The Complete German Shepherd Adoption Guide
Camille Bataille
Author: Camille Bataille
Camille, a dedicated veterinary professional, has a profound commitment to providing expert care, especially for German Shepherds.
Published date: March 1, 2022
Updated date: December 7, 2022
This article was reviewed and fact checked If you have found any errors, please contact us!

The Complete German Shepherd Adoption Guide

German Shepherds are undoubtedly one of the finest species with unbound intelligence, loyalty, and highly energetic nature.

Many first-time adopters often find themselves in the conundrum of whether they should adopt or buy.

In addition, even if they decide to go with an adoption, the entire process might feel alien and complicated, at least.

Fret not, our comprehensive guide will walk you through all the essential points necessary for bringing an energetic and loyal German Shepherd to your home.

Reasons For Adopting A German Shepherd

german shepherd waiting adoption

We can sketch out a long list mentioning all the possible reasons to consider adopting.

However, to help you bring your pet home at the earliest, we would like to present a few important reasons:

You shall save a dog’s life.

If you adopt a GSD from a shelter, you are making its life better and saving them from getting euthanized.

The RSPCA in the 2016-2017 studies reported that nearly 44,770 dogs entered their shelter, out of which 13% were euthanized for a varied number of reasons.

People can quickly downsize this number by adopting dogs from shelters before these canines reach the impound centers.

You shall get an excellent bargain.

In comparison, an adopted GSD will undoubtedly cost significantly less than the option of buying.

Additionally, most shelters have already gone through the first vaccination, neutering, and even microchipping, making adopting more reliable and cost-effective.

You shall receive an all-weather pet.

All German Shepherd breeds have a thick double coat that enables them to tolerate any hot or cold climate easily.

Before adopting a GSD, you do not have to worry about your geographic locations and the climatic temperature. They can easily tolerate and adapt to most temperature fluctuations with ease.

You shall have a lifelong loyal pet.

german shepherd and boy laying in the backyard

German Shepherds genuinely have a powerful sense of loyalty that will deepen with time. Under proper training, they can protect their owners and the entire family of the household without skipping a beat.

Their protective instinct is precisely in the picture when guarding your property.

Buying vs. adopting

Most people think about the option of buying a GSD before adopting them. However, one must remember a few points to understand the merits of adopting over buying.

If you end up buying your German Shepherd from a breeder or a pet mill, you ultimately support the unethical practices surrounding this phenomenon.

Since these sellers are always after the money, they may not properly care for these puppies and adult dogs behind the curtains.

Poor breeding may also showcase congenital health issues that can be surprisingly challenging to deal with.

Buying a GSD is expensive and can cost a massive burn to the pocket; however, adopting is fairly price effective.

You will save an innocent life and give the dog the loving home they deserve. Since many people feel that rescue dogs won’t bond with them, they skip adopting a dog altogether.

But that is not true; under the proper training and guidance, all dogs heal their trauma and ultimately bond with their owner to the maximum.  

Things to know about German Shepherds before you adopt

We recommend reading these crucial points if you have decided to adopt a German Shepherd.

Having foreknowledge of these main factors will enable the new pet owners to understand the primary concerns and personality traits of the GSD breed before bringing them home.

High-Energy Canine


Owners must recognize that all GSDs have comparatively high-energy levels. German Shepherds need a lot of open space to move and play around.

Restricted places and less exercise can surely make their nature more destructive.

Owners must dedicate an average of 2 hours a day to their training to keep the energy levels under the right proportion. As they are brimming with energy, a simple walk isn’t always enough for them.

GSDs need a robust balance of off-leash running, agility training, and games like fetch, frisbee, and flyball. 

Ensure that you have sufficient time to spare for these activities or have someone carry these tasks on your behalf.

Intelligence And Mental Stimulation

As German Shepherds are intelligent breeds, they need constant mental stimulation throughout the day.

Owners need to spend a considerable chunk of time teaching them new tricks or a series of advanced commands.

We recommend adopting a GSD if you are willing to shell out time to teach these tricks almost daily.

Additionally, one needs to be highly patient, as the progress can vary depending on the dog’s ability to grasp the orders and commands.

Costly To Own

Let’s face it, owning a GSD can be slightly challenging if you are on a budget. This challenge can feel more problematic, especially if you own a large dog breed like a German Shepherd.

According to, the average cost of a large dog can look anywhere from £5,700 to a potential lifetime cost of £30,800.

You will need to prepare yourself for the initial expenses like bed, water bowls, toys, car restraints, collars, and tags.

Apart from that, the ongoing costs include regular food supply, booster vaccinations, health checkups, pet insurance, toy allowance, etc.

These expenses can vary according to your geographic location, size of the GSD, and the options you choose for your pet.

However, the bottom line is you might want to consider the financial aspect of owning a dog before adopting it.

Health Conditions

german shepherd health conditions

German Shepherds are relatively robust; however, they are prone to a few health conditions that may require professional help.

