Every family should have a dog. A dog teaches responsibility, and it’s a companion for the entire family to enjoy.
However, it can be hard to decide what type of dog is best for you and your family. The decision becomes even more important when you have children in the home.
You need a dog that won’t be aggressive with the children. But, at the same time, you may also want a dog that is protective of the children.
Is a German Shepherd a good family dog? Although every situation is different, GSDs can be great family dogs with the proper upbringing and training.
German Shepherds are one of the most popular dog breeds in the country. They are in tons of family homes and are also used as police dogs.
It’s easy to see why with their big smiles and attractive coloring, but are they really the best option for a family? Here’s everything you need to know.
Reasons Why German Shepherds Are Good Family Dogs
There are a number of reasons why German Shepherds are great family dogs. Here are just some of those reasons:
- Great for breeding
German Shepherds are known for being one of the more intelligent breeds of dogs. This makes them very easy to train.
When children are involved in the training, it helps to have a smart dog to work with.
Since they are so smart, they can learn tricks easier than many other breeds. So have fun teaching them to fetch, roll over, and sit.
German Shepherds generally become very attached to their owners. It won’t take long before your dog loves you and your family just as much as you love them.
This makes them quite affectionate, so it’s great for people who like something big and fuzzy to cuddle with at night.
Just because the dog becomes attached to you does not mean that they will be mean to others. In fact, they can be quite a friendly breed.
This is especially true if they see you interacting positively with the people you bring around.
You won’t have to worry about the dog attacking any of your friends as long as you introduce them properly and they receive the right kind of socialization.
German Shepherds have teeth, and they do know how to use them. While they are generally friendly dogs, they will be quick to protect the family in the case of danger.
This is particularly true when it comes to the little ones.
The dog will keep a watchful eye over you and the other people in your family. They will constantly be on guard, just in case you need them.
Their large stature only helps in making them appear intimidating to foes. They are a relatively large dog, so intruders will not be excited to encounter them during a break-in.
German Shepherds have a lot of energy. So do children. This is the dog that will be able to keep up with the kids at the park or in the yard.
In fact, the children will probably get tired before the dog does.
While this is positive, it can also be seen as negative. This is not a low-maintenance dog that you can leave at home all day. We will go into more detail about this below.
If you and everyone else in the house are gone throughout the day, it’s a good idea to hire a dog-walker to help give them the exercise they need.
Everyone wants a dog that will look good in the Christmas card photo, and German Shepherds are perfect for that. They are extremely attractive animals.
Since they are so active, they usually don’t get too overweight. Plus, they have stunning coloring.
This is the type of dog that people will stop to marvel at when walking down the street. They’re adorable as pups and only get better looking with time.
7. Great for Breeding
If you are interested in breeding dogs, German Shepherds are a great option. People want German Shepherds, and they will pay a significant amount of money to get one.
A full-breed German Shepherd can help you create a side business if you also purchase a mate. Of course, that only applies if you can stand to get rid of the adorable puppies.
Some dogs want to protect their owners, but, in the end, they are simply too cowardly. German Shepherds are quite the opposite.
If they see that you or the children are in danger, they will take action right away. They are brave and courageous.
They are the type of dog that would sacrifice themselves for their owner.
German Shepherd: The Breed
As the name suggests, German Shepherds were first introduced in Germany. It originally had long hair, but in 1889, short-haired German Shepherds were introduced to the public.
The breed was transported to America in 1907. The breed was specifically designed to be loyal and obedient, so they were made from herding dogs.
German Shepherds are generally 22 – 24 inches tall and weigh 75 – 85 pounds. German Shepherds are also known for their pointy ears that stick up.
The breed can come in a wide variety of colors, but an attractive mixture of brown and black is the most popular.
Are German Shepherds Aggressive?
German Shepherds have been known for some of their aggressive behaviors and tendencies. However, it is these personality traits that make them a good guard dog for a family.
Therefore, it really comes down to their training. If they are not trained as a guard dog, you will need to learn how to curb any aggressive tendencies they may have.
The temperament and behavior of a German Shepherd rarely make them an aggressive dog breed, even with their intense loyalty and protective tendencies.
As long as your German Shepherd is properly trained and socialized, they should be good around kids.
However, it is also important to train your young children on what the right and wrong thing is to do around the family dog.
For example, children should be taught that there are right and wrong ways to engage with the dog, and they also need to learn to respect the dog’s space.
As a child and pet parent, you will find training is a top priority to ensure that your German Shepherd and young children get along well.
Can German Shepherds Be High Maintenance?
Yes. German Shepherds can be considered a high maintenance dog breed. This is because they require regular grooming to keep their skin and coat as healthy as possible.
