If you’re interested in finding out the pros and cons of owning a german shepherd then this is the article for you. Having a dog is a lifelong commitment, and german shepherds are a lifelong commitment. But they also bring endless amounts of happiness to you and your family.
So if you’re interested to know whether a german shepherd is right for you then keep reading!
Owning A German Shepherd – Pros And Cons (For Those Short On Time)
Here’s a quick list of the pros and cons of owning a german shepherd for those short on time. However, it’s not going to give you an as detailed and accurate account so make sure you read to the end of the article if you have a little bit more time.
- They make great show dogs.
- Their lifespan is long.
- German shepherds have plenty of energy.
- They’re great working dogs.
- There are different types and colors.
- German shepherds are extremely protective.
- They’re highly intelligent and easy to train.
- They do well in all weather.
- They have an attractive appearance.
- German shepherds require minimal bathing.
- You’ll have a better social life.
- They’re a lot healthier than other dogs.
- They love to swim (in most cases).
- There’s plenty of information and help available for all german shepherd owners.
- They shed a lot.
- They need “a job”.
- German shepherds often have a lot of health problems.
- They are large in size and have an abundance of energy.
- They’re also going to need a lot of exercise.
- Sometimes german shepherds bark a lot.
- Their temperament can sometimes be disagreeable.
- It can be hard to find a reputable german shepherd breeder.
- You shouldn’t leave them a lone for too long.
- You’ll need to give them a lot of your time.
- Sometimes they tend to latch to one person.
- You will need to be their leader.
- They can sometimes become aggressive.
- It’s not uncommon for them to become destructive when left on their own.
- You’ll often end up with a messy house.
- They’re going to be a big financial investment.
As you can see there are a lot of pros and cons to keeping german shepherds. But if you keep reading, you’ll soon learn that in most cases, the benefits of keeping a german shepherd far outweigh any downside.
What Are The Advantages Of Having A German Shepherd?
So now you know in short the pros and cons of having a german shepherd. But here’s a lot more detail explaining why each of the advantages is so great!
They Have A Long Life Span
German shepherds have a relatively long life which means you’re going to have many years of joy with them!
On average they live for around 9-13 years. Most of their lifespan is going to be based on genetics, whereas some of it will also be based on the lifestyle you give them.
So if you’re looking for a family dog that will be with you for years, then german shepherds are a great choice.
There Are Plenty Of Different Types To Choose From
You may think that german shepherds are only black and tan in color, but this isn’t the case. There are 11 officially recognized color variations for you to choose from. So you don’t just have to get the black and tan type if you don’t want too!
But remember, whatever color you get, you’re always going to get a dog that’s full of love for your family!
As well as the normal black and tan, you can also get white, black, grey, bicolor and many more colors as well!
They Have Lots Of Energy
Another great benefit of german shepherds is that they have lots of energy! If you have young children, they’re going to keep each other entertained for hours. In fact, this is one of the reasons that german shepherds make such great family pets.
So if you’re looking for a dog that’s going to love playing with your family, and spending time outdoors with you, then they’re a great choice!
They’re Also Great Working Dogs
As well as being full of energy, they’re also some of the best working dogs around. When you look at the different jobs dogs can have, german shepherds fill most of them!
They can often be herders, guard dogs, and drug sniffers. But it doesn’t just end there. They can also comfort the sick and old, and become excellent guide dogs as well!
While you may not need your german shepherd to be a guard dog or guide dog, it is nice to know that they’re great workers.
They’re Very Protective
Another great benefit of keeping german shepherds is the fact they’re very protective. If you keep a german shepherd in your home and you train them right, they’re going to become protective.
But it’s not just your house and property they’ll become protective over. They’ll also protect you and the rest of your family as well!
Most importantly, it’s not just the protection from physical danger. They’re also going to watch and care for your children. They’re empathetic and know when something’s wrong and they’ll do whatever they can to make you and your family feel better again.
However, for your german shepherd to be like this, it is important to remember that they need to be socialized properly.
