Have you ever wondered how you might be able to check a German Shepherd’s purity?
The good news is that identifying a pure breed German Shepherd is not difficult. There are a few things you can do and look for, which we have listed for you in this guide.
We’ve also mentioned how you might be able to tell if your German Shepherd is mixed – if that is of interest to you.
Let’s get into it…
(NOTE: this is a general information guide only, and is not professional advice, or a substitute for professional advice. A qualified vet or animal expert is the only person qualified to give you expert advice in regards to your pet/s)
How You Might Check A German Shepherd’s Purity
1. Get an at-home Dog DNA test, or ask your vet to do one
There are at-home DNA test kits you can buy, or you an go to your vet who can do one for you.
An example of a simple but comprehensive at-home DNA test is the Embark Dog DNA Test (on Amazon). A cheap option is also the Wisdom Panel Breed Identification DNA Test (on Amazon).
This test can tell you about your dog’s breed, ancestry and health risks.
All you do after you’ve bought the kit is:
- Activate your email so you can get updates about your dog
- Swab the inside of your dog’s cheek with the provided swab sponge
- Put the swab in a provided bio bag and seal it
- Seal the bio bag inside the provided box
- Mail your box back to the science team with pre-paid postage
- That’s it
If you’d prefer, you can ask your vet about doing a DNA test for your dog to determine what breeds they have in them.
A DNA test is usually very simple – the vet takes a swab or blood sample from your dog, and it get’s examined to see what dog breeds, types and varieties are in the blood sample.
Not only can you tell which breeds for sure are in your dog, but it can be a way of pre-screening your dog to determine what the chances/risks are that they develop breed related genetic diseases – hip and elbow dysplasia is a common one for German Shepherds.
DNA testing along with purebred papers are probably the strongest indicator your German Shepherd puppy is purebred.
2. Check For A Registration Certificate
So, when people talk about having ‘dog papers’, they are generally talking about simply having a registration certificate.
Although a puppy registration certificate is not worthless, it doesn’t guarantee your German Shepherd is a purebred.
To obtain a registration certificate, a puppy must simply have parents that are registered with the relevant recognised dog organisation.
The puppy can then be registered by the breeder, or by the new owner who is given registration documentation to be filled out by the breeder and owner.
In America, that is the American Kennel Club, who have an online registration system available.
The issue with this approach is that registration organisations only go back one generation (the parents of the puppy), and registration is entirely self reported.
This means registration relies on the honesty and knowledge of the breeders.
Some backyard breeders or unethical breeders may intentionally say their dogs are purebred to make more from the sale of the puppies, or some people might genuinely not know but register anyway.
Still, if your puppy doesn’t have a registration certificate, that might be an indicator they aren’t purebred.
If they do, that might be an indicator they are.
3. Check For A Pedigree
Puppy or Dog ‘Papers’ for a purebred German Shepherd puppy should include both a registration certificate, AND purebred dog papers.
Purebred papers include:
- A family tree for your dog which shows his or her bloodline going back four or more generations with the registered names of all the dogs.
- It may also record titles the dogs have won and other information such as colors,bloodlines and other notable info
This is a strong indicator your dog is a purebred.
Here is a really good example of a pedigree page for German Shepherd stud dogs (also note the family tree map on the right).
How To Tell If Your German Shepherd Is Mixed…
Obviously, if your German Shepherd doesn’t have papers, a pedigree and has some physical or mental traits that don’t look like a German Shepherd – there’s a good chance they could be mixed.
But, there’s one way you can check for almost certain…
4. Research the German Shepherd breed, and look at the puppy/dog to see if it possesses similar or different traits
Research the GSD breed, and look to see if your dog possess either traits that fit within the breed description, or don’t fit in.
Try to determine what sort of German Shepherd you might have, and then look how closely your German Shepherd exhibits the physical and mental characteristics of their particular bloodline and the German Shepherd breed in general.
Working lines for example were bred to look and behave differently than show lines.
For a general description of the German Shepherd breed temperament – read this guide.
For a general description of the German Shepherd physical traits – read this guide.
Something to keep in mind is that because breeding is not always heavily regulated, there is a variance in the temperaments and physical appearance of German Shepherds overall anyway.
If your German Shepherd has an unstable temperament for example, that could be a result of poor breeding (breeding together parents that have temperament issues).
Something else you might look for is to look for either temperament or physical traits that might belong to other breeds.
For example, if your German Shepherd doesn’t have erect ears, or is small to medium in size – this could be an indicator that your GSD is a mix breed with a floppy eared or small/medium breed dog.
These things would just be indicators and a way to confirm or place less significance on other information you have.
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