Is a German Shepherd right for you?
The German Shepherd is one of the most versatile breeds of dog in the world and although it is classified in the Herding Group, it can be seen carrying out its duties in many different types of job – as a Sheep Herder, a K-9 Police Officer, a Seeing-Eye or Assistance dog, a Therapy Dog, a Military Dog, A Bomb or Drug Detection Dog, a Protection Dog, a Tracking Dog, a Family Companion and Friend.
The German Shepherd Dog is a large strong dog with great courage and loyalty, incredibly intelligent and usually easy to train with commitment and proper instruction.
The GSD is watchful and wary of strangers until they are sure that his owner is at ease and has welcomed the stranger into his environment. He is also great with children and will guard the family and their home and possessions with his very life if need be. You have to consider that he may also be protective of the children when they have their friends over – take precautions, ALWAYS supervise your GSD around other people, especially children.
Sounds like the ideal dog…? Maybe yes, maybe no – it depends on YOU, why you want the dog, how you plan to interact with the dog and the amount of time and commitment you can give to his training and general welfare.
Do NOT consider a German Shepherd Dog ….
- IF you are not prepared to spend considerable time and money exercising, socializing and training your German Shepherd. These dogs need a LOT of exercise, training and socialization around other dogs and people.
- IF you are very easygoing, mild mannered or nervous you will find it difficult to provide leadership to your German Shepherd, he or she will may take control and will be the one deciding who can approach you and your family, the house and even areas within the house. Such dogs can become over protective and dominant. A gentle but firm hand is needed in the training and guidance needed to raise a well balanced German Shepherd.
- IF you want an outside ‘guard’ dog who will not be allowed in the house. All dogs are pack animals and will become very depressed at being kept away from its pack – you and your family. The German Shepherd dog is especially so and needs to be part of your family and included in the family activities and outings. If not, you will have an unsocialized, untrained, barking, digging frustrated dog that jumps the fence and antagonizes the neighbors. NEVER, EVER chain up your German Shepherd Dog – he may become frustrated and aggressive.
- IF you are very house proud and not tolerant of muddy paws or dog hair. The GSD is one of the worst breeds for shedding and loses hair almost constantly. As a bonus, a couple of times a year the German Shepherd loses all its undercoat within a couple of weeks. This spectacular mess is known as “blowing coat” and you will have your work cut out to keep up with the vacuuming duties. Your GSD will need regular – 2-3 times a week – grooming sessions!
- IF you do not have sufficient finances to pay for the necessary annual vet care, food, equipment, boarding if necessary. Do not expect to feed your German Shepherd the cheapest food you can buy at discount stores. Your dog’s coat, skin, teeth and general health will suffer greatly and you will be landed with the resulting vet bills. Top quality dog food costs from $30-40+ per bag and will last probably 2-3 weeks depending on the activity level of your dog. For more information on feeding options, check out our Nutrition Page.
- IF you travel frequently, are away on business or work very long days, it is absolutely unfair to acquire a dog. Chance are you will not have the time to give the dog the companionship, exercise, training.
- NEVER buy a German Shepherd (or any dog) from a Pet Shop. Most of the puppies are acquired from puppy mills where the parents are kept in horrendous conditions and are bred and bred until they die or are killed because they can no longer produce. These puppies, although every bit as cute as any other puppy, will likely have terrible health problems that will cause you and your family heartache and financial burden down the road. Don’t forget, if puppy mills couldn’t sell their puppies they would cease to exist which can only be a good thing. Check out: www.prisonersofgreed.org
- NEVER buy a German Shepherd dog with a view to breeding it unless you purchase a top quality show dog from a first class GSD Club approved breeder. Breeding is extremely expensive and you will NOT make a profit. Also, what are you going to do if the pups don’t all sell? Take a trip to the local shelter to see all the homeless dogs before deciding to bring more puppies into the world.
Are you the ideal owner?
- Prepared to commit yourself financially and time-wise to the 10-14 years average life span of your German Shepherd Dog, providing daily exercise, grooming, training, love, companionship, vet care, top quality food, toys, treats etc?
- …and your ENTIRE family enthusiastic about getting a German Shepherd and prepared to help out with their care…?
- Happy to have muddy paws, hair and slobber in your house?
- Well-informed on the breed characteristics? Research the breed thoroughly so you know what to expect BEFORE you get the dog. Ask questions! See our Recommended Reading at the right side of this page.
GREAT! Then contact your local rescue who will be able to find you THE MOST wonderful companion dog who through no fault of his own has regrettably been the victim of the people who did not heed the earlier warnings.