They’re Extremely Loyal
While most dogs are loyal, it can be hard to find dogs that are more loyal than german shepherds. They form extremely deep bonds with the people closest to them, who they see as their pack. And these bonds are unlikely to be broken for new people.
This means that they’ll remain a companion to you and your family for as long as they live. However, it also causes them to become more wary of strangers. So, remember, it’s important that you socialize your german shepherd at a young age to stop this from happening.
Highly Intelligent And Trainable
German shepherds are both highly intelligent and highly trainable. In fact, according to Rover.com, they’re the third most intelligent dog!
This means that you’re not going to have to work so hard at training them like you would with other dogs.
Even better, if you’re interested in dog shows etc, they’re going to be an excellent dog to start with, especially for obedience courses.
(Of course, training your german shepherd effectively always requires the right training course.)
They’re All Weather Dogs
Another great benefit of german shepherds is that they do well in hot and cold weather. They have a double coat which means they’re able to live happily in climates that other dogs may not be able too. (However, there is a point where the weather becomes too cold. Find out more here.)
And it’s not just cold weather either, during the summer, they’ll shed most of their coat, so they can live in warm weather too! Once again though, once temperatures reach a certain level you’ll need to make sure you’re cooling them down. (Find out how to keep your german shepherd cool.)
But in either case, if the weather is too hot or too cold for your german shepherd, it will be the same for any dog.
They’re A Lot More Handsome/Pretty Than Other Dogs
Although this is subjective, most people think german shepherds are a lot more attractive than other dogs. For example, a german shepherd looks better than a pug and a french bulldog (and they’re also a lot healthier.)
Once again, this is useful for anyone who’s looking to enter a dog into shows, or for anyone who just wants a healthy, happy-looking dog!
They Don’t Need To Be Bathed Often
You shouldn’t bathe your german shepherd any more than 3-4 times a year. Anything more than that and the oil on their coat will be effected. You’ll also increase the chance of irritating their skin.
Obviously, if they roll in something you’ll need to hose them down, but you’ll rarely need to wash them with shampoo. This means you don’t have to worry so much about spending time cleaning them all the time!
And don’t worry about doggy odor either! German shepherds rarely smell too doggy. But if they do, you can always buy an effective doggy deodorant for them!
A Better Social Life
This one isn’t specific to german shepherds, but it is specific to dogs. Generally, when you have a dog your social life tends to improve.
You’ll meet fellow dog walkers when you’re out walking them, and sometimes people will stop to talk to you about your pup!
Not to mention that everyone sees dog owners as more trustworthy!
And lastly, you’re never going to be alone with a german shepherd, as they’re always going to be there to keep you company!
They’re Healthy Dogs (Generally)
Unlike other dogs that suffer from massive amounts of breeding defects, german shepherds are a lot healthier.
For example, french bulldogs often suffer from breathing difficulties, skin irritations, and other complications because they’ve been inbred to the point of cruelty.
With a german shepherd, you don’t have to worry about this. They have healthy bodies that help aid in giving them a long and happy life.
Of course, your german shepherd won’t be healthy for long if you don’t take good care of them.
Information On How To Look After Them Isn’t Hard To Find
So many people have german shepherds that you’re not going to have to stray far to find information about them.
There are forums and websites all over the internet filled with amazing advice on how to look after your german shepherd!
This makes german shepherds even easier to raise and learn about!
They Love To Swim (Mostly)
Not all german shepherds love to swim, but the vast majority do. If you live by the beach or you often visit the beach, then a german shepherd is a great choice for you and your family!
They’ll love being by the beach and swimming, and you’ll also have another place to take them when you want to go for a walk!
(And if your german shepherd doesn’t like to swim, this helpful guide will show you how you can get them to love it!)
They’re Great Show Dogs
Lastly, german shepherds make great show dogs. They’re attractive, intelligent and highly trainable which means they’re going to be the ideal choice for beginners and experts alike.
As previously mentioned if you like dog shows, or you’re interested in starting, german shepherds are a great dog to start with!
What Are The Disadvantages With Owning German Shepherds?
German shepherds are fantastic dogs to look after, and if you own one you’ll definitely see your life improved. However, with the constraints and lifestyle some people have, they may not be best suited for your own personal circumstances!
