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This book is a guide for those who own or are considering purchasing a # German Shepherd. This easy-to-read guide will alleviate the need for you to depend.
Table of contents

Knowledgeable working dog breeders can point you toward the pups in their litters who are calmer and have less working drive. These dogs were used by the military and border patrol, so they're tough, not recommended for the average family. You might be thinking, "Must I choose show line or working line? Isn't there another choice, like a line specifically bred to be a good pet? Some breeders blend show and working lines, trying to produce a more moderate build and temperament. Some breeders emphasize high trainability, competing with their intelligent dogs in non-protection sports such as obedience or agility.

Other breeders emphasize "old style" German Shepherds with a more rugged build. But avoid breeders who boast about their "giant" German Shepherds. Packing more weight onto the frame and joints of a breed that's supposed to be medium to large is a huge pun intended mistake. German Shepherd with long hair.

German Shepherd Corgi Mix

This particular dog has a minimalist long coat — just some ear tufts and a body coat that's slightly longer than normal. The normal coat is short hair.

But German Shepherds also come in a longer coat. Both coats are the same breed. Unfortunately, in the United States, long coats are frowned upon by the official clubs and show-dog breeders. Long-coated dogs can be registered, bred, and shown in certain activities such as obedience and agility. But they're not welcome in the conformation ring, where judging is based on appearance. Some long-coated Shepherds have essentially a short body coat with only minor feathering around their ears, on the backs of their legs, and on their bum and tail.

Other long-coated German Shepherds have long hair across most of their body. Do long haired German Shepherds have a different build or temperament? Yes, often they do. Because they're not welcome in the conformation ring, their structure hasn't been deformed like that of their shorthaired brothers. And because they're seldom seen in protection dog sports, their temperament tends to be softer and milder, which fits well into many families.

German Shepherds are active dogs, but should not be hyperactive. Fetch games are a great way to exercise this breed. German Shepherd puppies and adolescents up to 18 months old should have moderate exercise only — multiple walks, fetch games, or if there is a compatible playmate playing with another dog.

But the growing bones and ligaments in a young dog can be irreparably damaged by too much exercise or the wrong kind of exercise. At this age, there should be no forced running beside a jogger or bicyclist. Restrict jumping as much as possible. Once the dog is mature, the amount of exercise needed will vary according to the dog's energy level. But all German Shepherds, to maintain fitness, need brisk walking every day and all-out running in a safe, enclosed area as often as possible.

Mental exercise is even more important for German Shepherds. Mental exercise means the dog gets to participate in interesting activities that keep his intelligent mind stimulated. This might be a dog sport such as agility, rally obedience, musical freestyle, tracking, flyball, herding, or schutzhund.


It might be interactive dog toys, or a homemade obstacle course, or learning tricks, or playing games such as Hide 'n Seek. As we've seen, different lines have different temperaments. German Shepherds from working lines are typically more assertive and stronger-willed. A "tougher" German Shepherd will be more challenging to train unless you pay closer attention to building the right Leader-Follower relationship with the dog.

That doesn't mean "softer" German Shepherds are automatically easy to train.

They are very loyal

Some dogs with soft temperaments are skittish or shy, making them just as challenging as a strong-tempered dog. In general, though, a sound-tempered German Shepherd who is a good fit for family life should be easy to train. Just establish the right Leader-Follower relationship and the dog will be happy to work with you.

This is taught in my puppy training book, Respect Training For Puppies 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved puppy. Most German Shepherds are reserved with strangers. As the breed's national club says, a good German Shepherd has:. The dog must be approachable, quietly standing its ground and showing confidence and willingness to meet overtures without itself making them. As you might imagine, this can be a fine line to walk.

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Without proper guidance from the owner, a German Shepherd's natural aloofness can morph over the line to suspiciousness, distrust, and even aggression or fearfulness. When you own an aloof breed, you need to socialize the dog thoroughly.

This means a careful program of teaching him to pay attention to you and mind you in the presence of other people and other dogs. He doesn't have to like them, but he must accept them. One thing I should mention: many German Shepherds who bark and lunge at strangers or other dogs aren't being either protective or aggressive. Rather, this kind of reactivity can be the dog's attempt to hide his own insecurities behind a blustering facade. At the other end of the spectrum are German Shepherds who tuck their tail between their legs, and try to hide behind you or run away whenever a stranger or another dog approaches.

Sometimes this is just inexperience with the world, but sometimes it's an inherited form of shyness. German Shepherds who are genetically shy can be helped by socialization — but not "cured. There are also legal liabilities to consider when you acquire a German Shepherd. For example, your homeowner insurance policy might be cancelled or the rates hiked, because people are often quicker to sue if a "guard dog breed" does anything even remotely questionable. If the dog was raised with childen and if the children are well-behaved, most German Shepherds with a normal temperament are fine with them.

But if you have young children, you need to be especially careful about bringing an adult German Shepherd with an unknown background into your home. That dog should have a stellar temperament vouched for by experienced rescue personnel. Also I wouldn't be comfortable with some high-drive German Shepherds around toddlers. These vigorous, intense dogs could send a toddler flying without even meaning to.

Most German Shepherds are fine with other dogs and cats in their own family, if introduced to them when the dog is young. I've had multiple German Shepherds living harmoniously with my Chihuahuas and cats. And some German Shepherds are dominant, or aggressive, toward other dogs of the same sex.

My dog Luke, for example, would never dream of harming a female dog — but he would have loved to engage any strange male. Only a firm Respect Training program kept his behavior under control. Long-coated German Shepherd. Keep their feathering combed out to avoid painful mats and tangles.

The bad news is In other words, German Shepherds shed constantly. Most breeds shed a few hairs here and there throughout the year.

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But the vast bulk of their shedding occurs only twice a year — for three weeks in the spring as their thicker winter coat switches over to a cooler summer coat, and for three weeks in the fall as the summer coat switches over to a winter coat. Not German Shepherds. They shed a TON during those spring and fall coat-switching seasons. Plus they shed moderately the rest of the year. So year-round, you'll find hair on your clothing, on your carpets, and under your refrigerator.