A low-angle shot of a German shepherd dog running after a tennis ball.

Pros & Cons of Getting a German Shepherd: Top 20 Reasons

The German Shepherd Dog (GSD)

German Shepherds are undoubtedly one of the most popular dog breeds worldwide, and for good reason. Their exceptional loyalty and intelligence, combined with their strong protective instincts and relatively good health, make them a fantastic choice for a variety of dog owners.

German Shepherds are often used as police and military dogs due to their agility, strength, and intelligence. Still, they also make wonderful family pets, providing love, companionship, and protection to their owners.

As with any dog breed, you must consider whether your lifestyle is suitable to bring a dog into. If you have any doubts, please read our article which explores whether you should get a dog or not.

In this article, we’ll look at the pros and cons of owning a German Shepherd Dog (GSD).

Let’s begin with the pros!

The Pros of Owning A German Shepherd Dog

  • Intelligence: German Shepherds are known for their high intelligence, making them easy to train for lots of tasks and commands.
  • Loyalty: They are extremely loyal to their family, often forming a strong bond with their owners. Every German Shepherd I’ve known has been incredibly close to all members of its human family!
  • Versatility: This breed is very versatile, excelling in various roles such as police dogs, service dogs, therapy dogs, and family pets. This versatility makes them a lot easier to train than some breeds. I had the pleasure of working alongside many German Shepherds during my military service, and I never failed to be amazed by what this breed can achieve!
  • Protective Nature: German Shepherds are naturally protective, making them excellent guard dogs for your home and family. Just the sight of a GSD, along with their reputation as guard dogs, is enough to put off many potential criminals.
  • Active Lifestyle: They are well-suited for active individuals or families, as they require regular exercise and lots of mental stimulation.
  • Good with Children: With proper training and socialisation, German Shepherds can be great with children, showing patience and gentleness.
  • Adaptability: They can adapt to various living environments, from apartments (with plenty of exercise) to houses with gardens, but the more space, the better.
  • Strong Work Ethic: German Shepherds have a strong work ethic and enjoy having tasks or jobs, which can be fulfilling for both the dog and the owner.
  • Health: While they can be prone to certain health issues, responsible breeding and proper care can lead to a healthy, long-lived and happy dog. (There are issues to consider – covered in the cons of owning a GSD.)
  • Companionship: Above all, German Shepherds make wonderful companions, providing affection, entertainment, and companionship to their owners. This can’t be overstated – GSD’s really are a loving dog breed which loves companionship.
A german shephered dog leaping over a wooden fence as part of a dog obstacle course.

The Cons of Owning a German Shepherd Dog

While German Shepherds are excellent dogs in many ways, there are also valid reasons why they might not be the right fit for everyone. Here are ten reasons you might reconsider getting a German Shepherd:

  • High Energy Levels: German Shepherds are very active and require a lot of exercise. If you lead a sedentary lifestyle or don’t have the time for long walks and active play, they may not be the best fit.
  • Need for Constant Mental Stimulation: They are intelligent and need regular mental stimulation to prevent boredom. Without it, they can develop destructive behaviours.
  • Potential for Health Problems: Although responsible breeding is beginning to address the problem, German Shepherds can be prone to health issues like hip dysplasia, which can lead to significant veterinary expenses and emotional distress.
  • Shedding: They shed a lot, especially in Autumn and Spring. This requires regular grooming and can be problematic for those with allergies or an aversion to fur around the house. For those who embrace dog hair – maybe this T-shirt is for you! There’s also a German Shepherd T-shirt here.
An illustration of a German shepherd dog standing in a living room, surrounded by shed hair and fur
  • Training and Socialisation Needs: German Shepherds need thorough training and socialisation from a young age. Inexperienced owners might find this challenging.
  • Size and Strength: Their size and strength can be daunting and may not be suitable for owners who may have difficulty handling larger dogs.
  • Protective Instincts: While their protective nature is often a pro, it can also be a con. Without proper training, their protective instincts can lead to aggressive behaviour.
  • Not Ideal for First-Time Dog Owners: Due to their specific needs in training, exercise, and care, they may not be ideal for first-time dog owners.
  • Cost of Ownership: The cost of owning a German Shepherd, including food, health care, training, and other expenses, can be significant over their lifetime.
  • Commitment: Owning a German Shepherd is a long-term commitment, often spanning over a decade. This requires a stable lifestyle and the ability to care for the dog throughout its life.

If you have the lifestyle that a German Shepherd could fit into, please consider adopting one. You can read more about the breed, and how to adopt one at German Shepherd Rescue Elite.

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