Are German Shepherds good first dogs?
As someone who’s had a German Shepherd for half of my life, I’d most definitely say yes. But at the end of the day, it depends on the person.
German Shepherds are intelligent, loyal, affectionate, and just great companions overall. However, as lovely and amazing as they are, I can’t deny that it takes a lot of time and effort to take care of them and satisfy their needs.
As such, they won’t seamlessly fit into everyone’s lifestyle. In fact their needs make it so that they fit a particular lifestyle over others.
So, to better understand if a German Shepherd fits you and your lifestyle, we’ll look further into the qualities that make German Shepherds good first dogs, as well as their needs that you would have to address.
What Makes German Shepherds Good First Dogs?
There are multiple reasons why the German Shepherd Dog is one of the most popular dog breeds in the world.
For instance, aside from being intelligent, loyal, and affectionate, they possess following qualities that highlight what makes them excellent first dogs:
German Shepherds Are Intelligent And Easy To Train
German Shepherds are considered to be the third smartest out of all dog breeds. They’re easy to train and highly capable of learning and following even the most complex commands. As such, German Shepherds are relatively easy to house and potty train, and just easier to manage overall.
German Shepherds Are Hard Working Dogs
Originally bred as working dogs, German Shepherds basically live to work. If you train your German Shepherd for specialized tasks, know that they will not only do them out of obedience but also out of delight.
German Shepherds Are Extremely Loyal And Protective
German Shepherd Dogs are also known to be extremely loyal to their loved ones. So if a German Shepherd considers you to be part of the pack, it will always be by your side and protect you from danger.
German Shepherds Are Great Watch Dogs
Due to their protective nature, German Shepherds also make for great watchdogs. They’re quick to react and will immediately alert you of any possible threat, or sometimes even deter the danger themselves.
German Shepherds Are Affectionate And Loving Towards Their Families
Despite their tough and intimidating look, German Shepherds are actually highly affectionate. They bond, build relationships and grow to be loving and devoted to their families. If you shower a German Shepherd with love and affection, you can be sure that it will love you in return.
German Shepherds Are Adaptable
Considering that their physical and mental needs are met, German Shepherds tend to adapt to pretty much any lifestyle and living situation.
German Shepherds Can Be Great With Kids And Other Pets
If you have kids or other pets, a German Shepherd may be a great choice. With proper socialization, German Shepherds will generally be great with kids and other pets.
German Shepherds Can Live Up To 13 Years Of Age
When raised right, a German Shepherd can live up to 9 to 13 years. Meaning you can spend a lot of time and create many memories with your German Shepherd.
What Makes German Shepherds Unideal First Dogs?
If there are pros, then there are also cons. And so while German Shepherds have plenty of desirable qualities, they also possess qualities that make them challenging to take care of.
These qualities are as follows:
German Shepherds Require Constant Physical And Mental Stimulation
German Shepherds need to have regular physical and mental stimulation or they would develop behavioral issues.
Should a German Shepherd get bored due to lack of activity, it may start to exhibit unfavorable behavior such as excessive barking, howling, and destructive chewing or scratching.
So, as an owner, you have to make sure your German Shepherd stays active. You can do so by allocating some time daily for exercise and play.
German Shepherds Need To Be Trained
As smart as German Shepherds are, they need someone to train, discipline, and provide them direction.
The lack of an authoritative figure may cause a German Shepherd to develop behavioral issues. So, if you intend to have one, you’ll have to establish a certain level of dominance to be able to control its behavior.
German Shepherds Shed A Lot
If you have allergies, then a German Shepherd may not be suitable for you as they shed quite a a lot. So know that if you do get a German Shepherd, don’t be surprised if you find fur basically everywhere.
Also, this means that you have to put in the effort to maintain a regular grooming routine if you wish to manage the mess caused by shedding.
German Shepherds Are Rather Noisy
These dogs bark a lot and are relatively more vocal than other breeds. They bark for just about any reason, be it boredom, or simply reacting to something coming near their territories.
