Are German Shepherds Good for First-Time Owners?
You may be attracted to Geman Shepherds for their loyalty, obedience, intelligence, and even appearance. Or you think GSD is right for you based on what you have read or heard about. I get that. But if you are going to get your first dog, are German Shepherds good for first-time owners?
Deciding whether a German Shepherd is good for first-time owners depends largely upon one’s willingness to do what is best for the dog more than his experience. If you are able to satisfy GSDs’ need for socialization, training, exercise, grooming, and potential veterinary care, a German Shepherd will be good for you as a first-time owner.
- Or, are first-time owners good for German Shepherds?
- What do German Shepherds need from their owners?
- Working your way to being the best owner for your GSD
- What are the pros and cons of owning a German Shepherd for a first-timer?
- The pros of having a German Shepherd
- The cons of having a German Shepherd
- Further questions
Or, are first-time owners good for German Shepherds?
How would you answer the question the other way around?
Let’s put it in perspective: who is a better owner? A first-time owner who is responsible and eager to make arrangements for the best interest of his dog or someone who has raised couch potatoes for years, is not a big fan of outdoor activities, lives in a tiny apartment, and does not have access to training resources?
You get the idea.
I think first-time owners should be reminded of the old saying: For you, she might be a part of your life, but for your GSD, you are her everything.
Your German Shepherd will depend on you for food, shelter, care, and everything they will ever need from the first day they come into your life.
Therefore, I would argue it’s a matter of whether the owner is able and willing the make necessary adjustments in his lifestyle to suit the needs of his GSD, whether he is a first-timer or not.
What do German Shepherds need from their owners?
German Shepherds were first bred to work for people and they have retained the trait to be good with people. But that does not mean they can take care of themselves. This breed has certain demands that are specific to their temperament, energy level, and build.
In general, here are what German Shepherds will need from their owner:
#1 German Shepherds will grow into large dogs and need enough room to move around, and they require 1-2 hours of daily exercise. A GSD is not the breed that will sit on your lap while you watch TV all day.
#2 They need proper training and socialization from as early as 8 weeks on. Otherwise, they may become over-protective, aggressive or develop other behavioral problems such as constant barking.
#3 They can get bored easily and should not be left alone for more than 4 hours (2 hours for puppies). This means you may need to have dog sitters/walkers, friends or neighbors come over to keep them busy during the day if you work a 9-5 job.
#4 German Shepherds are pack animals, they need a strong “alpha” leader to establish rules and boundaries to help them understand their place in the pack. Of course, that alpha leader is supposed to be you!
#5 Most important of all, like any other dogs, your German Shepherd will need a lot of your love and patience. GSDs have sensitive stomachs and may swallow things he’s not supposed to. He may need you to take them to the vet from time to time, just like a child.
Working your way to being the best owner for your GSD
Don’t worry if you think you do can satisfy all these needs at one go. Everybody is different and may start at a different point.
Our advice to you is: do your research.
Read books, join Facebook groups, talk to current owners, ask questions, and learn everything you can about this breed. And it’s worth your time.
It’s your dog’s best interest for you to be better prepared than rushing into a decision when your circumstances are not ready.
If you are not 100% sure, you may sign up for fostering a German Shepherd for a period of time (usually a few months before the dog finds a new home).
Not only it is a way for you to help a dog in transition to a new home, it is also a good way to learn how to take care of a GSD firsthand. This will give first-time owners and their families the experience of having a dog living with them. So you can have more information to evaluate whether your situations are best for your GSD.
What are the pros and cons of owning a German Shepherd for a first-timer?
Now I hope you have a better idea of what a German Shepherd would expect of you. But what do you get from your German Shepherd?
Just like everything else in life, there are two sides of a coin. Let’s have a look:
The pros of having a German Shepherd
Let’s be honest, German Sherpherds are not for everyone.
If you cannot devote your time, energy, effort, and love a German Shepherd needs from her owner, you may as well do further research and get another breed that suits your need.
#1 Your GSD keeps you company
German Shepherds and bred to work for and work with people. Although they may not be affectionate to every stranger they meet, they just love to be around their owners day in day out.
Starting from the day you bring her home, you will have a shadow following you wherever you go, to the yard, in the living room, into the kitchen, and even to the bathroom.
#2 Your GSD keeps you safe
The working lines German Shepherds are bred for guarding. They are hardwired to have strong guarding instincts. If trained properly, they’ll protect your house from intruders.
#3 Your GSD makes you healthier
If you walk your German Shepherd for at least 1 hour a day and enjoy spending time with her outdoor, you don’t even have to read the research to learn that your German Shepherd is going to make you healthier.
#4 Your GSD makes you happy
There’s no doubt being with animals makes people happy. We don’t need others to tell us about that. Studies have also found people owning pets are less likely to suffer from depression.
On top of that, who has never felt better after exercise? Physical activity (dog walking) triggers a release of dopamine, which can also improve mood.
#5 Your GSD brings you friends
Walking with your German Shepherd, or any other dog will make us pick up a conversation much easier with strangers as well as other dog owners.
You will find yourself talking to other people about your German Shepherd, and anything around you and your dog.
#6 Your GSD teaches your kids valuable life lessons
German Shepherd are known to have a temperament that is calm and good with children, if socialized and trained properly.
By spending their time with a loyal and affectionate dog like a German Shepherd, your kids will learn about love, responsibility, discipline, patience, and more.
The cons of having a German Shepherd
German Shepherd are intelligent and easy to train. However, just like any other breed, if left untrained, you may experience over-protectiveness, aggression or other behavioral problems. Here are the cons of owning a German Shepherd
#1 You own a shedding machine
German Shepherds shed a lot and require regular grooming. You may need to invest in a powerful vacuum to make your life easier.
#2 GSD may have a high prey drive
Some German Shepherds may have a high prey drive and will kill small animals like cats, chickens, Chihuahua, squirrel rabbits, and so on. She may become a threat to your small animals at home. Proper training can help.
#3 GSD could be too nosiy for your neighbor
German Shepherds are very vocal. Apart from barks, they also howl, whine, moan, and make other strange sounds, that may cause disturbance to your neighbors. Again, you need to train your GSD to have good manners.
#4 Potenetial health issues
German Shepherds are prone to hereditary health issues (e.g. hip dysplasia) that may cost you a lot to maintain. You may experience financial and mental stress if it happens.
How much does a German Shepherd puppy cost?
A reasonable price for a German Shepherd puppy should be around $1000, depending on your location and the litter size.
Should I get a male or female German Shepherd?
It depends on your living conditions and lifestyle. Male German Shepherd is generally larger build and larger muscle than the female German Shepherd. So they should eat more. Males may exhibit more protectiveness due to their muscular build and larger size.
Both male and female German Shepherds are highly energetic and require ample exercise.
Can I get a German Shepherd for free?
If you happen to know someone who can’t keep their German Shepherd, you might be lucky to get one for free.
What books do you recommend for first-time German Shepherd owners?
Here are some books specifically written for German Shepherd owners. But don’t take my word for it, read the reviews to find out more.
German Shepherds, being the very intelligent dog breed, need consistent training and socialization from early on. First-time owners can be just as good as any current owners if they are prepared to spend their time, energy, and dedication are essential in setting up your GSD for success.
If these conditions are checked, then you will be able to have a loyal, affectionate, and protective dog that will make you healthy and happy with tons of good memories. Good luck!