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What to Know Before Getting a German Shepherd

What to Know Before Getting a German Shepherd

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:

  1. Do you have enough space for this large breed?
  2. Can you afford to pay the high price for a dog from a good breeder?
  3. Can you afford to care for and maintain this breed?
  4. Do you have the time for this energetic breed?
  5. Will a German Shepherd fit in with your lifestyle?
  6. 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.

Playpens are very handy but do take up a lot of space. Check these out on Amazon.

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 adpoting 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.

Which 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 dogo 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:



Chew Toys

Tug Toys


Training Programs

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 now-a-days.  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 euthenasia.

But thanks to medical advancements in veterinary care and auxiliry 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?

What to know before getting a German Shepherd

What to know before getting a German Shepherd – they are high energy dogs.

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 feesible.

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 and 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.

13 comments… add one

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13 comments… add one

Hi Gabriella,
I don’t know if you will remember me and soldier.. it’s definitely been awhile. I wanted to touch base and let you know how things are going for Soldier.
He’s 16mo.now and still has the chronic giardia but he’s doing better trying new medication. As for training I’ve been doing it on my own the entire time I’ve made alot of progress but still way off from where I would like to be..
But I’m not giving up on my baby, he’s so big now .
I’d like to be able to communicate with you directly and if possible privately?
My email is ***[@]***[.]com
I hope to hear from you soon.

Gabriella V

Hi Deena!

I sure do remember you and Soldier, nice to hear from you again. I’m pleased to hear he’s doing much better.

I’ve blocked out your email address in the comment you left just to stop weirdos emailing you.

I’ve sent you a direct email so we can chat about any question you have. :)


Hi Gabriella,
This is Deena . don’t know if you remember me and soldier.
But I’d really like to give you update on how soldier is doing.
Please contact me at the above email address.


Hello Gabriella!

I’ve been going through your blog a lot within the last several days, reading and researching as much as I can. In a few weeks, I’ll be bringing home a GSD puppy and I want to be as prepared as I possibly can!

My parents have worked with GSD my entire life (my father was in the military police/canine training) and I will be getting my dog from them. However, I do still have concerns.
I work full time, and while it’s in the evenings, I am concerned that my little one is going to be in his crate for 8 hours a day. I have already set-up to have someone visit him once to let him out, but since you stated that puppies cannot hold their bladders for very long, I’m concerned it won’t be enough. I definitely don’t want to let any bad habits form, such as him being comfortable using the bathroom in his crate!

Can you please give me some advice?

Gabriella V

Hi Sherrah,

I replied to your previous comment. But I didn’t realize your working hours are in the evenings. That makes things a little tricky when it comes to a doggy daycare.

I still think letting him stay with the breeder until 12 weeks might make things easier. Is there a way he can stay over at a friends for a few weeks at night? If this is not an option, then pee pads might be your answer. I’m not a fan of them since it’s an extra step you have to re-train once he’s old enough to hold it. But if you have no other options then pee pads will bridge the gap for now.

April V

Hello Gabriella,

We just got a new puppy 8wks old and it’s almost winter. I know now the most ideal time. Any suggestions on the potty training in cold weather? I am afraid it will really mess up the potty training part, even though we do have two older dogs.

Thank you so much,

Gabriella V

Hi April,

Thanks for your question.

Winter does make it more tricky to do potty training. Especially if the ground gets icy or covered in snow. Although not to the point where it’ll mess up potty training. :)

The one key is to make sure your boy doesn’t have any accidents inside. He’ll quickly learn that using the toilet indoors is way more comfortable than outside in the cold. If he does, or has had an accident, ideally you want to clean the area with an enzymatic cleaner. This will ensure that there are no traces of scent left from any accident. And so he’s not likely to mess there again.

If he does have an accident indoors don’t scold him or let him think you’re feeling anything about it. Our dogs are great at picking up our emotions and you don’t want him to associate anything negative about it. This can lead to him finding hiding places to do it.

If you can, try to keep the area or at least part of the area where you want his outside toilet to be as ice and snow free as possible. And make sure to always take him to the same place on potty runs. If there’s minimal or no ice, the scent is likely to stay around longer so he’ll catch on quickly. And it won’t be as cold. You could take a large plastic box or something similar and turn it upside down over the area. Hopefully that’ll help keep the ground snow and ice free.

<Consider checking out this article on potty training. The principles apply to potty training even in the dead of winter. And if you apply the 2 steps above you should be golden.

Hope this helps. :)


My mother in law and I bought a brother and sister, she took the sister, I kept the brother. They are 9 weeks old now and my husband has cancer, so I thought this would be good for him but when I’m at work the puppy is home alone with hubby and our shi-tzu who is 6 years old. The puppy bites her and poops and pees all over the place because my husband is not well enough to watch him as soon as he wakes up…it’s just been so hard. My mother in law is looking to buy a companion for the sister…she said she would take ours instead of buying a new one but I feel so guilty letting him go. She’s a wonderful dog mom but my son and husband are so upset with me. My husband is not well enough to help me, my son is so busy with school functions and I’m just spread very thin…in your opinion do siblings do well together as long as they are fixed?

Gabriella V

Hi Rosie,

Thanks for reaching out with your comment.

I’m sorry to hear things are tough at the moment, I pray that things will look up soon for you.

So most trainers will tell you that siblings are not a good idea together. There’s no evidence to prove or disprove this theory, but it’s called “littermate syndrome”. It basically means that pups from the same litter will latch onto one another at the exclusion of the owner. This does make it harder to train them since they focus only on each other and their attention is hard to get and keep.

