For 40+ years we've helped over 300,000 dog trainers just like you!

Learn more about Leerburg

$6.99 Flat Rate Shipping

Learn more
Ask Cindy Our Newsletter Free Catalog
Leerburg Dog Training Q&A Archive Buying a Leerburg Puppy Q&A

Buying a Leerburg Puppy Q&A

Buying a Leerburg Puppy Q&A

ASK CINDY YOUR DOG TRAINING QUESTION
Have a question you can't find the answer to?
Check out our Leerburg Questions and Answers
with nearly 3000 previously answered questions.



I try and answer every question I receive on dog training. I may often come across as a little on the blunt side (some may call it brash). That is because I consider myself an advocate for dogs and not dog handlers. I am an advocate for common sense dog training and not the latest fad that appears on the horizon. Good dog training is not rocket science. It's common sense.

  1. How much does a puppy cost?

  2. How much is required for a deposit?

  3. What is the penalty for canceling an order for a pup once a deposit has been sent?

  4. How does my deposit effect the puppy I get?

  5. Should I get a female or a male? What do you think?

  6. Who picks the pup I get?

  7. Can I name my own pup?

  8. Can I come to the kennel and pick the pup up?

  9. How old are the pups when they are shipped?

  10. How does the pup get to me?

  11. Who pays for the shipping and what does it cost?

  12. What is your guarantee on the puppies?

  13. What do you feed your puppies?

  14. What shots have your puppies received before they are shipped?

  15. Do you tattoo your pups?

  16. What happens if a pup has a health problem?

  17. What about x-rays and hip dysplasia?

  18. If a dog needs to be replaced, what happens then?

  19. When should my shepherd puppy’s ears come up?

  20. What size will your dogs be?

  21. What is your opinion of a police officer buying a puppy and trying to raise it with the purpose of ending up with a police service dog?

  22. Will the pup you sell me do protection work?

  23. Can I train my own dog in protection work?

  24. Do I have to be concerned about your dogs with my children and family?

  25. Can you explain the terms, “sharp dog,” “hard dog” and “soft dog?”

  26. Additional information on Leerburg dogs and kids.

  27. What is the difference between German and American bloodlines?

  28. Balance Problems with the American Show German Shepherds.

  29. Can you show me photos of the colors of your German dogs?

  30. Why It’s a Bad Idea to Raise More than One Dog in a Family Setting.

  31. How do you housebreak a puppy?

  32. What can you tell me about long-haired German Shepherds?

dog training


Question:

How much does a puppy cost?

Answer:

The pups cost $1800.00 to $2500 and up. The customer actually sends us the purchase price plus $45.00  The $45.00 covers the cost of a puppy crate. When the pup arrives, the crate stays with the customer. The $45.00 can be eliminated if the customer sends us a crate before the shipping date.

To Top


Question:

How much is required for a deposit?

Answer:

The deposit to reserve a pup is 50% of the purchase price.  (So for an $1800 pup the deposit would be $900, for a $2500 pup the deposit would be $1250.) Once a reservation is made on a specific litter and the litter is 4 weeks old, $150 of the deposit is not refundable.

To Top


Question:

What is the penalty for canceling an order for a pup once a deposit has been sent?

Answer:

There is a $150.00 penalty for canceling a deposit after it has been sent in. There are NO exceptions to this policy.

If there is even the slightest question in a customer’s mind about wanting a dog from us I would rather they not send in a deposit - they should wait.

It is important for customers to know that it may take a number of months (depending on the time of year) before we will have a puppy for them. In the spring of the year we usually have deposits for 30 puppies that are not born yet. These customers may have to wait 2 to 4 months for a puppy. You can always call my secretary and ask her how many deposits are on our list and how long she estimates the wait time is.

There needs to be a penalty or service charge on canceling a puppy. Other customers make a decision on buying or not buying a dog from us based on the number of deposits that are ahead of them on our list of deposits.

If circumstances do arise that a customer has to cancel an order for a puppy, we will refund the deposit (less $150.00). If that customer changes his mind within 6 months, we will apply the $150.00 back towards the price of the new puppy.

