Own a GSD
Before you get a German Shepherd Dog, you need to educate
yourself on what the breed is like. There are several ways to do this. Begin by
reading some of the suggested material right here at GSRNE. Talk
to people who own a GSD. There are also lots of wonderful links here
to click onto. Join GSD-L
or TGSD-L, German
Shepherd Dog (GSD) email discussion groups and see what people love about
the breed, and what problems they may encounter. Try to find out
some of the downsides of GSD ownership as well, remembering of course that
what is a downside for one person may not be for another.
Just as importantly as educating yourself on the breed, you should evaluate
the following truthfully:
want and expect from a dog as the responsible owner. This includes
activity level of the dog. Don't get a bouncy young dog when you
really want a quieter dog that will be content to lie around the house
all day with you.
rest of your family wants and expects from a dog. This may differ
from what you want. Again, consider activity level, size, sex, etc.
family members can handle (which is often different from what people think
Before you get a German Shepherd Dog, you need to educate yourself on
what the breed is supposed to be like in general. Try not to base
your decision on only the "look" of the dog.
General Characteristics of a German Shepherd Dog
The German Shepherd Dog (GSD) is a large, active dog with a double coat.
This double coat sheds and sheds and sheds and sheds, year round, and produces
greater volumes of fur when the dogs "blow coat" in the spring and fall.
Some shed more than others, but be sure that your vacuum will become your
best friend. For some owners, this is not a trivial point.
Being a large dog, expect muddy paw prints in the house every time it rains.
The breed was developed for service as a herding and general purpose
working animal. Their desire to "work" or do something is genetic,
and is stronger in some GSDs than others. Many GSDs end up in shelters
precisely because they are working animals. Their first family really
just wanted a couch-potato. Think about this carefully!
Most adult GSDs are handsome, giving,
loyal, active, loving, protective and intelligent. Without proper guidance and
training, GSDs can be rambunctious, destructive of property, obnoxious, and
exhausting to live with. It is up to you to guide your dog to suit your
lifestyle and that of your family.
Many GSDs can also become overly protective/territorial if they do not receive
the level of leadership in the household that they respect and want to follow.
Who is really running the show in your house? Evaluate this objectively. If it
isn't you or your dog doesn't believe it's you, then your German Shepherd Dog
will assume that responsibility himself, and will run things as a dog will, not
as a human being will. (After all, he's just a dog!) In many instances, the dog
way of running the world is NOT how humans would like, and we get calls from
owners about overt protective and territorial behaviors showing up and getting
out of control. It all has to do with YOU.
Most, if not all, GSDs need training and a structured lifestyle to thrive and
become a canine good citizen. Training is not something you do once in an 8 week
obedience class...training is teaching. You need to make sure the dog is
following your rules for most of the dog's life!
In addition, your leadership skills are something you will employ all of the
time. Clarity, follow-through, fairness, and showing your dog that there are
immediate consequences for all actions (good and not good) make all the
difference! If you do this kind of thing naturally or work on doing it, owning a
GSD can be the most amazing experience of your life. If you don't want to commit
to this level of mental and physical stimulation for your dog, and to this level
of leadership bearing that you and your household need to employ as a lifestyle,
please check out other more suitable breeds. You won't be sorry then.
Different types of GSDs look and behave differently, and to some degree,
have different needs. Learn about these differences and ascertain
what it is you really want from the dog. There are American line
dogs, German line dogs, other European line dogs, etc. Many people
love the idea of a novelty like a Czech-line dog, but are you really ready
to take on a dog like that? Most families are NOT. By researching
different types and their general attributes you can make an educated choice
about what type of GSD is right for you.
GSDs are known for being an "intelligent" breed. Remember that
"intelligent" can be a nice thing in that your dog can learn quickly *if*
you communicate with him well. However, "intelligent" can also mean
that your dog has a need for physical and mental activity and stimulation,
just like an intelligent child does. A bored GSD will often find
his own excitement and stimulation, which might include digging, barking,
herding small children around, "creating" toys out of household furniture
or the children's toys, etc. GSDs need exercise, socialization, and
mental stimulation almost every day to be on their best behavior.
Training never stops.