a German Shepherd Puppy
Once you select a quality breeder and prepare to bring home your German Shepherd pup, make sure you puppy-proof your home. Here are some tips:
- Containment – Have an exercise pen or designated gated area for when you can’t directly supervise. Make sure it’s comfortable with food, water, toys.
- Exercise – Have appropriate chew toys available to satisfy their need to chew and play. Be ready to provide hours of daily exercise and play time.
- Training – Start simple training like crate training right away. Enroll in a puppy kindergarten class for continued socialization and training.
- Supplies – Stock up on leashes, collar, ID tag, bed, bowls, puppy food, treats, cleaning supplies, etc.
- Safety – Remove loose wiring, toxic houseplants, medications, small objects the pup could swallow. Block off any unsafe areas.
- Pet-proof – Put away shoes, stow loose items, apply bitter apple spray on furniture and wood to deter chewing.
With the right breeder selection, thoughtful preparation, and attentive training, you’ll be rewarded with a loyal, loving companion in your German Shepherd. Take your time researching breeders, ask lots of questions, and avoid anyone raising red flags.
The effort is well worth it to gain a healthy, happy German Shepherd puppy that will bring your family joy for years to come. Best of luck in your search!