What would you like to know?
Share this Story

German shepherds have unique needs — consider these 10 facts before you adopt one

Anna is a lifestyle writer who spends way too much time with her two dogs. When she is not writing, she is probably gardening, reading, tripping over dog toys, or trying to acquire more farm animals than she really needs.

German shepherds are a special breed — know what you're getting yourself into before bringing one home

There are dog people, and then there are German shepherd dog people. I would be lost without my German shepherd, and she knows it. If you are planning to adopt a German shepherd, you probably already know a thing or two about the breed and are at serious risk of developing a GSD addiction. Here are the 10 things you really need to know before adopting a German shepherd.

1. They are smart

The first thing any prospective German shepherd adopter needs to know is that German shepherds are smart. Very smart. Scary smart. These dogs will have your routine figured out before you do, and they are extremely sensitive to human moods. How smart are German shepherds? Not only do they know what “walk” means, but they can also spell it. Backward. Have a training plan in place before you bring your GSD home, and stick to it. Their high intelligence also comes with an eagerness to please their owners. They want to use their smarts in a constructive way, so have a strategy ready to make that possible.

More: 14 things only German shepherd owners know

2. They can have high-energy needs

German shepherds are working dogs. There is a reason they are frequently used as military dogs, police dogs and service dogs. They love having a job to do, and your German shepherd is no exception. Be prepared for lots of long walks with your German shepherd and then some.

More: Top 10 large dog breeds prove that bigger is better

3. They require mental stimulation

Long walks might tire out other breeds, but not the German shepherd. In addition to daily exercise, your new German shepherd will also require some mental stimulation. Obedience classes and dog sports can be especially helpful for rescue shepherds. Classes and training give you a bonding experience that builds trust and helps your dog figure out their place in your household, and it can help you diagnose any behavior problems early on.

4. They're cuddle bugs at home but aloof in public

Don’t be surprised if your rescue German shepherd is a total cuddle bug at home but aloof and distant in public. This is trademark GSD behavior and not something to worry about.

5. German shepherds are natural guard dogs

Without proper socialization, this can sometimes turn into territorial behavior and even aggression toward strangers and other dogs. Adopting an older German shepherd means you don’t know if their previous owner took the time to socialize them. This is a risk potential GSD adopters need to be aware of so they can take the necessary precautions when bringing guests and other dogs onto their property.

More: 6 self-defense tips I learned from my German shepherd

6. They are excellent listeners

Nobody is a better listener than a German shepherd. Once you have a GSD in your life, you will never be lonely again. Those radar ears are always listening for your voice, and watching them tilt their head is sure to get a smile out of you on even the toughest day.

7. German shepherds are actually made of Velcro

It is a little-known fact about German shepherds that they are actually made of Velcro (OK, not literally). While not all shepherds are clingy, you can be sure your GSD will never be too far from you, whether you are going to the bathroom, taking a shower, gardening, watching TV, cooking or taking a nap. GSDs take loyalty very seriously.

More: I want people to stop judging my German shepherd by her looks

8. They're not ideal for first-time owners

German shepherds can be a handful. They require consistent training and a level of experience that makes them a poor choice for first-time dog owners. If you do choose to adopt a GSD for your first dog, make sure you work with an experienced trainer so that your GSD does not develop any potentially dangerous or destructive habits.

9. Not all landlords love German shepherds

Sadly, German shepherds are not always welcomed by landlords. Adopting a GSD might not be a good idea if you are renting. If you are renting, make sure to ask your landlord or property manager if you can have a GSD in your rental before you bring one home.

10. You can’t have just one

Adopting a German shepherd might seem like a harmless decision. What you might not realize is that German shepherds are like potato chips. You can't have just one. You might find yourself owning German shepherds the rest of your life, which really means you’ve been adopted into the German shepherd family — not the other way around.

More: 12 dog breeds first-time owners should think twice about

Before you go, check out our slideshow below.

German shepherds are a special breed — know what you're getting yourself into before bringing one home
Image: Jacky Lee/Getty Images
Tagged in
New in Pets & Animals

And you'll see personalized content just for you whenever you click the My Feed .

SheKnows is making some changes!