7 Reasons Why German Shepherds Are Great Family Dogs
Many pet parents choose to raise their children alongside German Shepherds given this dog breed's superior intelligence and athleticism. For these dog lovers, there's no other large dog breed better at guarding their family.
Are you considering bringing home a German Shepherd puppy?
Reward training and rigorous exercise are successful methods to teach these pups at an early age to become great family dogs. In this article, you will learn what characteristics make this American Kennel Club dog breed a great family dog and what you need to provide let your companion thrive.
Does a German Shepherd Make a Good Family Pet?
Yes. German Shepherd Dogs (GSD) remain an all-time popular dog breed. A German Shepherd dog has remained a family favorite for kids, as this breed is playful, affectionate, and gentle. And their guarding instincts and intelligence make them outstanding family pets.
The caveat is that a German Shepherd is a working dog who benefits from tonos of socialization and obedience training, which can come easily with the right training techniques.
History of the German Shepherd Dog
Bred in Germany by Captain Max von Stephanitz, the GSD is a herding dog from the late 9th century. These dogs were bred by mixing common shepherd breeds in Germany and Austria to create the legendary German Shepherd, known for its protectiveness, keen instinct, loyalty, and courage.
These dogs are confident and driven, and thrive on active duty work too, like guide dogs and police dogs.
There are two classifications: German Shepherds and Amercian-bred German Shepherds – difference lies in appearance rather than key traits. Also known as Alsatian, the AKC registered the breed in 1908. Over the decades, German Shepherds have consistently remained in the top 10 most popular dogs globally.
General Characteristics Of the Breed
German Shepherd puppies are adorable, with their all-hearing radar ears and enormous paws, which instantly melt your heart. That said, it’s always important to investigate the breeder and look at inheritable health conditions. Before bringing a puppy home, it’s important to understand the breed thoroughly, and then find a reputable shelter or breeder to bring home a puppy.
- Classification: Herding Group.
- Height 22 to 26 inches.
- Weight 60 to 100 pounds.
- Coat coloring Bicolor: a combination of black with tan, red, cream, gray sable, gold, silver, or solid black.
- Hypoallergenic? No
- Life Expectancy 8 to 11 years.
- Temperament: intelligent, courageous, alert, brave, loyal, and protective.
- Origin: Germany, 1899.
- Common Health Concerns: separation anxiety, behavioral issues, and hip dysplasia (elbow dysplasia and hygroma, bloat, degenerative myelopathy).
7 Reasons Why German Shepherds Make Good Family Pets
According to fans of the GSD, there are no other large breeds that make for better family pets. These are some of their outstanding family attributes.
1. Top Guard Breed
GSD owners rave about the breed's loyalty and intuition. This keen guarding instinct and devotion can make a German Shepherd suspicious of strangers. However, it differentiates these popular dog breeds and makes them ideal for families with active kids.
The GSD is renowned for its protectiveness; they were originally bred to guard livestock—hence herding. While children and livestock aren't the same in our eyes, a GSD's protective and guarding instincts are second to none.
Many choose German Shepherds for their famous guarding qualities. It’s not uncommon to see this breed on duty. These active dogs are always on guard and possess a keen sense, which makes them ideal for herding animals and protecting family and property.
2. Highly Trainable
German Shepherd puppies take to training easily (begin at 7 to 8 weeks) and enjoy performing tasks for your praise. Since they’re working dogs, GSDs pick up skills and your cues easily. They’re fantastic at herding, guarding, agility, sniffing, tracking, fun tricks and make excellent show dogs.
For pet owners wanting to elevate their training and establish boundaries for their furry friends, smart dog collars present a tailor-made solution. Wondering about the perks? The World Animal Foundation explores the benefits of products, for example Halo dog collar, for these containment strategies.
3. Great Companion
The beauty of GSDs is that they adapt to single-family homes and rambunctious children. Training is as essential, as are mental and physical stimulation, and GSDs prefer company over alone time. German Shepherds make wonderful family companions with proper training. Their intelligence lends them to learning commands and duties quickly. Puppies do well with multi-pet and other dogs.
4. Good with Kids
Fans of GSDs agree that this breed is excellent for children. They are kid-friendly and grow attached to, and protective of your kids.
You should nevertheless teach your children rules to avoid danger. For instance, your kids should know to:
- Avoid teasing the dog (e.g., pinching, pulling)
- Avoid startling the dog
- Respect a dog’s feeding time
- Not engage the dog in dangerous play behavior
Teach your children to read a dog’s body language, like growling, an aggressive stance, and barking with barred teeth.
5. Extremely Intelligent
Word to the wise: never argue with a GSD. These confident dogs continue to dominate the smartest dog breed list regardless of the skillset required. They have a remarkably fast and retentive memory that allows them to translate and memorize cue words. They're proficient as police dogs, in military work, as personal guides, and as child-friendly pets.
6. Healthy Breed
A German Shepherd lives 7 - 11 years and works hard to protect you. Dogs from responsible breeders have fewer health issues, so researching reputable breeders is vital. Avoid German Shepherds bred from unreputable breeders for cash to ensure the breed's health and pedigree.
7. High Energy Levels
German Shepherds require routine exercise to stay healthy, agile, and mentally sharp. Experts suggest two hours of daily exercise keeps this breed in shape. GSDs are awesome running partners, and stimulation and exercise can keep them from chewing, digging, barking, and pent-up aggression, too.
Considerations When Bringing Home a German Shepherd
Here’s a rundown of some of the important care and health elements of a German Shepherd. This breed has unique attributes that new owners should know before bringing home a new companion.
Food & Diet
From puppyhood to maturity, shepherds have specific nutritional needs. It is best to speak with your vet about the best dry kibble, canned, or raw feeding.
Note that cooked bones, high fat, and table scraps can cause digestive issues like bloat, so are best to avoid. That said, cooked vegetables and eggs can make mealtime more appealing and healthy.
Avoid no-sugar yogurt, berries, and common foods toxic to dogs. Care to avoid overfeeding as this can lead to obesity, diabetes, and mobility problems.
Health & Well-Being
German Shepherds are affectionate family members and don't mind a good snuggle; however, these high-energy dogs do best on an exercise routine. You can engage them by:
- Playing games
- Taking walks, running, or swimming
- Enrolling them in agility training or Schutzhund obedience trials
- Giving them tasks
- Kennel training to make them feel safe
It’s important to keep in mind to take your GSD companion to the vet on annual basis, and more often as a puppy, and to ensure important grooming needs are covered, including dental care.
Exercise & Training
Training and exercise are deeply intertwined with health and well-being. German Shepherds require regular activities to relieve their energy. Begin with puppy classes and work up to obedience or obstacle course training. These classes are fun for you and your dog.
Treats or biscuits in small quantities are great for training. For an example of a good training course, explore this training resource.
Grooming & Allergies
German Shepherds are heavy shedders. Their dense double coat requires regular brushing. A best practice is to brush your GSD a several times a week, and more during shedding season.
As a result German Shepherds are not a hypoallergenic breed. With regular brushing, they’ll only need an occasional bath.
Are you looking for a hypoallergenic puppy? If so, check out our resource on hypoallergenic dogs.
People who love German Shepherds rave about their incredible smarts, trainability, affection, and other superior qualities. They are an outstanding family breed, especially for those living an active lifestyle.
Keep in mind important health, care, and grooming requirements, to make sure that the German Shepherd is in fact the right breed for your family.
Are you still unsure if the German Shepherd is the right dog breed for your family? If so, try our Breed Match Quiz to find the exact best breed for your lifestyle.
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