I am often asked about puppy availability, what "type" of dogs I breed,
my philosophy about breeding, so here goes:
Quite simply, I breed for me.
I fell in love with this breed over 40 years ago and won't be without a good one.
I breed to the (breed) standard; that means I am not breeding for over-sized dogs,
no off colors and/or any other fad that comes down the pike.
I compete in the AKC breed ring and performance venues and I want a stellar example of the breed
by my side and sharing my home. (If you aren't familiar with the breed standard please become familiar
before considering a purchase.) I am blessed that puppy homes are waiting and this has allowed me
to dream the next big dream knowing the puppies I don't keep will land in terrific, loving, forever homes.
Quality puppies, carefully started are occasionally available from health tested and certified parents.
Pedigrees are closely studied and laboriously scrutinized and health checks for parents are
completed before a litter is contemplated.
To be considered for breeding, dogs and bitches must have outstanding temperament and beautiful,
correct structure and, often overlooked, they must be "easy keepers"; in addition to passing
recommended health screenings that means good eaters, healthy dogs, no allergies or skin conditions,
a dog who does well on a good but not elaborate food, a dog who looks wonderful and the picture of health
without a counter full of supplements and potions (let alone meds!). Provided a dog is parasite free,
lovely coats come from genetics, not a bottle of this or a few spays of that.
Serious inquiries are welcome and reservations are taken from qualified homes.
When a litter is on the way, I touch base with those who have expressed interest and,
if we all feel it is a good fit, they are welcome to reserve a puppy.
I am a member, past VP/ Board member of the Delaware Valley German Shepherd Dog Club,
a member of German Shepherd Dog Club of America, the past national chairperson and signer of the
Breeder's Code of Ethics for the German Shepherd Dog Club of America, AKC Breeder of Merit and
a supporter of the PA and NJ Federation of Dog Clubs.
Litters are home raised with an emphasis on early socialization (more on that below).
Pine Hill puppies are always vet checked with written health certification prior to new owners meeting their
puppy. Puppies are guaranteed under the PA Puppy Lemon Law.
What makes a terrific puppy home?
Ideally an individual or a family with experience with GSDs or other large dogs,
a homeowner with a securely (non-electric) fenced area, someone with a schedule that doesn't
require a puppy to be crated excessively during the day or who is willing to hire a dog walker throughout
the day to care for their puppy, an owner willing to attend (at a minimum)
puppy kindergarten and beginner obedience classes.
Frequency of litters?
Generally I will breed 1-2 litters per year. Raising a litter, caring for mom and puppies,
socializing the puppies well takes a tremendous amount work and time.
Breeding, pregnancy, whelping, early socialization and weaning
Both dog and bitch complete pre-breeding testing including brucellosis testing and progesterone timing
and cultures for the bitch. Everything imaginable is done to have a successful and healthy pregnancy
for mom, safe delivery and healthy thriving puppies. I will not x-ray as a matter of convenience for a
puppy count since we know that can be harmful to a growing embryo producing
much higher incidences of some cancers.
Pine Hill is an AKC name prefix, I do not have a commercial kennel open to the public.
Once a gal is bred, doggy visitors are not welcome until puppies are six+ weeks old, have completed their
health checks and have started their immunizations. After six weeks those who have reserved a puppy
schedule a visit and we have a terrific time playing with the youngsters!
The first and obvious reason for the "no visitor" policy is that visitors could bring a bug with them from
pets of their own and/or from other litters they may have visited. Mature dogs can be asymptomatic
but can shed parasites and/or disease that can be detrimental, even fatal to immature immune systems.
Mom will only pass on maternal antibodies for those things she has either been exposed to or vaccinated for.
Litters here are planned years (yes, years!!) in advance, little lives are so precious, some families wait more
than a year for a puppy and I simply won't take the chance visitors could bring something that could harm
puppies. The second reason for no early visitors is mom's full time job for the first few weeks is to lay with,
nurse, clean and carefully tend to her babies. She doesn't want to greet visitors, she certainly
doesn't want visitors looking in on the fragile new lives she is so diligently watching over and
I don't need mom jumping up from the whelping box at the sound of a strange car or the doorbell
and God forbid stepping on and injuring a newborn puppy.