But I know of a few folks who have successfully raised littermates. Although it does take a little more commitment. If your mother-in-law is going to take on your pup then I highly recommend the training program developed by a trainer who raised littermates. She developed this program specifically because folks were telling her to rehome one of her littermate pups.

I actually use the program for all my dogs too. And I love it because it’s not about training a dog to be a robot, but rather stimulating their natural intelligence to develop the best behaviors.

I wrote a full review of the program and also did an in-depth interview with Adrienne, who developed the program. She even talks about the success she had with her littermates in the interview.

You can check out the review and the interview here. It might be helpful to your mother-in-law.

In terms of spaying and neutering, I’d think about that once the female is older. Personally, I would keep neutering and spaying for much, much later or not at all. But since they are siblings and keeping them apart when the female is in heat can be difficult, I’d recommend spaying her. But keep him intact. Although, that’s my opinion only and I recommend your mother-in-law speak to a vet regarding this matter since I’m not trained to give veterinary advice there.

Let me know if you have other questions, just drop them in the comments. I’m happy to help.

All the best. x


Adam S

First of all thank you so much for all this great content. I’ve been researching GSD’s for the last several weeks as I grew with friends that had them and always loved them.

I do have a question that maybe you can answer. I’ve been looking into a young GSD rescue to add to our family. Currently we have a GSD/Golden Retriever mix. We love her to death but she definitely didn’t get the GSD side smarts and obedience. We also believe she has some hearing loss as well that hurts in the commands dept. There are certain bad habits we haven’t been able to get her to stop. Such as jumping on house guests and barking at everyone that goes near our yard.

Now to my question. Will the bad habits we have with our current dog cause me problems trying to properly train a GSD?

Gabriella V

Hi Adam,

Thanks for your question. I’m pleased you’ve found value here!

In short, yes, dogs learn from each other. So it’s likely that a new dog will pick up habits from your GSD/Retriever mix. Which habits will be picked up is hard to tell. But barking is a self-rewarding behavior and it’s also natural for dogs to bark so it can become a very enjoyable behavior for dogs.

Of course, just because it’s natural, doesn’t mean it’s always necessary barking. And there are ways you can teach your dog not to bark at unnecessary things. If you haven’t already, check out this article on ways to curb barking in a positive way.

Also, I recommend checking out a dog training program that changed the way I approach training. It’s an online dog training program that I use for all my dogs, older dogs, rescues, and puppies respond well to it. It taps into their natural intelligence and uses games to teach dogs what we want. Without focusing on what we don’t want. This has made all the difference in training for me and my crew. There’s a specific section that helps teach dogs not to bark at windows. But once you’ve taught the behavior you can apply it to any situation.

I think it’ll be invaluable to you for your GSD/Retriever and the issue you’re experiencing as well as for your young rescue GSD you’ll soon be adding to your family. I wrote a full review and also did an in-depth interview with the dog trainer who developed the program. You can read all about it here.

Although your dog might have some hearing loss that affects commands, you can look into starting to use hand signals to ask for commands. If your dog is looking to you for guidance, then incorporating hand signals should be easy. If your dog is not looking to you physically for guidance in situations, then the training program I recommend above will change all that. Retrievers are pretty smart dogs too, so she’s got genes from two highly intelligent breeds. With the right approach, she’ll learn new habits.

Check out this article for tips on how to stop dogs from jumping. There’s a section for teaching a dog not to jump on house guests too.

Let me know if you have other questions. :)

Johnna Jones

Your Article was very helpful thank you very much but I was curious how much time a day do you think should be put towards a GSD, I know they require a lot of attention and I would like to try and balance my work Schedule and how much free time becuase I adopt GSD, the last thing I want is to adopt a GSD just to have to rehome them becuase I I’m not the right fit for them.

Gabriella V

Hi Johnna,

This is a good question!

There are a few things that determine how much time you’ll need to put in to mentally and physically enrich your dog’s life. A dog’s age, natural drive, and possible health issues are determining factors. But as a rule, the GSD needs quite a lot of daily attention in various areas of their lives.

I can use my dog’s and their needs to hopefully guide you…

My crew gets at least 90 minutes of play and physical exercise a day. This can be anything from a long walk, swimming (if the weather permits), fetch games, tug games or rough-housing games.

They also get their daily dose of mental enrichment through doing exercises that stimulate their natural drives to hunt and forage. I support them in this with things like puzzle toys, snuffle mats and games of hide-and-seek. If I’m strapped for time, I often give them access to puzzle toys or snuffle mats while I’m doing something like cooking. This way I can keep an eye on them, they get what they need and I get to do something that needs doing.

They also get daily training sessions. These are short and I like to go into a session with an intention to either teach a new behavior or brush up on behaviors they already know. Usually, these sessions are no more than 10 minutes long, but they can be shorter too. You’ll achieve more if the sessions are shorter and you end them while your dog is still engaged. 2 or 3 training sessions a day is what my dogs get. If I’m really busy, this might not be the case, but then I make sure that we at least practice a few behaviors before feeding times.

A German Shepherd needs regular grooming due to their shedding and maintaining their double coats. On a daily basis, it consists of a once-over brush. If you groom regularly, it’ll be a great help in keeping your home free from fur. And it takes a lot less time to groom daily or every second day, rather than trying to do a lot in one go. And when it’s time, I dremel their nails if required.

I hope this helps. Let me know if you have other questions, I’m happy to help.

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