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The Pros and Cons of German Shepherd Dog Ownership
The decision to adopt any dog must be taken seriously, especially if you are considering a large breed dog such as a German Shepherd. As the third most popular dog breed in the United States in the past 10 years according to the American Kennel Club, the German Shepherd commands attention for its good looks, intelligence and strong personality. However, this classic and lovable dog breed is not an easy or difficult pet to maintain. Many advantages and disadvantages come with owning a German Shepherd.
For the lucky owners of these powerful dogs, the shortcomings become just part of an interesting routine, but for other potential pet owners, the challenges of the large breed can be overwhelming. As a German Shepherd owner for the past six years, I can credibly share my experience with this remarkable breed.
Pros: As a large breed dog, the German shepherd is a robust animal full of energy that allows its owner to make a bold statement with their pet and enjoy the company of a dog that provides security to the home.
Against: This breed can easily prove to be too much of a dog for some people. They are strong and often strong-willed, and every owner of a large breed bears the responsibility of controlling their dog. If a Yorkshire Terrier barked at visitors to your home incessantly, they’d be pissed off, but visitors who receive a German Shepherd’s unbridled barking will suddenly feel like they’re in the middle of a civil rights protest. Along with controlling barking, you need to teach the dog not to jump on people. Getting punched in the chest by a 70 to 90 pound animal with big claws hurts.
Pros: The German shepherd is an intelligent, even mischievous animal that will respond well to training and will be fun to play with. You will enjoy interacting with your dog during formal training and be proud of the learning progress your pet shows. German Shepherds require mental and physical stimulation, making them an excellent choice for a person or family looking to integrate a pet into an active and fun lifestyle. The German Shepherd is an excellent motivator to stay active and healthy yourself.
Against: The German Shepherd should not be left alone for a long time (more than a few hours). This applies to any dog, but as an original working breed, the German Shepherd is aimed at a high level of animal herding, search and rescue assistance, and law enforcement dogs. You must commit to daily exercise and stimulation of your dog. In the reference about the German Shepherd, Ph.D. D. Caroline Coile, the author reported that this breed was bred to move for hours over large territories. Daily walks and games with a few hours of attention are essential. It is extremely important that you commit to training your dog during adolescence and maintain an exercise routine throughout his life. If this is too much for you or your family, do not adopt this breed.
Pros: As a German Shepherd owner, you will receive countless compliments about the beauty of your pet throughout its life. They are beautiful animals and you will be proud of your dog, especially if you train it properly. You will admire and love your pet for its many abilities and charms.
Against: The German Shepherd will be mischievous, especially during the first two years. My dog ate my birthday cake when she was two. All in all, be prepared for the things you love to be destroyed by chewing, digging, and rough play. Flower beds look like a soft, cool and damp playground in the German Shepherd’s mind. Packages delivered to the porch become cardboard chew balls. All kinds of property such as clothes, remote controls, books, walls, doors and garden tools will be crushed between the powerful jaws.
Pros: Being a very intelligent breed, the German Shepherd can be deterred from inappropriate behavior. Always have plenty of toys and chewing gum available. When your dog chews on the wrong things, give him a chew or toy and positively reinforce chewing the correct items. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, these strong-willed dogs will never give up digging completely. Their taste in landscaping won’t bring you any home and garden awards. I had to settle for a dog trained not to dig up the vegetable garden.
Against: German Shepherds are generally susceptible to genetic conditions that can be problematic or even debilitating. Hip dysplasia, panosteitis and degenerative myelopathy commonly develop in this breed and you will need to learn about care and possible prevention. This breed can also suffer from various allergies. My dog has food and environmental allergies that took me months before she felt relief. Good husbandry can limit the incidence of these conditions, but there are no guarantees.
Thinking about how you will meet the challenges of owning a dog before adopting will go a long way in helping you enjoy your pet. Dogs, especially German Shepherds, need your attention, formal training and consistent exercise. Ignoring these needs will lead to a negative experience and an unhappy dog that may end up in a shelter. The joys and challenges of owning a German Shepherd overlap with the needs of most large breeds, but it is important to recognize that the German Shepherd is not a soft breed. It is an active dog that will always be looking for fun. Depending on your situation and lifestyle, these traits can be ideal or burdensome.
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