German Shepherd dog sitting on the ground outside

Do German Shepherds Make Good Pets?

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Are you considering getting a German Shepherd for a family pet? German Shepherds are a popular breed due to their playfulness, intelligence, loyalty, and protective instincts. However, before bringing a German Shepherd home, you need to know the answer to the question: ‘Do German Shepherds make good pets?’

German Shepherds are large, strong, and active dogs that need lots of daily exercise, both physical and mental. They were originally bred as working dogs for livestock herding and protection and have a strong instinct to herd and protect their adoptive human family. 

This is not the breed for you if you’re looking for a lap dog or a low-maintenance couch potato pet. But, if you are active and you enjoy the great outdoors, or if you need a dedicated protection dog, then this breed is for you. 

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Temperament and Personality

German Shepherds are world famous for their loyal and protective nature. They make great family pets for families who want a dog that is playfully affectionate, brave, protective, and smart. In this section, we will discuss the temperament and personality of German Shepherds in depth.

Loyalty and Affection

German Shepherds are known for their loyalty and affection towards their human family. They have the ability to form strong bonds and are always ready to please. They are also very protective of their owners and will go to great lengths to keep them safe from harm.

Intelligence and Trainability

German Shepherds are one of the most intelligent dog breeds. These dogs are quick learners and are very responsive to supportive praise and positive reinforcement training. They are rockstars in official K9 obedience classes and are frequently trained as contraband sniffing police and military dogs. They are also superior at agility training, agility contests and are frequent winners at dog shows.

Protective Instinct

German Shepherds have a strong life and property protective instinct. They are known for their bravery under fire and extreme confidence in deadly circumstances. Make no mistake, they are great defenders. They are trusted protectors of their humans from any potential threats.

Aggression and Socialization

German Shepherds are fast and strong. These dogs can be dangerously aggressive if they are not properly socialized, so it’s really important to start their training from a very young ag. Ideally, socialization should start as early as 8 weeks of age.  At this age, the pups are weaned, their eyes are wide open, their senses are on high alert, their personalities are developing, and they are eager to learn.  It’s a perfect age!  

German Shepherds make great pets for families who are looking for a loyal best friend and a protective dog. They are intelligent and easy to train, making them great for obedience training and other dog events. But, as a family pet owner, you have to properly socialize your German Shepherd to avoid all aggressive behaviour and legal jeopardy.

Physical Characteristics and Care

Size and Appearance

German Shepherds are big dogs with a powerful, athletic build. Males typically weigh between 75-95 pounds and stand 25 inches tall at the withers, while females weigh between 75-95 pounds and stand 23 inches tall. They are usually a familiar brown and black patterned coat colour with a long, feathery tail, long snout, lovely brownish eyes, and upright pointed ears.

Exercise and Energy

German Shepherds are high-energy dogs that need vigorous daily activities to stay healthy and fit. These dogs have a strong desire to work and do well with a lot of robust physical activity. German Shepards love an active lifestyle and get bored easily if they are inactive and not challenged. 

If you lead an inactive lifestyle for any reason, then this is not a dog for you.

You should give your German Shepherd at least 40 minutes of outdoor exercise each day, including walks, runs, swimming, or playtime.  Challenging dog parks and dog obstacle courses are especially good for this.

Grooming and Shedding

German Shepherds have a double coat that sheds heavily twice a year. During shedding season, you must brush them each day to keep their coat clean and healthy.  Like most dogs, they need regular bathing, nail trimming, and teeth brushing to maintain their vigour and vitality.

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Health and Care

German Shepherds are normally very healthy dogs, but they can get very real health problems like elbow dysplasia and bloat. Minimize the risk by feeding yours a high-quality dog food (No Table Scraps!), giving daily exercise, bathing and grooming as needed, and scheduling regular vet checkups and vaccinations. 

German Shepherds are great pets for active families.  And, with their high intelligence, loyalty, and protective nature, they can be great companions and watchdogs.

Young German Shepherd receiving a vaccination from a vet

Training and Behaviour

Training and behaviour must be considered when getting a German Shepherd as a pet. This breed is extremely intelligent and thrives on vigorous activities and exercises. Positive training results in these dogs developing good behaviour around people and other pets. 

On the flip side remember that nothing good can be said about negative reinforced training.  It is brutal. It is mean. It is cruel.  Don’t train this way unless you want a broken dog who growls, snaps, bites, or attacks anything that moves. Enough said!

German Shepherd Puppy Training

Puppy training sets the tone for all of your German Shepherd’s behaviour — good or bad.  You should start training your puppy as early as eight weeks old. It’s imperative that you use positive reinforcement, like treats, pets, and praise to reward good behaviour.

Basic commands like sit, stay, down, come, heel, and name recognition should be taught during puppy training. It’s important that you keep puppy training sessions short and sweet.  Three to five minutes at a time is good — much longer than that and your pup will get bored, and you will get mad. 

You can use a clicker, whistles, or body signals to make training more effective if voice commands don’t work well for you. Consistency is key no matter what tone or technique you use to puppy train.  

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German Shepherd Behaviour

Yes, German Shepherds are known for their loyalty, intelligence, and willingness to work. But, they can be anxious and aggressive if they aren’t properly trained. They are very protective of their family, which can escalate into chase or attack mode if they think there’s a threat.

To prevent this dangerous behaviour, train your German Shepherd to come when called. Always use a leash when you take your dog off of your property and control him or her at all times on or off your property.  Socialization is key to avoid aggressive behaviour with strangers or other dogs

So, Do German Shepherds Make Good Pets?

For the most part, German Shepherds are very good pets. But, you can’t be too careful especially if kids are in the picture. To wrap it up, here are some pros and cons to consider before rehoming a German Shepherd as a family pet:

Pros

  • Loyal and protective of their owners
  • Intelligent and easy to train
  • Energetic and great for active families
  • Good with kids and other pets when properly socialized 

Cons

  • Need a lot of exercise and mental challenge
  • Wary of strangers and needs socialization
  • Shed heavily and must be groomed frequently 
  • Joint dysplasia or allergies may be a problem

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