Owning a German Shepherd dog includes many benefits.

German Shepherds can be great guards, herding, or family dogs.

Adopting any dog breed is complex.

German Shepherd dog (GSD) requires special care in certain situations.

Let’s go into more detail about what owning a GSD includes!

Owning a German Shepherd

  • Understanding the GSD Breed
  • Starting with a Puppy
  • Unique Characteristics

Understanding the GSD Breed


German Shepherd

Belgian Malinois

Doberman Pinscher








Very high

Very high

Very high

High, but varies







Loyal and intelligent

Protective and alert

Alert and intelligent

Obedient and confident






Exercise needs





German Shepherds are the “finest all-purpose worker dog breed.”

They have plenty of significant characteristics, but these are the most important:

  • Large, agile, and muscular
  • Highly intelligent
  • Loyal
  • Confident
  • Courageous
  • Steady

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), they rank in the canine royalty. [1]

They are courageous and excel in protecting their families.

Although they are large and sometimes look scary, they are very gentle.

GSDs are extremely gentle with kids and their loved ones.

They are a great companion for your kid.

Also, German Shepherds are good companions for Labradors.

German enthusiasts wanted to develop a blend of intelligence, work, and loyalty.

This happened a few years before the World War l.

During the process, they blended herding dogs from Europe.

Their desired result was a single dog breed that has excellent characteristics.

This breed became more popular because of GSD film stars.

This breed remains in popularity and is a “global brand.” [2]

A renowned psychologist claims that GSDs are among the most intelligent dog breeds.

German Shepherds have a tremendous third place out of 131 breeds.

This proves that GSDs have a high IQ.

The same award-winning dog trainer concluded that 51% of a dog’s intelligence comes from genes.

The other 49% come from environmental circumstances. [3]

Starting with a Puppy

If you are thinking about getting a GSD pup, consider rescue organizations.

Puppies are similar to any other breed of puppies.

They are curious.

These puppies are playful and eager to learn new things.

Thus, training with GSDs is super easy.

From a very young age, they get attached to their families.

They are loyal and have a great protection instinct.

Early in their life, they are also athletic and energetic.

As time passes by, they become more active in the adult life.

They usually live between 7-10 years.

These dogs have plenty of unique characteristics.

They are often compared with other dog breeds.

But, compared to Dobermans, German Shepherd puppies have better socialization results. [4]

As a large breed, its food intake is high.

A German Shepherd owner should expect fast phenotypical changes in their puppies.

GSD puppies will look like adults in no time.

This is due to their high food intake and breed characteristics.

With this, specific health issues might occur.

Fast physical changes lead to locomotory problems.

That is why you should consult your vet before getting a GSD puppy.

Unique Characteristics

German Shepherds are mainly guards and watchdogs.

But they can be perfect family dogs in urban areas.

Their solid and muscular physical characteristics make them excellent guards.

However, they demonstrated the roles of service and herding dogs.

Their weight and height vary according to their sex and health conditions.

Males are 24 to 26 inches (61-66 cm).

In contrast, the females’ height is 22-24 inches (56-61 cm).

Males weigh from 65-90 pounds (29-41 kg).

Females weigh 50-70 pounds (23-31 kg).

They can dedicate their whole life and be great working dogs.

As with any other dog, they don’t like being alone.

Therefore, provide them with as much quality time as possible.

Socialization and Training of German Shepherd Dogs

  • Importance of Socialization
  • Training Techniques
  • Introducing New Things

Importance of Socialization

After bringing your GSD home, make it feel as comfortable as possible.

Another great advice is to bring a friend over for faster socialization.

Food can also contribute to better positive reinforcement.

Start the socialization as soon as you get your dog.

Breeders start this process at around 3-4 weeks.

Your job as a dog owner is to continue the process.

Early socialization can contribute to a well-behaved and friendly dog.

The key to socialization is constantly introducing new people, pets, and objects.

Start by boosting its confidence.

When your dog does something right, make sure to appreciate those actions.

Bring your dog new toys and objects.

