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Do German Shepherds Make Good Pets? What to Know!

Nicole Cosgrove

The German Shepherd is a handsome, fiercely loyal, and intelligent dog who can be the perfect pet for some families. However, whether the German Shepherd is right for you comes down to a few factors including your lifestyle and the specific line of shepherds you’re looking at. Some shepherds can be less suited to family life because of their breeding, while they all require much time and dedication. Here are a few things you should consider before making a decision.

divider-dogAre German Shepherds Aggressive?

 German Shepherds have ended up with a bit of a reputation for being dangerous, aggressive dogs. This isn’t necessarily true, however. A shepherd’s temperament is very much dependent on what they’ve been bred to do. German Shepherds are often bred for particular kinds of work; you’ll see them as police dogs, herders, and show dogs, amongst other things. For example, if a dog is bred to be brave or competitive to be a guard dog, they’re likely to have higher aggression.

On the other hand, shepherds bred to be show dogs will be less aggressive; instead, they tend towards extreme skittishness and hyperactivity. Either of these shepherd lines could make a good pet, but it would require obtaining them at a young age, followed by lots of socialization and training. For a German Shepherd with a calmer temperament, you’ll do better to look for a breeder who has focused on general breeding (i.e., on trainability and a more easygoing temperament). There is also the option of white shepherds or long-haired shepherds since they are less often bred for aggressive work. Regardless of which line of shepherd you go with, you will need to be sure to provide much socialization and training.

Are German Shepherds Good with Kids?

Whether a German Shepherd is good with kids comes down to temperament, training, and socialization. If you adopt a young German Shepherd and raise them around children, they should get along quite well. If you adopt an adult shepherd, you may want to be more careful – find out their background to see if they’ve had any negative experiences or behavior and what kind of temperament they have. The dog’s temperament will matter a lot here; if they’ve been bred to be herders, for example, they might end up trying to “herd” young children and accidentally knock one over. Generally speaking, though, if brought into a home while still a pup and socialized early, German Shepherds should be excellent with (and protective of) kids.

Are German Shepherds Good with Other Pets?

This is another aspect that mostly comes down to socialization and training. If brought into the home as a pup and raised around other animals, the German Shepherd should do quite well with other pets. If you’re considering adopting an adult shepherd, see if they’ve lived with other animals in the past and how they did; if they’ve lived with others and were fine, they should do well with your pets too. Without proper training and socialization, your shepherd may chase after smaller animals or be aggressive towards other dogs of the same sex.

German Sheperds_Pixabay
Image Credit: Pixabay

Are German Shepherds Easy to Care For?

As you’ve probably noticed by now, German Shepherds require a fair amount of training to ward off any aggressive behaviors, etc., which means you will need to dedicate a lot of time to them. Because they are active dogs, you’ll also need to spend time each day to exercise them – a long walk or run or a few games of fetch, plus challenging games to stimulate them mentally. Too little activity and your dog will become bored, which could lead to behavioral issues. It’s important to have plenty of time to devote to your German Shepherd.

As for grooming, these dogs shed constantly. Giving them a good brushing each day can help, but be prepared to break out the vacuum cleaner a lot. On the plus side, you won’t need to bathe your dog much since their coats are reasonably dirt-resistant; in fact, if you do bathe them too often, you can end up depleting essential oils from the skin leading to the appearance of issues such as eczema. You should also regularly brush their teeth and trim their nails.

Are German Shepherds a Healthy Breed?

The average German Shepherd will live 10-12 years. While not generally unhealthy, they are prone to a handful of conditions. These include:

  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Pancreatic Enzyme Insufficiency – Malabsorption
  • Bloat
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
  • Degenerative Myelopathy
  • Pannus

Are There Differences Between Male and Female Shepherds?

Besides their size difference - male German Shepherds are bigger than females - there are a few other prominent differences between the two. Male shepherds are more dominant, as well as territorial. They tend to be more independent and may be a bit more difficult to train. While they will love the entire family, they will bond most with a single person in the family. Also, be careful of them playing with children; they will be more playful than females, but if not properly trained, this playfulness could lead to an accidental injury.

Females tend to be more cuddly, can be better with children due to mothering instincts, can be easier to train, and bond with the entire family. In fact, they can become very protective of their family, which can lead to jealousy of other animals.

Are German Shepherds Expensive?

German Shepherds can be more expensive than other pets, especially if you’re going for a purebred. In fact, you could spend upwards of $2000 on a purebred shepherd. If purebred status doesn't matter to you, then depending on whether you’re adopting from a shelter or reputable breeder, you can expect to pay anywhere from $75 - $1500. The average price is around $800. Then, of course, there are the lifetime costs such as food, vet bills, training, toys, etc.

divider-dogIs a German Shepherd Right for You?

As you can see, there are various factors to consider if you’re thinking of getting a German Shepherd. That said, these dogs can be loyal, protective, friendly additions to your home. Just be sure you have the time, energy, and money to devote to them.


Featured Image Credit: Ivor Ilic, Pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.