German Shepherd: Is It A Great Family Dog?

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German Shepherd laying on ground (caption: Guide to German Shepherds)The German Shepherd is a breed that has found its place in just about every niche from family dog to service dog work. Just what is it that makes the German Shepherd such a good candidate for so many varied activities?

Article Overview


The first German Shepherd was presented at Hanover in 1882 after being bred by several breeders in Karlsruhe, Germany. The objective when breeding the German Shepherd Dog (GSD) was to produce a dog that was as handsome as it was responsive and obedient. Many different breeds were used in the creation of the shepherd, including a variety of local farm and herding dogs.

The sheer variety in coat length and texture resulted in variation along the shepherd lines as they were developed. Originally the shepherd had longer hair, and in 1889 the first short-haired shepherd was presented in Berlin.

The first dog recognized as a German Shepherd dog was named Horan and was registered in April of 1899 by Captain Max von Stephanitz. The GSD continued to be shown as a wire-haired and a long-haired breed up until 1915.

These days, however, only the short-haired GSD is shown. This breed was brought from Germany to the United States, and in 1907 the first American German Shepherd was shown. In 1908 the German Shepherd became an American Kennel Club recognized breed in the herding class.

What Does Today’s German Shepherd Look Like?

Male GSDs stand between 24 and 26 inches whereas females are shorter standing between 22 and 24 inches tall. The average weight for this breed is between 75 and 85 pounds but can vary as widely as 50 to 90 pounds. Females are generally lighter than males.

German Shepherds are muscular and strong with a sloping body that slants backward. The teeth of this breed meet in a strong scissor bite, and the eyes are almond in shape. The GSD has ears that point upright and forwards, which may not peak upwards completely when the dog is a young puppy. This working breed has a bushy tail and thick rear legs.


German Shepherd laying on ground with shiny coatThere are three recognized coats on the German Shepherd dog, the double coat, the plush coat and the longhaired coat. All of these coats can come in a variety of colors including liver and white and blue but most commonly black and tan, sable and all black. Liver, white and blue GSDs are not recognized as breed standard dogs and are cause for eliminating a dog from the show ring. White German Shepherds are considered to be a completely different breed.

In few instances a type called a Panda Shepherd is recognized, this is a piebald colored dog that has 35% white coloration and the remaining coat is black and tan. The interesting thing about the Panda Shepherd is that there is no White Shepherd in the dog’s bloodline.


The German Shepherd is commonly referred to as the German Shedder because this dog sheds hair constantly. Shedding an average amount of hair throughout the year, the GSD is also a heavy shedder seasonally.

To reduce the amount of hair that this breed leaves throughout the home, it should be brushed daily. Daily grooming should also include ear checks and claw trimming. German Shepherd owners should not over bathe this breed because it can result in oil depletion from the skin, exacerbating skin conditions such as eczema.

Overall Health

The average lifespan of the German Shepherd is around 13 years.

Unfortunately, the German Shepherd is a dog that has been bred indiscriminately, and as a result, a considerable number of hereditary diseases have developed in the dog’s lineage. Some of the common health concerns that occur in these dogs include hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, epilepsy, corneal inflammation, digestive difficulty, blood disorders, bloating, eczema, flea allergies, dwarfism, endocrine pancreatic insufficiency, degenerative myelitis, Von Willebrand’s disease and perianal fistulas.

Many of these conditions can be completely avoided by tracing the lineage of a bitch and sire before breeding them. Pet owners should always ask for evidence of a dog’s parental lineage prior to purchasing any purebred puppy.

Pet Insurance Testimonial

German Shepherd Dog: Toby
Pet Parent: Charlotte
Illness/Injury: MRI and Surgery
Petplan Reimbursement: $4,641

We have covered our GSD, “Toby” with a Petplan policy for 8 years. They have consistently covered every illness and injury. When they say “coverage for life” they actually mean coverage for life. Our GSD has several illnesses [Conjunctivitis and Osteoarthritis] that are lifetime illnesses. Petplan has paid every covered claim, every year, for each lifetime illness. All I do is provide a completed claim form, medical records, and my invoice. There has never been a delay in processing a claim.

