Dog Breeds – German Shepherd

German Shepherd with PupIs a German Shepherd the right dog for you?

In the right family there is no dog more loyal and loving than a German Shepherd. Though famous for their working ability in many fields, they are equally suited to being as much-loved family dog.

German Shepherd MilitaryWorking Line German Shepherds

When purchasing your German Shepherd bear in mind that dogs from a working line are bred for work and serious competition. Whether as a police or rescue dog, protection, schutzhund or military dog these dogs may be highly trainable but they are also intense and strong-willed.

Without appropriate training and ample mental and physical stimulation a working line dog can become neurotic and unpredictable – even aggressive. They do not make a good choice as a non-working family dog.


German Shepherd as a Family Companion

There is no question that the right GSD, also called an Alsatian in the UK, makes a stellar family dog. Loyal, noble, and intelligent, this is a dog that will follow you to the ends of the earth – if he finds you worthy of his loyalty.

German Shepherd puppyGerman Shepherd as Puppies

German Shepherd puppies are unbearable cute. They go through various stages on their journey to adulthood, from fluffy ball of  gorgeousness to gangly awkwardness on their journey to adulthood. Along the way they will make you laugh with their clumsy antics and try your patience with their adolescent defiance until sometime around his second birthday you realize that the cute, quirky pup you brought home is now all growed up.

It is important to bear the powerful adult that your baby will become in mind as you play, train and interact with your puppy GSD. Behaviors that might be cute in a little bundle of fluff will not be so funny from a 35-40 kilo. So, unless you really want an excited mess of  teeth and dog breath in your face every time you come home, start practicing four feet on the floor early.

The Curse of Rin Tin Tin

Their good looks, intelligence and athletic ability make German Shepherds natural movie stars. From starring acts like Rin Tin Tin, Rebel and Lewis in James Belushi’s K9 to playing important supporting roles in I Am Legend and Beverley Hills Chihuahua, German Shepherds have enriched movie and TV history.

Choosing a Reputable Breeder

Unfortunately the general health of a breed tends to be in exact opposition to its popularity. When a breed achieves publicity through a movie or a famous owner (Obama- Portuguese Water Dog, Paris Hilton -Chihuahua, 101 Dalmatians – Dalmatian) then the demands for puppies of that breed rises. Unethical backyard breeders lurch into action, churning out litter after litter with no regard to breeding for health and temperament.

This popularity of the German Shepherd breed makes it extra important that you do your homework. If you are looking for a purebred puppy then seek out a reputable breeder in your area. A good breeder does not want their precious dog going to a bad home so he or she will ask you a raft of questions about your experience with dogs, your home environment, whether the dog will be left alone all day, whether the dog is intended for show, competition as a family dog and so on.

Any seller who is willing to part with a pup for cold hard cash is not a reputable breeder and you are taking a chance on bringing home a ticking timebomb of hip dysplasia  and temperament issues.

Training the German Shepherd

A fully grown, well trained German Shepherd is joy to all who knows him. An untrained adult German Shepherd on the other hand can be a terror to behold. 35 kilos of pulling on the lead, dog aggression and unpredictability is not a pleasant experience for anyone – least of all the dog who is only acting out because he was not taught what to do with his strength and brain power.

Intelligent as they are, most GSDs are quick on the uptake. They will pick up house training and basic dog obedience well depending often on their own willingness to learn. Having got these basics in hand however, continue channeling his quick mind through training and active play throughout the dog’s life to prevent destructive behavior caused by boredom and anxiety.

Coat and Grooming

German Shepherds shed. A lot. Unless you brush out loose hair and vacuum a couple of times a week you are going to find that you brush up enough dog hair to knit another dog. As if this was not already enough to put off the extremely house-proud, GSD’s also blow their coat twice a year. At this time you will gather enough hair to knit another dog in one sitting.

Grooming a German Shepherd is made much easier by using the right tools. Although more expensive than other brushes there really is nothing to match the Furminator and the video below shows just how much hair comes off the lovely Dunder in one sitting using a Furminator brush.

German Shepherd Health and Wellness

As discussed above, over-breeding by unscrupulous breeders has greatly increased the incidence of genetic disease in the German Shepherd. Hip and elbow displasia, degenerative myelopathy, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency and many more diseases are common in poorly bred German Shepherds.

In an attempt to eradicate these diseases reputable breeders will not allow a dog with a genetic disease in its lineage to breed. It is extremely unlikely that the parents of the pup you buy from a pet shop puppy mill has had any of this type of screening.



German Shepherd Rescue


German Shepherd Rescue – Rehoming adult dogs and pups across the UK
Vigil GSD Rescue – No kill shelter based in London


German Shepherd Rescue and Adoptions
South California German Shepherd Rescue

If you have welcomed a rescue GSD into your home, please share your story with other readers of Four Legged Friends. Leave a comment below and I will get in touch.