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Is a German Shepherd Dog 
the Right Breed for You?

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The German Shepherd Dog (GSD) is a wonderful breed, but it is a "high maintenance" animal not suited for everyone. If you are unfamiliar with the GSD breed, please take the time to educate yourself about it. You can start right here by reading the following. 

"Top 10 Reasons Why a German Shepherd Dog
May Not be the Dog for You"

  1. German Shepherds require a serious commitment. Many of the dogs that come to rescue organizations have no training. It is important that the new family puts time and effort into training their rescue dog.
  2. These dogs have a high energy level. The very energy that allows these dogs to be police, search, guide and herding dogs is often the reason these dogs are surrendered. If you’re looking for a couch potato you may want to consider a different breed.
  3. German Shepherds are highly intelligent. If they are not given a job to do they will often come up with their own.
  4. Like any dog, the German Shepherd is a social animal and needs to be part of a family. The loyalty that endears this breed to many requires that it not be banished to the backyard.
  5. German Shepherds are large dogs. The number one reason given by people surrendering German Shepherds is moving. Usually apartments do not welcome these dogs. If you don’t know where you will be a few years down the line it is not the right time to adopt.
  6. These dogs shed non-stop.
  7. They can be vocal, often whining and barking to communicate. If left alone for prolonged periods of time they may become problem barkers.
  8. If you don’t like doggy smell, consider a different breed. Also, bathing can be challenging due to the dog’s water-resistant outer coat.
  9. A German Shepherd must respect its owner. This is not accomplished by heavy-handedness; it is only achieved when its owner treats the dog with equal respect.
  10. These dogs originated as herding dogs. It is a heritage they carry still. Keep this in mind if you or your neighbors have livestock. Remember that in the state of California a dog harassing livestock may be shot.
    1998 Julie Connolly for German Shepherd Rescue

The German Shepherd Dog is a large, active dog with a dense double coat. This double coat sheds year round, and produces even greater volumes of fur when the dogs "blow coat" in the spring and fall. Some shed more than others. For some owners, this is not a trivial point.

The breed was developed for service as a herding and general purpose working animal. The desire to "work" or do something is genetic and is stronger in some GSDs than in others. Most adult GSDs are loyal, loving, protective, and intelligent. Without proper training, GSDs can also be rambunctious, destructive of property, and exhausting to live with. It is up to you to guide your dog to suit your lifestyle and that of your family. Most, if not all, GSDs need training and a structured lifestyle to thrive in the home and become a canine good citizen.

You should consider the following recommendations as your basic commitment to your new GSD. Take an obedience course to assure that you are the dog's leader. Be prepared to socialize your dog by exposing it to as many people and situations as possible to develop its confidence. Vigorously exercise the adult GSD at least 20 minutes daily. Brush the coat often. Trim nails, clean ears, and brush teeth as needed.

If a change of residence is required, make sure that your GSD is welcome at the new address. Realize that a GSD is a very social animal and should not be left alone for long periods of time. Before a problem gets out of hand be willing to call a trainer, a behaviorist, or a member of the local rescue group for help.

Credits
The preceding section (following the "Top 10 Reasons...") was excerpted, with some modifications, from a brochure written and produced as a service to the public and the venerable German Shepherd Dog breed by an eclectic group of individual GSD owners, breeders, and trainers. The full brochure is available for reproduction and distribution free of charge by e-mailing TGSD-L-REQUEST@IS.DAL.CA. If you received an electronic copy we invite you to print it in your newsletters, add it to your Web pages, forward it to others, or cross-post as long as you leave these CREDITS attached.

 

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If you would like to learn more about German Shepherd Dogs, read the outstanding and comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions About German Shepherd Dogs.

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