This is a very serious question. The dog you choose will hopefully be a member of your family for more than ten years, given a normal life span; that's a long time to regret a mistake. It is well worth the extra energy and effort to investigate a number of possible choices before you make your final decision.
Consider adding a Rescued Belgian Shepherd Dog to your home. There are always Belgians that are in need of a new home. Contact the Rescue Co-ordinator Pam Jameson ([email protected]) for information about dogs needing new homes.
The Secretary of the BSDA of GB [email protected] has a register of puppies available, as well as some adult dogs that breeders wish to place. Do not expect the Secretary to recommend specific breeders, or to give preference for one breeder over another. We will answer your questions, give you breed information, help you meet breeders, and help you ask the right questions. But in the end, you must make your own enquiries and your own informed decision.
Once you have names and addresses, think carefully about what you want to know. The more relevant questions you can ask a breeder, the more likely it is that you will get what you want. Decide whether you want a dog you can show as well as have for a companion, or do you only want a companion? Do you want a male or a female? How old an animal do you want? The breeder will want to know about you and your lifestyle too - do not be offended by their questions - they care about the future of the puppies they breed.
You will find that breeders vary in their responses, questions of you and prices. Some breeders charge more for show prospects than for pets, others charge the same price for both. Some breeders will ask more for a puppy than others. Some breeders may offer certain puppies on 'breeding terms' or 'in partnership'. Be careful that this is really what you want when you enter into this type of agreement, and if possible take advice before you sign anything. The difference in price is usually based on many factors including the prominence of the breeder, the show record of the sire and dam, the previous offspring of either or both dogs, and so on. Price alone is a poor predictor of quality and the highest price will not guarantee you the dog you have always wished for. Take all the information you can glean into consideration. Ask for pedigrees, photographs, and information on the parents and other relatives. Reputable breeders will give you all this and more. Beware of visiting fluffy pretty puppies before you are sure you want to buy - they are very difficult to resist!!!! And they do not stay like teddy bears for long!!
Don't be afraid to ask if there would be a contract of sale defining any guarantees or conditions and ask about prices and conditions of payment. Ask if the parents of a prospective pup are hip scored under the BVA/KC scheme and ask about any other hereditary problems in the line, especially epilepsy and hereditary eye problems. Try to find out how much individual attention and socialization the pups are getting. This is important in the development of stable temperament. Ask about vaccinations and health insurance.
Pick the breeder to whom you feel you can relate. Many breeders will wish to take an interest in the development of the puppies they sell and will keep in touch for the rest of the dog's life. If you are careful and choose wisely, the BSD who comes to join your family will be the best dog you will ever own, at least until you buy another to be its friend!!