German Shepherds Don’t Necessarily Do Well On Their Own
While you can leave German Shepherds alone given that needs are well satisfied, they’re not necessarily a breed that you should leave on their lonesome.
German Shepherds are highly social dogs and are rather prone to boredom and loneliness, both of which may lead to behavioral problems.
German Shepherds Can Get Aggressive
While not innately aggressive, German Shepherds can exhibit aggressive behavior due to overprotectiveness or the lack of socialization.
German Shepherds Are Prone To Certain Health Conditions
Even though German Shepherds tend to have relatively long life spans, they are prone to the following health conditions:
Bloat. A life-threatening condition wherein the dog’s stomach twists on itself due to gas, obstructing blood flow.
Hip Dysplasia. A skeletal condition wherein the dog’s joints don’t develop as they should an causes a partial dislocation in the hips.
Elbow Dysplasia. A similar condition to hip dysplasia, but this time found along a dog’s elbow.
Osteoarthritis. A skeletal condition characterized by the deterioration of cartilage around the joints, causing inflammation and pain.
Degenerative Myelopathy. A disease characterized by the degeneration of the white matter in the spinal cord, which causes eventual hind-limb weakness or paralysis.
Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency. A condition in which a dog’s pancreas is unable to produce enzymes for proper digestion and nutrient absorption. This disorder often leads to diarrhea, excessive appetites, and gradual weight loss.
What You Need To Consider When Raising A German Shepherd
Again, raising a German Shepherd will require you to put in both time and effort to address all its needs. But as a first-time dog owner, it may not be clear what exactly it is you have to do. So, I summarized some of the crucial points you have to consider when raising a German Shepherd.
Socialization is an essential part of raising a German Shepherd. If you don’t know what socialization is, it’s the process of taking your dog out of its comfort zone to introduce it to different people, pets, environments, and situations. That way, it will have a better grasp of the world and be more comfortable with the different environments and interactions that it may face.
Socialization will help prevent your German Shepherd from being fearful and aggressive towards strangers, other pets, and the world around it in general.
German Shepherd needs someone to discipline them and provide them with direction. Without an authoritative figure, a German Shepherd may act on its own volition, which may, in some cases, be dangerous.
So, you must be able to control your dog’s actions and tendencies. And to do so, you would have to spend time to at least obedience train your German Shepherd.
Address Your German Shepherds Needs
As obvious as it may sound, you would need to address your German Shepherds needs. This includes physical and mental stimulation, nutrition and even grooming.
So, incorporate your German Shepherd’s exercise, play and grooming into your schedule. And of course, provide it with the necessary nutrition by feeding it with high-quality dog food.
Treat Your Dog Right
Finally, simply treat your German Shepherd right. By simply doing so, you’ll be raising a loving and affectionate dog.
Is A German Shepherd Right For You?
To find out ask yourself the following:
- Will you be able to spend time training and socializing a German Shepherd?
- Will you be able to provide a German Shepherd with the right amount of exercise and play?
- Will you be able to provide a German with proper nutrition?
- Are you capable of becoming an authoritative figure and thus control a German Shepherd?
- Are you okay with a German Shepherd’s tendency to shed and its grooming needs?
If you answer yes to most or all those questions, then yes, a German Shepherd is right for you.
On the flip side though, if you do have some reservations when it comes to some of those questions, then it’s possible a German Shepherd may not be suitable for you and your lifestyle. In such a case, you may want to look into other breeds.
Are German Shepherds Good First Dogs?
They are but only if they fit into your lifestyle. When you get a German Shepherd you’re expected to sacrifice some of your time to fully raise and take care of it. And so it could be a challenge especially if you’re a busy person.
That said, if you’re up to the challenge, then I would definitely recommend a German Shepherd. They’re awesome and have plenty of qualities that make them good first dogs.
I’d be bold enough to say that you won’t regret getting one.