According to the AKC website (linked to at the bottom) the German Shepherd Dog was the second most popular dog breed in the USA during 2019.
The German Shepherd dog is also one of the most abandoned dogs because most people don’t understand how to take care of them and end up losing their minds by the time they’re about 6 months old. We are currently raising our second GSD puppy, and on our third GSD dog (the first one was an adult rescue).
While it may seem counterintuitive to some people because we love the German Shepherd Dog so much that we’ve dedicated this blog to them, this breed of dog is not for everyone and this blog post is meant to help prevent you from making a mistake.
There are certain traits and reasons why this dog should be over looked by some people, and that’s exactly what this article attempts to tackle.
Should I get a German Shepherd Puppy?
If you’re an experienced German Shepherd owner then getting a puppy will be easier for you than someone who hasn’t because you already have an understanding of the breed. However, the GSD is generally a higher maintenance breed that requires more of its owner than other dog breeds do. The German Shepherd Dog is generally not a good first-time dog owner breed.
The rest of this article will go over some of what to expect so you know before you ever even start to look.
German Shepherd Puppy Cost:
The one thing everyone thinks about, but not far enough into detail, is just how much your newly purchased puppy is going to cost you. If you get your puppy from a reputable breeder you’re going to pay anywhere from $1,400 – $3,000 just for the dog.
That’s a lot of money.
Back when we got our 10 year old GSD Casey (our first puppy), they cost less. Prices on anything tend to go up, but the thing to keep in mind is that the above quoted price is just the one-time purchase of the puppy itself.
You’ll be spending a lot more than that over the cost of her life, which is true of any animal.
This means that you’ll still have monthly expenses that you have to think about. You can expect to pay anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000 per year on your dog. This covers things like food, vet bills, medicine, toys, beds, etc.
Some years will be less than that, and other years may be more than that if your dog needs anything extra like surgery.
The German Shepherd Dog is considered to be a large breed, and as such, will go through more food, faster.
And because the German Shepherd is a chewing dog with incredible bite force, you’ll also go through toys faster.
That above cost is if you get a healthy dog, by the way. We adopted an adult GSD who cost a lot more than that. One year alone he required a $3,000 surgery.
He also had bad hips, horrible skin allergies and other skin problems, and severe anxiety. He was a train wreck.
An expensive train wreck.
But he was my boy. My most precious friend and I wouldn’t trade any of that time.
Takeaway: The German Shepherd is a costly dog to own. A purebred puppy can be expensive, and because these are bigger dogs, they go through things faster. And, sometimes they have health problems other dogs don’t get as much, which can also cause a problem to your bottom dollar.
German Shepherd Puppy Characteristics —
German Shepherd puppies are high maintenance. I mean, any puppy can be high maintenance, but even more so for the GSD.
German Shepherd Puppies require a lot of exercise to help wear their little bodies out, and that doesn’t stop until they’re considered to be senior-aged dogs. And, even then, our senior GSD still wants to play fetch whenever possible.
The last thing your German Shepherd needs is an owner who doesn’t want to give proper exercise. What this means is that if you’re done from a long day of work, you can’t just come home and expect your puppy to lay there on the floor as you take a load off.
You need to give your pup attention, love, and exercise.
Not only that, but because this is the third-smartest breed of dog they tend to get bored easily if not mentally stimulated more.
We’re currently raising our second GSD from puppyhood, with our first girl being 10 years old. The puppy we have currently is 11 weeks old (and pictured both above and below), and I must say that because so much time has passed since Casey was a pup, I was kind of surprised at how difficult this can be.
Again, this is our third German Shepherd, and the second puppy. I assume it’ll also be our last puppy, and once our kids are older, next time we’re due for a dog, it’ll be time to rescue again.
We’re in this for the long haul, though, because I’d never own another breed of dog.
Takeaway: German Shepherds need a lot of exercise and mental stimulation in order to be happy. If they don’t get that, they’ll find their own way of release, which you may consider to be bad behavior. If you cannot dedicate the time and energy, considering a different dog is a good idea.
German Shepherd Puppy Chewing:
German Shepherd’s are chewers and there is no changing that. Not even with age. We’re on our third GSD and I can confirm that they’ve each been chewers. But the nice thing is that once they realize they’re not supposed to chew the furniture, they’ll stop.
Once you introduce something that is okay for them to chew on they’ll be glad to chew just on their own toys. Getting there isn’t always the easiest thing, but you can do it.
The problem occurs when you buy an “indestructible” toy rated for bite pressures like the GSD. When other dogs give up, our GSDs seem to make it their life’s mission to utterly destroy that toy, even though is indestructible.
It’s almost like they hear the word and say to themselves, “challenge accepted.” Then, unless you take that toy away they will not stop until it is destructed.
This means to me that at least part of their chewing actually comes from boredom. I feel as though it is mentally stimulating for them to see if they can chew a piece off of a toy of theirs, even if it means they won’t be able to play with it anymore.
This helps them to pass the time as they wait for something else to do.
So, if you have a dog who loves to chew on things he shouldn’t be, giving more mental stimulation could be the answer. Then again, maybe not.
After all, dogs are different.
Takeaway: German Shepherds are chewers. There is nothing you can do that will change that. Maybe not all of them are chewers, but ours have been so far. This is only a problem if you can’t turn their chewing into something that is acceptable. This means giving a toy they can chew on, but correcting behavior like chewing on your couch.
German Shepherd Puppy Teething:
Closely knitted with the above is the puppy teething. All dogs go through this teething phase of life when they’re younger and there really is no way to stop it.