To Top


Question:

How does my deposit effect the puppy I get?

Answer:

My position on deposits:

Often times people do not understand how difficult and complex dog breeding is, (unless you have done it you have no idea). After breeding 340 plus litters since the 1970s, I at least understand that this is a very complex and difficult business.

I tell potential customers that ordering dogs is not like ordering a car. When I do a breeding I never know if the female got pregnant and even if she is pregnant, we never know how many pups there will be.

I used to accept deposits on litters before they were born. It never failed that I would have 6 deposits and end up with a litter of two. I would often have 5 deposits on males and get all females - go figure! It had to be fate. What happened was a lot of customers were disappointed and I had no control over the situation.

So now we will occasionally accept deposits on puppies that have not been born but we will not assign a customer to a litter until the puppies are on the ground. Customers who have sent in a deposit will have their name placed on a list. Their position on this list will be determined by the date the deposit arrives in our office. When a litter is born and becomes available, the customers at the top of that list will be offered these dogs. If dogs from a specific litter are determined to be too much dog for that customer or the color is not correct - they will retain their position on the list and be offered the next litter. This will continue until they get a puppy that they and I feel is right for them.

We occasionally have 8 week old puppies available. For example, the day I wrote this I posted (for the first time) a litter on the web site of 7-week-old puppies. This is a rare occasion.

To Top


Question:

Should I get a female or a male? What do you think?

Answer:

The answer to this question obviously varies. Here are some things to consider:

  • Females are smaller, they average 60 to 70 pounds, males are 80 to 90 pounds. The females are a little easier to live with as a house dog.
  • Females never (or very very seldom) get dominant.
  • Females are usually easier for novice trainers and handlers to control. They usually want to please their handlers a little more. So if you have a spouse that is not keen on a big dog in the family, it is probably a better idea to go with a female over a male.
  • Females come in season 2 times a year, males come in season every time they smell a bitch in season.
  • As a general rule, males are tougher. Females can do Schutzhund work just fine, but I have only seen 2 or 3 females in my life that could do good police service work. By that I mean patrol work.
  • If you want to start breeding, you always buy a female, never a male. You can take your female to a top stud dog for the price of a stud fee. This is usually a dog that you would never be able to own for yourself. The odds of buying a male pup that will grow up to be a super stud dog are slim to none.
  • If you need normal personal protection from a dog a female is just fine. They can be trained to bark at strangers. My feeling is that any intruder that comes into your home uninvited and comes through a barking German Shepherd is a very bad person that will need to be stopped by the police and or a gun.
  • If you want a patrol dog for service work, buy a male.
  • If you want to compete at the top level of Schutzhund, buy a male. Very very few females make it to the top levels of the sport.
  • As a general rule, males have a harder temperament than females. This means they can take a firmer correction without going down in drive.
  • Females do not lift their leg on the shrubs and flower beds in your yard.

To Top


Question:

Who picks the pup?

Answer:

Ed and Cindy select the pups for the customer. The information we use to select the puppy is based on the letters that the people send with their deposit. These letters describe the goals that people have for a new dog. Sometimes we will read what a person expects from a dog and recommend a different litter. No one knows the Leerburg bloodlines better than we do. Unlike most breeders, it's important that we do not give someone more dog than a person can handle.

Ed and Cindy have more experience selection testing dogs and pups than any of the people who are going to buy dogs from them. We have better than a 99.9% satisfaction rate with our customers. This is evident by the testimonials on this web site

We do not request testimonials from people. All of the testimonials on our web site were voluntarily sent to us from satisfied customers. Keep in mind that this list of testimonials is only from people who have bought dogs since 1996 (when we first got on the web) and Ed has been breeding German Shepherds since the 1970's. As the list grows we have to split it up.

If you want to see how we select pups, refer to our video on Bite Training Puppies.

To Top


Question:

Can I name my own pup?

Answer:

Every dog we produce is named with the "vom Leerburg" kennel name. The first name of every dog in the litter starts with the same letter. When a breeder starts producing litters, all of the dogs in our first litter have a first name that begins with "A," the second litter"B." When the breeder gets to the end of the alphabet, he starts all over with "A" again. Cindy is the one who names the pups from each litter for the AKC papers.