With this, it won’t see new objects as threats.

German Shepherds are large dogs.

And the last thing you want is to create a large, unfriendly dog.

After your dog completes the vaccination program, take him outdoors.

This way, he will see different objects from a young age.

It would help if you made this introduction carefully.

Puppies can quickly get scared.

Therefore, make sure to make it gradually.

Small outdoor trips can also improve their discipline.

Always have some treats with you to reward your puppy.

When having friends come over, be careful about your body language.

Dogs notice everything.

Smile at your friends and give them hugs.

This might calm your dogs.

It can also help them distinguish everyday situations from threats.

This can also help minimize or stop the barking in GSD’s adult life.

After your dog gets used at home, meet the same people outside.

Also, you can organize playdates with other dogs or kids.

GSDs learn from experience and are highly intelligent.

In dogs, there are 4 main types of temperament:

  • L (leader) – strong and leader-type
  • F (feal) – strong, loyal, obedient, and emotional
  • G (glace) – weak, indifferent, and insensitive
  • A (asocial) – weak, asocial, and sometimes aggressive

Socialization in puppies with L and F types of temperaments is easier.

It results in rapid socialization and education without issues. [5]

On the other side, asocial dogs can get aggressive.

This is due to the unexplained fear they feel.

Training Techniques

  • Socialization
  • Crate Training
  • Home Training
  • Obedience Training
  • Impulse Control


Critical socialization is at around the 12th to 16th week of life.

At this period, they learn to distinguish dangerous from safe situations.

Around this period, you should expose your puppy to many non-dangerous situations.

Try to socialize them with other people and pets.

This exposure includes new sounds, sights, and scents.

Certified trainers claim that developing self-confidence during this period is crucial.

They recommend short games with different environmental stimuli. [6]

You should also introduce your dog to different daily routines.

This includes grooming and brushing. [7]


Critical socialization is at around the 12th to 16th week of life.

At this period, they learn to distinguish dangerous from safe situations.

Around this period, you should expose your puppy to many non-dangerous situations.

Try to socialize them with other people and pets.

This exposure includes new sounds, sights, and scents.

Certified trainers claim that developing self-confidence during this period is crucial.

They recommend short games with different environmental stimuli. [8]

You should also introduce your dog to different daily routines.

This includes grooming and brushing. [9]

Crate Training

Crate training is great for preventing separation anxiety in puppies.

This can be very stressful for puppies.

Therefore, start with a short training from 5 to 10 minutes.

Crate training can also help you while doing some of your daily chores.

Home Training

Although they are large dogs, GSDs are extremely easy for home training.

They are very obedient, and you won’t face many issues while training them.

Obedience Training

Obedience training is accessible in GSDs.

Early training and socialization will help you create an obedient dog.

You should help them learn the basic commands.

This includes the commands sit, down, and stay.

Impulse Control

It is no wonder that some GSDs show behavior problems.

This includes barking, digging, chasing, or growling.

The worst part is when they start barking or chasing out of boredom.

Lack of socialization and training might lead to aggressive GSDs toward other dogs.

Even worse, these GSDs can be aggressive toward humans also.

That is why it is essential to control impulse behavior.

In such situations, you can take them on a walk.

Also, you can play their favorite activity. [10]

Introducing New Things

Household Item Introduction Technique

-Allow sniffing

-Make short brushing sessions from a young age

Nail Clippers -Touch their paws slowly without cutting
Toothbrush and toothpaste

-Let them lick the toothpaste

-Touch their teeth with a finger


-Allow them inspection

-Place treats and toys inside

-Close the doors in small sessions


-Start walking indoors with a leash

-Make small walks

-Play with the leash


– Gradually increase the wearing time

– Use it indoors; in the beginning

Grooming is an essential part of your dog’s life.

Especially for GSD because they have a long coat.

If you start grooming from a young age, your dog will enjoy the process.

Slowly introduce all subjects.

Start with a brush and let them sniff it.

Then, make small brushing sessions.

