Breed Information

Ruff Choices: German Shepherd vs. Golden Retriever

German shepherd or golden retriever? This may be one of the hardest decisions that you may have to make as an upcoming pet owner. Both are amazing dogs that are great to have for families. Your specific needs may be what edge one dog over the other.

You may have a very small family and live in an area where walking around with a German shepherd may be alarming to the neighbors. You could also live in a neighborhood where it is not advisable to have an overly social dog-like golden retriever.

You may be a new family with designs on getting a new puppy. You want a dog that will grow up with your child and become the family’s best friend. You also want to be able to take your dog to the dog park and allow them to socialize well with others.

You could also want a dog that has protective instincts and be willing to defend you and your family at any cost. You may not want a dog that will play with strangers on site. You may want a dog that will examine first and befriend later.

Regardless of which one you choose, you will undoubtedly make a great decision with a large responsibility. Hopefully, this article will help you with your decision.

Of all of the breeds of dogs you could have chosen, the German shepherd and the golden retriever are firmly seated at #2 and #3 ranks, respectively, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC). Both of these dogs are great working dogs.

They both have an amazing genetic history that has been well preserved over the centuries. The dogs of today look very close to the original dogs as they were bred before. This is a great credit to the dog breeders that have maintained these amazing bloodlines.

They are both high energy breeds that are known to need a lot of playtime and exercise. They are both great as service dogs and would be an awesome addition to any family. They are also two of the more widely accepted breeds across the country.

Let’s go back in time

German shepherds sit at the #2 ranking with the AKC. These dogs were originally bred as herding dogs. They were utilized as dogs that would guide and protect herds of sheep or whatever other animals were needing to be protected.

Their lines originate from a central line that later split into German, Belgian, and Dutch. From there, the German shepherd bloodline has been well preserved through the years via selective breeding, thus giving them a consistent look and character.

Golden retrievers are of Scottish origin. They were originally hunting dogs. They were known for their ability to swim through the marshes and retrieve the game and bring it back to the hunters. This is golden retrievers are well known for their ability to swim and fetch.

What is their character?

Golden retrievers are known as fun-loving family dogs. They are typically what you will see when you think of the family dog. They have a puppyish nature that is very commonly associated with raising children in addition to their eager to please nature.

Your golden retriever puppy may not be the pup that will snarl at your new neighbor, but they will definitely run-up to any stranger and ask for pets and belly rubs.

In general, these aren’t bad characteristics to have. However, if you wanted a more assertive dog, you may need to select a little differently.

According to DogTime, Golden retrievers are very easy to train. Due to their natural people-pleasing nature, they make great service dogs. They enjoy fetching whether it is for play or service. They are considered to be highly intelligent, loyal, and sociable.

German shepherds, on the other hand, are known as the more protective dogs. Many people recognize German shepherds for their popular role as police dogs.

They are known for their loyalty and confidence. They are also among the most intelligent dogs you will work with.

A German shepherd will stay by your side as long and as often as possible. It is often said that a person alone with a German shepherd is never left alone. Some may call them to velcro dogs. They just stick to your side.

Upon meeting a stranger, a German shepherd will tend to be more cautious. They won’t immediately run-up to the new person and greet them.

They will be more aloof and hesitant. It is only when they see the person as ‘safe’ that they will approach and allow for the new person to greet them.

With that intelligence comes a con. German shepherds can be more difficult to train. They are often seen as stubborn and require a firmer approach followed by consistency and structure. However, they are able to learn many tasks and commands, according to DogTime.

Due to their high intelligence, they are able to remember and respond to many different commands and tasks even if spoken in a different language. Many German shepherd trainers still use German commands even in cases where the owner is not German.

Golden retrievers are known as the social butterflies of the group. German shepherds are known to be more aloof and suspicious when it comes to strangers. Golden retrievers may play well with visitors, while German shepherds may be more on the protective side.

What kind of work/service could I expect?

German shepherds are considered to be dogkind’s first all-purpose workers, according to the AKC. German shepherds may be found serving as the protective family dog, on the police force in the K-9 unit, or even in the military.

German shepherds are well known for their look as well as for their perception in the public. They have a knack for being perceived as overly aggressive and vicious which is highly untrue. They actually have a tendency to be calmer and more thoughtful than other breeds.

Historically, the agility and speed of the German shepherds have been used in very unpopular ways. These methods have tainted the image of the German shepherd as being vicious and undomesticated which is the furthest thing from the truth.