Here are all the disadvantages of owning a german shepherd.
German Shepherds Shed A Lot
One thing you should know about german shepherds is that they shed A LOT. They’ll shed their coat during the summer, and then again during the build-up to winter. Each time to grow a coat more suitable to the season.
As well as these large blowouts, they’re also going to shed throughout the year as old hair is replaced by new hair.
(Fortunately, there are lots of ways you can manage german shepherds shedding.)
They Like To Have A Job
Unlike some family pets which can just lay around and spend time with your family, german shepherds are going to need a task.
They’ve been bred and bred to need something to do, and their brain feels rewarded when they’re completing a task.
If you don’t want to spend some time with your german shepherd every day giving them something to do, then they can quickly become unruly.
This doesn’t have to be hard, it can include catching things or obedience training for example.
Sometimes There Are Health Problems
Unfortunately, like all pedigree dogs, there are some health problems that can occur, especially as they begin to get older.
Health problems can often mean higher vet bills, and additional care needs to be given to your pup. Not to mention the fact that they’re going to be in discomfort as well.
Some common health problems that occur in german shepherds include dysplasia, arthritis, and deterioration in the rest of their joints as well.
They’re Big Dogs That Are Full Of Energy
I see this as a plus, but it can easily become a downside fast. A big dog with a lot of energy can quickly become unruly and hard to control.
If they jump on the couch they’re going to take up most of the space, and if you don’t give them enough exercise every day then they’re going to become energetic very quickly.
So if you’re looking for a dog that just wants to chill out and sit on your lap, german shepherds definitely aren’t for you.
It also means they’re not going to do well in a cramped living space and need more space than other dogs.
They Need Lots Of Exercise
Having a big dog with lots of energy goes hand in hand with giving them a lot of exercise. When you have a german shepherd ideally they should be let off the lead for an hour a day to run around.
However, this isn’t always possible, so giving them a long walk on a lead some days can help combat this.
Either way, if you’re not giving them long enough walks you’re going to need to tire them out in some other way.
If you’re not prepared for a large chunk of your time to be centered around exercising your german shepherd, then they may not be for you.
They’re Vocal Dogs
German shepherds can be quite vocal dogs, particularly when it comes to barking. And because they’re so big, their barking can be very loud.
This goes back to the fact they’re bred to be guard dogs and herders, so they’ve been bred to alert us.
Fortunately, not all german shepherds bark and there are things you can do to stop them barking. (Find out how to stop a german shepherd barking at night, barking at strangers or barking at other dogs.)
They’re Temperament Can Be Disagreeable
For the most part, german shepherds are loving dogs, that are always going to be compassionate towards your family and the people closest to them. However, when they’re not socialized properly, they can often become extremely wary of strangers.
If left unchecked, this wariness can cause them to bark and growl at strangers and other dogs. So it’s essential that you give your german shepherd proper socialization and training when you’re raising them, which can be quite time-consuming.
As well as a lack of training, poor breeding can also cause this to happen as well.
(Check out this guide on how to socialize your german shepherd.)
Good Breeders Can Be Hard To Find
You’re going to have to put the time in before you even bring home your german shepherd, as good breeders can often be hard to find.
Oftentimes people will breed and breed their german shepherds to make money. They won’t care about the temperaments and behaviors that may get passed down, but only about the cheque they’re going to get.
When you’re choosing a german shepherd make sure you’re getting them from a reputable breeder. Otherwise not only are you going to get a german shepherd that’s not a good fit for your family, but you’re also going to be giving money to breeders who don’t care about their pets.
Some good tips for finding a good breeder are to look for breeders that can show you the heritage of your dog, provide proof of health exams, and find out more about you to check you’re going to be a good dog owner.
You Can’t Leave Them Alone Too Long
German shepherds don’t do well left alone for too long. Because they’re extremely loyal and intelligent, they often become bored when away from their pack (you and your family).
So if you can’t spend lots of time with your german shepherd then they may not be the right dog for you.
If you can’t be around them all the time then you need to give them plenty to do. Toys like KONGs which can entertain them are a great place to start.
