12 Questions to Ask

Celhaus German Shepherds

Personality     Brains     Beauty

4817 Big Horn Ave.
Sheridan, WY 82801
(307) 674-4800

[email protected]     https://celhaus.com

Breeding Philosophy

My Comments on

“Twelve Questions to Ask a Breeder”
from an article in
Dog Fancy, April 1997


1. How long have you been involved with the breed? I was raised with a German Shepherd cross from babyhood. My first memories, about age 3, involve being fascinated by every German Shepherd I saw and loving their nobility and beauty. A very early memory includes a National Geographic article about dogs, highlighting the various breeds, and reading (or being read to) the description of German Shepherd character–the “look of Eagles”, the fearlessness, the service to humankind. At that moment I decided I wanted to breed good German Shepherd Dogs.
My parents did not believing in buying purebred dogs but rather visited the Animal Shelter when each old dog died to pick a replacement. I got my first purebred, a sable male, the fall I went off to work my way through college. I tried to breed my Harrigan daughter, Noche, in 1975, but she wanted no part of the whole thing, thinking she was human, so I spayed her and showed her to a UDT, which was the highest training title possible at that time. It was 1977 before I had my first litter. I belong to the German Shepherd Dog Club of America and am a long-time signer of their Breeder’s Code. I also belong to the Central Wyoming Kennel Club, the Agility Club of Central Wyoming, Rocky Mountain Dog Stars (regional training group) and a local training group.

2. Do you work or show your dogs? What titles do your dogs have? All my dogs are trained and compete in nose work, a competition that is based on the training given narcotics dogs. Instead of drugs, dogs search for essential oils, beginning with birch, then anise and cloves. They do interior, exterior, vehicle and container searches, earning titles for successfully passing increasingly difficult scenarios. I used to also do obedience and tracking, but as I got older, I didn’t have the energy. Once the agility trials moved to a location 3.5 hours away one way, I didn’t do much agility competition, though I still did a little training. Now we have 2 trials here a year, so I have four dogs in serious training.

We finally have a training facility here and I’ve taken several dogs to classes for their Canine Good Citizen titles. Lovely, Spirit, GloryToo and Cantor have their Canine Good Citizen title. Lovely also has her Canine Good Citizen Advanced title. I had planned to get all the CGC titles (besides Advanced there is a CGC Urban title) on everyone, but the trainer quit offering classes.

Seven of my dogs are Therapy Dogs (with Alliance of Therapy Dogs). Cantor, Spirit and Quasi (Lovely’s and Spirit’s sire) have the new AKC therapy dog title (THDN), which requires a history of 10 therapy dog visits. Lovely, just certified with ATD this spring, will resume visits after her litter and begin earning her titles.

Once they complete 50 visits, they are eligible for the AKC Therapy Dog title (THD). Lively (Spirit’s & GloryToo’s mother) and GloryToo (Lovely’s mother) have their THD title, while Berakah has her THDA title, which requires 100 documented visits.

I do bi-weekly visits to nursing homes and weekly visits to the Alzheimer’s Unit of one of them. During the school year we also participate weekly in the Reading Dogs program at Tongue River Elementary School in Ranchester (about 15 miles from Sheridan) and will resume when school starts in August. Two of my dogs go every week so the children can read and/or interact with them.

Another new activity in the 2018-2019 school year was doing stress relief visits at the local college during finals week; Lovely and Lively participated in that. I am also a Tester-Observer for ATD and do screenings for potential Therapy Dogs.

You can see each dog’s titles on its page in my website.

3. Why did you breed these two dogs?   I approve each dog as a breeding prospect if it has a marvelous temperament, sound structure, steady nerves and joy of life. This, of course, is after they had passed all the health screenings recommended for German Shepherd Dogs: hips, elbows, heart, thyroid, DM (spinal myelopathy), EPI (exocrine pancreatic insufficiency), Von Willebrand’s, and eyes (CERF).  Each litter has its own webpage with all kinds of background information, including why I bred those two parents.

I do PennHip evaluation for my preliminary hip check at approximately a year of age (see www.pennhip.org). In PennHip they first take the standard view (the only one OFA uses), then they place the anesthetized dog with his hips in some kind of a fulcrum brace that allows them to pull the hip and put pressure on it in a certain way that reveals joint laxity. The x-rays go to the creator of the method and he does a bunch of measurements. If a hip rates less than .3 it’s nearly 100% sure that it won’t get arthritis. If it measures .7 or over, there’s too much laxity and the dog will probably develop crippling arthritis (hip dysplasia). They rate both hips separately, then give a percentile rating. The higher the percentile the better the hips. The highest they give is 90th percentile, which means the dog’s hips were better than 90% of the German Shepherd hips they’ve evaluated at that time (they’re up to 13,000+) . I do OFA hip and elbow x-rays at 2, which is when you get your official rating.