Our clients may choose to have a "call name" for their dog, which is entirely different than the registered name. This is a common practice.

To Top


Question:

Can I come to the kennel and pick the pup up?

Answer:

Absolutely, we welcome customers to come and pick up their pups. Most of our customers live too far from our kennel and choose to have their pups shipped to them.

To Top


Question:

How old are the pups when they are shipped?

Answer:

The pups are 7.5 to 8 weeks old when they are shipped.

To Top


Question:

What do you feed your puppies?

Answer:

We feed all of our dogs an all-natural diet. I would direct you to the article I have written on this topic.

To Top


Question:

What shots have your puppies received before they are shipped?

Answer:

We worm our pups as needed, when indicated after analyzing a fecal exam. We typically worm with Nemex. This is a wormer that is used for young dogs.

We no longer give puppy vaccinations or yearly vaccines to any of our dogs. The research and emails we receive almost daily from dog owners who have experienced side effects or deaths of their dogs due to vaccinosis have really hit home with us. Read about vaccinosis here.

We do not recommend any shots for your pup at all. Some people are not comfortable with the idea of no vaccines. In this case, at the very most give ONE parvo only at 12-14 weeks of age. We do NOT recommend yearly vaccinations for dogs. The veterinary industry has led pet owners down a slippery slope on this yearly vaccination issue. IT IS NOT NEEDED. A strong immune system protects your dog from disease, not an injection.

Most states mandate a Rabies shot. If you can get by without giving additional Rabies shots then do it.

Vaccinations cause allergy problems, auto-immune problems, temperament problems, thyroid problems, pancreas problems and raise the level of cancer in dogs. DO NOT VACCINATE!!!!! If you question this advise, read the book we sell titled Shock to the System.

If you feel that a dog should have a full series of puppy shots and annual vaccinations on a regular schedule, we would prefer that you purchase a puppy from another breeder.

We give preference to raw feeder/no or minimal vaccine homes for our puppies.

To Top


Question:

Do you tattoo your pups?

Answer:

We do tattoo our pups in the left ear at 7 weeks of age. When the pups come they will still have a green inner ear. Do not wash this ink out, let it wear off. It only takes a few weeks.

The tattoo number is unique to your dog. We have it recorded here at the kennel but the number is not registered anywhere else. Some people ask if we register it with various organizations and the answer is "NO." We tattoo the dog so the customer can identify his dog if it is stolen or if it is returned to us (we can verify that it’s our dog).

The tattoo number will be used when you x-ray and OFA (Orthopedic Foundation of America) the dogs hips. At that time the vet should print the tattoo number on the x-ray. When the OFA issues a hip registration number, that number will also be tied to the tattoo number of your dog.

To Top


Question:

What happens if a pup has a health problem?

Answer:

Our pups are all examined by a vet before they are shipped. The vet will issue a Wisconsin State Health Certificate for the dog. This is required by the airlines to ship an animal. Our pups have very specific guarantees. You can refer to our complete guarantee here on our web site If a pup needs to be replaced we do it without question. The original pup must be returned to our kennel at the owner’s expense. The replacement pup will be of equal or better quality and will be shipped back COD.

To Top


Question:

What about x-rays and hip dysplasia?

Answer:

If you buy a dog from a breeder like myself (one that is very strict about his breeding requirements), you have taken the first step towards insuring that you get a dog with good hips.

Every dog I breed has had their hips x-rayed. In fact every dog in 5 generations on the pedigree has good hips.

I wish that I could say that a pup from my kennel will never have bad hips. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Because of the nature of the breed, there is still a small risk that a dog from my kennel can have a bad hip.

Hip dysplasia has four major causes:

-Genetics
-Diet
-Over feeding
-Too much exercise at a young age.

It is felt that genetics play between a 25% and 30% role in a dog having hip dysplasia. This means that new pet owners can assume a great deal of responsibility (70% to 75%) in their dog developing good hips.

