Are you about to step into the world of pooch parenting for the first time. Or, are you thinking of making a German Shepherd your new best friend?
Either way, you're right to take this decision seriously. So if you're wondering what to know before getting a German Shepherd, I'm glad you stopped by!
Everyone and their mother will have an opinion on the breed and whether it's the right choice for you.
But this article will take you through the pros and cons of having a German Shepherd in your life.
What to Know Before Getting a German Shepherd: 6 Key Points
The 6 most important points to consider are:
- Do you have enough space for this large breed?
- Can you afford to pay the high price for a dog from a good breeder?
- Can you afford to care for and maintain this breed?
- Do you have the time for this energetic breed?
- Will a German Shepherd fit in with your lifestyle?
- Is a German Shepherd the right breed for you?
Do You Have Enough Space for this Large Breed?
All dogs need space both inside and outside. But the German Shepherd is a large breed that's also very active and busy.
So to get the stimulation they need, there should be ample space for them to move, run and play.
A German Shepherd cooped up in a space that's too small will become destructive and moody.
German Shepherds are also quite clumsy during early adolecense. They have gangly legs and a thick tail.
So any photo frames, ornaments and coffee cups that are ‘in their way' will get knocked over.
So for at least the first year, while they are learning how their big and powerful body works, anything fragile should be moved out of their way.
The Sheperd is also a powerful chewer. So anything that could be remotely interesting is a target for chewing.
As an example, Ze, my now 5-year-old male, eased his teething discomfort on a chair that's part of my cherry wood dining set.
You can imagine, I wasn't happy. But it was my fault for not thinking ahead!
Until your German Shepherd is fully potty trained, they'll need to go out for regular potty breaks.
For the first week or so you're looking at potty breaks every 20 to 30 minutes. So if you don't have a garden, this is going to be tricky.
Get my potty training guide and have your German Shepherd reliably potty trained in 4 weeks.
It's not ideal, but if this is you, then your best bet is to potty train using pee pads. And then retrain them when they are older. But like I mentioned this is not ideal.
Crates and playpens can be very helpful during potty training. But, they do take up a lot of space.
Although it's only necessary until your German Shepherd is reliably potty trained.
So in an ideal world, you should be able to provide your new best friend with large open rooms where anything fragile is out of their way.
And also space in a garden where they can take their toilet breaks and still have room to enjoy themselves.
Can You Afford the Price of a Dog from a Good Breeder?
This point might not apply to everyone…
If you're planning on adopting a German Shepherd, then the price will be considerably lower. Rescue facilities usually charge a fee that covers vaccinations, spays, or neuters.
But if you're planning on buying a dog from a breeder, you'll be paying top dollar for a healthy, well-bred dog.
A German Shepherd bought from a respectable and ethical breeder can cost anywhere from $500 to $1000. A fully trained adult German Shepherd is anywhere in the region of $5000 to $8000.
A dog from a reputable breeder will have had the necessary health screening. And the parents will have been health screened too.
So right now, you might be shocked by the prices some German Shepherds can fetch.
But that's just a drop in the ocean when it comes to the monthly expenses.
This brings me to the next point…
Can You Afford to Care for and Maintain this Breed?
No matter how you look at it, dogs are expensive.
And the bigger they are, the more expensive things start to get. The reality is that you'll be spending a chunk of those greenbacks to keep your doggo happy and healthy.
For starters, there are the regular goodies your German Shepherd will need.
Check out these reviews for the best options available for German Shepherds:
And then there are other everyday things like bowls and blankets.
Not to mention the most important thing…
I'm giving this one special attention because it's where good canine health starts.
The cheapest food will give you the most expensive results – high vet bills.
German Shepherds are renowned for their sensitive skins and digestive tracts.
So chances are you might need to feed them a specialized diet, which comes at a higher price tag.
So it's a good idea to budget for the best food you can afford.
Next, you'll be forking out for vaccinations and deworming. Although, personally I believe vets and owners over-vaccinate, these are necessary none the less.
Especially if you need to book your pooch into the boarding kennels from time to time.
