Bringing a new pet home can fill your household with joy and excitement, especially if it’s a dog. If you’re considering getting a German Shepherd, you may end up asking an important question.
Are German Shepherds good family dogs?
Luckily, the answer is that these dogs can be perfect for a family as long as they receive proper training. Also, due to their naturally calm character and caring personality, they can get along with children and other pets, too.
Now, are you ready to know more about these strong yet loving dogs? Let’s find out what makes them special!
7 Reasons Why German Shepherds Are Great Family Dogs
In this section, we’ll tell you why it’s a wonderful idea to bring a German Shepherd home. Let’s dive in!
1. Loyal to Their Families
German Shepherds are incredibly loyal to their human parents, which makes them an excellent choice for families. Plus, they’re all about caring for their owners and protecting them if the chance ever presents itself.
Due to their love for their family, German Shepherds are almost always ready to learn anything that their parents teach them. So, if you devote yourself to teaching your German Shepherd new tricks, he might surprise you with how quickly he grasps them.
2. Intelligent to No End
Another feature that makes German Shepherds easy to train is that they’re one of the smartest dog breeds. So, you shouldn’t have much trouble when potty training or crate training a new German Shepherd puppy.
A strong proof of this breed’s intelligence is that the biggest percentage of police dogs all over the globe are German Shepherds. Imagine what it’s like having one of these unique dogs in your house!
3. Full of Energy
If you have children who are looking forward to playing with a dog for hours at a time, a German Shepherd might be a great candidate for this role. This breed has high energy levels, so he won’t become tired as quickly as other dogs might.
Plus, this makes a German Shepherd suitable if you have an active lifestyle. You can take him along on your daily walks, or let him run beside you on the beach. Without a doubt, having such an energetic companion can improve your mood and encourage you to exercise more.
4. Perfect Guard Dogs
This is a huge positive point when it comes to owning a German Shepherd. Thanks to his attentiveness, intelligence, and dedication to his owner, this dog is an excellent guard dog.
While they’re loving and affectionate toward family members and familiar faces, they’re usually wary of strangers. Yes, some people believe this could be a downside of owning a German Shepherd, but it’s a major plus when facing trouble.
5. Friendly and Gentle
German Shepherds get along pretty well with children, especially if they’ve been raised with them since they were puppies. Even if you bring an adult dog to your little kids, he’ll only need a little time to adjust before they all become best buddies.
A German Shepherd shows affection left and right to family members, which is a personality trait that many new pet owners look for.
Also, German Shepherds are cool with other pets in the household in most cases. However, you may want to watch for signs of aggression if you have other dogs at home. You must learn how to introduce the newcomer to the existing dogs properly, or you might face dominance issues.
6. Generally Healthy Dogs
One of the best things about German Shepherds is that they’re easy to take care of and keep healthy. With a good diet, suitable exercise, and regular vet visits, he should face minimal health-related problems.
This isn’t the case with other high-maintenance breeds such as the Border Collie or the Australian Shepherd. These breeds can be challenging for a family to deal with because they tend to shed too much, require so much exercise, or more.
7. Highly Adaptable
Last but not least, a German Shepherd will adapt to your lifestyle almost instantly, which can be a big relief to you. So, whether you live in a small house or a big one with a yard, your dog should become accustomed to his surroundings right away.
Of course, it’s always a good idea to bring a puppy home instead of a fully-grown dog. This is because a puppy will adjust to your house, get along with other pets, and get comfortable with your kids faster.
On the other hand, an adult dog will need some time to learn how to fit in. But with some patience, love, and respect on your part, he’ll begin to consider himself part of your family in almost no time.
3 Downsides to Owning a German Shepherd That You Should Consider
Yes, the advantages of getting a German Shepherd beat the disadvantages. However, you may want to take a look at these drawbacks to have the full picture.
1. Bored Quickly
Remember how we mentioned that German Shepherds are energetic dogs? Well, that fact can be both a pro and a con.
