THE BREED

German Shepherd Dogs (GSDs) are among those that most wind up in rescue. That is to say there are more homeless, abandoned or unwanted GSDs than most other breeds worldwide. Sad, but true. Unfortunately we see staggering numbers being euthanized daily or simply abandoned. The lucky ones are rehomed, but not nearly enough to stem the tide. It stands to reason, therefore, that we ask you to read the following and make sure, first and foremost, that this is, indeed, the right breed for you and your current lifestyle.

There is considerable variation within our breed with respect to type (structure) and temperament. Each of these dogs is so much an individual that one size cannot and will not fit all. Lack of research frequently results in mismatches; wrong type of GSD for an individual or family, unrealistic expectations and general misconceptions about the level of commitment required to share one's life with a GSD. German Shepherds are not the easiest, but most certainly the most versatile breed. They typically are not mellow nor are they easy keepers.

  • All German Shepherd Dogs require ongoing mental and physical stimulation, as well as HUMAN COMPANIONSHIP, SOCIALIZATION AND TRAINING.

    This is not a breed to be left out in the yard, away from its family, isolated or deprived of touch or attention. GSDs are not couch potatoes and they will insist on interacting with their person or family. They will not thrive as a kennel or backyard dog. If left outside, even for just while you are away at work, any number of behavioral issues will result. They range from, but are not limited to, digging, barking, separation anxiety, fear aggression, jumping and bolting, destructive behavior and an overly defensive/protective posture with both people and other pets.

    These dogs need to be exposed to the outside world, strangers, strange dogs, the movement and noises associated with being away from home, as well as, at the very least, basic obedience training. Regular exercise and activity is a must. German Shepherds are all about interacting with their people and being with their person. While degree varies, this is a working breed.

    This equates to TIME, SACRIFICE AND COMMITMENT on the owner's part.

  • All German Shepherd Dogs shed year round and "blow" their coat twice a year. If you are finicky about dust bunnies or hair on your clothes or furniture, perhaps a non-shedding breed would be more suitable for you.

  • German Shepherds are naturally protective of their family and territory and bond for life. They are extremely loyal, hence the decision to adopt a GSD should not be made on impulse. Without proper training and socialization, they can become either a "loaded gun" or extremely timid and fearful.

  • German Shepherds are sometimes aloof with or suspicious of strangers and are seldom submissive with other dogs.

  • GSDs tend to be more gender specific than most other breeds; that is to say they are more apt to get along with the opposite sex. Putting 2 males or two females in the same home could spell trouble even if they get along initially. If not well socialized they can often become dog aggressive with any strange dogs.

  • German Shepherds do not respond well to being left alone for excessive periods of time. They are high energy dogs that enjoy having a job to do or otherwise staying busy. Their mind needs as much exercise as their body does.

  • Although it can sometimes work, generally speaking, GSDs do not make good "pack" dogs as in multi-dog households. They tend to compete for attention and they require lots of individual time with their person which is seldom available when there are lots of other dogs in the home. This can be a demanding breed and 'lack of time' (for them) is the number one reason they are in need of a new home.

  • We also discourage adoptions to families with small dogs and other small mammals for obvious safety reasons. Not all of our rescued dogs have been exposed to small animals while in foster care or with their previous owners. While initial meetings could go well, this does not guarantee compatibility after they have shared a residence for a period of time. There always exists an element of risk with German Shepherd Dogs living with much smaller, toy breeds, or very active small mammals, even after living together for years.

  • Some with higher drive levels were bred to work and must have a job, or the relationship will fail.

  • There are significant differences between the various genetic lines: West German show lines, West German working lines, East German show and working lines, Czech, Dutch, American, American show lines and backyard bred dogs all differ in terms of their original purpose. The average companion dog owner, for example, is not likely to want a German Shepherd out of lines bred with the intention of pursuing Schutzhund, bomb detection or border patrol.

  • Contrary to popular belief, GSDs are extremely sensitive, emotional dogs and most stress easily. They are all about being with you.

  • All German Shepherd Dogs require extensive and ongoing socialization, beginning in puppyhood, and training beyond puppy classes.

  • The GSD rarely becomes a Canine Good Citizen all by itself...you get out what you put in.

  • GSD puppies are a full time job, and they are puppies until they are two years old.

    It is a widely held belief that if you get a very young puppy it can be "molded" to your existing household thereby assuring a strong bond and success within your pack. This is particularly prevalent in families with children. In reality, there is ALWAYS an element of risk with ANY puppy; you will not know what you really have with respect to health and core temperament until that dog is mature. Bringing a puppy up from an early age does not guarantee a good fit. In general, German Shepherd Dogs of any age acclimate very well to new environments in which their needs are met.

  • Many people contact us believing that, because they are on acreage or a ranch, they have the ideal environment for a German Shepherd Dog. GSDs do not need 2000+sf homes nor do they need acres to run on. They want to be with and be active with YOU, they want their physical exercise to include either you or a job. Very few GSDs do well around livestock; they are herders. If you have horses, fowl, pigs, goats, sheep, etc. PLEASE rethink your breed choice. We cannot count the number of German Shepherds that have been relinquished because they cannot peacefully coexist in such a setting. If you don't have livestock but think your GSD will be content to run around on acres of land and you don't do it WITH THEM, they will often take to chasing and possibly killing small game such as prairie dogs, rabbits and then cats.

  • Folks in their 60's to 80's are all different, as are their lifestyles, health and activity levels. Generally speaking, however, we prefer not to place very young German Shepherd Dogs or puppies with the elderly. We ask that you seriously consider the dog's needs and be realistic as to how well you are able to fulfill them. Please give thought to any physical challenges, as well as your ability to accommodate the dog's need for exercise, training and socialization. What might have worked very well in the past may not be quite the same now. Life changes occur more frequently as we age. Keeping the dog's best interest in mind usually results in a successful placement. The majority of younger German Shepherds require more than just walks in the neighborhood. Mature dogs, however, might be more closely matched to your activity level and schedules along with less disruption to your routine which generally equates to a happier owner and dog.

AND FINALLY:

  • German Shepherds can be expensive to own...can you afford one?

  • Are you prepared to provide any necessary medical care in the event of illness or injury? What about regular ongoing vet check-ups, shots, blood work, treats and food or grooming?

  • GSDs are not the healthiest breed due to over breeding; that is to say that they are prone to many breed specific conditions. You might wish to consider purchasing pet insurance.

  • Then there's the necessary training which, if you start out right, does not have to be expensive however, good successful training does come with a cost.

  • Most importantly, TIME. Again, GSDs will demand a considerable amount of it, so if you work long hours, have several young children or other pets or are responsible for elder care of a loved one, and a job as well, will you really have the time they need and deserve?
  • Your older kids can certainly be proactive with the family dog but in the end, YOU are the responsible adult..we receive many re-homing requests from folks stating that, "it is my son or daughter's dog but he or she has lost interest or cannot handle this dog"

    We do not wish to discourage you from adopting a GSD, quite the contrary. We simply want to educate so that the GSD you do adopt will spend its' natural life with you.

    IF YOU THINK YOU HAVE THE TIME & ENERGY FOR A GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG, YOU WILL FIND NO BETTER, SMARTER, OR MORE DEVOTED COMPANION.

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