But, this is the breed I want!
Check out this pretty German Shepherd to my left. Now without knowing anything about this dog specifically people would line up to adopt him. Why? Because he's a German Shepherd! I've always wanted a German Shepherd. My husband really wants a German Shepherd. Have you ever owned one before? No. Then why do you want one? I just love them. Well, that's all and good but here's the thing, just because you want something doesn't mean it's a good idea.
German Shepherds have been coming into the shelter a lot lately as strays with pretty much the same issues. Multiple people have tried to get the shelter or my rescue group to take in a German Shepherd dog that they have had, generally since a puppy, and again all are having about the same issues.
So why is this happening? People are choosing dogs much like they choose furniture or many other things in a store. They see something they like and they want it. Maybe they've seen someone with a well-behaved German Shepherd and thought they were all like that. Maybe it's just something they've decided they like without any real reason. Sadly these are not good enough reasons to choose a dog such as the German Shepherd.
These dogs can be amazing companion and family animals. I personally love German Shepherds, except for the hair, ugh so much shedding. Anyways, with a good temperament and giving the dog what it needs they can be so great. Just like any dog though, when they don't get what they need in the form of training and guidance there come a lot of negative issues that eventually end with the dog being rehomed or euthanized.
Shepherds are notorious for having anxiety issues and guarding issues. They are a working breed and while not every one of them needs a real job like a K9 cop or search & rescue, they all need training, rules, and guidance. They need a TON of socialization with people, kids, and dogs at the very least. A TON. Whatever you think a dog needs to be well socialized, take that and double it, and then add some more. These dogs are born naturally suspicious. When they start to mature if you don't have their socialization on point and your role established with them, they will start to tell you who can come over. If you're not careful you'll have a bite first and ask questions later kind of dog.
Now remember I love these dogs, these are my kind of dogs, but I don't recommend them to everyone, everyone is not me. They are working dogs that love to learn and have rules. What happens when they don't get what they need? All that energy and all of that suspicious, trust no one, personality creates anxiety. An anxious shepherd is no fun. They commonly have spinning issues, chasing their own tail, excessive barking, destruction, reactivity in their own yard or out on walks, and many times eventually snapping at people or imaginary things. Shepherds can hide a lot of anxiety in the form of "being protective" which is typically code for guarding. Yeah that dog that won't let your husband near or let you hug your kids? That's not a protective dog that's a dog who's guarding what it sees as it's property. Some people seem to think this is ok, trust me this is a risky game you don't want to be playing.
I'm sorry but there are people who need to hear this: German Shepherds are not for you! Wait, no I'm not sorry, it's just a fact. An important one that people need to face up to. It hurts my heart to see shepherds that could have been wonderful dogs now having to be put down because they have become too dangerous for the average dog owner to live with. Shepherds are tough and they can hide anxiety, especially the more front of the pack ones.
Do your homework. Research the breed, any breed, you want to bring home. If it's mixed keep in mind it is its own breed now and who knows what it will be like. If you are a novice shepherd owner but still want one, be prepared to spend the money to get help from a trainer. It's worth it. Way easier to come up with the money to train it than to deal with the heartbreak of having to give it to someone else or worse. When "worse" happens people want to blame the dog. The dog didn't ask to come live with you. The dog was most likely a puppy when you took it home and so then how it is as an adult is partly your fault. Then the dogs end up in the shelter where I work or in my rescue and we're left dealing with the fallout. Nothing sucks more than to see one of your favorite breeds come into the shelter or rescue and your first thought is "hope this one is nice."
If you aren't willing to put in the time and effort that shepherds need PLEASE find a breed that works for you and your lifestyle better and just enjoy other people's friendly shepherds.
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I'm Richelle Fair. You could say I'm a dog enthusiast or some might say my life has gone to the dogs. Either way there's no denying dogs are a huge part of my life.
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