German Shepherd Dogs (GSDs) are not for everyone.
To help you make sure a German Shepherd is the right dog for your family,
PLEASE READ and consider this information carefully before you go any further.
Most German Shepherds are not for the faint of heart. They take time, training, more time, and more training. You have to be able to bond with, train, and control these dogs, or they will take things on for themselves. When we say control, we don't mean beat, abuse, or "Alpha roll" the dog. We mean providing calm, firm, confident leadership and bonding with the dog in a such way that he respects you. This is developed through training, both in traditional obedience and in "manners." Even though each Shepherd has it's own temperament and personality, it can vary from one extreme to the other, or can be somewhere in the middle. In many cases, there must be at least one person in the family that can be a strong leader. Not someone who is loud, harsh, or demanding, but someone who is mature, calm, confident, firm, and fair in all areas of treatment of the dog. Dogs in general, but especially GSDs, need leadership. And by being a fair leader, you will earn their respect, trust, and undying loyalty.
Even though they may be the same breed and have the same basic characteristics you may read about in a book, they each still have their own "personality" that defines the kind of dog they are. Some of our rescued dogs have that "aloofness" you may have heard or read about, and they very well may not run up to greet you with open arms on their first meeting. Others may almost knock you over with the friendliness and excitement of meeting a new person. Even the ones that are "aloof" will become your very best friend after they've gotten to know you. It's all a matter of the "kind" of GSD you're looking for and are experienced enough to manage.
You will read below about exercise. Believe it or not, not EVERY GSD requires a lot of exercise. Do most? Yes! But there are some that are perfectly happy being a 100% house dog and only taking a stroll to the mailbox once a day. Others need a jogging partner to keep them relaxed...and the family content and happy. So there really is a variety of GSD temperaments and personalities. You need to decide what you're wanting or expecting in a dog before adopting. And once you do decide to adopt, rely on our insight and experience to guide you to the dogs we believe will be the best match.
There are few breeds that make a better companion for you or your family than a German Shepherd. If you have educated yourself (and we encourage you to read everything you can get your hands on about the breed) and if treated as a member of the family, one thing becomes clear—German Shepherds are loyal to the end and will be your family's constant companion.
This is one of the reasons why we only adopt to homes that allow the dog to "live" with them inside the home, and do not adopt to "outside only" homes. After a very short time, you can expect the dog to follow you everywhere, lay were you are, never letting you get out of eye sight. Don't expect to even go to the rest room alone again after getting your Shepherd!
NEVER EVER leave a child unattended with ANY dog, regardless of breed or size. It is your responsibility as a parent to supervise your child's interaction with your dog at all times. Children will be children, and dogs will be dogs. Kids and dogs just seem to naturally go together, and most dog-loving adults want their children to grow up having a dog to love and to love them. But please remember how IMPORTANT it is to RESPECT the DOG'S NATURE and it's SPACE. This is also one of the most important times to remember that your dog is NOT a human, nor does it think like one. We strongly recommend taking your dog to obedience training. That way, you, the dog, and your children can learn more about the dog's personality and it's temperament.
NOTHING can be more rewarding than you and your dog going once a week for a few hours to obedience training. Learning together as a team will create a stronger relationship, a closer bond, and enduring loyalty. If you've never taken a dog through training, we promise you it will be one of the best experiences you'll ever have with your dog.
Can it be trying? You bet!!! Can it be frustrating? Yes!!!
Will your dog embarrass you? Count on it! But the pay off is, not only will your dog learn from this, but YOU will learn more about your dog in those few short weeks that you may ever learn in the dog's lifetime. Most of all, you will learn how much you didn't know about having a well-behaved pet, and how easy it really is once you learn how!
What can we tell you about socializing your German Shepherd? Do it! This is one of the key elements to teaching your dog good manners and to be accepting of those that you accept. In many situations, this is the only true behavior issue we see in rescued dogs. The previous owner stuck the dog in the back yard and forgot about him or just went out to feed him once or twice a day and maybe play fetch a few times a week. The dog never learned anything outside of that fence. Or the previous owner got this cute little puppy and before they knew it, it grew into an 85 pound dog and they never once considered how intelligent and, yes... hard-headed, some GSDs can be. More than likely, the owner had not taken the time to educate themselves about the breed and never considered that most GSD (owners) need to attend at least basic obedience training.
Most German Shepherds are athletic dogs with a high energy level. They like running, playing, chasing balls, jumping hurdles, and many other activities. They enjoy having a "job" to do and love nothing more than working for their rewards. This is why they are such a versatile breed, excelling in obedience, herding, retrieving, agility, or service work. It's also why it's important to make sure they get exercise--both for the mind and the body! Without it, they can become frustrated and potentially destructive.
Working obedience with your dog on a daily basis (even the couch potato variety!) and giving the dog a physical and mental work-out will direct the Shepherd's energy and make for a much happier dog (and you!). A 10-minute "mind" work-out (basic house manners/obedience), playing in the back yard, or just going for a stroll around the block can do wonders for behavior and releasing energy. Afterwards, many are ready to lay down and relax with the family. Others will need a longer and more focused workout each day.
German Shepherd Dogs shed... A LOT. With its double coat...you've got twice the hair. Twice a year, you can expect your German Shepherd to "blow" their coat. Expect to have to vacuum several times a week during this time. Brushing your dog a few times a week will cut down on finding hair in your carpet, furniture, and clothing, but expect hair to still be found throughout most of your home and in places you may have missed, as dust puppies can wander!
Most German Shepherds reach their full growth at 3 years of age. Most obtain their life-long height by the time they are 2 years old, but may put on more muscle mass, depending on genetics, nutrition, and the amount and kind of exercise the they get. Most adult female German Shepherds weigh 60-80 pounds and will reach a height of 22-24 inches. Males normally weigh 70-90 pounds, reaching a height of 24-26 inches. Much depends on genetics, how they were cared for by their previous owner, and how you care for them now. It is VERY unhealthy for a German Shepherd Dog to become overweight. You should be able to lightly press on your dog's side and feel his ribs.
There will be an adjustment period when you first bring your dog home. For more information about what to expect and how to deal with it, read about how to handle the adjustment period.