Are German Shepherds high maintenance?
German Shepherds are high maintenance dogs that require extra care and attention. They have a number of needs such as grooming, exercise, social, and health needs that need to be thoroughly addressed if they are to grow into healthy and well-behaved dogs.
As such, they’re quite difficult to take care of for first time dog owners, especially when they’re untrained.
In this article we look deeper into why German Shepherds are high maintenance as well as some guidelines to help you maintain and take care of your German Shepherd.
Why Are German Shepherds High Maintenance?
To have a better understanding of why German Shepherds are high maintenance, let’s look into their needs in more detail.
German Shepherds shed a lot. They’re a double-coated breed that sheds throughout the year. If left unchecked, they are surely going to make a mess especially during the spring or fall seasons where they blow their coats.
And so if you don’t want your home to be filled with fur, you’d need to implement a brushing routine.
German Shepherds are also prone to smelling bad due to lack of grooming. Dirty ears, plaque build up, and trapped dirt on a German Shepherds coat may all lead to bacterial build up and bad odor.
So not only would you need a brushing schedule, but you’ll also need to make sure that you periodically give your German Shepherd a bath, clean its ears, and brush its teeth.
Physical And Mental Stimulation
Bred as working dogs, German Shepherds require constant physical and mental stimulation. They need daily exercise and play or else they’ll get bored and develop destructive behavior such as chewing, scratching, digging, and excessive barking.
German Shepherds are highly social dogs that love being with the pack. They don’t like being separated from their loved ones and if they are they tend to develop separation anxiety.
Training And Socialization
German Shepherds are again quite difficult to take care of if they lack training and socialization. Without both, a German Shepherd will not grow to become a well-behaved dog. In fact, qualities that we deem to be positive such as their high-energy, attentiveness, and protective nature tend to become disadvantages when we fail to control them.
For instance, a highly attentive and energetic German Shepherd that hasn’t learned to follow commands may end up as excessive barkers, aggressive leash pullers, and just chaotic dogs overall.
Whereas an unsocialized one can become overprotective and start exhibiting aggressive behavior because of a lack of understanding of its environment.
German Shepherds are prone to a variety of health conditions, and thus you would have to manage it’s nutrition well for it to be healthy. Among these conditions are the following:
Allergies. German Shepherds are highly susceptible to a variety of allergies, such as food allergies from chicken, corn, and rice.
Hip and Elbow Dysplasia. German Shepherds are also generally at risk for both hip and elbow dysplasia, a disease wherein the dog’s joints don’t develop as intended.
Bloat. Bloat is a fatal condition common to deep, narrow-chested dogs like the German Shepherd. It’s characterized by the gas buildup in a dog’s stomach, which causes the stomach to twist on itself and cut off blood supply.
Diabetes. German Shepherds have an above-average incidence of diabetes mellitus, a disease characterized by the inability to regulate the metabolism of sugar in the body.
Dental Problems. German Shepherds are also prone to developing problems with their gums and teeth, with the most common being infections due to tartar buildup.
Taking Care Of a German Shepherd
Grooming Your German Shepherd
Through brushing, you will be able to manage your German Shepherd’s shedding by preemptively removing loose hair from its coat before they fall off into unwanted areas such as your furniture, carpet, and clothes.
Thus, if you don’t intend to always clean up a hairy mess, it would be in your best interest to implement a regular brushing routine of at least three times a week.
As an active dog, your German Shepherd will tend to get dirty, and would thus need to have an occasional bath. Kind in mind, however, that frequent bathing is detrimental and may cause your German Shepherd’s coat and skin to become dry and irritated. So, keep bathing to a minimum of at least once every month or on an as-needed basis.
Also, always be sure to dry your dog after bathing, else you’d have to deal with a smelly German Shepherd.
Brush Your German Shepherd’s Teeth
To prevent dental problems, brush your German Shepherd’s teeth every day or at least three times a week. Here’s a quick video that will show you how to do so:
If brushing’s not an option, try dental treats instead.
Keep Your Dog’s Ears Clean
To prevent ear problems like ear infections, try to clean your dog’s ears at least once a month.
Here’s a quick video which demonstrates how to do so:
Clipping Your German Shepherd’s Nails
Long and untrimmed toenails may eventually cause pain and infection. Thus, you would need to clip your German Shepherd’s nails from time to time, especially if it doesn’t wear by itself.
Exercise and Play
As mentioned, German Shepherds get bored quickly and develop behavioral problems when they do. So, try to provide at least an hour walk and at least 15 minutes of play daily to keep your dog stimulated.
If you’re not able to do so because of other commitments, you may choose to make use of a service such as doggy daycares or dog walkers. Or you could also opt to buy interactive toys instead.
Training And Socialization
By training and socializing your German Shepherd, you’ll gain better control of its actions and could thus prevent the development of bad behavior that could potentially become a nuisance to yourself or others.
So at the very least, have your German Shepherd socialized and obedience trained. You could either do it yourself or even have a professional do it for you. Either way, do it if you want a well-behaved German Shepherd.
Address Separation Anxiety
Again, German Shepherds are prone to separation anxiety, and to address that you would need to teach your German Shepherd to tolerate or even enjoy your absence.
The following are ways you can do so:
Crate training. This will help provide your dog with a safe space where it can relax and feel at ease in your absence.
Counter-conditioning. You can also use counter-conditioning to get your German Shepherd to associate your absence with something positive instead of something negative. One way to do so is by making your dog happy, like by giving it a treat before you depart.
Keep calm and stay cool. Always stay calm and collected during either arrival or departure to prevent such instances from becoming a big deal that your German Shepherd would look forward to.
Exercise. Exercise your German Shepherd to tire it out as a tired dog is most likely going to rest instead of being anxious. And as the saying goes, a tired dog is a good dog.
Medication. Lastly, you could always consult with your veterinarian about medication that can ease your German Shepherd’s separation anxiety.
Provide Proper Nutrition
Providing your German Shepherd with proper nutrition will lower the chance of it developing health issues. So, feed your dog the right amount of high-quality dog food that’s allergen-free.
The basic guideline would be to feed your German Shepherd at least 1,272 calories to 2,100 calories of high-quality and high-protein dog food daily, depending on your dog’s activity level.
Are German Shepherds High Maintenance?
Yes they are. You would need to put in extra effort and time to address all of your German Shepherd’s needs should it grow to be a healthy, well-behaved, and pleasant pet.
At the end of the day though, while they may have such demands, they’re not any less awesome. If you try your best to provide, you’ll earn a loving and extremely loyal dog.
I say they’re worth the effort.