This begins with feeding an all-natural diet, or a dog food that is made up of all human grade ingredients (i.e Innova). It also means that you should keep you dog thin. Carrying too much weight at a young age is going to add stress on soft puppy bones and you only kid yourself if you think this does not have an effect on skeletal development of your dog.

New owners need to be very careful of over exercising a pup. This means no jogging until after the dog is 12 months old. This means not exercising to the point of exhaustion, or taking the pup for long long walks. Around the block is fine, a 2 mile walk is not fine.

This is the reason that I only offer a partial hip replacement guarantee on my puppies. If a dog from my kennel has bad hips I will only warrant 1/2 the price of the dog. There needs to be some responsibility from dog owners to make sure that they feed a good healthy diet (commercial dog food is not a healthy diet) and do not over exercise their pups. This is the only way I can think of to address this issue. I do my part as a breeder by only breeding dogs with 5 generations of good hips. I expect my customers to do their part in making sure their pups develop properly.

One very important point on preliminary x-rays: My experience is that many vets who take preliminary x-rays don't know how to read them. In addition most vets have little to no experience reading puppy x-rays of hips. They don't understand sub-luxation that exists in pups (pups - like kids - can be loose ligaments.) Because of this many vets will mistakenly tell a customer that the hips don't look good on this dog - when in fact they are normal. So, what I always recommend is that the x-rays be sent to the OFA (Orthopedic Foundation of America) and get a preliminary opinion. This costs $20.00. These people are the experts. They look at hips every day of their life.

I just had an example of this problem. A customer called about 5 weeks ago and said that he had done a prelim on a 10 month old male from my kennel. His vet said the hips did not look like they would pass. I told him to send them in to the OFA. He just called and said the preliminary reading from the OFA was "a GOOD RATING." Needless to say, he was pissed at his vet. I see this 3 or 4 times a year.

If you would like to start the process of how to read hip x-rays on your dog, I recommend that you read the article I wrote titled The Importance of Correct Hip Positioning on Canine Hip X-Rays. In this article you will see photos of x-rays on the same dog with good and bad positioning.

To Top


Question:

When should my shepherd puppy’s ears come up?

Answer:

Sometimes a puppy will have its ears up at 8 weeks. Usually this is a dog with small ears for its age. It’s not uncommon for ears to not be up until 4 1/2 to 5 months of age. In fact, a lot of times a pup will have both ears up and all of a sudden they will come back down when the pup starts to teeth. Many owners panic when this happens. But not to worry, I have never seen a pup whose ears did not go back up when this happens.

If a pup does not have his ears up by 5 months I strongly recommend that you get involved with your vet and have him show you how to tape the ears.

When talking about ears not being up I always remind people to make sure the pup is in good health. Be sure that he is wormed and does not have worms. Feed the pup a good quality diet.. This will help the ears, but some still need to be taped.

Some bloodlines have more problems with ears than others. My bloodlines seldom have an ear problem. It seems there are more problems with American bloodline dogs than German bloodlines.

To Top


Question:

What size will your dogs be?

Answer:

German bloodline dogs are usually pretty consistent in size. Females are 60 CM tall at the shoulder (23 inches) and weigh between 60 and 75 pounds. Bitches that are this size consistently produce males that are 65 cm tall (25 inches at the shoulder) and weigh 75 to 90 pounds).

When people ask me for LARGE GSDs I tell them to look elsewhere. The GSD was not designed to be a 100 pound dog. When people breed them that large the dogs become uncoordinated and die young. I compare a 100 pound shepherd to a 500 pound quarterback in a football game. I will guarantee anyone that there are no 100 pound dogs in this country that are as tough and strong as my 85 pound stud dogs.

To Top


Question:

Will the pup you sell me do protection work?

