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Ear Tattooing

Note: The GSDCA Tattoo Scheme ceased to exist as of July 1st 2017. For all dogs born on or after this date, microchip is the only positive form of identification recognised by the GSDCA for particaption in any scheme. Database informaiton of dogs tattoooed prior to this date will be retained.

The following provides a description of the Tattoo Scheme as it was in place prior to July 1st 2017.

Ear Tattooing of German Shepherd Dogs commenced in Victoria in December 1978.
It is part of a National Scheme adopted by the German Shepherd Dog Council of Australia Inc. (GSDCA), which is open to Breeders of all registered pedigree German Shepherd Dogs.
The GSDCV provides this service to the breeders and owners of German Shepherds throughout Victoria, through its authorised Tattoo Officers who all provide this service on a voluntary basis.
All tattooing of German Shepherds MUST be done by the authorized GSDCV Tattoo Officers, to ensure the integrity of the scheme.

The purpose of Ear Tattooing is to provide a permanent, individual identification of each dog.

This identification provides:

- The ability to trace dogs which have become lost, back to their rightful owners;

- Positive proof of ownership;

- Identification for all of the GSDCA Breed Improvement Schemes, being:

      - Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia x-raying;

      - Haemophilia testing;

      - Breed Survey, etc.

German Shepherd puppies are tattooed in the right ear, between 7 and 8 weeks of age, before they leave the breeders home.
Adult dogs can be tattooed with an “AUS” number – refer below.

The tattoo comprises 3 letters and 3 numbers. The 3 letters identify the breeding Kennel, and the 3 numbers are sequential numbering in the order of the kennels breeding (each puppy has a unique number).

If you find a German Shepherd puppy or adult dog, check in the right ear for a tattoo.
About 90% of German Shepherd puppies these days are being tattooed by the breeders.

The 3 letters start at the tip of the ear, and are followed by the 3 numbers (which are deeper into the dogs ear). It is very important you read each individual character, as they are necessary to identify the unique identification of the dog.

It may be necessary to clean the ear with a damp cloth, to ensure you are reading it correctly.

On occasions it may be easier to read the tattoo if any excessive hair on the inside of the ear is clipped away, or even very carefully shaved.

Once you have identified the tattoo, call the GSDCV Tattoo Registrar (Michael on (03) 5248 1520), who has the records available to identify the Breeder, and hence the dog.


Breeders must apply for a “Tattoo Symbol” well in advance of the breeding of the litter to be tattooed.
NOTE! This is quite separate to the Kennel Prefix application with Dogs Victoria.

The litter is tattooed between 7 and 8 weeks of age, and MUST be tattooed by the GSDCV authorized Tattoo Officers ONLY. All puppies in the litter MUST be tattooed.

Firstly, you must have your approved Dogs Victoria Kennel prefix.

Application Forms are available from this website, the State Tattoo Registrar, or local Tattoo Officers.

Completed Application Forms must be sent to the National Tattoo Registrar, along with the appropriate fee and a stamped self-addressed envelope.

Applications should be submitted well in advance of the breeding of the first litter to be tattooed.

The Tattoo Symbol is allocated to the specific “Kennel Prefix” (which is allocated by Dogs Victoria) and is not transferable. That is, it can only be used for puppies bred under that Kennel Prefix.

Contact your nearest Tattoo Officer (as listed in the Shepherd News) by the time the puppies are four (4) weeks old, to make a tentative booking for tattooing when puppies are between 7 and 8 weeks old.

Confirm the final arrangements for the booking by phoning the Tattoo Officer again about one (1) week prior to the tentative booking (or as requested by the Tattoo Officer).

Remember, the Tattoo Officers work in a voluntary capacity, and will try to fit in with your wishes, but co-operation from the breeder is essential.

Generally, the Tattoo Officer will come to your home to tattoo the litter; however, in some cases it may be appropriate to arrange to meet elsewhere. This could be due to a large distance to your home, or lack of available time due to other commitments etc.

If there is any question as to the health of the puppies on the day of tattooing call the Tattoo Officer before he/she arrives, as our Tattoo Officers are also dog owners and breeders and don’t want to take any sickness back to their kennels. Normally, other arrangements can be made to tattoo the litter.

Have any older dogs securely kennelled away from the tattooing area, so they cannot cause any problems by being overly protective of the puppies.

Have all paperwork ready before the Tattoo Officer arrives. This includes –
- Your “National Breed Commission Tattoo Symbol Approval” form (particularly if this is your first litter);
- Your previous Tattoo Form (if you have tattooed a litter previously) to enable the Tattoo Officer to check your last number. MAKE SURE THIS FORM IS FROM THE LAST LITTER YOU HAD TATTOOED.
- Your current GSDCV Inc. Membership Card.
- Dogs Victoria Registration Certificates for all puppies.

NOTE: If you have not received your copies of the Registration Certificates by the time the litter is to be tattooed, this will not stop the Tattoo Officer from proceeding.
However, upon receipt of the Registration Certificates, IT IS THE BREEDERS RESPONSIBILITY to get all necessary details to the Tattoo Officer immediately.

The Tattoo Officer will leave a (pink) copy of the completed Tattoo Form (National Breed Commission Litter Record) with you for your records.

Ensure you check the ear and verify each puppy’s tattoo number before it leaves.

Ensure that the Registration Certificate that is given to the new owner has the same pedigree name etc. as that recorded on the Tattoo Form completed by the Tattoo Officer.

Ensure that you receive the new owner’s name, address (and most importantly) phone number, and record it against the puppy with that Tattoo number.

Advise the new owner of the Tattoo that the puppy has, and the importance of keeping you informed if they move house or resell the puppy.

It is your responsibility to keep records of purchasers of all pups, cross referenced to the Tattoo numbers, i.e. NAME, ADDRESS AND PHONE NUMBER.

These records must be kept for a minimum of ten (10) years, and easily accessible by you at all times.

Adult dogs can be tattooed after 6 months of age, with an “AUS” symbol.

Application Forms are available from this website, the State Tattoo Registrar, or local Tattoo Officers.

Completed Application Forms must be sent to the National Tattoo Registrar, along with a copy of the dog's pedigree, the appropriate fee and a stamped self-addressed envelope.

The “AUS” Symbol is allocated to that specific dog and is not transferable.

Tattooing of Adult dogs must be done under general aesthetic, administered by your vet.

This means organizing a suitable time at your veterinarian when the Tattoo Officer (who work in an voluntary capacity) can attend to perform the tattooing in your vets surgery.

For this reason quite often adult dogs are tattooed when they are getting their hips x-rayed, from 12 months of age onwards.