Hands down, German shepherds are the best dogs. There’s just no other dog so loving, loyal, and fun to own. It’s hard to imagine life without sharing it with one of these wonderful canines.
Despite how great they are, they take time and commitment. Probably more so than most other breeds. It doesn’t matter if you’re a first-time German shepherd owner or have owned numerous shepherds, they are all unique.
However, even the best dogs come with their own set of challenges. Some traits are very similar, and some vary greatly between dogs, but most share typical traits of the German shepherd breed.
Here’s some things I wish I knew before getting a German shepherd:
1. Puppies are hard work
Despite their irresistible cuteness, German shepherd puppies are hard work. Along with their need for lots of training, they are curious, bold, and into everything that captures their attention. They also love to puppy bite and chew everything that moves, including hands, feet, furniture, personal belongings, and small children. Puppy proofing the house and teaching them what is and is not okay to play bite is not optional when one of these tiny land sharks moves in.
2. They need their people around
From young pups to seniors, German shepherds become very bonded with their owners. As puppies, they can’t be left alone for hours on end by themselves. Adult and senior dogs are happiest when their owners are nearby. This breed doesn’t do well spending too much time alone and can develop problems such as anxiety, destructive behaviors, nuisance barking, and worse when not made part of the family or they spend too much time alone. If you work, you might consider day care, a dog walker, a dog sitter, or even another dog to keep them company.
3. They need lots of room to exercise
When breed experts say German shepherds are active, they aren’t kidding. They are dog athletes and need lots of room to run and play so that they can burn off excess energy. They also have a lot of stamina and require plenty of time to get their exercise needs met. It doesn’t matter so much what they do as long as they are provided with the space and time to do it-every day, preferably with you.
4. They get bored easily
To say German shepherds are smart is an understatement. This breed is very clever and will invent things to keep their mind occupied when not given enough time, training, attention, and exercise. A bored shepherd can easily transform into a mischievous shepherd. They need lots of activities to keep their mind engaged as well as their body. The good news is, when you give them time and attention, they love nothing more than to focus on you.
5. They can be expensive to take care of
There is no such thing as a free dog but German shepherds cost more than other dogs to raise. For starters, the larger the dog, the more expensive it is to feed, spay or neuter. Flea, tick, and heartworm prevention costs more for larger dogs. They also tend to require premium foods to keep their sensitive skin and stomachs happy. They can be prone to allergies, breed specific health problems, and certain orthopedic issues that can equal expensive vet bills. When getting a new puppy, pet insurance is something to seriously consider.
6. Prepare to invest in lots of toys
German shepherds love to play and are also power chewers. Most can quickly destroy even the toughest toys and chews. When you own a shepherd, gone are the days of a toy lasting for years. The good news is, they love to share their toys with you as long as you’re willing to play with them.
7. They shed on everything
German shepherds shed all year round and twice a year, massively shed. To help keep the fur down, they must be brushed a few days a week and even then, they’ll still leave dog fur on floors, furniture, bedding, and clothes. They are totally worth the work but may not be the breed for people who like things kept spotless.
8. They have a prey drive
German shepherds were bred to be herding dogs so they have a strong prey drive. Which means, they love to chase things. This drive is fun because it makes them totally into a game of fetch or Frisbee. It also means they may love to chase things, including small animals like squirrels, rabbits, cats, hamsters, etc. Can some dogs get along with other small pets? Absolutely. Are some dogs, especially those with stronger working lines harder to train and may be unsafe with small pets? Absolutely. Talk to your breeder or test the dog before bringing it home whenever possible.
9. Socialization is not optional
These dogs are powerful, naturally protective, and extremely devoted to their family. They can also be leery and standoffish with strangers. Teaching them how to be confident, greet people, and to prevent unwanted guarding behavior is one of the most important things they need to learn from a young age.
10. Playful and lively
Despite being fearless, they are also very playful and love nothing more than having fun with their family. They love to play games, learn new things, go for rides in the car, adventure, and spend time hanging out with the people they love.
11. Loyal to the end
There is no breed more loyal than a German shepherd. They live to please and protect those they adore. They are happiest when near their family and will spend every day of their life watching over their loved ones. They make the best companions and friends to those lucky enough to own one.
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