Is a German Shepherd the right dog for me?
The German Shepherd dog is an intelligent, active, energetic breed of dog. GSDs are typically not suitable for people or families that are new to dog ownership. GSDs are ideal for an experienced, active home willing to dedicate a lot of time to care, socialization, training and exercise!
The German Shepherd Dog is...
- Very intelligent: They are usually very easy to train and willing to learn, but that same intelligence can be focused on destructive or bad behavior if you do not offer the appropriate guidance and outlet for their energy.
- A working dog: Originally bred as a versatile working dog, with a strong background in herding and police/military work, the German Shepherd dog needs to be given a job as an outlet for its intelligence and energy. With the breed's history, you must be prepared for the drives (prey, food, hunt, fight, etc) that are bred into these dogs and channel those drives appropriately.
- Large, and they shed a LOT: German Shepherds can mature into 60 - 90lb animals, and they shed A LOT. You must take this into account if you rent your home or cannot handle copious amounts of dog fur in your home when it comes time for a German Shepherd to blow its coat. Remember, German Shepherds shed year round!
- Usually high energy: Most German Shepherds are high energy. This means that your German Shepherd will require more than a walk around the block once a day. Many German Shepherd owners invest time into dog sports and high intensity work outs (games of fetch, bicycling, running or swimming with their dogs) to help burn their dogs energy. A good dog is a tired dog! This athletic breed requires lots of exercise! As a general rule, German Shepherds do not make suitable couch potatoes!
- A breed that needs consistent, strong leadership: German Shepherds are highly intelligent and pairing that with high energy means they require strong leadership and consistent training to develop into a balanced canine citizen. Training and socialization should begin immediately, and continue through out the dog's life. It is important to remember that this breed is a versatile working dog. Such a strong breed of dog can develop destructive behavior, aggression, possessive and territorial behavior, and many more issues if they are not provided with proper leadership.
- A serious, long-term commitment: Like any dog, German Shepherds require a lengthy time commitment (approximately 10-14 years) and financial investment. It can be expensive to feed a large breed dog, especially when you select high quality food. Veterinarian care, training expenses, toys, equipment (leashes, collars, training tools, crates, beds) and other necessities add up to cost a lot of money over the years.
- A social animal that should be kept with the family: German Shepherds are highly intelligent, social animals that thrive in a home with a person or family. They are not suitable to be left out in the backyard to live their life confined to a small space. German Shepherds tend to be velcro dogs, they like to follow you everywhere you go (they even like to supervise trips to the bathroom).
- A land-shark of a puppy: German Shepherd puppies can be a challenge, especially for first time dog owners. German Shepherds tend to be especially mouthy, and are usually major chewers and trouble makers. Re-directing this behavior while you develop obedience and manners is essential. Training, socializing and raising a puppy is time-consuming and can be a difficult (albeit worthwhile) journey.
- A vocal breed of dog: German Shepherds are alert and are very responsive to their environment. They tend to be quite vocal, enjoy talking back, and tend to bark to alert. This breed in general is quite talkative, and not ideal for those that prefer a quiet dog.