It is interesting how I can get a call saying that a client wants a big male, one with some dominance and lots of drive to do schutzhund and they have 3 younger children and they want the dog to be great with people and other animals. After talking to them they decide on a female German shepherd puppy.
The question still remains, what do you look for in a GSD puppy. Well, if you are buying a German shepherd, likely you either just think want one or you know what you want and you respect the breed for it typical characteristics.
I know all of the guys want the biggest toughest dog in the world bar none. But, if you look for extremes you may get just that, a dog which is too extreme and unliveable and then you wish you had never seen the little ball of energy. I recommend you look for a balanced puppy. It should be up around the mid to top of the standard, but not way over. He/she should have good pigment, but not to the exclusion of other traits. You want a dog which is confident yet not dominant. What you want is a BALANCED DOG, one in which the GSD typical traits expressed. The dog should have energy and confidence but not dominance or nervousness. Look for good pigment but, as importantly, good structure. You want some retrieve and prey drive, but one who is also content sitting by your side.