Golden retrievers are also great service dogs. You may see them as the fun-loving, loyal family pet that plays great with the kids and fetches your slippers when you come in from work They are also known to serve on search and rescue teams.

Golden retrievers are considered to be highly outgoing, trustworthy, and very eager to please. When training, positive affirmation is highly recommended in order to achieve the best results.

Let’s work it out:

Both dogs are considered to be highly energetic dogs. They were both bred to be working dogs, so they must “work” every day in order to stay in prime mental and physical health.

It is very important that both of these breeds eat well and get enough exercise every day. Lack of exercise and “work” may cause restlessness and other behavioral issues.

In addition, a lack of exercise could cause your pups to gain unnecessary weight that could accelerate the issues that commonly plague these breeds. For example, hip dysplasia may be a lot more painful for an obese golden retriever than a normal-sized one.

You will find that a German shepherd that is not burning energy is more restless and slightly more destructive of his or her environment. They also tend to be more on edge and eager to get outside. German shepherds also do not do well alone.

Golden retrievers also enjoy lots of play. Ideally, they will want a bit of exercise every day in order to play and have lots of fun. While golden retrievers can spend some time alone, it is not always advisable as they can often become quite mischievous.

Golden retrievers enjoy long games of fetch. German shepherds enjoy games with toys such as tug-o-war. Depending on the personality of your pet, you could easily see which type of play your dog does well with.

What about the health of my dog?

According to PetFinder, While golden retrievers may seem pretty happy all of the time, they are still prone to a few health concerns.

They are known for commonly suffering from canine hip dysplasia, hyperthyroidism, skin problems, allergies, eye disorders, seizures, and tumors. They also typically have a lifespan of ten to twelve years of age.

According to PetMD, German shepherds are known for suffering from canine hip dysplasia, like the goldens. They are also capable of suffering from elbow dysplasia, cardiomyopathy, cataracts, and perianal fistulas. They typically have a lifespan of seven to ten years of age.

One of the biggest assets to ensuring your dog has an amazingly healthy life regardless of the lifespan is to ensure that they are getting regular veterinarian visits. Many of these issues can be caught early with regular visits. Also, diet and exercise are valuable.

Another major factor when it comes to taking care of your pet is grooming. Both German shepherds and golden retrievers require grooming but the actual fur is a little different. Both have very thick topcoats and undercoats.

German shepherds may have softer hair while younger but it will become more coarse as they age. German shepherds have a strong tendency to shed especially as the seasons change from spring to summer. Brushing is a huge necessity.

Golden retrievers have a thick undercoat. They also have a strong tendency to shed year-round. With the fact that they have longer hair than German shepherds, brushing becomes even more important to prevent matting.

Typically, owners with golden retrievers tend to keep the hair cut short in order to prevent matting and tangles. Matting with any dog is a pretty serious issue. Mattes are very tight knots within a dog’s fur that form as a result of long-term tangles.

Mattes holds a lot of shed hair, dirt, water, and microbes. These microbes could be bacterial or fungal. Most mattes if left unattended tend to have a smell. That is when you know that there is something growing in there. Mattes may also be home to parasites such as fleas.

The best way to avoid mattes in all breeds of dogs is regular brushing and grooming at the very least. In cases where that is not possible, grooming services including hair cuts may have to be an expense to consider for the health of your dog’s skin, especially since golden retrievers have a tendency for allergies.

Let’s wrap it up:

These are two of the best types of dogs that money could by. The two very distinct and amazing bloodlines have withstood the test of time due to the fact that these are two equally amazing dogs. Anyone would be very fortunate to have either dog.

For the most part, choosing between the two is really dependent on preference as well as the environment you may be trying to cultivate in your home. These are two very big factors when it comes to having dogs like this either way.

When it comes to having a German shepherd, you may be a very active person that enjoys being outside with your pet. However, you thrive in structure. You value loyalty and have a tendency to show a lot of consistency and expect it from others.

You may want a German shepherd if you are the type that enjoys dogs that are more introspective as opposed to overly extroverted. German shepherds definitely get along with more introverted people due to their thoughtful nature.

You could be the type that is all about being social and outgoing. You may want a pet that is friendly, fun, and kind of goofy.

You are a very energetic person that loves tossing a ball, a stick, or a frisbee for hours with the knowledge that your dog will always bring it back.

You value loyalty but you recognize your dog’s need to play and socialize with everyone around him or her. You love showing love through affection and affirmation.

You also enjoy just cuddling with your dog. You, my friend, maybe a good candidate for a golden retriever pup.

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