If the dog is not comfortable, offer them a treat after it.

Or you can offer them their favorite toy.

Then, introduce them to nail clippers.

Nail clippers are stressful for many dogs.

Therefore, start by touching their paws without cutting.

Another essential subject to introduce is a toothbrush.

In the beginning, touch only their teeth with your fingers.

After they get used to it, you can start with the toothbrush.

When introducing the toothpaste, you have to let them lick it.

This way, they will know that it is not some bad and new food.

Crates for GSDs are essential for preventing separation anxiety.

It is best to introduce them as early as possible.

Make sure to pick a crate that will provide enough comfort.

The crate should also fulfill your dog’s behavioral needs.

Also, this subject is beneficial in further destructive behavior due to separation anxiety. [11]

Your GSD can bark and destroy the furniture due to separation anxiety and boredom.

Crate training can help you do your daily chores without any disturbance.

Place toys and treats inside the crate to create a more joyful experience.

In the beginning, don’t close them too long.

Close them for a couple of minutes and make this process gradual.

A leash is another subject they need to get used to it.

It will help you have comfortable walks.

Introduce the leash as a toy and make short walks.

Start this indoors, and after the dog gets used to it, go outside.

Collars are also crucial for dogs.

There are even some collars against ectoparasites.

Start using them indoors in the beginning.

After a while, you can put a collar on them outdoors.

Health and Wellness of Your Dog

  • Regular Vet Checkups
  • Athletic Exercise Needs

Regular Vet Checkups


Vet Checkup



-Frequent vet checkups

Adult dogs

-Booster shots of vaccines

-Frequent vet checkups

Senior dogs

-Dental examinations

-Vaccines if needed

-At least 2 vet checkups

Small puppies need regular and frequent checkups.

During these visits, you can get advice and improve your dog’s:

  • Health
  • Nutrition
  • Disease prevention
  • Training
  • Socialization

The most recommended vaccine is the DHLPP (distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvo, and parainfluenza). [12]

The first dose should be around 6th to 8th week.

After the first dose, take your dog for booster shots.

The cycle of vaccinations ends when the dog is 16 weeks old.

The puppy should get a rabies vaccine when it is 3-4 months old. [13]

Depending on your geolocation, your puppy might need other vaccines.

This includes vaccines for diseases like:

  • Bordetella
  • Lyme disease
  • Canine flu

These vaccines are non-core. [14]

You will get flea and tick prevention recommendations during the first vet exams.

You should also think about spaying and neutering your dog.

This way, you will contribute to reducing the stray dogs’ number.

Adult dogs are from 1 to 8 years old.

At this period, you should take your dog for annual dog visits.

German Shepherds have many hereditary diseases.

Therefore, regular vet examinations can help you detect some diseases.

Adult dogs need booster shots of vaccines.

This includes rabies and DHLPP vaccines.

Senior dogs are those above 8 years old.

These dogs are older and more prone to injuries and health issues.

Dental issues are prevalent during this period.

At least 80% of dogs over 3 years can develop dental issues. [15]

Regular vet checkups are vital.

Sometimes, your dog might seem fine, but vet checkups can only confirm that.

Veterinarians can perform physical exams to see if everything is all right.

Additional exams include parasite-preventative measures.

Also, vets can perform blood and urine tests.

During the exams, vets will check the visible mucose membranes.

This includes the gums and eyes.

These vet checkups can save you a lot of money.

GSDs and mixes of GSDs and Labradors can have many health issues.

This includes around 50 hereditary issues in GSDs. [16]

You can take your dog for a regular vet checkup to avoid this.

Athletic Exercise Needs

German Shepherds are very active dogs.

They need a lot of exercise to remain active and happy. [17]

This way, you can avoid behavioral issues.

This includes barking and destructive behavior.

Any dog breed without enough exercise can have behavioral issues.

The worst thing is that they can develop some health issues.

GSDs need at least 2 walks per day.

Or a minimum of 2 hours of exercise.

While fulfilling their exercise needs, you can also remain active.