Answer:

I am often asked by my puppy customers if my pups will protect them when they are adults. My answer to this is: “I can give you a dog with the correct genetic make up to do this work, what you do with him after you get him determines if he will protect you.” I compare this to Michael Jordan (the basketball player). When his son is 20 years old will he be able to play NBA basketball? The answer is NO - not unless he has been trained as a young boy. He certainly has the genetic makeup to play ball - but unless he is trained and his natural drives are developed into basic skills he will never play professional ball. The same goes for puppies. I can give you a pup with the right genetic make up, but this is a 2 part deal and it's what you do with the pup that determines his destiny. Without drive development and later training you just end up with a "nice pet." Look at my tape titled "The First Steps of Bite Work" to see what you need to do.

I will guarantee one thing though: unless you start a pup with the right genetic background you will never get a protection dog. I compare that to trying to go out to your local dairy farmer and buying a horse to run in the Kentucky Derby.

To Top


Question:

Can I train my own dog in protection work?

Answer:

I am often asked by new trainers if they can do the protection training on their own young dogs. I have a little story that I use to answer this question.

If you have a son and want to teach him to fight - you send him to Karate classes. These classes are all prey drive work where students learn the technique of fighting. Your boy can compete in a Karate competition and get the bedevil kicked out of him and this is still prey drive work - because its still a game. Granted a serious game - but still a game.

If your son goes downtown on a Friday night and gets into a knife fight where he is fighting for his life, this is different. This is real defensive work. While a handler can train his own dog in prey work, he can never put his dog in the position where the dog feels like his owner or handler is trying to kill or hurt him.

Owners can take their dog through prey drive training to the point where the dog has learned all the moves it needs to know in bite work. In fact, if the trainers neighbor would come over some day and see the dog biting the sleeve on his owners arm, even though the dog was biting in prey, he would think that the dog was attacking his handler. When in fact the dog is just playing an advanced game of tug of war with his handler.

When the dog needs to be worked in defense, the handler is going to have to find an experienced helper to work his dog. There is no way around this.

If you want to learn about protection training young dogs, get my video The First Steps of Bite Training.

You can also read more about this subject on my home page under the article section. I have several articles that relate to this subject: Understanding the Drives of Protection Training - CAN I TRAIN MY OWN DOG IN BITE WORK and Understanding how DRIVE THRESHOLDS and DRIVE INTERACTION affect Protection Work.

To Top


Question:

Do I have to be concerned about your dogs with my children and family?

Answer:

Very very few dogs that come from our kennel ever show signs of dominance at a young age.

When a dog shows aggression towards its handler or family this is a dominance problem and not a protection problem. These two areas are TOTALLY unrelated parts of a dogs temperament. Dominance can show itself even if a dog is never protection trained. Dominance is not breed specific. My mother had a toy poodle that was the most dominant dog I had ever seen.

Dominance will start to show in the temperament of a puppy at a young age. You will see growling around the food bowl, you will see growling when you try and take his toys away.

Dogs are pack animals by nature. They accept and live by pack rules of nature. When we train protection dogs the handler is ALWAYS the Pack Leader. This is very important. A dominant dog is always one step away from challenging the handler for the leader position, or he is always a dog that is more difficult to train in obedience because he questions the pack leaders commands and decisions.

Dominance is unacceptable in any form in terms of a dog. It must be stopped as soon as it starts to show. I recommend reading my article Groundwork to Becoming a Pack Leader .

If a young dog gets to be 8 to 12 months old and starts to show dominance, it is time to put a leash on it and correct the bedevil out of it. At this age the dogs defensive drive has not matured. It is still very immature and does not have anything in its temperament to allow it to fight back. So strong corrections are still safe for the handler to give without too much fear of a dog winning a fight. The problem is that weak willed handlers do not give strong enough corrections.

I always shake my head when I hear people say "I want a big ALPHA dog for my protection dog or my police dog.” I always know that these people do not understand dogs, temperament or training. The alpha dog is stubborn and difficult to train. They do what they want to do, not what you want them to do. They should not be police service dogs or personal protection dogs because they are to difficult too control. My police dog is one of the toughest dogs I have ever owned in my life and he does not have a dominant bone in his body. This is the type of dog people should want for a service dog or a family protection dog.

