German Shepherds are an incredibly loving, intelligent breed of dog and are the ideal pet for active families. They love being with people and are generally extremely eager to please their human companions.
Because they are so easily trained, are intensely loyal and very smart, they are used by many police and military forces throughout the world for tasks ranging from drug control and land mine eradication to criminal apprehension.
They are also a very good dog for search and rescue work, and are used extensively for this in may parts of the World. Their ability in this field is renowned, and many accident and earthquake victims owe their lives to the search and rescue abilities of the German shepherd dog.
As far as I can tell, a gentleman named Captain Max von Stephanitz originated the breed somewhere between 1890 and 1910. His aim was to breed an all-purpose working dog that was easily trained and had excellent stamina. He achieved his goal and the breed is widely admired today for these and many other endearing qualities.
The German shepherd dog has a powerful bite and immensely strong teeth, making them a fearsome assailant when sent to attack an intruder and not the sort of animal you want to find between you and the door as you exit a building you have just burgled…
Many criminals have found themselves on the wrong side of a German shepherd bite, much to their dismay. Of course, they probably deserved it, but it’s not a nice thought, all the same.
They won’t suit everyone however, because they love challenging things to do and plenty of exercise. If you want a dog to share outdoor activities like hiking, walking and climbing with you, then a German shepherd could be a perfect choice.
But there are pitfalls that you will need to watch out for
A German shepherd in your family will require a lot of your time and careful training, otherwise you have a potential time bomb on your hands. They require daily exercise, they can want to jump all over you and your guests in their excitement, especially when they are still young, and can be aggressive towards other animals.
They shed lots of hair every day, which can be a problem if they are allowed inside your home. It’s amazing just how much hair can come off a shepherd, and they just keep growing more…
When walking, they can want to chase anything that moves, such as other walkers or people jogging, children, bicycles and cars, so you need to be aware of this and take caution when around other people.
And finally, they can be a source of legal liability if they accidentally bite somebody, who then sues you for damages (of course, any dog has the potential to do this, but German shepherds can look threatening, so the risk can be just that little bit higher).
So there are many positives and negatives to weigh up before taking the plunge and buying one of these wonderful dogs. Take your time and select yours carefully. The problem with buying a puppy is that they have no history. You don’t know what sort of dog he or she will grow up to be.
For this reason, many first time German shepherd owners opt for an older dog who has proven to be quiet, obedient and not prone to any phobias or behavioural problems.
Checking out the credentials of the breeder are very important – some dogs are bred on what are called ‘Puppy Farms’. These are Businesses that simply exist to breed puppies for sale at a profit, with no regard to the quality of the dogs produced, or the damage they are doing to the bloodline of the breed.
Avoid these places like the plague!
Always buy your German shepherd puppy from a recognized breeder, or if you buy yours from a pet shop, check out where they buy their puppies from. By doing so, you can help minimize the damage to the breed and hopefully put these money hungry mass producers out of Business.
There are three major lines of German shepherd:
- The North American Show Dog
- The International Show Dog
- The International Working Dog
There are many different opinions of which line is the ‘true’ German shepherd, but the majority of owners simply want to forget about the politics and enjoy the company of their canine companions.
German shepherds have an average lifespan of between 10 and 12 years as long as they are well fed, exercised and generally looked after. They make wonderful family pets, love children once they get to know them, and as mentioned above usually do very well in obedience and training competitions.
All in all, a German shepherd puppy or dog will make a wonderful addition to just about any family. They are overtly affectionate, and love to ‘talk’ when greeting their owners in the morning or on their return home from an outing.
They can have a tendency to bark, but a few weeks use of an electronic or citronella bark collar or some intense, loving training can minimize this.
They don’t like being cramped up in a small yard, although if you have the time for daily walks, plus give them interesting exercises and tasks to perform, that should satisfy their need to run and play.
Be careful not to overfeed your shepherd, as they will eat as much as you put in front of them – they simply don’t understand the meaning of moderation when it comes to gobbling down their food…they can eat so quickly that it’s frightening to watch, so you’d better not try and take away her food bowl once she’s started eating out of it…
Choose the name for your German shepherd puppy carefully, you can refer to our German shepherd names article.
I hope this brief introduction to German shepherds has helped you understand the breed a little more.
In summary, if you are looking for a loyal, intelligent, easily trained dog that will protect you and your property, then a German shepherd would have to be at or near the top of your list.
If you don’t have the time to spend keeping your dog active and entertained, then this breed is probably not for you.