They equally like running on the beach and playing in the snow.

Your German Shepherd’s Behavior and Temperaments

  • Exploring New Environments
  • Chew and Toy Requirements
  • Dealing with Vacuum Fear

Exploring New Environments

Environmental Setting

Introduction Technique

Urban areas

-Take them to quieter streets

-Gradually move to busier areas

-Use a leash

-Reward them for good behavior


-Take them on a leash

-Introduce them to sand and water

-Observe for any unusual signs

-Reward their good behavior


-Take them on safe paths

-Take them on a leash

-Allow them to explore under supervision

-Be aware of wild animals

-Reward their good behavior


-Take them to quieter parks

-Use a long leash

-Carefully allow them to interact with people

-Reward their good behavior

German Shepherds will love any environment that you take them to:

  • Urban areas
  • Beach
  • Forest
  • Park

Especially be careful to take them in quiet places.

Wherever you take them, don’t forget to use a leash.

This will keep you both safe.

You can gradually move to busier areas.

But these areas limit the space to wander around.

And they love running and fulfilling their activity needs.

Always observe them.

Give them some treats if they are good at the end of the walk.

Also, reward them with good words and petting.

Chew and Toy Requirements

Recommended Toys Description
Kong Classic Dog Toy

-Provides mental stimulation

-You can fill it with treats

-Can play fetch with it

Nylabone Lobster Chewing Toy

-Has 3 chewing ends

-Prevents destructive behavior

-Supports dental health



-Set of 17 durable toys

-Great for training

-Supports dental health

Teething Toys Balls


-Durable and interactive toy balls

-Maintains dental health

-Good for teething

-Prevents boredom-induced aggression

Petstages Dogwood


-Durable toy with BBQ flavor

-Great for interactive playing

-Good for dental health

-Good for training

Toys can significantly improve your dog’s health.

They can improve both physical and mental health.

Many breeders use toys during the training period.

This can improve the whole process. [18]

Dealing with Vacuum Fear

Vacuum fear in dogs is normal.

To help them deal with it, you need to have patience.

During the introduction process, you need to understand your dog’s fear.

Firstly, show them the vacuum cleaner and then start gradually.

Start turning it on from the other room of your house.

Remember to do that gradually.

Even if you don’t have success, it is okay.

Not all dogs can understand and get used to the noise.

Things to Consider Before Owning a German Shepherd

  • Time and Attention
  • Financial Consideration
  • Space Requirements

Time and Attention

You need to provide your dogs with at least 2 hours per day of quality time.

This includes outdoor activities.

Besides this, dogs need some quality time with their owners.

It will stop destructive and attention-seeking behavior. [19]

Barking, growling, and furniture destroyment can be signs of attention seeking.

Therefore, before getting a dog, ensure you have enough time for them.

Financial Consideration


Estimated Annual Cost



Veterinary care


Vaccinations and Prevention




Training Classes


Toys and treats


License and Identification


Pet insurance


Pet sitting (if needed)


Dental care




Basic supplies




Total Annual Cost


The financial expenses depend on the dog’s size.

Also, it depends on the health condition and breed.

According to Forbes, the lifetime costs of owning a dog are from $17,650 to $93,520. [20]

The pet industry in the United States is worth $123.6 billion.

This is 19% higher than 2020, which was $103.6 billion. [21]

Space Requirements

When getting a dog, you should be very careful about your home space opportunities.

German Shepherds are large and athletic dogs.

Even when they are home, they would like to run.

It is okay if you don’t have a large home.

But, you need to take them outdoors to fulfill their activity needs regularly.

Yards are not necessary when having a dog.

But having a yard for your GSD to run is incredible.

This way, you can prevent their extra energy.

Are German Shepherds Hard to Own?

No, German Shepherds are not hard to own.

They are athletic and large dogs that require long walks.

But you should know this before adopting and managing your time accordingly.

The only thing you should be on alert is regular vet checkups.

This will help you detect any underlying health condition.

Many pet owners worldwide love GSDs because of their character.