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Is a German Shepherd Dog Right for You?

        
          

Following the success of Rumor, the German Shepherd Dog that won Best in Show at the 2017 Westminster Dog Show, German Shepherd puppy purchases will be on the rise this year.  Is a German Shepherd Dog right for you?

Temperament
The German Shepherd Dog (GSD) is commonly used for police, military, and guard-dog work.  Therefore, this breed is described as “self-assured.”  GSDs are also curious, intelligent, obedient, and highly protective.  Like most working dogs, German Shepherds thrive on having a job to do.

Size, Coloring, and Upkeep
German Shepherds are large dogs, with males weighing 66 – 88 lbs and females weighing 49 – 71 lbs.  Males are 24 – 26’’ at the shoulder, while females are slightly smaller, standing 22 – 24’’ tall.  One of the most distinctive characteristics of the GSD is its black and tan coat.  However, the American Kennel Club recognizes 11 colors, including black, back and cream, black and silver, blue, gray, liver, sable, white, and black and cream.  Potential owners of German Shepherds should know that this breed sheds heavily, thanks to its thick double coat.

Other Pets?
When properly socialized German Shepherds get along well with other dogs.  Some GSDs are cat chasers, so cat socialization from a young age is important.  Without socialization, GSDs can be highly aggressive towards other dogs.

Children?
The German Shepherd Dog can get along well with children – and indeed is a great family dog – when properly trained and socialized.  This breed can become overly protective of the family, and must be taught proper behavior around strangers.

Training
German Shepherds are highly intelligent dogs that are eager to learn and please.  They excel in Obedience, Agility, Schutzhund, Tracking, and Search and Rescue.  However, without proper training your GSD might not respect you, which can lead to a number of behavioral problems.

Feeding
German Shepherd Dogs are highly prone to bloat, so feeding must be done carefully.  This breed requires smaller feedings throughout the day, which should not occur immediately before or after exercise.  Food and water bowls should not be elevated, and GSD owners should know the signs and symptoms of bloat, as well as contact information for an emergency veterinarian.

Exercise
Vigorous, daily exercise is a necessity for German Shepherd Dogs.  This breed makes a wonderful walking, running, or hiking partner.  Mental stimulation is also necessary, and many owners find that daily Agility or Obedience drill sessions help to keep GSDs from becoming bored.  Without proper exercise and mental stimulation, the German Shepherd Dog can be highly destructive.

Health
If purchasing a German Shepherd Dog, it is important to find a responsible breeder who has full documentation of the health of the parents. German Shepherds are prone to numerous health issues, including hip dysplasia, spinal stenosis, ear infections, degenerative myelopathy, and exocrine pancreatic insufficiency.  Additionally, German Shepherds may be predisposed to developing cognitive disorders as they age that result in aggression.  Never purchase a GSD from a backyard breeder, as health and temperament problems are especially high.  The average life span for a healthy German Shepherd Dog is 11 years.

 

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Anna Weber

Anna Weber

As a life-long dog owner and animal lover I have dedicated my adult life to rescuing and fostering dogs, particularly seniors and behaviorally at-risk animals.I believe that nearly every animal can be rehabilitated with love, kindness, training, and proper exercise.
Anna Weber

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