Most recently, we consulted with a surgeon for potential hip replacement. The surgeon quickly identified that there was something very wrong with Toby’s spine—Toby was having slight difficulty walking. An MRI was scheduled for the following week. The morning of the MRI, Toby was unable to move his backend. The MRI was immediately reviewed and it was discovered that Toby had an inter vertebral disk extrusion at T13-L1 that would require immediate surgery—if Toby was to ever walk again. Without hesitation we consented to the surgery.

He is now 3 weeks post-surgery. Recovery is slow but promising. Rehab has begun—hydro-therapy (water treadmill) twice a week and laser therapy for his hips once a week. I filed the first claim for this medical emergency [MRI and surgery] on Dec 20th. Petplan paid $4,641. Yeah Petplan!!

Learn More About Pet Insurance Here


German Shepherd with cape on and training weightThe German Shepherd is a working dog and has been since it was first designed by breeding local farm and working dogs. As a result, this dog is confident, works hard and is obedient. Certainly, these characteristics make this dog a great candidate for most working positions. However, they can make owning a pet German Shepherd tricky for less experienced dog owners.

This is a breed that is calm, clever, confident and serious and when put in the hands of an experienced dog handler, they will be brave and faithful and will perform their duty until they drop. When put into the hands of a less than confident pack leader, this is one breed that will try to rule the roost.

To be seen as a strong pack leader the owner of a GSD should be firm and consistent but also have an air of calmness about them. If this dog senses any lack of leadership, it will not hesitate to rise to the position. It is important to remember that this breed will not respond well to harsh punishment or training techniques. (Doggy Dan is a great resource for online training videos that you can do yourself.)

When trained and socialized from a young age, the GSD is the perfect breed in many ways. Loyal to its family, there is no doubt that this breed would put its life on the line if its pack were in danger. The German Shepherd is good with children and other animals when socialized from an early age and becomes extremely attached to its family. This need for affection from its pack means that this breed does not do well in isolation and certainly do not make good “outdoor” dogs.

When they are not trained and do not experience socialization, the GSD can be shy, aggressive, unstable and unresponsive. Guarding issues are not unusual in German Shepherds that are not trained and socialized well. When they receive adequate training and socialization, this breed is a far cry from the stereotype that some dangerous dog protestors talk of.

Video: Monster Ben (It’s Me Or The Dog)

Watch this British TV show to see a family with a GSD named Ben. He was sweet as a puppy but grew into being an aggressive dog so they worked with a trainer to make changes in his behavior. Did it work or did the kids move out?


The GSD is a working dog and requires a considerable amount of exercise, both physical and psychological. This is not a dog breed that is happy to be a couch potato. They require physical activity and games to stimulate them and keep them out of mischief.

This breed not only loves hard work, but it also loves work that involves using its brain, so it’s important to provide a long daily walk or better yet, a run as well as to include obedience and games. German Shepherds should be made to heel when walking to solidify their place in the pack. Ideally, these dogs also love pack games like fetch or frisbee, which also serve well to tire them out.

If you’re curious about how much exercise your dog gets daily, consider getting them a dog activity tracker.


The German Shepherd is a very versatile breed and has been spotted in a number of positions varying from fun to serious job responsibilities. When they’re serving in a professional capacity the GSD can be found taking part in police work, guard dog work, sheepdog work, service dog work, military work and search and rescue work. Other “non-professional” sports that the German Shepherd frequently participates in include: schutzhund, obedience, tracking, flyball, ring sport and agility.


According to a recent study by the author of “The Intelligence of Dogs,” Stanley Coren, PhD, ranks the German Shepherd as the third smartest dog breed in the top ten dog breeds. This study took a look at more than 100 dog breeds as they were judged by 200 dog obedience judges while learning new commands. Dogs were ranked based on their ability to perform commands 95% of the time or better based on less than 5 repetitions of the command.

The incredible level of intelligence in the German Shepherd, a level only bested by the Border Collie and the Poodle, makes this breed incredibly versatile. An ability to quickly pick up new commands and an intense desire to please its master means that the GSD is the perfect candidate for any number of professional positions available to canines. This is perhaps why this is the breed of choice for both military and police work around the world.

Is The German Shepherd The Right Choice For You?

When choosing a dog breed it’s important to ensure that you pick the right dog breed. This means not only that the dog suits your preferences but also that you are able to meet the dog’s needs. If you love going for runs or long walks, don’t have dog allergies and love teaching your dog new tricks, a GSD may be the perfect breed for you.