See more details on each litter’s parents, grandparents and beyond at the end of the background page for that litter.

4. Do you breed to AKC (or breed club) standards? I breed to the AKC-approved standard for the German Shepherd Dog, which is still very close to the international standard. The only reason I can’t breed to the German (international) standard is that I live too far away from a training club (over 300 miles one way) so am unable to acquire Schutzhund titles on my dogs.  Unfortunately, American bloodlines have moved away from that standard due to years of fads concerning sidegait and rear angulation and the typical American idea that “bigger is better” which has led to a lot of oversized dogs.  I continue to breed for the medium-sized, athletic, balanced and healthy dogs that are described in the breed standard.

5. How many litters do your dogs have each year? I seldom breed a female oftener than once a year. If I do, she gets over a year off before being bred again. I generally have two to three litters a year. I don’t breed constantly because I put in a lot of work on the pups – individual attention, socialization, visits to nursing homes, the senior daycare and puppy playtimes at the children’s library and just plain enjoying them. The 9 weeks of pregnancy and 7 weeks of puppies are a very intense time for both my bitch and me. I want us both to enjoy them, and you don’t do that if you have those demands most of the time. Quality is much more important to me than quantity.

6. How old are the puppy’s parents?   See the background information for each litter.  All parents are at least two the first time they’re bred since they can’t receive all their OFA health certifications until they’re 2.  I seldom breed a female after she’s 7; males are usually good until around 10.

7. Can I see the parents, grandparents and other relatives in-person or in photographs. Can you tell me about the dogs in this puppy’s pedigree? I especially urge people, if at all possible, to meet my dogs and see their outgoing, confident temperament. I do require that they have filled out my application (available on the website) so that I have approved them as possible puppy buyers, before they can come visit. I have photos and details about all my dogs and litters on my website. If I do not own the male, I will give them the name and address of the stud owners in case they are close enough to go see the father of the litter, too.  I give details on the pedigree with each litter (see the background page for that litter).

8. Do you screen for hip dysplasia, Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) and other hereditary defects? Yes, mine have all recommended screenings. Copies of all certificates for both parents are included in the puppy folder. In fact, they have all screenings that can be done for hereditary conditions that are problems in the breed. They have these screenings: OFA hips, PennHip, OFA Elbows, OFA cardiac, OFA DM (spinal myelopathy), OFA Thyroid, OFA Eyes (thyroid & eyes must be repeated annually). They are also clear of VonWillebrand’s/hemophilia (genetic bleeding disorders) and EPI (exocrine pancreatic insufficiency). I have done this for years and years and am one of the few GSD breeders in the country who has done so.

I also do TWO screenings for hips: OFA (which is generally well known) and PennHip (a newer, more scientific evaluation of hips). I normally do PennHip evaluation for my preliminary hip check at approximately a year of age (see www.pennhip.org). In PennHip they first take the standard view (the only one OFA uses), then they place the anesthetized dog with his hips in some kind of a fulcrum brace that allows them to pull the hip and put pressure on it in a certain way that reveals joint laxity. The x-rays go to the creator of the method and he does a bunch of measurements. If a hip rates less than .3 it’s nearly 100% sure that it won’t get arthritis. If it measures .7 or over, there’s too much laxity and the dog will probably develop crippling arthritis (hip dysplasia). They rate both hips separately, then give a percentile rating. The higher the percentile the better the hips. The highest they give is 95th percentile, which means the dog’s hips were better than 90% of the German Shepherd hips they’ve evaluated at that time (they’re up to 14,000+). I do OFA hips and elbows at 2, which is when you get your official rating.

9. Do you offer a guarantee? Do you have first right of refusal? Yes, I offer a guarantee (a copy of the contract is on the website). I want the pup back if for any reason it does not measure up. I will replace with another pup to our mutual satisfaction. I repeat, I want my pups to come back here if for any reason you cannot or will not keep them. I never ever want them given away or placed in an animal shelter. I encourage people to either put a clause in their wills that the dog be returned to me, or fold the contract inside the will. I received a call from a lawyer of an elderly couple who did just that. They died a few weeks apart, and when the lawyer opened the will, there was my contract stating I wanted the dog back. He had been placed at a vet’s when the second owner died, the lawyer told me where he was, and I drove several hundred miles to pick him up. I brought him here, kept him until his grieving was done and he was ready to re-bond, and then found him another loving home.