And then, I haven't even mentioned the vet bills yet…
Vet bills are through the roof nowadays. Mostly because the treatments available are so advanced.
‘Putting a dog to sleep' because of health issues is not the go-to option anymore. Our vets can treat almost every serious ailment with great success.
For example, my 10-year-old GSD Charley had a femur head amputation in December 2015 due to hip dysplasia.
Essentially is means she no longer has a functioning hip.
If it wasn't for the technology we have today, the only option would have been euthanasia.
But thanks to medical advancements in veterinary care and auxiliary care Charley is still going strong.
However, her hydrotherapy alone costs a pretty penny each month.
Okay, Charley's a senior dog but you can see, how the day-to-day and monthly expenses are pretty steep. Even for a healthy dog.
When you look at things this way, it makes sense to budget for health insurance.
There are some great complete insurance plans on the market. And even discount plans that give you 25% off your vet bill.
Do You Have Time for this Energetic Breed?
Sadly, a lot of folks bring a new dog into their lives and then struggle to juggle the spinning plates of work and puppy life.
This might sound obvious, but a lot of folks don't realize that a small puppy can't be left alone for hours and hours while they are away at work.
Older dogs cope much better but still, it's not ideal to leave them alone for hours and hours on end over an extended period of time.
Lonely dogs are troubled dogs. And usually end up destroying things and developing bad habits like nuisance barking.
There are a few options you could consider to keep your pooch happy and healthy while you're at work.
The first option is to enroll them in a doggy daycare. These daycare facilities can be found in every major city in the world.
And they offer you peace of mind knowing that your dog is happy and cared for while you're at work.
Option two is to hire a dog walker. These folks have made it their job to care for dogs while their owners are away.
You can arrange for them to visit your dog a few times a day and take them out for a nice long stroll.
The last option is to enlist the help of a neighbor, family member, or friend that lives close by to visit your dog during the day.
Although it is asking a lot from someone for an extended period of time.
So in my opinion, this should be your last resort if options one or two are not feasible.
But, the most time and energy will be invested in training and stimulating your German Shepherd.
Realistically you're looking at about 15 to 20 minutes per day of training.
Of course, missing a day here and there is not a train smash, but saving up training for weekends only is not going to cut it.
A German Shepherd also needs plenty of exercise. It's a working breed after all and they need physical stimulation too.
As a puppy, their exercise needs will be less because they are smaller. But also because exercise should be done in moderation while their skeletal system is developing.
But once they are fully grown, they will need plenty of physical exercise and stimulation.
Will a German Shepherd Fit in with Your Lifestyle?
There are a lot of positive ways you can get your dog to fit in with your lifestyle.
But the truth is there are more ways you'll be changing your lifestyle to fit in with your pooch.
If you're used to having lazy weekend lie-ins, these will be a thing of the past once your German Shepherd is in your life.
Here are some other things you should consider…
Do you travel a lot?
Do you work away from home a lot?
Do you live an active outdoor lifestyle?
Do you mind losing sleep in the first few weeks after bringing your German Shepherd home?
Do you have allergies?
Do you have time for daily grooming?
These are the kinds of questions you need to answer before getting a German Shepherd.
If you're a young family with 3 kids under the age of 5, then getting a German Shepherd right now might not be the best move.
Trying to leash train a strong breed like the German Shepherd while pushing a buggy along AND being 6 months pregnant is not the best idea.
That's just an example, and of course, you can make anything work. But it's important to be realistic about where you are right now in your life.
You can always invite a German Shepherd into your life at a later stage.
Is a German Shepherd the Right Breed for You?
So you're certain that you want nothing more than to invite a German Shepherd into your life.
You've taken everything into consideration and you're ready to take the plunge.
The final step is to decide on which line of Shepherd you want. Check out my article that delves into each line of Shepherd. I hope it'll be helpful on your journey to getting a German Shepherd.
Anything Else to Consider?
If you were wondering what to consider before getting a German Shepherd, I hope the tips here have been helpful.
If you're still deciding and have any questions, feel free to drop them in the comments.
Learn everything you need to know to find a reputable German Shepherd breeder.