Why do you love German Shepherds?

About The Author:

Amy grew up in England and in the early 1990's moved to North Carolina where she completed a bachelors degree in Psychology in 2001. Amy's personal interest in writing was sparked by her love of reading fiction and her creative writing hobby. Amy is currently self employed as a freelance writer and web designer. When she is not working Amy can be found curled up with a good book and her black Labrador, Jet.

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August 22, 2020 5:37 am

I lost mine at the age of 9. He is always on my mind. Before I got him at 8 weeks, he was kicked and beaten. Police rescued him and he was just amazing. He died of cancer. The vet said he had never seen a German shepherd with such a good nature. He had an operation to remove a mass from between his front legs. When the stitches were ready to come out, the vet was laying on his back under him taking the stitches out. When he was getting up, all my Milo did was lick his face and the vet was definitely not expecting that reaction. We were at a summer carnival once and there was a dog show done by the police. I could see the policeman stood on the line looking at us. He later came to me and asked about him. He was young at the time and he said he is a fantastic looking shepherd. He said he had all the correct markings and his stance was just stunning. He said he would make a good police dog but I told him, no he was mine and I loved him so much.

May 11, 2020 11:11 am

my germansheprd is a pupy so in dog years im her age becouse im 10 years old but my dog is everthing in the articles but better and she is a little saburne.

June 20, 2020 12:43 pm
Reply to  alex

A german shepherd will always be a part of me. I had a king-size. He was a silver black and half-wolf. When I walked him, he use to strut as I totally trained him. If I could, I would get another one just like him and I’ve been looking since 2006. He passed away at 13 years old. Love a GSD

April 19, 2020 4:13 pm

Rebel is my second GSD , and he is a angel, great dog happy playfull , smart , loving such a great dog and a great friend. If your looking for a purebred just check on the breader

April 16, 2020 4:53 pm

I just got my first GSD after owning a very smart Rottweiler the past 11 years and all I see is another very smart dog to only be 7 weeks old.
I’m deaf and this will be my companion dog that I ll get to spend a lot of time with and I’m loving what I see as
She loves me about as much as I do her and only good things ahead !
Right now it’s looking like she will be smarter than the Rottweiler and friendly with everyone including my two cats !
My sister just got a Belgium Shepherd that is 8 weeks older than mine and I can not wait to see these two dogs together!
This is a win win deal anyway I look at it

Mines a female but I do not plan on breeding her

Thanks for reading !!

Elina Thomsan
April 15, 2020 5:45 am

German Shepherd is a dog that needs care as, like a family, I want to train my german shepherd but have no money to get paid training, can anyone guide me how I can do this, any online training provider.

Peter De Decker
August 22, 2020 6:23 am
Reply to  Elina Thomsan

Visit one of the GSD clubs, you can find the clubs on the website:
Good luck.

Apiffany Gaither Billings
April 16, 2020 12:42 pm
Reply to  Elina Thomsan

Hi, I’d recommend trying out this online training for his three day trial.

Gary Cregger
March 1, 2020 5:51 pm

Shepard’s need obidence training and social meeting with alot of people and other dogs. They are so smart and loyal, great with kids of all ages.Never tie one up, makes them mean. Yes they shed, if kept indoors. I have owned 2, female and male, as other breeds and they’re great dogs. Very protective, that’s where training comes in and IS a must. Not for everyone!!!!!

Sharon Quickelberge
February 14, 2020 10:22 am

German shepherds are simply the very very best!!! I have been associated with this majestic breed since I was a baby and I am now 57. They have brilliant minds. Loyal, loving, protective and just have so so much love. I have never been without a German shepherd.

