Your vet has no understanding of German Shepherds.
Your puppy is absolutely gorgeous. From his looks, it’s a pretty safe bet he is from European working lines, which are my passion. His coloring is the tip off, American and European showline breeders don’t breed for sable coat color. There are always exceptions, of course. I would not have any other type of GSD, except in rescue situations, of course.
If I’m right, your baby will be different than the GSDs than you may be used to. The working lines are bred primarily for the sport of IPO, formerly known as Schutzhund. Thus, much of their natural behavior should reflect the drives and skills necessary for the sport. Not all of them inherit what’s needed and are placed in pet homes. That can create a challenging puppyhood, but they are magnificent adults. I would encourage you to watch some IPO videos. I’ll post a link to one of the two parent IPO clubs in the US, Schutzhund USA for some information.
They are mouthy as hell. This is completely normal for GSDs, especially those with working line ancestry of some kind. And when they mouth you, they can bite frickin hard. I have a splendid collection of “distressed” t shirts provided by one of our GSD pups. Our current youngster kept his mouth to himself. Sometimes, you get lucky.
When you’re raising a puppy for IPO, you don’t correct the puppy for biting you. You tolerate that and quite a lot of other puppy antics. It’s crucial to avoid doing anything that could lower the pup’s confidence. Discipline comes later. This is not how you raise pets, however.
The best way to get a puppy off your hand or arm is to offer a substitute. It has to be a toy that is either his favorite or genuinely fascinating. Dangly things might work well with your boy. Does he like tug?
The chomping serves a legitimate purpose. Eventually, the pup is going to learn to use a deep, full mouth grip when he’s playing sleeve games with the helper on the training field.
They’re often exceptionally good with their noses and love scent games.
And, geeze, are they smart. Another suggestion would be to take him to actual training. He’ll love it and it will deepen your bond. Caveat: do not go to any trainer who lacks experience with working dogs, preferably GSDs. I would give you the same advice irrespective of your pup’s suspected bloodlines. Pet dog trainers rarely really understand the breed.
Here is the good news: these dogs thrive on training. They are born to have jobs. Without steady employment, they invent their own careers. You may not like their choices. They are super trainable, especially puppies. The more training and imprinting you can do now, the better. Is he food motivated? That really helps. We use Natural Balance, cut into small pieces for training treats.
My recommendation for excellent trainers to observe would be: Malinda Weber, of Weberhaus; Dameon Berry, East Tennessee K9 (our trainer); and the super star, Ivan Balabanov. Those are just off the top of my head.
If he’s a power chewer, you may want to invest in a couple of Kongs. We get the big black ones, made for maniacs. They last longer.
As for vets, same advice. Try to locate one with working dog experience. If your local police department has a K-9 unit, call and ask who they use. Or your trainer. Or anyone affiliated with IPO in your area, they’re usually helpful. Those vets won’t get pissy about a mouthy working line GSD puppy. The working dog people will find this quite hilarious.
If you see police K9s working as patrol or dual purpose dogs, you will likely see some that look like your boy. And a lot of Belgian Malinois.
If it would help, just send me your location and I will see if I can find local trainers who look worthy.
Congratulations, Bee! You are going to have a relationship like no other. A German Shepherd demands much from you, emotionally. But, oh, what you receive in return, there are no human words.
And, you won’t ever have to pee alone again!