Is the GSD the right breed for you?
I have included these pages in my website with the hopes that they will help you make an educated decision in whether or not a German Shepherd is for you. This is a decision not to be entered into lightly. This will be the beginning of a 10-12 year relationship. This can be the most rewarding time of your life or the most stressful. This is not a breed that will spend it's time by the fireplace waiting for you to come home, without proper attention and training they will find ways to entertain themselves. I can speak from experience here. When I bought Lance I was not prepared for a working shepherd. I took him everywhere, until one day I had to leave him at home. I thought, oh, he will be ok! NOT!! I came home to find my den completely rearranged, no I don't mean he moved the furniture around, I mean he gave it a whole new shape!!! He made himself a really nice CAVE in my sofa. Now not to discourage you, I would not have taken a million dollars for that dog. However, he has taught me a great deal about this breed. This is where I can't express enough that the Extra Large dog crate will be your best friend. My dogs don't care for the wire crates, but prefer the large plastic ones, they will even lay in them when they are resting, it makes a great CAVE, much better than leaving them to make their own. I hope with the information included in this site that I can help you be prepared for your new relationship.
So here is where you ask the question:
Is a German Shepherd right for me?
Do you have the time necessary to devote to a GSD? Dogs are dependent creatures and depend totally upon you for their care and well being. There are many elements necessary for your GSD to be a happy and healthy pet, all requiring YOUR time and effort.
General care - much like any dog, GSDs require regular grooming including bathing, brushing (coat and teeth), administering monthly heartworm and flea preventative and annual trips to the vet.
Exercise - do not expect that your GSD will give himself enough exercise wandering around in the backyard by himself. GSDs require regular daily exercise. Otherwise they will become bored and destructive, jumping fences and digging holes, etc.
Training - do not expect a GSD to learn how to properly behave in a home without training. GSD's are BIG dogs with high energy and prey drive. Training, along with proper socialization, is absolutely essential to ensure a well behaved GSD.
Family Time - it's important to take the time to make your GSD part of your family. Snuggle with him, include him on family outings, give him the attention he deserves.
Did you choose a GSD for the right reasons? Are you looking strictly for a guard dog? While GSDs do make excellent watchdogs this is the WRONG reason to own a dog! If you intend to keep your GSD chained in the yard with little human interaction, please do not own one. Dogs are social animals and require love and attention just as humans do. Otherwise you will end up with a broken, miserable animal. All dogs deserve a better fate.
Are you looking for a companion or playmate for your children? This alone is not a good reason to own a GSD or any dog. While GSDs can be great with children given proper training, do not expect to leave a GSD with small children unsupervised. GSDs are large, powerful dogs and children under 12 have not yet developed the judgment necessary to treat animals respectfully. If you have small children, expect to watch all dog/child interactions very closely. Also, it is unfair to expect a small child to take on the responsibility of caring for a dog. It may be a great learning experience for a child to HELP with caring for a dog, but the ultimate responsibility remains with YOU.
Are you looking for a loyal companion and beloved family member? The very best reason to own a GSD! Bringing a GSD into your heart and home can be a truly rewarding experience for your entire family.
Are you able to make a long term commitment to a GSD? This is an important consideration before deciding to own ANY dog. GSDs have a life expectancy of 10-12 years. Be prepared to honor a commitment to the dog for the remainder of its life. The unconditional love and devotion you will receive deserves nothing less.
Does your long term housing situation make it viable to own a GSD? Is your current housing situation stable enough for a GSD? Do you own your home? If not, does your landlord agree to allow a big dog such as a GSD share your living quarters? Do you have adequate space, including a completely fenced yard for a large dog such as a GSD? What about your neighbors? Will they tolerate a large dog with a large bark?
Do you anticipate a move in the coming years? "We're moving" is a common reason dogs are dumped in shelters. If you are expecting a move, please give serious consideration to getting a dog, unless you are certain you will be able to take your dog with you.
Are you a strong leader? Do NOT expect a GSD to respond to your commands if you are a weak leader. A strong minded dog can end up running your household if you do not use patient and fair discipline.
Are you looking for a dog that will be gentle with all living creatures? GSDs have hunting instincts, and squirrels, rabbits and cats fall into the category of "things to be hunted for fun", if not trained to the contrary.
Are you comfortable with a little dog hair? GSDs shed heavily, particularly in the summer months. If you are a meticulous housekeeper consider if you want to spend a little more time vacuuming or dealing with fur bunnies.
If you answered 'no' to any of these questions, you should reconsider your decision to own a German Shepherd Dog. Maybe this just isn't the right time in your life for a dog, or maybe another breed would be more suitable for you. You owe it to yourself and the dog to make the right decision, the RESPONSIBLE decision.