April 23, 2020 2:38 pm

Awesome gsd’s are the best! Beautiful, loving, she’s my best friend my girl is shadow

February 18, 2020 7:47 pm

Hello. I just wanted to say that I am currently in a heated debate over the danger of owning a German shepherd and having them around children. I also grew up with these wonderful animals, my father was a police officer, he bred and trained German Shepherds since before I could walk. I was never bit, never threatened or in any type of danger being around my dogs so when I saw a post on instagram and stupidly started scrolling through the comments, I got myself into an argument with someone who seemed to think he had some sort of expertise, even though all the scenarios he pointed to of them being child maiming monsters was second hand. I took all of this way too personally because, if trained and respected and cared for properly, these dogs are, like you said, the best. Not sure why it got under my skin so badly and I never engage in online arguing, but I couldn’t help myself. Anyway, you’re comments made me feel better, so thank you 🙂

Teresa english
December 25, 2019 12:09 am

I have a rescue that looks exactly like a GSD but her ears don’t stand straight up and her fur isn’t as thick as other GSDs that I have seen. I got her at 9 months old and was told she had been homeless most of her puppy life.She is very obedient and is very well with other dogs or cats especially after everything she’s been through. She’s very excellent with children. She seems concerned if she hears a baby crying or even my teenagers crying lol. She is terrified around crowds of people in our house during the holidays. She will go up to people when they have their back turned but if they turn to give her attention she will run and hide. I think she may have been abused before but I’m not certain. We have been very lucky with her because she knew all basic commands when we got her. She literally is so good when bathing she just sits very still. If we let her out front with us she stays on the porch without being told. When we get ready to go for walks she sits perfectly for us to leash her. We have never taught her these things she just does it. In my opinion you can never go wrong with a GSD. They are very smart and the perfect addition to a family and I’m so lucky to be her mama❤

April Laverdure
November 5, 2019 2:21 am

I currently am taking care of my son’s GSD until he gets into his new home. I have learned so much from this dog. My question i have is it normal when i take her outside in the back to go potty and run she chases the cars, my background is fenced and the freeway is on the other side it’s weird because she waits for certain vehicles like semi trucks or buses to go by and she runs like she’s trying to see if she can beat them. A little back story she was trained to be a police dog but failed due to anxiety and that’s how my son got her. Could this be due to her training in the past. My other question is she constantly follows me everywhere i go in the house, i try and sneak away but she’s on it, could this be due to her anxiety and not wanting to be left alone.

Sharon Quickelberge
February 14, 2020 10:27 am

German shepherds are extremely protective. I can highly recommend taking the dog for long walks daily as they are very very energetic and just shower this angel with lots and lots of love.

My Storm also chases cars up and down our fences yard but when we go for walks she doesn’t even bother with the cars. I think they get bored when they are not kept busy and that’s how they burn off that huge amount of energy. Storm also goes wherever I go and that is just their protective nature. My late grandmother bred and trained German shepherds all her life and she always kept them busy. Also provide a selection of toys. Storm is 10 years old and still plays like a puppy. Training is vital with this breed and they are very fast learners. And once again love love love and a huge amount of attention and you will have a well balanced superb angel by your side.

Chris Honey
January 25, 2020 11:00 am

Hi, my name is Chris. I had a GSD. He passed away back on Nov. 4, 2019. He was 5he best GSD I ever had. In answer to one of your questions about anxiety, Yes your GSD knows you are the leader of the pack. You’re the ALPHA. he will follow you everywhere. My GSD followed me everywhere in the house. If I was laying down on the couch and he was laying on the floor, I decide to get up, he will immediately get up and follow you. My dog had a high separation anxiety problem. Even when I took him for rides. So it can be a common problem in these breeds of dogs. Remember, you are the ALPHA!

Merle dickey
January 2, 2020 10:38 pm

They are very loyal and they love to be around their owners .. Since you are taking care of her she may think of you as her new companion .. The chasing cars along your fence is not good ..if she got out she might chase cars if she is able to reach them .. When she does. Give her a stern command No!!And call her to you . Make her sit beside you snd if she starts to get up and chase the cars Again say No and make her sit still .. If she sits still and doesn’t chase . Pet her and say. Good girl ..Repeat this several times a day ….hopefully she will get the idea and stop ..Give her lots of love and affection when your in the house together .. They learn quickly when they realize They are loved and want to please you .. I have had GSDs since 1975 ..Several were trained for guard protection for my business ..Later trained them for search and rescue. And tracking .. The only bad thing is they need to be brushed several times a week .But they are worth it ….

