To Adopt A German Shepherd Dog?
German Shepherd Dogs (GSDs) are
the number one breed in rescue. That is to say there are more homeless,
abandoned or unwanted GSDs than any other breed in the world. Sad, but
true. Unfortunately we see staggering numbers being euthanized daily or
simply abandoned. The lucky ones are re-homed, 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. These issues 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 & 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
- 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.
- 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 believe 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.