German Shepherds continue to be one of the most popular dog breeds. They often rank internationally within the top 10 of all dog breeds. They are renown for their intelligence and trainability as well as their regal appearance. They are working dogs that were initially bred in Germany for their herding and guarding abilities. The American Kennel Club classifies them in the herding group.
German Shepherds are large dogs, weighing around 80 pounds. Their size is ideal for the work that they perform. While they do not need regular trips to a professional dog groomer, they do require regular brushing. German Shepherds have a double coat that sheds continuously. They top the list of all breeds for shedding. While most dogs are healthy, be aware that this breed is notorious for having hip dysplasia and other joint diseases.
Intelligence and Personality
German Shepherds are known for their intelligence and trainability, but a lot of people also tend to think that they are also rather aggressive. They’re not actually! German shepherds are a lot calmer than you think. This is why they are such a popular dog breed. They rank within the top 10 breeds for their ability to learn. This characteristic makes German Shepherds ideal as working dogs for military, law enforcement or placement as service dogs for people with disabilities. They are loyal, and they have a sincere desire to please their owners. Unfortunately, these guarding and herding instincts can also become problematic for people when dogs are not properly trained or socialized. Poorly bred dogs can inherit overly aggressive or shy traits that can challenge even the most experienced dog owner.
With proper training, German Shepherds thrive in either a working or family environment. They get along well with children and other pets in the home. Their loyalty is legendary. They are generally aloof around strangers and will protect their family. Early socializing with people is essential so that the dog learns to recognize regular human activity versus the unusual. If German Shepherds are not socialized with other people, they can become aggressive and overprotective of their family members. This social balance is one that every owner will need to understand.
Energy and Exercise
German Shepherds are energetic and need regular exercise, but German Shepherds are calmer than you think. These dogs have a strong work ethic and are always ready for an outing. They are not couch potatoes. They thrive in an active lifestyle – so you’ll want to invest in some high energy toys. Activities such as agility, Herdengebrauchshund trials and scenting will keep these dogs busy. They are also excellent companions for runners. If the dog has no job, he will find one. They can develop destructive tendencies if they are not given things to do, or they lack proper training. For the most part, German shepherds are quiet, and they are not known for their barking.
Breed Ban Lists
German Shepherds are on breed ban lists. Think carefully about adopting a German Shepherd before investigating local ordinances or homeowner association regulations. If you travel, your dog may not be welcome at hotels, RV parks and may be banned from some communities. Check your insurance. Some companies will have exclusions for some dog breeds. German Shepherds have a mixed reputation. They may be an insurance or legal liability.
Choosing Your Dog
Choosing a dog will be one of the most critical activities you will do. A dog will impact your life for the next 10-15 years. This is not a decision to take lightly or impulsively. If you are a new dog owner, you should seriously consider adopting an adult dog. They will have the training and socialization critical for this breed.
Before adopting a German Shepherd:
- Get to know other people who own German Shepherds.
- Visit kennels without committing to any purchases.
- Interact with German Shepherds as well as other dog breeds.
- Contact pet organizations; discuss your interest in German Shepherds.
- Meet with professional trainers.
The best places to adopt your dog is from a breeder who has dogs with the temperament that you want. Contact an established breed rescue organization. This is the best place to look for an adult dog.
Take an expert or a knowledgeable person with you to help assess any dog that you adopt. A second opinion may save you years for frustration. Have the dog vet-checked before finalizing any purchase.
German Shepherds are amazing dogs. They want to please. They have intelligence and a strong work ethic. There are positive and negative traits in every dog breed. Analyze why you want a dog. If your vision of dog ownership matches that of a German Shepherd, you will have a long, enduring relationship with this noble breed.