To April L
December 23, 2019 5:39 pm

How old is GSD? Best to exercise dog first esp an older pup/dog so he will be a little tired… You have to learn to walk the dog. The dog should not pull you or lead. Short leash to keep it at your side or behind you(over time you will lengthen leash)..if it pulls or becomes interested in another dog, person, or semitruck, immediately turn a different direction or opposite direction and give a little yank(taught) to turn the dogs attention to follow you (collars and leashes are important items.i prefer pinch collars but it’s important you know how to use them) until the dog has responded then relax the leash again.i always include a grunt sound with tug..the dog soon learn to follow you as you are the pack leader. For good fast results it is up to you to distract the dog from chasing before he gets focused on a subject by a little tug,and/or change can then have him sit in a spot and where trucks and buses go buy and use the brief tug to keep him sitting if he shows signs. Also while walking start training him to stop and sit, I always used crosswalks for this so when the kids walk him he could teach them haha…….(I think if chasing is due to training the dogs intent would be to bring down whatever he chases which will not end well if it’s say,a bicyclist or skateboarder,etc)..Note: during walking don’t keep a taught leash, let it relax so the dog knows that when it’s relaxed he is doing good…Walking, exercising, and socializing is important and helps with anxiety (which is mostly boredom) the home the dog needs a space (pet bed anywhere dog can be still be close) if following you around house, (don’t acknowledge by making eye contact, scolding or petting. You can show him his bed and toys at first but still may want to be close which if lays near you calmly is up to you..Show him attention when he is calm and still… (Recommend deer antler). If he shows high anxiety when you return home or enter a room just turn your back to him until he is calm, once calm give him attention.dont let him inside until he sits waiting patiently. Turning your back to him, not making eye contact works for begging and jumping up on you as well. Consistency is key, everyone in the pack must be on the same page, my children even learned this at young ages and we’re amazed at how it works. I’m no expert but have done my research and have raised trouble free GSD’s (starting from a pup is easiest). Depending on the degree of your dogs issues it might be good to get a professional to help. (Chasing is a real bad thing) It’s a commitment you have to make to raise a good dog…remember it’s always easier to train after exercising..extra is include hand signals with commands for times of off leash, or distant commands, or deafness…for anything it’s worth I hope it works out..

December 22, 2019 8:40 am

It’s a natural instinct to chase anything that moves (cars,squirrels, cats).Mine does the same.They are natural herding dogs.
However, command training will keep them safe, especially when out in a less confined spaces.
Imagine your GSD chasing something in an unsafe environment, or getting lost trying to chase a deer into the bushes?
Commands enable you to restrain them or call them back when they get into an unsafe zone and you can’t see where they are.
In a backyard or fenced off area, it is okay.It also stimulates their minds.

Kathleen Iturrino
November 3, 2019 6:22 pm

I love the German Shepard breed. I loved my gsd’s madly. I wonder what has made the price of buying one so crazy! I read that so many are needing people to adopt them but never see any up for adopting. I would love to adopt a gsd. Where can I go?
Have looked at all the adoption/rescue websites. Any sugqqgestions where I can find a puppy that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. It would be in a very loving home.

Melissa Ray
December 30, 2019 2:54 am

Look up “GSD adoption groups” in ur area or within a distance u r willing to travel. Good luck.

December 23, 2019 10:05 am

Hi, I volunteer with a GSD rescue, and we do sometimes get puppies but obviously they get adopted quickly. I would recommend looking online for a rescue in your area and fill out an application and get approved for adoption, and let them know what you’re looking for. Sometimes a dog will come in and never even get posted on the website because we know there’s an approved adopter waiting for a dog just like this. The key is to complete the application process. A lot of people get frustrated that it takes so long, but we want to make sure it’s a perfect fit so the dog will truly have its forever home.

Kimberly Alt
November 4, 2019 12:45 pm

I’d suggest seeing if there are any GSD rescues in your area. You can also speak with local shelters. It can be difficult to find a pure breed GSD that doesn’t come at a high cost. They are a popular dog breed and isn’t commonly in need of a home because of its high demand.

October 27, 2019 3:03 pm

Question: Why does a GSD ears go down while in obedience training.

Kimberly Alt
October 28, 2019 1:08 pm
Reply to  Laura

Is your GSD a puppy? If so, the cartilage is still forming. A German Shepherd’s ears may go down while they are teething because the puppy’s body is using calcium to help the teeth and bones develop. After that, the ears should remain up permanently (typically after the dog is 20 weeks old).