See, if this dog doesn’t get enough physical and mental stimulation, he gets bored. And when faced with boredom, a German Shepherd might develop destructive behavior such as chewing on household items.
Therefore, you must provide your German Shepherd with at least 30 minutes of exercise each day to keep him active and healthy.
2. Constant Shedding
German Shepherds shed only once per year, but that shedding period lasts for 365 days. The major bulk of their shedding happens during the spring and fall, and they shed moderately for the rest of the year.
Therefore, you’ll always find dog hair on carpets, your clothes, and everywhere else. So, you should be prepared with a vacuum cleaner every once in a while.
But does this make grooming harder?
This depends on whether your German Shepherd is long-haired or short-haired. Of course, the longer the coat is, the more brushing and trimming it’ll require. Still, both types of coats need regular grooming to remain shiny and healthy.
3. Health Concerns
Even though German Shepherds are generally healthy dogs, this breed has been associated with many diseases. For instance, these dogs might develop:
Thus, if you wish to bring a German Shepherd home, you should consider these points first. Plus, it’s never a bad idea to have pet insurance when owning a German Shepherd.
How Long Is the Lifespan of a German Shepherd?
German Shepherds can typically live to be 10-12 years old. Some might make it to 13 or even 14 years, but they tend to have chronic illnesses at this age.
In fact, most German Shepherds only live until they’re ten years of age because of the many health problems that we’ve pointed out. So, it’s important that you take proper care of your dog to ensure that he gets a long and happy life by your side.
What Color Combinations Do German Shepherds Come In?
German Shepherds are usually black and red, black and tan, black and silver, or black and cream. You may find these color combinations in four unique patterns.
The first pattern is bicolor, where the dog is mostly black but for tan, red, or cream markings on the head, leg, and chest.
The second pattern is saddleback, in which the black color covers the back and sides of the dog like a saddle. The rest of the dog’s body is usually cream, red, or tan, and you might find some black markings on the dog’s head.
The third pattern is called blanketback, and it means that the black coloring extends a bit further down the shoulders and hips.
The last common color pattern is sable, which has the dog in an overall shade of golden color with black-tipped hair. This pattern is also available in gray and red.
Some German Shepherds are solid black, too, which is less common than the previous four instances.
Tips on Taking Care of a German Shepherd
Now, taking a German Shepherd home is only the first step into an amazing journey with such a wonderful pet. After that, you’ll need to learn exactly how to care for this special dog.
For this reason, we’ll provide you with tips regarding his health, diet, grooming, exercise, and more. Ready to dive in?
Step 1: Decide Whether You Want a Puppy or an Adult Dog
We’ll kick off our tips with an important question that you should ask yourself before rushing to adopt or buy a German Shepherd. Should you get a puppy or a fully-grown dog?
To make up your mind about this point, you should consider the pros and cons of both scenarios.
For instance, getting a puppy can be more challenging than adopting an adult dog when it comes to training. A puppy might take from weeks to months to be potty trained and crate trained, not to mention that you’ll have to teach him obedience from scratch.
Plus, a little puppy will be full of energy, which will require your supervision for at least the first year of his life.
You won’t have to worry much about these factors if you get a well-trained dog. This dog will most likely come with previous life experience and adequate training. Also, you won’t need to keep an eye on him as much as you’d do with a puppy.
Still, there are some downsides to bringing an adult German Shepherd home. The first one is that you won’t know much about his past life and events that might have shaped his personality. He may have habits that you don’t like or certain behavior issues you’ll need to deal with.
Alternatively, you’ll get to raise a puppy in your household for his entire life. Therefore, you can control the environment and make sure he receives the right treatment. In addition, you’ll have authority over the people, children, and animals that he deals with on a daily basis.
Step 2: Make Your Home Ready for the New Dog
Here’s another step you should take before finally welcoming your new German Shepherd home. To match the dog’s needs, you’ll have to do the following.