This policy may be contrary to what families shopping for a puppy or who want to get to know the breed
have been told they should do but there are dog shows every weekend where breeds can be viewed and
breeders and owners (after their dogs are shown), will be happy to speak to them.
My puppies are whelped in a private climate controlled area. I am always present.
The first stage of labor can last better than a day and actual whelping can be a day long affair.
I use sterilon bedding, washed/changed at least daily. Sterilon is white, anti-bacterial and anti-microbial.
White or very light bedding is critical since it enables the careful breeder to immediately spot
loose stools from a puppy, they can dehydrate in hours and that IS a grave concern, or notice any off color
in mom's post delivery discharge which can indicate trouble. I cringe when I see newspaper, dark bedding
and/or carpet remnants used for a mom and her new litter. How does one clean a carpet remnant and
who would want chemicals (VOCs) from carpet near a newborn?
I don't want to think of an umbilical cord anywhere near newspaper!!
During the first week it is important to constantly observe mom, handle puppies, check that the
newborns' bellies are full and monitor temperature in the whelping area since puppies can not regulate their
body temperature until two to three weeks old. I'm self-employed, I own an insurance business and that allows
me to stay with mom and puppies and later watch their progress on monitors from my in-home office.
Puppies are handled constantly. On the second day little nails, so soft from the amniotic fluid when
born, now sharp as razors, are trimmed. I don't want mom scratched nor do I want siblings scarred!
By two weeks the puppies are licking Royal Canin mousse from my fingers and when old enough to
toddle several at a time are brought away from mom, littermates and the whelping area into the kitchen/family
room where they will become accustomed to a variety of household noises and floor surfaces as well as meet
one or two other dogs (terrific role models and baby sitters!). Age appropriate toys are introduced and early
potty training begins. Puppies learn to stand on a grooming table, naturally with my hand under their belly, and
are quite content to have bites examined and ears checked. Lately in the dog world I have heard the term
"early neurological stimulation" bandied about.
Those of us past a certain age just call this sound puppy rearing!
Puppies are offered weaning formula at three weeks but mom always has access to and an escape route
from her puppies and can decide how long she will allow then to nurse (sharp teeth are erupting!).
Mom's company during the first eight weeks is critical, pity the puppy who has its mother removed too young.
By four weeks, weather permitting, puppies play outside for an hour or two
at a time and find a whole new world to explore!
Worming starts at two weeks and will continue until a puppy leaves. New owners are strongly encouraged
to bring a stool sample to their vet during routine appointments and begin yearly heart worm medication
on a schedule their veterinarian recommends.
Finally, the day new owners have eagerly anticipated! At six weeks puppies are still very much babies,
they will play for 15-20 minutes then nap. They sleep soundly after a meal. I try to schedule visits well
after meal time and where possible alternate visits between the sexes,
allowing puppies a break between visitors.
New owners receive an extensive puppy packet of information, we discuss food and I'll ask that when they
return in two weeks they bring two empty one gallon containers to bring some of my water home with them
to minimize the chance of an upset tummy due to a water change and also to bring a few old towels
for the ride home and the inevitable drool.
I do not ship puppies. In 2014 laws were passed prohibiting breeders from shipping a puppy sight unseen
to a new owner unless they were a commercial breeder. (I have no desire to become one!)
Off to their new homes....
At 8+ weeks puppies are ready to go to their new homes. Their health certificate as well as two copies of
their health records will accompany them (one for the new owner, one for the new owner's vet).
New owners will have plenty of questions as the weeks pass and I am always only a phone call or e-mail
away...FOR THE LIFE OF THE DOG!
Remember, I loved the puppy first, it was born into MY hands and as much as a new owner may
want a terrific experience, I want it even more.
I'm happy to answer them! Contact Kathy Salvucci @
or call 610-796-1718
evenings after 7 PM are usually best