October 13, 2019 1:38 pm

Although I had two border collies prior to owning a shepherd that I thought were the greatest, smartest, most amazing dogs on the planet, I am very pleased with my shepherd. It would have taken an extraordinary breed of dog for me to be happy with it vs the border collies, I truly am pleased with the GSD. My shepherd was bred and trained for personal protection work and I love her temperament, her work ethic, her beauty and her devotion, shepherds are not a dog for everyone. They are a magnificent breed although a bit hard on the vacuum cleaner.

Kimberly Alt
October 14, 2019 12:01 pm
Reply to  Carol

We completely agree, GSD’s are magnificent dogs! And yes, they can be hard to keep up with in regards to their shedding. If your vacuum is at the end of its life, you may find one of these vacuums for pet hair work excellent.

Kunal singh
September 10, 2019 7:07 am

Very excellent Dog With good loyalty.

June 26, 2019 1:29 am

They will die to please you and protect you , the best.

June 14, 2019 8:50 am

Articles like this make a generalization that all GSD’s are working dogs. Most of the typical GSDs sold as let’s in the USA are far removed from being a real working dog. They’ve been bred for show and or backyard breeding’s with no sound reasoning behind the breeding. There is a difference between a real working GSD breeding and your typical German Shepherd the neighbor has across the street

Michael Nark
November 16, 2019 7:01 pm
Reply to  Craig

Working “class” dog. I think the usage of the term isn’t meant for anything other than a direct correlation of the exercise they need

September 8, 2019 9:56 pm
Reply to  Craig

Can the working part of the dog really be bred out?

Zoa Rockenstein
September 9, 2019 6:12 pm
Reply to  Lupe

Yes, it can.

August 28, 2019 8:28 am
Reply to  Craig

Your very true. The shepherd I have is not very prey driven, laid back and he’s a outside dog who is very aloof and greets me with a wiggly body then goes and lays down away just far enough to keep an eye on what I’m up too. He’s not destructive in the least. He seriously watches my chickens peck the ground. Always happy to chill on the porches and greet visitors by simply staring at them. Of course the stare scares some people and others know he’s just looking to see what’s going on. He’d rather ride the golf cart than run even though he’s a young dog. I’ve never actually trained him to do anything because he’s pretty good at being a dog and nothing is expected of him. I had him since a puppy rescued from a backyard breeder that did not feed well or give basic vet care. He’s definitely not the stereotypical working breed that needs interaction and demanding physical stimuli described in the article.

Patti Carol
March 18, 2020 1:19 am
Reply to  Francesca

You should not have a dog no dog should live outside. Your GSD Should live In the house with the family. They need the warmth, love and human stimulation. Shame on you.

Michael Nark
November 16, 2019 7:02 pm
Reply to  Francesca

Lol sounds like more of a heinze 57

Nathaniel Ford
October 15, 2019 10:44 am
Reply to  Francesca

I have own six GSD and they all had different personalities, drive, and desires. My last Shepherd who passed away recently was by far the most intelligent, well tempered, and adjusted. He was not into vigorous exercising, he hated running with me, but love to walk and hike on trails. He loved mental stimulation centered around searching for things.

Ro Thom
September 10, 2019 7:42 am
Reply to  Francesca

It is cruel to have a dog that is not part of your family. They were bred to be companions to humans. It destroys their souls to isolate them outside. Maybe you should read the article again. You shouldn’t have a dog. There is no such thing as an “outside” dog.

May 29, 2019 10:32 am

Our first family dog was a GSD named Maximus, and my parents got him when I was three. He lived 12 years and we got another GSD less than a year later who sadly died from bone cancer about six years ago. I’ve lived with GSDs since I was a child and they’ve remained my favorite dog breed, but I’ve never owned one on my own. I know they’re very active animals, but I’m not sure how long they can go without a rest? I’m wanting to get my own GSD in the near future, but also want to make sure the dog I have would enjoy a four mile run several times per week, along with regular outdoor adventures.

October 13, 2019 1:40 pm
Reply to  Emily

Oh, they would! They love exercise. I mean they love it!

Zoa Rockenstein
September 9, 2019 6:14 pm
Reply to  Emily

Yes, but you would want to wait on those four mile runs until the puppy is about a year old.

