German shepherd dogs are the second most popular breed in the United States, according to the American Kennel Club. Fans of the breed love them for their loyalty, courage, and intelligence.
Since they’re so smart, they are highly trainable and excel as working dogs for law enforcement and the military. As family pets, they can be taught many things and thrive at being mentally challenged and trained.
Along with being exceptionally clever, they’re also canine athletes. Since they were bred to work, they have a lot of endurance and energy that needs to be expended each day. Combine their high energy levels with their quick minds and you’ve got a dog with physical and mental energy to burn.
Despite being so active, German shepherds also have a softer side. Their level of loyalty to their owners is unsurpassed. They love nothing more than to be near their family and the closer the better, so they can do their job of looking after those they adore.
Because they have such a close bond with their owners, they make excellent companions and enjoy going on trips, car rides, walks, hikes, and are always up for an adventure. This same enduring quality is well understood by those that love them and understand that German shepherds don’t do well spending too much time alone or isolated from their pack.
German shepherd lovers will tell you that these dogs make amazing family pets but are also not for those who don’t want to devote a lot of time and attention to their dog. Anyone wanting to adopt or buy a German shepherd should do their research to see if this magnificent breed fits into their life to avoid problems down the road.
Here are 15 things you can expect when you own a German shepherd:
1. Puppy biting
When you bring home a German shepherd puppy, you can expect lots of nipping, puppy biting, and mouthing. Often referred to as ‘land sharks,’ German shepherd pups are notorious for their intense desire to puppy bite and need to be taught bite inhibition.
All puppies explore the world with their mouth and nose, but some new owners are caught by surprise by just how much German shepherd puppies like to nip at their owners. As herding dogs, German shepherds have a high prey drive that results in a desire to herd and gather.
This natural drive can make German shepherd puppies more ‘bitey’ than other pups and from a young age they need to be redirected and taught not to bite hands, feet, and clothing. It’s important to understand that these puppies are not being aggressive and simply engaging in behavior that’s natural and fun for them.
2. Exercise is a must
German shepherds are very active and as working dogs have lots of endurance. They are strong, athletic, and agile. They require lots of age appropriate exercise to meet their physical needs.
German shepherds that don’t get enough exercise become frustrated, high strung, bored, and destructive. These dogs simply don’t do well without exercise each day. The good news is, exercise can come in many forms.
3. A dog genius
German shepherds are very smart and they need to exercise their mind as well as their body. As working dogs, they’re level of intelligence is almost uncanny. They require training and also need to have fun to be happy and fulfilled.
They love to learn but require a strong leader and training to development into the amazing dog they were born to be. A bored German shepherd is a destructive and anxious German shepherd and that includes challenging their mind, training them, and teaching them new things throughout their life.
4. To pay for healthy food
German shepherds are notorious for having sensitive skin and stomachs and need high quality dog food to keep them from developing health problems. Since they’re so active, they also need high quality food that nourishes their bodies and keeps their joints healthy.
By investing in and feeding them high quality food, it may help avoid health problems and expensive trips to the vet down the road. A good diet begins in puppyhood and starts with a good quality large breed puppy food.
5. Sweep and vacuum up lots of dog fur
German shepherds have a dense coat and shed year-round. They also ‘blow their coat’ twice a year. To keep up with the dog fur, expect to sweep and vacuum often. If dog fur drives you nuts, they are probably not the breed for you.
6. To groom often
Along with sweeping and vacuuming, German shepherds need lots of grooming. They’re not usually smelly dogs and don’t need lots of baths but they do need lots of brushing and de-shedding to keep the amount of fur in the house and car under control. If you own a German shepherd, you’ll want to invest in a good de-shedding comb and use is a couple times a week.
7. A protector
German shepherds are very protective of their family and need training and socialization from a young age so they know what you expect of them. As a herding dog, they naturally have a strong guarding instinct and consider it their job to look after their owner.
This is great except they must learn how to interact with the world and should not be allowed to guard food, resources, toys, territory, and people. They must learn social skills from a young age so that they don’t fear or develop guarding or over protective behaviors that get out of control when they are older.
8. Mess makers
Along with their shedding, they are also mess makers! They love to play with their toys and strew them all over the house, drip water all over the floor, roll in the grass, and play in mud and dirt. They will leave their nose art all over your windows and doors and basically leave a trail wherever they go.
9. Cuteness overload
Let’s face it, German shepherds are beautiful dogs but they’re also cute. They have adorable personalities and will do the funniest things to make you smile. They can be almost human like in their interactions with their owners and seem to understand when they’re being funny.
10. Fun playmate
German shepherds love to play. Play time is also a great time to provide with their daily exercise. They love nothing more than to chase a ball, catch a Frisbee, carry big sticks, play tug, and more. When you have a German shepherd, you’ll never be bored because they’re always up for something fun.
11. You’ll never sleep in again
Up with the sun is their motto. They have built in alarms clocks and will happily wake you up to take them out, feed them, exercise, and play. Although they’ll happily snuggle up to sleep by your side, when it’s time to get up, they’ll let you know it.
12. You’ll never be alone
German shepherds are extremely companionable and like nothing better than to be glued to your side all day, everyday. They love to follow you everywhere and go wherever you go. For them, it doesn’t really matter as long as they are with you. This is a wonderful trait in the breed but the downside is, they don’t do well when they have too much alone time and can get anxious and lonely easily.
13. They’ll make you listen to them
German shepherds can almost talk. They use their body language and vocalizations to communicate their needs. They are masters at telling you when they want to eat, go outside, are frustrated, or want to play. When owning one, you can except to hear them whine impatiently, drop their ball at your feet constantly, or to be nudged by their nose when they think they’re being ignored.
14. To hear people’s opinions
German shepherds are highly recognizable and many people love them, some people have preconceived notions about them, and some are simply scared of them. No matter which type of person you run into, you’ll meet those in awe of your dog and those in fear of your dog. Some will want to pet your dog and some will want you to go away. Owning a German shepherd automatically make you an ambassador of the breed and carries a responsibility to educate the public about how amazing they are.
15. Best friend forever
German shepherds are the most loyal breed ever. They will happily spend every day of their life living to be with you, love you, make you happy, and protect you. They are a friend like no other and deserve nothing but the same in return.
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