If you’ve ever thought of owning a German Shepherd or you’re lucky enough to already have one, you might have weighed up the pros and cons at some stage.
Yes, they can provide an endless supply of love and loyalty, which is worth it in itself.
But, it’s not always rainbows and roses – there’s responsibilities and some drawbacks involved too.
It’s our opinion that the pros far outweigh the cons, but we’ll let you make your mind up for yourself!
Let’s check out the pros and cons list!
(NOTE: this is a general information guide only, and is not professional advice, or a substitute for professional advice. A qualified vet or animal expert is the only person qualified to give you expert advice in regards to your pet/s)
16 Potential Pros & Cons Of Owning a German Shepherd
Before we get into the list, three other guides we thought you might be interested in if you’re just getting to know the German Shepherd breed are:
*Note – the pros and cons below are generalisations.
The pros and cons of a dog depend on the individual dog.
There’s variables such as genetics, quality of breeding programs, upbringing and environment, obedience and socialisation, and wants and capability of dog owners that can affect the final set of pros and cons.
Potential Pros of Owning a German Shepherd
1) They Are Great Show Dogs
If one of your hobbies or interests is dog shows, you’ll know German Shepherds have been bred for both show and working lines.
The show lines obviously need to conform to standard – either for appearance, temperament or health or a range of factors.
GSDs can be groomed for appearance, training trained to perform show-based routines, or taught not to react to audiences and distractions.
Even if you don’t have a preference for show dogs, the show lines usually make great family pets and companions.
Well bred GSD’s are both elegant looking, and highly intelligent.
2) They Are Great Working Dogs
In addition to being show/family dogs, GSDs are one of the most well-known and versatile working dogs in the canine world.
These types of work include but aren’t limited to herding, leading and assisting the blind, chasing criminals, drug sniffing, serving the military, visiting the sick, security work, guarding property and even movie roles.
3) Come In Different Types, Lines, Colors, & Coat Lengths
When most people think of German Shepherds, the American and German show lines is what commonly comes to mind.
These are commonly the black and tan type that make great family pets and have become the second most popular breed.
But, the German shepherd comes in different lines, colors, shapes, sizes and even mix breeds.
There are 11 officially recognized color variations, 6 lines, plus the mixed breed combinations.
4) Very Loyal and Committed – Will Protect Their Owner, Family and Their House
If you are looking for a family pet, German Shepherds might be the breed for you.
They especially bond well with children as long as you socialise them and train them as a puppy.
To their owner and immediate ‘pack members’, they are loyal and fit and willing to serve as a companion, watchdog, and guardian.
They show compassion without being overly needy.
They might not form friendships easily with those outside their immediate circle, which is good if you are looking for a dog that stands his or her ground while at home.
Note though that the traits and characteristics of of each individual dog can depend heavily on genetics and individual genes of the dog.
5) Highly Intelligent And Trainable
There is a reason German Shepherds are such a versatile working dog.
Their intelligence and obedience in being trained ranks high among dog breeds.
Petrix dog trainer surveys have found them to be the third most intelligent breed behind Border Collies and Poodles.
Toilet Training? Easy. Basic Tricks? Check. Star in a movie? No worries!
The German Shepherd might need a strong and firm leader though, as it has a dominant personality itself.
6) Attractive In Appearance
This one is more subjective, but it’s probably part of the reason it is the second most popular dog breed.
GSDs can be long, elegant and athletic in build, and have attractive markings.
Even the non standard colors and mixed breeds offer beautiful looking dogs if that is high on your priority list.
7) Require Minimal Bathing
GSDs require regular brushing, but only need to be bathed once every few months.
The reason for this is that they are generally very clean, don’t tend to emit any smelly odours and bathing more than required can disrupt the natural oils and other regulatory mechanisms in the GSDs coat.
Saving on the maintenance of your dog is a save on your time!
8) Lots Of Resources Available For Information and Help
Because of its popularity, there are endless resources out there on the German Shepherd.
If you have any questions or issues of any kind about your German Shepherd, there are hordes of communities out there where you can get information on your questions.
You can join online forums, social media groups, and find plenty of content and videos online to help you.
Potential Cons of Owning a German Shepherd
1) They Shed A LOT of Hair… All Year Long
People who already own a GSD would know this all too well!
GSDs are known to shed a lot, and shed often because of their thick, lengthy double fur coats.
If you can’t deal with fur around the house and on your favorite clothes, they might not be your ideal pet!
There might be a lot of fur pickup and vacuuming you need to do.
2) Genetic Health Issues Related To The Breed
GSDs through their breeding lines are more prone to health problems like hip dysplasia and arthritis.
This can be a problem for both you and your German Shepherd.
It’s troublesome for you as you may have to deal with vet bills and potentially costs for specialised supplements and diets.
But, it’s also not great for your GSD who may have to deal with pain and deterioration of joints and movement as they get older
It’s definitely worth getting vet checks documentation and certificates from breeders to make sure your GSD has good health.
3) Size and Energy
Their size (height and weight) and energy levels do not make them suitable for people with little living space or non-active lifestyles.
While they aren’t hyperactive, GSDs need to be walked daily and have a living area that caters to their size if you want to keep them stimulated and healthy.
Most GSDs will be fine around people and display a steady temperament.
If given the correct training as a puppy and young adult, GSDs are among the most disciplined, noble and well behaved/obedient dogs you will find.
They essentially strike the perfect balance between fearlessness and compassion.
However, when the proper time is not dedicated to teaching a German Shepherd right from wrong, they may exhibit problematic traits.
Poor breeding can also lead to an unstable temperament.
Make sure before you bring a new German Shepherd into your life that you know the background of the breed, research good breeders, and you are willing to do the things necessary to raise a good dog.
5) Don’t Like Being Left Alone
German Shepherds are certainly not needy.
However, due to their high level of intelligence and need for socialisation and stimulation, they can suffer from separation anxiety if you leave them alone for extended periods.
Ensure your German Shepherd always has something to do when you aren’t around, and that they are socialised early and often.
6) They Require Your Time Investment
This could be a positive or a negative, depending on how much you enjoy spending your free time with your pets.
But, German Shepherds do require your time if you want the best out of them.
From training, to diet, to exercise, to health, to socialisation and stimulation, they really do become another member of your family.
Whether or not this time investment or not is worth it is up to you.
7) You Need To Be A Leader
German Shepherds are generally a dog breed that look to a strong pack leader (you) to teach them wrong from right, and pull them in line when they overstep the mark.
They might challenge your command if you don’t establish yourself as the pack leader.
If you are not someone who is comfortable being firm and commanding, a German Shepherd might not be your cup of tea.
8) Financial Investment
Like any dog, a GSD will cost you money over their lifetime.
Being a large dog, they eat more food than a small dog breed – which can be more economical if you buy dry food.
TheDailyShep.com are not veterinarians, or animal professionals/experts. Information provided is for informational purposes only – it is not a substitute for professional or qualified advice.
The information is based on either our own thorough research, and/or own experiences, as a means of free speech.
By consuming this information, you accept that TheDailyShep.com do not have client or patient relationship with you, and TheDailyShep.com are not advising you to act on anything you read.
You should always consult your own veterinarian, animal expert, or health care professional and follow their advice before making decisions on all matters.
You can find our full set of disclaimers and T & C’s in the footer of this site.
Enjoy your reading, and thank you for being here