How to pick a puppy is a very challenging subject.
Within the German Shepherd breeding we do have a choice of color, if you have a preference. They come in Sable (black or red), black and tan, black and red, solid black, or bi colored as to where the most part of their body is black, and has tan / brown markings on face and legs.
If the sight of your dog tremendously matters to you, it is easy to make that choice.
The only thing to consider about the choice of color, is that there are certain levels of work ability and temperament that are fairly consistent with which color of the German Shepherd you might fall in love with.
History has it that the original color was sable, and the breed of German Shepherds was meant to be geared towards being a working dog temperament.
As black and red dogs came along during the process, it appeared that there was a market for color. Breeding for the color always leaves other criteria of a breed behind. Thus it appears that it is easier to find a more intelligent dog with the pronounced working abilities within the sable color.
Testing puppies by presenting challenges as traditionally suggested, such as throwing key chains, rattling the cooking pot with the spoon, or even picking them up by the scruff of the neck is very inconclusive.
Despite this fact, testing a puppy more than once will dilute tests of all kinds, as the puppies gain experience in every test, and LEARN about it.
The only conclusive testing (if you want to even call it that) is to evaluate how fast a puppy gets over an unknown situation,- such as the sight of a strange object, or an unknown sound.
Male versus Female:
Are certain characteristics of temperament, strengths or size really related to gender?
No! Yet, we can truly say that there is a greater possibility to find a stronger build dog in the male department, than in the female section of a population (litter of dogs). There also is a greater chance to find a strong temperament in male dogs.
Still, these greater chances of finding this or that more commonly in a certain gender, does not necessary mean that it is a reliable context.
Just an example that explains it more clearly, since I am German, I can express this without being called pregidous or offending anyone:
Within the German breed of people, you will find tall women as well as small men. They could be intelligent or dumb, and anything in between. We all know that the Germans more likely have the stereo type for the males to be tall, with blond hair and blue eyes…..hate to disappoint, it is not all like that!
The true difference between the male and female dog is that males like to mark their territory- thus they pee more in different spots than females. A female unless she marks to let everybody know that she is in heat, pees once and is done.
How much does size of the dog you will own really matter?
The breed standard of the German Shepherd , just as much as the standard of other working dog breeds, does have the size of females and males described and regulated within a range for both. Any size within that range is acceptable. For a breeder of German Shepherds it is wise to pair parents that are of medium size. This will ensure that the outcome will be found to be within the range of what the standard requires. The outcome has very little chance to be “out of standard”.
Now if you are looking to get a larger size dog within the standard, I can tell you by experience that the puppy size you see at eight weeks old in comparison to his litter mates, is some times not what you hope to get!
We have observed puppies that appeared to be of smaller size when puppies, but then turn out to be the largest one of the litter one year later.
Always look closely at the individual dog you are interested in, and talk to the breeder himself about his observations within his litter. Only he has a deep impression of what every individual dog is all about, as he interacts (hopefully) with his offspring on a daily basis. He should be able to give you a much closer analysis of the temperament, than you, that only interacts with the litter once or twice.