- Buy some dog accessories (crate, blanket, shampoo, water and food bowls, toys, treats, etc.)
- Keep medications and harmful objects out of reach
- Get rid of any plants in your yard that might be toxic to your dog
- Make sure that all family members are ready for their new responsibilities
Most importantly, ensure that there’s plenty of space to suit the physical requirements of a German Shepherd. Since this breed is active and grows to be a large dog, you won’t be able to keep yours in an apartment.
If a German Shepherd doesn’t have enough free space to play and exercise, he might become destructive or even depressed. Also, make sure to never tie your dog up for hours, or he could end up with aggression issues over time.
Step 3: Feed Your German Shepherd a Healthy Diet
Since German Shepherds are strong and full of energy, their diet has to include high-quality food. This food needs to be rich in proteins, low on carbs, and healthy fats.
Here are some general guidelines you should follow to make sure your dog is fed properly.
- Only feed your German Shepherd food that’s appropriate for his age
- Always monitor your puppy’s weight to get feeding recommendations based on it
- Ask the vet for the best type of food for your dog’s needs
- When introducing adult food to a growing puppy, do it gradually and in small proportions
If you’re wondering what exactly a German Shepherd’s diet should contain, we’d be glad to break it down for you.
High-quality proteins include:
Healthy Fats (5–8%)
Steer clear of harmful fat sources that could disturb your dog’s stomach. Instead, you may go for:
- Walnut oil
- Flaxseed oil
- Chicken fat
- Hemp seed oil
- Fish oil
- Pork fat
There isn’t a specific percentage of treats that you should feed your dog per se. Still, you should ensure that any snacks you feed your dog don’t include harmful fillers.
Luckily, there are many fruits and vegetables that you’re allowed to give your canine companion. These can replace snacks that might contain high levels of sugar and carbs. You could choose from:
- Green beans
Things to Avoid Feeding Your Dog
Here’s a list of some types of food that you should exclude when building your German Shepherd’s diet.
- Corn and corn syrup
- Vegetable oil
- All grains
- Wheat gluten
- Food dyes
- Grapes and raisins
Step 4: Exercise and Your Dog
It’s important that you provide sufficient physical exercise to your German Shepherd to release all his energy. One or two walks per day can be just enough if you have a large yard that your dog can run around in.
If your backyard is smaller, you might need to take your dog on more walks or even runs. Taking your furry friend to a dog park is another great idea to work out your dog. Not only will he get plenty of space to run freely, but he’ll also be able to socialize with other dogs.
Step 5: Groom Your German Shepherd Regularly
As we’ve previously pointed out, German Shepherds require grooming on a regular basis because of their double coat and shedding. The first thing you should do is brush your dog daily, especially if he’s young and full of energy.
An older dog may only need brushing every two or three days to untangle his hair and make sure it’s clean.
Next, bathe your dog only once per month. If you do this more often, a German Shepherd’s coat might dry out or he might develop skin irritation.
You should also check your dog’s teeth often and clean them to prevent infections. Plus, don’t forget to wash his ears once a week and trim his nails once every two weeks.
Step 6: Monitor Your Dog’s Health
To ensure that your German Shepherd remains in perfect shape, you must take him to the vet periodically. This way, you’ll be able to monitor his health and minimize the chances of developing any worrisome conditions in the future.
Besides, the veterinarian will give your dog the necessary shots and vaccinations whether he’s still a puppy or an adult.
Also, vet visits will give you some insight into important decisions related to your dog’s lifestyle. For instance, you’ll be able to ask for advice about his food habits, grooming, which products to buy for him, and more.
Are German Shepherds good family dogs?
After reading our article, you’ll know that German Shepherds can be amazing for a family to have. They’re loyal, loving, and protective of their owners.
As long as you follow our care tips, you should have a wonderful experience with your newest family member.