The best bet is to try and teach your puppy at a young age what not to do. But the thing is that they won’t know until they’re taught, and even after they are taught they can still have slip ups.
For example, you don’t want your puppy to bite a person because those little teeth are super sharp and pointy.
Our latest puppy, pictured here, has broken my skin on numerous different occasions just because she’s trying to make herself feel better. While it’s obnoxious and painful, I do get it.
After the puppy’s teeth come in this will all but stop, with the exception of the above-mentioned chewing.
Takeaway: This is important to note that all puppies go through a teething process.
German Shepherd Puppy Potty Training:
We’ve dedicated an entire article on how to potty train your German Shepherd Puppy, so make sure you read that if you’re struggling or don’t know what to do.
But the thing to know here is that even after your girl has been potty trained there will still be accidents. The positive thing here, is that it is far easier to teach potty training to a German Shepherd than just about any other dog out there, just because they’re so smart and pick up on things, fast.
Takeaway: GSDs are easy to potty train if you do it right. For more information on this click the above-linked article.
German Shepherd Puppy Obedience Training:
If you want your German Shepherd to live a relatively normal life without driving you and/or your neighbors insane, you’ll have to do some form of training with your puppy. If you don’t teach your dog how to act, it’ll figure out how it wants to act all on its own.
You may describe this as bad behavior, but please note that it is NOT your dog’s fault. It’s yours for not training the puppy properly. All your puppy is doing is either looking for attention by acting out what is getting attention, or relying on predator or other instincts.
Generally speaking, the sooner you can train your dog the better.
The reason why is because the German Shepherd is very receptive to learning new things and they have the deep desire to please you.
On the plus side, these dogs are very easy to train and it comes naturally for them. Train with a firm voice, but loving hand and attitude, and your GSD will thrive.
Takeaway: Your German Shepherd will act out if not trained properly, so make sure you’re going through at least some form of training with your puppy. Giving it a purpose, like fetching the paper if anyone still reads those, is a good thing.
How to Pick A German Shepherd Puppy:
Picking a GSD puppy may seem like an easy feat, and this isn’t that far from the truth. But there is more to it than that. If at all possible, you’ll want to see how the pup interacts with her siblings. Can the puppy keep up with them? Does it play? Want to be left alone?
Does it like to be touched? Has it had interaction with other people? Children?
Finally, we tend to let the dog pick us. We have always done it this way, even when we adopted our adult GSD from a rescue shelter. When all the other dogs were bouncing off their kennel walls, our boy Jumbo sat there looking all pitiful like he’d be a good boy.
I believe that he chose me before I ever chose him.
With our puppy Casey, now 10, we were placed in a room with her brothers and sisters and one dog kept coming to us. One dog wanted for us to love on her. One dog loved on our daughter.
We went home with that puppy and she has been absolutely perfect for us.
Takeaway: I’ve always decided to let the dog pick me, instead of me picking the dog. Obviously you’ll want a healthy pup, but if she can keep up with the others and doesn’t look sickly, but wants to be touched and held by you, that’s a good sign.
How to Find a German Shepherd Breeder:
This is tricky. Tricky as in, while GSD breeders are all over the country and world, finding a good one can be difficult.
We can help you narrow it down, but remember a few moments ago when we said how much money a GSD puppy can cost? A reputable breeder who does everything properly and goes out of their way to do things right will cost you more money.
Some of the reasons why is because it is easier for breeders to do things the wrong way, which is one of the reasons why these dogs have so many medical issues. Many of the dogs were being bred for looks and stance instead of temperament and health.
Some breeders were inbreeding their German Shepherds with family members to get the right look and it wreaked havoc on this breed.
This isn’t as common as it once was, because steps have been taken to mitigate it, but should still be looked out for.
One way to avoid this is to see the bloodlines of the sire and dam to make sure they’re not brother and sister or parent and child. Even then, paperwork can be forged.
Any reputable dealer should be registered as a breeder with either the AKC or the ACA to ensure they’re proving they’re doing things the right way.
Also, being able to see the parents is a plus because it gives you insight as to their health and well-being. And if you can see the adults being in good shape it’ll give you a good outlook on what you can expect when your dog is older.
Most breeders will have at least the dam on site, but they may bring a sire in for mating and then send him back, so it isn’t always possible to see the father in person.
Still, requesting his line so you can see if it is a good start, same with your pup’s mom. It’s also a good idea if you can get verification that their hips and elbows have been checked and documented. Hip dysplasia is a real issue for these dogs which we’ve lived through first-hand because our boy Jumbo was a mess.
It’s important to note that you don’t want to choose a GSD based on looks alone. Sure you love the way they look and the puppies are utterly adorable. But, it goes further than that. What you’re looking for is temperament.
To find this out, you can interact with the parents if at all possible on site, or do research. Research the parents as well as the breeder. Many breeders these days have reviews on some website somewhere. If that breeder is known for good dogs, people will be happy to endorse them.
Must know — If there is one thing you must know it is that your GSD will be an active dog who wants to live an active lifestyle. They’re also really smart and pick new tricks and commands up fast. You must stimulate them mentally and give them plenty of exercise.
This is the most important thing. If you can’t give your German Shepherd puppy these things your dog will drive you nuts. In my experience, an exhausted puppy is a happy puppy. She’s tired because you sufficiently wore her out, and happy because you did.
The German Shepherd is a wonderful breed of dog and to my family, there is no other breed that comes close. But they require a dedicated owner to give them proper exercise and love in order to be happy.