Regular grooming also helps ensure the fur doesn’t become matted or tangled. They can also be considered high maintenance simply because they suffer from separation anxiety.
Separation anxiety is common for many dog breeds but is especially common for German Shepherds.
When they are stressed and left alone, they may exhibit destructive behaviors that include chewing, biting on the furniture, barking aggressively, and even hurting themselves in attempts to escape.
To help with separation anxiety, you need to make sure your German Shepherd gets plenty of exercise on a daily basis.
On the other side of this, they are not as high maintenance when it comes to obedience and training, still making them a great family dog.
German Shepherds thrive on activities and mental and physical stimulation, so just a minimum level of basic training will not be enough for them.
However, the family can work together to train their new German Shepherd pup and combined, will have enough energy to work off with them.
Tips For Caring For German Shepherds
Every dog is unique in its requirements and training techniques. Here are a couple of tips to help raise your German Shepherd to be the best pet ever.
1. Get Moving
German Shepherds are extremely energetic dogs. They were designed to work, and they need to put that energy to use.
That means that they need a lot of exercise. You should take them out multiple times a day and play with them.
It’s generally recommended that they get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. If you and your family don’t have time for this, the dog can go a little stir crazy.
This can result in some undesirable behavior.
2. Have Space
Since the dogs are so energetic, this is not a dog that you want to keep in a small, city apartment. These dogs need room, so it’s best if you have a home with a yard.
German Shepherds shed. A lot. This means that there will be dander all over your house. If anyone in your home has allergies, this dog can make them act up.
If you decide to get the dog despite allergies, you should keep the dog off the furniture. You should also clean often and thoroughly.
However, this probably won’t eliminate the problem entirely. Invest in allergy medication to continue to enjoy the pet.
4. Exhibit Dominance
Some dogs feel the need to be leaders, and this breed is one of them. To deter the dog from trying to take dominance over you, you need to demonstrate dominance right away.
Do this with consistent training.
It’s important to note that being dominant does not mean that you should be aggressive or mean while training the dog. It’s not necessary to use violent tactics.
5. Be Wary Around Other Dogs
Since German Shepherds are known for being alpha dogs, they can get a little testy when other canines come into their space. They can see the other dog as a threat.
This is especially true for dogs of the same sex.
If you already have other pets, a German Shepherd should be fine as long as they grow up with the other pet.
6. Provide Plenty of Mental Stimulation
This breed needs more than just physical activity. Your dog needs mental stimulation, too, due to its high intelligence.
Letting the dog outside isn’t enough. You need to set up things that will challenge the dog.
It can be as simple as playing fetch or as complicated as setting up an obstacle course. The breed is made to use its brain, so you have to give it something to focus on and think about.
7. Get the Dog as a Puppy
Not only is a German Shepherd puppy extremely cute, but they are also much easier to train if you get them as a puppy.
You won’t have to worry about your German Shepherd puppy learning bad behavior before you get them.
If you plan to get a German Shepherd, get a baby. Also, make sure to acquire your German Shepherd puppy from a reputable breeder rather than a puppy mill.
Common Health Issues
When looking for the best family dog, you also want to be aware of common health issues that may arise with the dog breed you choose.
These are a few of the more common health issues often experienced by German Shepherds.
- Hip Dysplasia: Not all German Shepherds experience optimal joint health. Hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia can be common as the dog ages. However, there are things you can do to delay the onset and reduce the symptoms.
- Degenerative Myelopathy: This is a genetic disease that affects the spinal cord. Nothing can be done to prevent it, and there really is no treatment currently for degenerative myelopathy.
- Bloat or Gastric Dilation: If the dog eats their food too quickly and doesn’t engage in much physical activity, gas begins to build up in the stomach. The dog can then find it difficult to expel gas, causing bloat and pressure, making it difficult to breathe.
These are just a few of the more common health conditions German Shepherds may face in their lifetime. As a dog owner, it is up to you to ensure they receive the right nutrition and the right amount of exercise.
Final Thoughts: Are German Shepherds Good Dogs?
Is a German Shepherd a good family dog? The answer is 100% yes.
They are smart, easy to train, friendly, energetic, and protective. They can manage other children and other pets as long as they are trained properly.
Just like any dog, the dog’s personality will ultimately be molded by their training. While most German Shepherds are friendly, even this dog breed can turn aggressive if raised by an aggressive owner.
It’s a good idea to have plenty of space and time to play with this highly energetic dog.
As long as you give your pup proper obedience training, proper socialization, and the attention it needs, this is a dog that is sure to be a dear part of your family for its entire life.