If you’re thinking of getting a pure-bred German Shepherd Dog as a pet, this blog post is a must read!
A little history on the German Shepherd Dog, or GSD
German Shepherds originated from their namesake land of Germany. They’re a
‘working group’ breed of dog. And as part of the herding group, were originally bred to herd sheep. But due to their high intelligence and trainability, they quickly gained popularity. They boast the third most intelligent breed, following Border Collies and Poodles. Most popular today you will see them as police dogs or in search and rescue.
If you’re like me, one look into those big brown eyes and you’ll forever be in love with the German Shepherd Dog. They’re an extremely loyal dog. But they’re loyal to the person who feeds them and leads them. Having said that, they’re not just a ‘one person dog’. They’ll bond with as many people as there are in their circle or ‘pack’.
They’re not a hyper or high energy breed. I would describe them more of a ‘moderately’
active breed. They don’t need to run off steam for hours everyday, but they do love a good swim once in a while. Rather a nice walk or two a day will suffice. But you better keep it interesting. The same ol’ stroll around the block will bore this intelligent breed. You’ll need to keep walks interesting since they’ll be exercising their brains too.
They’re extremely curious and focused with a high drive to learn. If you want a Shepherd you need to ask yourself first if you can keep up with such a thought-driven dog.
And because they’re so brilliant, if they’re not socialized properly they will likely become overprotective and aggressive. But socializing can be tough since they’re not overly keen on making new friends.
They’ll evade direct eye contact with people they don’t know or respect, unless you’re trespassing or threatening their family. Then the eye contact will be very direct and intense.
GSD coat care
German Shepherds have a double layer coat, and they shed a lot! Plus their hair somehow weaves its way into everything. The outer layer is coarse and straight, with the exception of the occasional wavy haired dog. The under layer is soft and thick. This combination demands weekly, if not daily, brushing and grooming. But not only does the brushing help with shedding, it also helps distribute their natural oils. You cannot neglect their coats, so if you are not up for the maintenance, don’t get a Shepherd.
Can you physically handle a GSD?
Although this is not a breed that needs ‘manhandling’, they are physically a very strong dog. If they’re not well trained, walking them on lead could become a nightmare. They like to weave from side to side as they go. And they will lunge if they see another dog as an impending threat. The strength in their lunge is impressive. However their loyalty to their owner also makes them easier to call off than a lot of other breeds. They strive to stay tune with their owner and forever focused on what you want them to do next.
Can you mentally handle a GSD?
I think this is a much more important question. Being able to mentally handle a well bred GSD is no easy task. If you want a dog who’ll be happy to cuddle and rest at your feet, this is not the breed for you. GSD’s have a strong desire to work. Keeping their brains exercised is mandatory. They need jobs. They need things to do. German Shepherds who lacks this in their lives tend to appear unfocused, neurotic and frustrated. They become difficult to handle and have a hard time bonding to anyone.
If you’re not a confident ‘pack leader’ the German Shepherd Dog will not respect you. They practically beg for guidance, order and purpose. So if you don’t offer these things you’ll have huge problems with your shepherd.
Does the GSD personality match your lifestyle?
This is where you have to be brutally honest with yourself. You might love the look or reputation of a German Shepherd, but does their temperament jive with your own? Do you have the time to put into this clever breed? Do you have the knowledge or drive to keep them happy and meet their needs? If you do, you are about to enter the most heartwarming relationship you have ever had in your life. The love between a shepherd and a good owner is amazing. But if you don’t it will likely end in disaster. So be sure this is the breed for you before you bring one in to your life.
Where do you get a GSD?
If after all this you are sold and want a GSD, it’s time to find one. There are many places to find a wonderful dog. But first you need to decide if you want a puppy or an adult? Male or female? Etc.
My first suggestion when looking for a dog is always rescue’s. So look up ‘German Shepherd Rescue’, or call your
local SPCA, ASPCA, Humane Society or whatever your city or country offers. If you’re hell-bent on a breeder please do your research and make sure you pick a reputable one. See my blog post on How To Pick A Reputable Breeder and be sure to avoid puppy mills.
*This blog-post is dedicated to Shiloh, as seen in most of these pix. May you rest in peace, baby girl.
Written by Brenda McBurnie, Certified Dog Trainer and Natural Nutrition
I love comments, and suggestions for more blog posts! Please sign up to follow Askthedogexpert.