Dawn Shaphin
May 17, 2019 10:05 pm

I love them because:
Loyal & intelligent.
8yrs old when I got my first one.
As an adult 1 German, 1 Belgium Malinois, & currently 2 mix shepherds.
Lost my German at 15 to DM, my Belgium at 7 to Hemangiosarcoma after beating LS.
I can tell you I have lost both my parents & the loss of these two baby boyz were the hardest loss in my life. It has been 5 & 3 yrs & not a day goes by I do not miss my sons. We did everything together, including riding a wave runner.
The 2 I currently have are sporting dogs, Rallly, Agility, Obedience, TDI, Nosework, CGC.
As you can see I have as an adult 20 years of Shepherds in my life. Once you have one and you understand them you will always have one.
I could talk about them & never find and end.
They become your life and I love them wholy.

Murrie Z
May 21, 2019 7:46 am
Reply to  Dawn Shaphin

I recently rescued a gs who is about a year old. He is very aggressive, and although I had shepherds in the past, never experienced one with so many behavior issues. He is a sweet loving animal to me, but no one else can come near him. I’m so frustrated I don’t know what to do. Any suggestions?

Merle dickey
January 3, 2020 1:30 am
Reply to  Murrie Z

He sounds like he needs to be socialized..Get him into obedience classes .. Around people and other dogs …Good luck …

Nathaniel Ford
October 15, 2019 10:50 am
Reply to  Murrie Z

Aggression in this breed can be traced back to little or no socialization with other dogs or humans as a puppy. Also, aggression is another sign that she lacks confidence and therefore uses aggression as a coping mechanism, you need to always be calm around her and whenever she is around other dogs and people. Slowly she will learn to trust and see that it is okay to relax and trust.

Zoa Rockenstein
September 9, 2019 6:36 pm
Reply to  Murrie Z

Temperament is inherited. Personality can be influenced by the owner up to 16 weeks of age. It is best to get a German Shepherd from a reputable breeder of show dogs. Most puppies from show parents are pet quality and are placed as pets. They are far superior to pets from backyard breeders. American show-line dogs are very different in temperament from German show-line and German working-line dogs. One is not intrinsically better than the other; it just depends on what you want and can handle. American bred dogs are more laid back. They are protective without being unduly aggressive. German-line dogs tend to be more high energy and aggressive because these qualities are required in the sports in which they participate. These sports require the dog to attack and bite people, hopefully under the control of the handler. Breeders want to win, so the breed for the qualities that winners need to possess. American bred show dogs compete in sports that do not require aggression such as obedience, herding, agility, rally, and scent work. Show breeders do extensive health testing on their breeding stock. They also do temperament testing. They are knowledgeable about the genetic background of their puppies with regard to health and temperament. When you get a gsd from rescue, there is no way to know any of these things. The most common reason that gsds are surrendered to rescue is poor temperament, not shedding as the article says. Serious health issues, like hip dysplasia are also among the main reasons for surrender. Some rescue people believe that any dog with a behavior problem can be rehabilitated. This is not true. If the aggression is a function of inherited temperament, no amount of training will ever make that dog truly trustworthy. Such a dog can be dangerous. I would return it to the shelter. While this may be a heartbreaking decision, it beats having to put the dog down and/or getting sued and/or losing your home owner’s insurance because the dog bit someone.

Merle dickey
January 3, 2020 1:36 am

I have had 3 german line GSDs and they were tops in their obedience and tracking classes ..No aggression what so ever .. They loved to work .But they were loved and played with every day …

Nathaniel Ford
October 15, 2019 3:07 pm

I agree with a lot of what you posted on this subject, where I would pushback some on the rescue dog explanation. My late GSD was a purebred from a rescue organization and he was by far the smartest, most well behave, and sociable out of the six GSD I have owned. The breed requires the person to have experience working this type of dog, or they must be willing to put in the work to create the type of GSD they desire. This is why they end up in kill shelters and rescues because too many people get the dog and aren’t willing to put in the work, and don’t think about how big that cute little puppy is going to get.

Michael A Nosal
September 13, 2019 11:44 am

My two GSDs had puppies, and while I am not a show dog breeder, the puppies we had all have the BEST temperaments. Each of the owners of these pups marvel on how well behaved and loving they are.

That has to do with me never truly leaving the side of them.and their mother from the day they were born until they went to their forever homes. I laid in the whelping box with them when the momma needed a break.