I mail puppy updates every three months. The updates tell you what is the normal development for that age, what behavior problems typically surface then and how to avoid or handle them. They also emphasize your responsibility and what you should be doing at that age to form the pup so that he or she grows up to be a good canine citizen, well-mannered and a pleasure to live with. I also will periodically check on how they’re doing, usually by e-mail, and I ask that you call anytime if you ever have any problems or questions. The pups are microchipped before they leave here and I always want to be listed with the microchip registries as a contact person.

These pups are guaranteed to OFA for hips. Of course, you have a responsibility to control the environment part of their hip formation–keep them lean, especially as pups, since extra weight puts extra strain on developing joints. Don’t let them do lots of jumping such as for Frisbees, until they’re over a year old. The hip joint is cartilage until approximately 12 months of age. Cartilage is soft and thus will wear off easily under repeated impact to the joint, then when it turns to bone there is roughness there which sets up arthritic change and becomes dysplasia. Don’t over-exercise and stress those developing joints and ligaments, but keep your pup fit with sensible exercise so the joint is held tightly together as it forms.

And feed a high-quality food. These pups were started on a balanced raw food, Northwest Natural Beef Diet. I gradually began adding Holistic Select Large Breed Puppy Lamb dry food. Once they were eating well, I began using less raw and more dry food until by 6 weeks of age they were eating only the dry. I strongly recommend that you keep the pup on the Holistic Select food.
Don’t “save money” on cheaper food, especially in the critical first year. You will eventually spend far more on vet bills than you saved on food. I use Royal Canin kibble as training treats, rather than buying expensive treats. The Royal Canin is a large size that works well for beginning tracking training, when you put food in each footstep.

I also recommend that you give your pup NuVet Plus and NuJointDS every day. NuVet Plus is a good immune supporter and I’m recommending that people getting one of my pups use NuVet Plus daily at least throughout those first four critical months when the pup’s immune system is immature, to help protect it from viruses and also help it get the most protection from vaccinations. They also protect those developing bones and joints, especially in this fast-growing time.

The NuVet people had tried to recruit me for their breeder program for several years but it wasn’t until I was getting frustrated at my inability to get a soft, shiny coat on Quasi that I decided to try their products. When Quasi arrived in July 2014, he had a dry, harsh outer coat and no undercoat at all. On top of that, he was quite scratchy and shedding all the time. I figured that would soon change after he had been on my premium dogfood for a while, but it didn’t. I tried adding a variety of oils to his diet, but with limited success. I finally told the NuVet people I would never recommend any product without trying it first, and that I’d like to try their NuVet Plus on Quasi. They sent a free two-month supply and at the end of the trial period I was seeing enough improvement that I signed up for their breeder program and put all my dogs on it.

I like that the NuVet products are not heat processed, allowing the ingredients to be truly effective. Even though I feed a quality dog food, it’s still a dry food that has been cooked. NuVet Plus is a good addition. Ingredients include: alfalfa, alpha amylase, amino acids, beta carotene, blue green algae, brewer’s yeast, cat’s claw, chicken liver, copper, evening primrose oil, folic acid, iron, L methionine, magnesium, manganese, oyster shell, papain, pine bark, potassium, selenium, shark cartilage, taurine, vitamin A, vitamin B complex, vitamine B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), Vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B12 (cobalamin), vitamin C (Ester C), vitamin E, whey protein and zinc.

I have for years given a glucosimine supplement to my dogs once they reach 5 months of age, to protect their joints since they are so active and athletic. I have switched to NuVet’s product, NuJointDS (double-strength for big, athletic dogs). I was excited that I saw an improvement in Chaos, who has arthritis in his spine from being an absolute idiot as a young dog, constantly jumping fences because either he was bored or he was trying to get to a female in heat. He became more active and moved more smoothly. The NuJoint DS contains MSM, glucosamine, chondroitin and vitamin C (Ester-C). NuJoint is also cold-pressed. These products can only be obtained through breeders. If you decide to try them, go to my website, www.celhaus.com or to www.nuvet.com or call 800-474-7044. Use my order code 78344. These supplements help insure a healthy immune system to ward off any exposure to disease (NuVet Plus) and help hips, elbows and other joints develop correctly (NuJointDS).

10. What do I need to know to bring the puppy home (puppy’s age, vaccinations, puppy food)? I prefer to let my pups go to their new homes at 7 weeks, after their Temperament Test and first shot, mainly because they go through a developmental stage from 8 – 10 weeks where they’re sometimes a little more fearful and worried about new things. At 7 weeks they still feel they own the world and thus are bothered less by the stress of going alone to a new home. They also are ready to bond with their new owner very eagerly and thus can begin learning and socialization earlier. I do recommend that people be very conscious to make all their new puppy’s experiences be super positive from 8 – 10 weeks old since the pups can have the tendency to let things bother them then.

