The German Shepherd Dog
The German Shepherd was bred to be a herding and general purpose working dog. The dogs have a need to work. If they are not kept busy, they will often create their own entertainment. This is not always a good thing. Some GSDs have a stronger need to stay active than others, but too often, a dog will end up in the animal shelter because the people that had it wanted a laid-back "couch potato" rather than an active dog that requires a certain amount of attention. Give this issue a great deal of thought!
Most adult GSDs are very loyal and protective. They are also active and quite intelligent. Without the proper training and routine guidance, they can become rambunctious and difficult to handle. It is up to you to teach your dog how to fit into your family's lifestyle and a structured routine will be very beneficial to good dog behavior. Training the dog is not a job that ends after a six or eight week obedience course. The training is an ongoing process that will continue throughout the dog's life - much like raising children. Please also give this issue a great deal of thought as well!
If you are not willing to commit to such a high level of responsibility, we urge you to consider a different breed. There are a lot of nice dogs that require less effort on your part that make very good pets. Read on for more general GSD traits.
The Feet: Most GSDs have large feet (they're a large dog) and when it's wet outside, you will be amazed at the muddy prints that they can leave in your house. Keep a towel handy near the door and you will minimize the stress for both you and your dog. And like all dogs, they need to have their nails trimmed on a regular basis. If your dog does a lot of running on concrete, it may not need trimming as often as it would if it only runs on grass, but they should be inspected often, regardless. If you are not comfortable trimming the nails yourself, take the dog to the vet and ask them to teach you. Doing it yourself is easy and can save you a lot of money.
The Coat: There are basically two types of German Shepherd coats: long and short. Most of the dogs we see are short haired, but both types have a double coat. There is the outer coat which is the longer hair that you see and gives the dog its color, and then there's the undercoat, which is shorter and finer, like down, that provides insulation for the dog. This double coat sheds constantly, year round, and will put your vacuum cleaner to the test. Be sure you have a good one! Then in the spring and fall of each year, the dogs will "blow" their coat. Some will shed more than others but be ready, this is the time to stock up on vacuum cleaner bags!
The Appetite: GSDs are large, very active dogs. They need to eat. A lot. A good high quality food is not cheap, but a good diet is very important. Your dog is not a garbage disposal. People food and table scraps may not be good for your dog, and feeding it from the table will enforce a habit that will become annoying and difficult to break. Your dog should have its own place to eat, its own personal food and water bowls and be fed at the same time every day. Your dog should always have clean, fresh water to drink, whenever it wants. And remember, what goes in, must come out! Caring for your yard will be no little consideration. Take a scoop and a bag with you when you take your dog out for a walk. Be thoughtful of others.
The Vet: Regular trips to the vet are essential. Routine check-ups each year, vaccinations against various diseases, heart worm preventative and flea and tick control are your responsibility. Take good care of your dog. Be responsible.
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