You can be a “professional” breeder, but if you do not treat the pups with attention and affection from birth to adoption, then you will have subpar animals.

Marlo M
June 23, 2019 6:30 pm
Reply to  Murrie Z

It sounds like your dog needs socialization with people and animals at the least. If you’re out of ideas it might be time to hire a trainer to help you get some direction and progress. A trainer that uses TBTE methods would probably be good in this situation.

Anna Maria Iannetta
March 27, 2019 10:46 pm

My female german shepherd lived over 18 years plus, almost 19, she died from a stroke!!! Miss her ♥️

Zoa Rockenstein
September 9, 2019 6:38 pm

Wow! That is a long life for a German Shepherd! You took excellent care of her. So sorry about your loss.

Kiki Andrade
March 25, 2019 6:19 pm

My 2 YO is alive because of my old GSD Leo. His mother was in the initial stages of a grand mal seizure. I was in the “doghouse”(couch) after an evening argument. When Leo started to lick my face while I was listening. Licking turned to whining, whining turned to out of excessive barking until I got up. He kept going into the room and returning to the living room until I followed him. That’s when I realized my pregnant girlfriend was beginning to convulse. Got her and the dog followed me into the car. Doc said a full blown seizure could’ve triggered a miscarriage. It was a shame I had to part ways with him. But, I will forever be grateful to him every time I see my boy.

Michael A Nosal
September 13, 2019 11:47 am
Reply to  Kiki Andrade

Why did you part ways? Unless he died, that dog would have been that boy’s protector its whole life.

March 6, 2019 10:51 pm

I love how they always want to make you happy inner definitely smart and learn tricks very quick. Not to mention that they’re almost the same speed as a second fastest dog breed on Earth the English Whip It.

Linda Boone
February 21, 2019 11:43 am

I love them for how smart they are. I also love the breed my favorite and most how loyal and loving they are to their faimly.

Heidi C Hausmann
February 5, 2019 4:01 am

As an Animal Advocate and Canine Rescue for 3 decades I have helped save 658 dogs. In recent years, I have focused on German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois because so many are sadly misunderstood and killed in our shelters today.
This Breed is intelligent, loyal, resilient and beautiful. I hope and pray to rescue many more

January 15, 2020 1:48 pm

Good for you. I own three shepards a standard poodle and a rather loyal but not super smart cockrr spaniel. I don’t breed anything but all our dogs live with myself and my two daughters. They go most places with us and are generally socialized daily. That being said one of our Shepard females refuses to be kindly towards strangers. She was taken out and socialized since she came home at 8 weeks. Her full sister greets everyone with a wagging tail and happy demeanor whether its human or animal. Wynter greets everyone with bared teeth and aggression. I think that owner tempermant also plays a role. My younger daughter walks through the world with complete confidence and her dog is totally stable. Her sister is confident but would rather be a people pleaser. I think her dog is aggressive because she isn’t the alpha the dog is.

Linda Boone
January 28, 2019 10:49 pm

I love the breed becouse they are very intelagent love learning are very loyal and are so beautiful. I have one that’s 21 month’s old named marley named after bob marley I teach him how to count ill say bring me 2 boonies saying 1,2 showing my fingers on camand I love teaching him new thing’s all the time he’s my dog and I love him very much he’s my very first german shepherd I ever had and as a child I alway’s wanted one. We take alout of walk’s and play he’s my best friend.

Ann Casselman
January 24, 2019 4:07 pm

I have had my German Shepherd for 8 years and yes she pushes my buttons and insists on play time. I recently had to retrain her after an eye cyst operation. I find Lucky Dog on Saturday mornings is amazing for training tips. The show shows how a dog is rescued and trained for placement in the home. It has been very effective for my needs and you may be pleasantly surprised…and it is free.

January 6, 2019 12:17 am

We have a 5 month old male & a 4 year old female, both are great with are grandson. The pup is a little more socialable, the female has working a generation of working K-9 in her. They due require a little more care and work, such as grooming, exercise, and training. You do need to deal with a reputable breeder who watches the genetics and does selective breeding, the extra cost is worth it.

Zoa Rockenstein
September 9, 2019 6:40 pm
Reply to  John

Thank you for supporting reputable, preservation breeders!