The following are the most common diseases and conditions that a high percentage of GSDs face on average.

Intervertebral Disc Disease

German Shepherds are always at a higher risk for intervertebral disc disease, spinal problems, and arthritis than other breeds.

Constant medical checkups and veterinary visits are essential to keep track of the disease’s severity.

Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI)

EPI is a fatal digestive disorder commonly seen in German Shepherds. If you have taken reasonable care before the damage, you can keep this health condition at bay.

To prevent any digestive disorders, you need to focus on feeding high-quality dog food with a healthy portion of raw meats.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia often occurs when the hip joints aren’t completely formed in the GSDs body. The leading cause can be genetics or early damage during the first year of the puppy’s life.

A proper background check can help identify the underlying issues that worsen in large breed dogs.

Dog owners should pay attention to the early signs of these diseases and plan for decent treatment options for their pet GSD.

You might also need to opt for a suitable dog policy and your dedicated support for your pet.

Heavy Shedders

German Shepherds are truly heavy shedders all year round, and the intensity and level increase during the hotter spring and colder fall seasons.

Owners must regularly brush their pets to remove all loose fur to keep the house devoid of the mess.

In addition, you must spend on grooming products to keep the coat healthy and shiny.

Lastly, a professional groomer can also come into the picture if you wish to keep your dog’s fur well-trimmed at all times.

Assessing Your Suitability For Adopting A German Shepherd

German Shepherd Adoption guide reports that people often surrender their pet dogs because of behavior issues, time constraints, inadequate housing, and lack of money at their disposal.

Adopters should pay extra attention to these four primary concerns to avoid post-adoption guilt.

We highly recommend owners ensure that they can take care of the new family member without any compromises.

Apart from that, one needs to assess the suitability of a particular GSD in accordance with your family. For instance:

  • Newly married owners without kids might want to opt for a high-energy dog who is always down for adventures.
  • If your family has young kids, we highly recommend looking for a calmer GSD who has a history of living with children.
  • Similarly, if you are in your golden years, having an old GSD that is completely loyal and protective can come in very handy.

It can be tough to judge a dog’s behavior by looking at them.

Still, we recommend doing a little background check and asking for past information from the shelter workers to understand the dog’s nature and behavior pattern.

Where Can You Adopt Your GSD

The following are a few ways to initiate the process of adopting your GSD.

Communicating in the community

This approach is one of the straightforward ways to find a healthy German Shepherd as your pet.

Vets, trainers, and groomers can be a good lead to start with as they work closely with dogs and might know people who want to put up their dogs for adoption.

Talking to GSD owners can also be a good idea as most owners put up the kids for adoption if their pet has given birth to multiple puppies.

If you do not find any answers, consider approaching animal welfare societies and rescue centers.

Animal Welfare Societies

You can approach animal welfare societies that work exclusively as non-profit organizations for the welfare of animals.

The ASPCA and Best Friends Animal Society are two leading animal welfare societies with a dedicated ‘Adopt A Pet’ page for owners looking for adoption.

Seeking help from shelters, welfare societies, and rescue centers allows you to track the dog’s history so the families can take better care of them.

One can further contact them and meet the dog to take home a healthy and loyal German Shepherd.

Another reliable rescue network is the AKC rescue network, with a detailed list of over 40+ dedicated rescue shelters specializing in German Shepherds.

Apart from that, you can search for any breed and find a legitimate rescue shelter address for your adoption process.

These shelters also provide essential follow-up support needed for any adoption process.

Adoption Websites

where to start when adopting german shepherd

Apart from these rescue groups, you can also search for adoption sites that have various breeds of dogs available at any given moment.

One can further filter your search by selecting the German Shepherd to find GSD dogs of all ages. 2 reliable pet adoption websites include:

  • Dogtime
  • Petfinder

Dogtime has a reliable long history of saving dogs of all species with their care-driven initiatives. You can search for a dog based on your location for added convenience.

On the other hand, Petfinder is genuinely the oldest website to help you get in touch with your dream GSD pet.

They have a comprehensive database of animals throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico, so you are bound to find your pet without much effort.

Places to avoid

  • We do not recommend relying on Craigslist listings to find free animals as the listings are a scam most of the time.
  • Avoid buying your GSD from any puppy mill as the dog won’t be healthy, and you wouldn’t get an accurate history of that puppy or its parents. Additionally, you will be directly supporting this industry by keeping them afloat.
  • Steer clear of any ads that say ”free dogs” on the internet. These ads are primarily scams, and you will lose the money you wish to offer for the pet.

Connecting And Visiting The Chosen Shelter

german shepherd in rescue shelter

Once you are sure about the animal welfare center or rescue shelter, your next step is to give them a call and get to know the basic details about the dog.

This step will save your visit if you are not interested in that particular dog from the description.