And lastly, in some cases, a german shepherd that’s left alone too long can begin to suffer from separation anxiety. This is can become problematic as it causes massive amounts of stress to your german shepherd, and they often end up becoming destructive.
They’re Not Overly Friendly Towards Strangers
German shepherds aren’t horrible dogs, but in a lot of cases, they do tend to be cautious around strangers.
This means they’re more likely to bark and growl if you don’t socialize them properly. However, with proper socialization, they’ll learn to realize that strangers aren’t anything to worry about!
While they’re always going to be more loyal to you and your family, in a lot of cases, you can teach them to become trusting of strangers.
They’re Definitely Time Consuming
If you’re looking for a companion for life, then german shepherds are a great choice for you. But they are going to consume a lot of your time.
As you now know, they don’t like being left alone for too long and you’re also going to need to spend time socializing and walking them.
On top of this, they also do best when they’re being trained or having their mind challenged. All of this means you’re going to have to give them a lot of your time.
They Tend To Favor One Person
A german shepherd will normally favor the person that provides them with the most care and spends the most time with them.
If you’re the person who gives them food, takes them for walks and spends a lot of your time with them, then you’re the one they’ll bond with the most.
This means they’re always going to be like your shadow. Wherever you’ll go they’ll go. This doesn’t mean they won’t love the rest of your family, but if you’re looking for a true family dog, then they may not be your best bet.
You’ll Need To Be Their Leader
German shepherds were born to be leaders. They’re used to herding animals and directing them where to go. If you’re going to keep one as a companion then you’re going to have to be a strong leader, otherwise, they may end up trying to be instead.
You’ll need to be firm and teach them how they can and can’t act. You’ll need to take command as they will try to push their luck.
If you’re not comfortable doing this, then they’re not the dog for you.
They Can Be Aggressive
Aggression will occur in all dogs, but it does seem to be more common in german shepherds. If you don’t train them right, or they become overly protective then they can often become aggressive towards strangers, other pets and even you and your family.
They’re Often Destructive When Left Alone
Because of their high levels of intelligence and need for a pack, when they’re left alone they’ll often become destructive.
Anything you leave lying around that they can get their paws on could end up being destroyed. And yes, this doesn’t include furniture.
So if you’re not willing to risk your belongings, then think twice. (Remember though, all dogs can be like this when left alone too long.)
They’ll Make A Mess
If you have a german shepherd they’re going to make a mess in your house. There’s no way around it.
They’re big dogs with a lot of energy. They’re going to get muddy, they’re going to get wet, and they’re going to shed.
If you’re not prepared to be cleaning up after them, then they’re definitely not the dog for you.
They’re A Huge Financial Investment
Lastly, german shepherds and all dogs are a huge financial investment. Just purchasing one can cost up to $1000. Then you have to pay for insurance, food, travel, and training for them as well.
If you’re not in a financially stable place right now, then they may not be the dog for you.
Also remember, the more they age, the more problems they’re likely to suffer from as well. Which can also increase the amount you’ll have to spend on them.
So Is A German Shepherd Right For You?
So after reading all of this, you may be wondering if a german shepherd is going to be the right choice for you and your family.
If you’re any of the following then, the answer is normally yes.
You’re Constantly Active
If you’re someone that loves hiking, going to the woods or walking and doing lots of exercise, then german shepherds can fit in perfectly with your lifestyle. They’ll always be up before you and eager to get going!
You’re Family Are Around A Lot
Likewise, if you’re family are always going to be around, then a german shepherd will also do well with you. They’ll never get lonely and if you have kids they can keep each other entertained!
You Like A Challenge
Owning a german shepherd can be a challenge. If you’re interested in a new challenge that’s going to show you how to bond with dogs and become a leader, then they’re a great choice.
Now you know all the pros and cons of owning a german shepherd. There are a lot of things you need to consider and you should definitely have a long hard think before considering whether they’re right for you.
However, once you do get one, you’re going to have a friend for life and they’re going to be one of the most loyal dogs you can find!
I hope you found this article helpful! And make sure you check out the rest of the website.