The dominance problem is most common in adult dogs that move into a new home. If a dog has not had the appropriate corrections at a young age, it learns that it can be the pack leader if it decides to try. This is where the biggest problems arises. An adult comes into a new home, he challenges the handler and the handler backs down (as most inexperienced people should). Now the dog is the pack leader.

The solution to this for most families that have no experience with protection dogs is to start with a puppy. The dog grows up in the family and learns its place in the pack order (at the bottom). When that happens there is never a problem if common sense is used as the dog grows up.

One last note here on dogs biting people. When dogs have very weak temperaments they can become fear biters, this is the opposite end of the temperament spectrum from dominance. This is a different issue and will never be a concern with a Leerburg dog.

So to repeat myself, very very few pups from our kennel ever show signs of dominance. If they ever would, you can deal with it at a very young age and the issue is finished. I always tell people that for me, the best judge of good temperament is a dogs ability to get along with kids. When I tell them that the dogs in my kennel have good temperament, that's what I mean.

To Top


Question:

Can you explain the terms, “sharp dog,” “hard dog” and “soft dog?”

Answer:

This is a very, very common question that is asked by people buying dogs. Especially dogs that they want some form of personal protection from.

A "SHARP DOG" is a dog that is very quick to bark at someone. An example of this is a dog that hits the fence and acts like he wants to kill you when you walk by his kennel. I don't mean that every dog that barks at you when you walk by a kennel is sharp. The sharp ones are those that charge the fence, they probably get the hair up on their back and they probably are showing a lot of teeth in the form of a snarl. A sharp dog is not a tough dog. The fact is that sharp dogs have weak nerves and are usually not tough. In its worse form a fear biter would be called a sharp dog.

On the other hand a "HARD DOG" does not necessarily mean that a dog is a tough dog. A hard dog has a temperament that can take a correction and not act like you just killed him or hurt his feelings. A hard dog is often a good choice for a person who is big and gruff and not the best of dog trainers. A hard dog is a forgiving dog in terms of a bad trainer because a hard dog is not going to hold a grudge against a trainer that makes a mistake and gives inappropriate corrections.

On the same hand a hard dog can be a difficult dog to train because as adults these dogs need a level of correction that most people are not willing to give to make them mind.

A "SOFT DOG" is a dog that is sensitive to a correction. If a soft dog is corrected too hard it acts like you hurt its feeling. In some cases after a hard correction a really soft dog will lay down on the ground and quit working all together. Its like they give up.

Soft dogs need to be trained with this in mind. These dogs require motivation and very controlled corrections. Just because a dog is soft does not mean that it can not become a good personal protection dog. Many, many soft temperament dogs are excellent protection dogs. A friend of mine is a K9 officer in a very large city. He had an East German police dog (many DDR dogs are soft) that had over 450 street bites when it died at 10 years of age. He was truly a great police service dog. It's just that when my friend raised his voice to the dog he became very sensitive. Soft dogs are easy to control with voice commands at a distance.

I often recommend a softer dog for a woman who is just getting involved with dogs. Many times a female is a little more sensitive and listens better. Don't get confused here though - not all females are soft. I have some bitches that a lot of experienced handlers would be challenged to work with.

Many people confuse these terms and the term "FIGHT DRIVE." In reality fight drive has very little to do with sharpness other than most sharp dogs have little or no fight drive. Certainly hardness and softness have nothing to do with fight drive. I would challenge someone to try and fight my friend's old police dog (who had a soft temperament). This dog knew how to fight humans. When he approached a suspect he did so with a talented eye - you could see him size up the man before he hit him. He always looked for the opening as he approached the suspect. He would hit the man with an explosive amount of energy and make his first bite as hard as he could. He wanted to subdue the suspect as quickly as possible without getting hurt. Usually after a police dog is hurt in a fight a few times during an apprehension they get smart. My friends dog fought with maximum force and it always worked and remember that this was a soft dog who could play with my friends baby and small children.

If you would like to learn more about fight drive I recommend you read my article titled The Definition of FIGHT DRIVE or my articles on The Drives of Protection Training.

To Top

Buy one select Michael Ellis dvd, get a second dvd free through 8/25, 11:59pm CT