Are German Shepherds Good For First-Time Owners
Dog Care Tips · Dog Behavior

Are German Shepherds Good For First Time Owners? 4 Surprising Reasons They Are Not

Last Updated/Info Checked on October 20, 2023 by Scott

If you are here because you are about to get a pet for the first time, please rest assured that you are not indecisive or confused. We were all there and we spent a good amount of time deliberating.

Getting on with answering the question, here’s my take:

German Shepherds are not good for first-time owners because they are intelligent and do everything on a “what’s in it for me” basis, they require lots of exercise, they are prone to hip dysplasia, they don’t do well in apartments, and they develop separation anxieties when left alone.

Before jumping to the explanation, let me give you an idea of the best and worst dog breeds for first-time owners. Poodles, Corgis, Labrador retrievers, Bernese Mountain Dogs, and Yorkshire terriers are just a few of the breeds that are well-suited to being first-time pets. On the other hand, dogs like Akitas, Alaskan Malamute, Bloodhounds, Dalmatians, Rottweilers, Siberian Husky, Dobermans, and Beagles are considered the least suitable dogs for first-time owners.

Are German Shepherds Good For First-Time Owners - Infographic

Are German Shepherds good for first-time owners?

German Shepherds may be one of the most popular breeds in the US, but they still don’t qualify as better first dogs. They are intelligent, which means they’d need extensive training before you’re completely confident to control them.

Even doing that isn’t a piece of cake because GSDs go by the “what’s in it for me” attitude. If they don’t feel they’re getting enough, they will create hurdles or try to overwhelm you.

You see owning a German Shepherd isn’t a piece of cake.

Next, they require a lot of exercise, which could be a problem for you as a new owner or an apartment dweller. About the latter, they are not very suited to live in small enclosed spaces.

Lastly, GSDs are notorious for getting too attached to their owners to develop separation anxieties. And although they tend to have strong immunity, wrong breeding has led to a higher chance of hip dysplasia.

Considering all these reasons, it’s evident that German Shepherds will be a pain in the blank for you as a new owner. If that’s not enough to convince you, here are the details.

1. German Shepherds Are An Intelligent Breed

With getting a dog for the first time, your major concern is training. 

Not everyone can find a fully trained dog and hence, you mostly need to train your dogs on your own

Obviously, regardless of how much effort you put in, every dog breed takes its good time to get trained. However, some breeds are way smarter than others and, hence, they may not be easy to train.

In all these years I have spent training different dogs, my experience with the Shepherds has been an absolute delight because I’m not a novice trainer or owner. I have seen how they could get out of your hand.

Novice owners and trainers will make plenty of mistakes during their training sessions, and that’s where their GSDs won’t forgive them. Instead, they will try to overpower them. They are quick and smart and hence, training them is hard – something a first-timer wouldn’t want.

2. German Shepherds Require Lots of Exercise

They are beasts of high energy. To tire them, you may have to take them for a walk for an extended time. Even that may not be enough. You still may have to play with it to keep it mentally stimulated. Intelligence, after all, comes with a downside for dogs — they dive into boredom and depression when they don’t get something to do.

To that end, GSDs love doing jobs, so you’ll have to assign them one; otherwise, they’ll lose their minds and take their energies out on things you don’t want, such as ripping your sofas apart, chasing your children, or barking incessantly at strangers.

3. German Shepherds Are Prone to Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia seems to be quite common in dogs because of wrong breeding. Since GSDs are one of the most popular breeds, they fall victim to careless breeding, thus, leading to this disease.

It’s a congenital disease but it starts showing itself later in the growing years. Therefore, you may not be aware of the condition and get a dog that has it. Yes, there are some medical procedures to save you from this fate like Xrays but why go to that length when the breed has other traits not suitable for novice owners?

4. German Shepherds Are Not Apartment Dwellers

While all dogs are known for their loyalty and protective behavior towards their owners, this breed sets the standards of being protective and loyal for all other breeds to follow.

But all in all, they can’t live in enclosed spaces like small apartments. for a dog of this calibre that knows what’s it capable of, living in expansive houses with lawns and backyards matters!

These dogs are capable of turning their guard on very quickly and can, hence, protect you in the worst of situations however they can. So, keeping them in apartment complexes where everyone lives in close proximity is not a very good idea. Untrained or not properly trained GSDs could turn on your neighbors in no time.

5. German Shepherds Develop Separation Anxieties

The downside for a dog possessing unrelenting love for its owners is separation-related anxieties. If there was ever an award for that, GSDs would win it every year because these dogs are prone to separation anxiety.

One way or another, it’s us the owners that are to be blamed for a dog’s unwanted behavior. As a new owner, you’d shower endless love on the dog only to inadvertently hyper-attach it to yourself. As a result, it won’t be able to function well without you in plain sight.

It will howl and bark, chew on things, and leave feces or urine everywhere until you return. When you do return, it will show unhealthy excitement and the cycle will continue.

Of course, there are training sessions to curb this behavior, but as a novice owner, you may not have enough time.

Other than these reasons, the pretty and warmest smiles of these dogs and their great looks can be stated as other good reasons to get them anytime you want.

Before leaving, here’s a short clip from a canine behavioralist showing us the bad sides of owning this breed:

Is A German Shepherd A Good First Dog? Conclusion

Are German Shepherds Good For First-Time Owners?

Every dog owner goes through the galaxy of questions that you are currently going through and that is totally okay.

But I’ll keep it straightforward: German Shepherd as the first dog shouldn’t be your choice as a new owner for the reasons I shared.

If you think you can handle those and still want a GSD, I suggest you hire a professional trainer and work with them to train the dog for the best of both.

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