When picking out a new companion for your family, you may have your eye on a specific breed. Before making a commitment to adopting a dog, you should carefully consider if the dog’s breed will be a good fit for your family an lifestyle.
As they are perhaps best known for their services as police and military dogs, it should come as no surprise that German Shepherds are instinctively loyal and protective of their families. Consider also, however, that a breed frequently trained to do police work would also be intelligent and have high levels of energy.
Therefore, the first step in determining whether or not a German Shepherd is the right pet for you and your family is to decide how much time, energy, and effort you are willing to put into one. Fully grown German Shepherds are known to not handle boredom well, with a recommended two hours of exercise per day.
This includes at least 45 minutes of walking, an additional 45 minutes of purposeful exercise – time spent playing with or training your dog – and another half an hour of mental stimulation. Some German Shepherds may be content with less, especially after their first few years of life, but they also have a reputation for causing mischief to alleviate boredom.
The Right Environment
A small apartment and a busy family are not usually an ideal environment for raising a German Shepherd. They enjoy exploration, playing games, and being around their favorite people. German Shepherds also have a reputation for being “talkers”, a trait which is not likely to be appreciated by neighbors living in a next door unit.
Despite their reputation as police dogs, most German Shepherds are sweet natured, sociable, and friendly. They are likewise known for being loyal and loving, good with children, alert to changes in their environment, and dependable. As with any other breed, environmental factors can influence the nature of a German Shepherd.
It helps to know the origins of your new pet before adopting or purchasing them, but in general, the German Shepherd has a reputation for being resilient and eager to please. When combined with their natural intelligence, they can be easily trained to recognize a variety of commands. Some owners even report teaching their German Shepherds the same commands in multiple languages.
It is also important to remember that even a well-trained dog came become aggressive under stress. Unfortunately, according to a recent study, German Shepherds committed 17.8% of reported dog bites in the US. While they are loving and loyal dogs, you should consider this if you have vulnerable people in your household such as young children or the elderly.
Finally, the breed overall is prone to musculoskeletal disorders, and has an average lifespan of 7-10 years. The most common health problems to afflict a purebred German Shepherd include hip dysplasia and degenerative myelopathy, the onset of which can be both sudden and costly. A good pedigree and a reputable breeder, combined with proper exercise and nutrition can lower, but not completely eliminate, the risk of these diseases.