Socialization, before their shots are complete at 16 weeks and they are totally protected from diseases, must be done carefully. They shouldn’t be taken to places where lots of dogs roam–like parks, or around dogs which roam. I don’t take my pups to training class or hiking around town with friends until they’re over 4 months. I’ll take my pups downtown to visit businesses which are dog-friendly. I will take them to friends’ yards, but only those friends who either have no dogs or who do not take their dogs lots of places where dogs run loose. Therefore the pups have less likelihood of encountering dangerous viruses which can be carried on feet, or urine, or saliva, etc. Most people err too much on the side of caution, though, and neglect to get the pups out enough because they’re scared of possible virus exposure. GET THOSE PUPS OUT; just choose your places carefully.

We don’t know just when the bitch’s immunity fades and the pup’s own immune system becomes operative. When that happens, just one shot will give them protection. To cover all the bases, we give them a series of shots 3 to 4 weeks apart–at approximately 7, 11 & 16 weeks. By 16 weeks we’re sure their immune system is up and going and they form their own antibodies to the shot’s contents. Don’t gamble by getting your pup around dangerous areas until the shots are complete. I recommend not giving the rabies shot at 16 weeks at the same time as the distemper-parvo, but to return to the vet three weeks later for it, to help avoid overloading the pup’s developing immune system. (It takes about three weeks for a pup to develop protection from a vaccine.)

The pups should also be wormed each time they get a shot. All pups pick up worms from the mother, even if she always tests negative. As I understand, the worms encyst in her muscles, the pregnancy hormones activate them, and they pass through the umbilical cord to the babies. After the last shot at 16 weeks, if they aren’t on heartworm preventative (which also kills intestinal parasites), take a fecal sample in monthly to be checked until they’ve had several “clears”. Usually by the time they’re 6 months old pups have “outgrown” worms if they’ve been wormed regularly so as not to get infested.

I worm the pups at about every 10-14 days beginning in week 4. They also have a thorough vet exam when they get their first shot. When you get your pup, you should have your vet do a health exam within 48 hours. This is for your own protection. If they get sick within 48 hours of leaving here, they contracted something here and it is my responsibility. After that, all health issues are your responsibility, except for those I guarantee against. A Vet Record is included in your puppy folder. Take that to give to your vet at the 48 hour check. I also recommend you show your vet the copies of your pup’s parents’ health certifications. I have only heard of one other GSD breeder in the U.S. who does as much health screening as I do.

As I said earlier, the pups are on Holistic Select Large Breed Puppy Lamb dry dog food. I send some with each puppy and strongly urge that the pup remain on Holistic Select for its lifetime, changing over to the adult formula after it has most of its growth finished, at about seven months of age.

The AKC papers will be here by the time the pups are ready to go and I’ll help you fill them out. All puppies go on limited registration (any pups they might have wouldn’t be registerable). For potential breeding prospects, at 2 years of age once the pup passes all the health screenings I require, I will contact AKC and change the pup’s registration to “full”, which will allow registration of its progeny. Required certifications before I do this include: OFA hips, elbows, cardiac, eyes and thyroid; von Willebrand’s & hemophilia certified free and DM (Spinal Myelopathy). I also require some form of basic temperament test (German BH, AKC’s Canine Good Citizen title, or Therapy Dog).

11. Do you have a contract? May I see the contract, AKC papers, parents’ certifications and pedigrees before I purchase (or put a deposit down on) a puppy? Yes, I have a written contract which we both sign, and of which we both receive a copy. It is also on my website. All the parent’s (and grandparents’, great-grandparents’ and so on) health certifications are listed on their individual pages on my website. I include copies of the parent’s registration certificates (both AKC & UKC) and health screening certificates in the puppy packet but can also email scanned copies if someone wants them ahead of time.

12. Can you provide references?  A copy of a letter of recommendation my vet wrote when I applied to be a Tester-Observer for Therapy Dogs Inc. (ow Alliance of Therapy Dogs) is included in the puppy folder and can be emailed upon request. He was my vet for 30 years and in April 2006 sold his clinic to two vets who had been with him, and who have been treating my animals since then.  I have another letter of reference from them that is included in the puppy folder and can be emailed upon request.  You are welcome to visit with my vets at Moxey Schreiber Vet Hospital. They have been my vets for over 40 years. I can also give you names and phone numbers of people who have my puppies, the people I train with, etc.