If the pet seems suitable for your needs, consider visiting the rescue shelter to see the number of dogs. Feel free to research and approach multiple centers to find an ideal GSD for your family.

Since a dog will be an essential part of your life, consider spending a lot of time shortlisting the candidates.

Take a day out and visit all the shortlisted German Shepherds and assess their behavior.

Since many dogs will showcase visible signs of trauma, you need to ensure that the dog doesn’t feel overwhelmed by your presence.

Once you have spotted your ideal pet, you can consider spending some time with them and let them be aware of your company.

Legal Registration

Step 1: Filling out the legal application form.

Your legal registration is the following process after you have selected your German Shepherd.

The shelters will provide you with an application form that you must fill out thoroughly with all the correct information.

Step 2: Screening process

The next step involves the screening process of the application and the owner. During this process, the shelter officials take great care and often weed out all candidates deemed unprepared to adopt a dog.

The screening process usually takes time as the staff wants to make the right choice of giving you a pet that is truly good for your house.

If you already have dogs in your home, they will check with your veterinarian to see whether you are up to date with the shots and examinations.

Step 3: House examination

The adoption center group will also likely visit your house to check if your home has adequate accommodations like a fenced yard, a good play area, and such.

Since the German Shepherds are considered a high-energy breed, renters should procure proof showing the landlord’s agreement to the new pet.

Similarly, homeowners must conform to their homeowners’ insurance company to allow a pet on the premises.

The premiums would likely increase, so we recommend having a word with your agent before accepting the terms.

A few people might find the paperwork and screening process intrusive, but the rigorous process is helpful for both parties in the long run.

Once you get a green flag from the rescue group, you can prepare yourself to bring the new canine home.

Getting Puppy Used To A New Home

adopted german shepherd puppy

Now that you have passed the screening process and signed the contract, you must pay the adoption fee and bring your German Shepherd home.

If you are a first-time owner, you need to be extremely careful as the initial days are essential to form a bond between the pet and the owner.

Ensure that you have purchased all the requirements for your pet to stay comfortably at your home. A few essential things include:

  • Comfortable bed
  • Toys of different textures, sizes, and shapes
  • Collar
  • Leash or harness
  • Food
  • Bowl
  • Snacky treats

Ensure that your dog is appropriately tucked in their crate while bringing them home. Most German Shepherds often find car rides extremely stressful, so a cage will keep them safe during transit.

Upon reaching, clean the dog as much as possible and spend plenty of time around the house.

Be extra patient the first few days as the dogs are highly stressed by a big move. It takes time for the dogs to familiarize the place and feel safe and secure.

We recommend leading your German Shepherd through its schedule as soon as possible. A perfect daily program will enable the dog to adjust to the surroundings even more and comparatively faster.

Make sure you do not startle your GSD with too much excitement as it will make them uncomfortable, causing them to freak out. If your family has kids, teach the kids to handle the dog properly.

If they are scared of the dogs, consider familiarizing them each day till they can freely roam around your new pet.

After a few days of introduction, consider starting with the basic training as it is essential to make your German Shepherd confident.

Depending on the dog, you might have to retrain them through the basics like ”come” and ”sit” accordingly. Once your dog finds you reliable, they will quickly learn whatever comes their way.

You can also refer to AKGs training guidelines to help you with the training. We also recommend consulting a few pet owners to understand their growth patterns and gain extra tips on their upbringing.

If you aren’t sure about the training, getting professional help can be equally helpful to get your dog fully trained within a short period.

We recommend following these things thoroughly to make your GSD feel safe in their new house with their new family.

Do rescue dogs need special care?

rescue dogs need special care

Yes, indeed, rescue dogs often come with a lot of baggage, and the adopter must take extra care of the dog till they heal from the trauma.

These dogs may have a past of domestic abuse, poor hygiene, lack of sympathy or love, negligence, and zero socialization.

Depending on your GSDs history, you need to provide extra attention and ensure the past does not repeat.

In addition, they may have a few underlying medical issues, so getting special medical treatment will help them get better soon.

Be close with your vet and discuss the health of your newly adopted dog at regular intervals.

The special care also involves taking them out for regular walks and exercise sessions to keep them fit and in a playful mood.

If you live in a tiny space, try to take them to parks, dog grounds, and nearby open places to play and socialize.


With that, we have concluded our comprehensive adoption guide of German Shepherds.

Remember that GSDs need a little time to warm up to their new owners; this is especially true if your pet is adopted from a shelter or rescue center.

Making a pet out of a rescue animal is a full-time job, and you need to ensure proper training and love to make them feel safe and secure.

We hope this guide sheds light on all the necessary topics required to adopt a GSD for the first time.

Potential owners must ask themselves a few questions and see whether a German Shepherd is a suitable breed for their family.

Lastly, consider adopting from legally legitimate adoption centers to take home a proper pet with correct medical and past information.

If you are determined to proceed with the adoption process, we would like to congratulate you on your wise decision to save an innocent canine’s life.

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