OWNING A GSD
COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT WHAT IT'S LIKE TO OWN A GSD
German Shepherd Dogs are wonderful animals and can make wonderful additions to the right family. They also have some characteristics that make them unsuitable for some potential families.
The following questions will help you determine if a German Shepherd Dog may be right for you.
Do you have the financial ability to care for a GSD?
Typical costs associated with owning a GSD
Annual exam and vaccinations $100.00/year
Heartworm and flea preventative (50 - 100 lb. dog) $240.00/year
Quality dog food - 20lb. bag per week (large dogs require more food!) $1,040.00/year
Supplies - food and water bowls, collar, leash, id tag, shampoo, brush,
chew toys $250.00/year
Crate (size X large) $100.00
Local licensing requirements $25.00/year
Estimated Annual Cost of Owning a GSD (without an emergency/unexpected illness) $1755.00
Unexpected illness (Ex. a trip to the ER for bloat) $2500.00
Other factors to consider: the cost to board your dog while you are on vacation, as dogs age they may require more veterinary attention, ie more frequent trips to the vet, regular medication, etc
Do you have the time necessary to devote to a GSD?
Dogs are dependent creatures and rely totally upon you for their care and well being. There are many elements necessary for your GSD to be a happy and healthy pet, all requiring YOUR time and effort.
General care - much like any dog, GSDs require regular grooming including bathing, brushing (coat and teeth), administering monthly heartworm and flea preventative and annual trips to the vet.
Exercise- do not expect that your GSD will give himself enough exercise wandering around in the backyard by himself. GSDs require regular daily exercise or they may become bored and destructive, jumping fences and digging holes, etc.
Training- do not expect a GSD to learn how to properly behave in a home without training. GSD's are BIG dogs with high energy and prey drive. Training, along with proper socialization is absolutely essential to ensure a well behaved GSD.
Family Time - it's important to take the time to make your GSD part of your family. Snuggle with him, include him on family outings, give him the attention he deserves.
Did you choose a GSD for the right reasons?
Are you looking strictly for a guard dog?
While GSDs do make excellent watchdogs this is the WRONG reason to own a dog! If you intend to keep your GSD chained in the yard with little human interaction, please do not own one. Dogs are social animals and require love and attention just as humans do. Otherwise you will end up with a broken, miserable animal. All dogs deserve a better fate.
Are you looking for a companion or playmate for your children?
This alone is not a good reason to own a GSD or any dog. While GSDs can be great with children given proper training, do not expect to leave a GSD with small children unsupervised. GSDs are large, powerful dogs and children under 12 have not yet developed the judgment necessary to treat animals respectfully. If you have small children, expect to watch all dog/child interactions very closely. Also, it is unfair to expect a small child to take on the responsibility of caring for a dog. It may be a great learning experience for a child to HELP with caring for a dog, but the ultimate responsibility remains with YOU.
Are you looking for a loyal companion and beloved family member?
The very best reason to own a GSD! Bringing a GSD into your heart and home can be a truly rewarding experience for your entire family.
Are you wlling to make a long term commitment to a GSD?
This is an important consideration before deciding to own ANY dog. GSDs have a life expectancy of 10-12 years. Be prepared to honor a commitment to the dog for the remainder of its life. The unconditional love and devotion you will receive deserves nothing less.
Are you a strong leader?
DO NOT expect a GSD to respond to your commands if you are a weak leader. A strong minded dog can end up running your household if you do not use patient and fair discipline.
Are GSD's gentle with all living creatures?
GSDs have hunting instincts, and squirrels, rabbits and cats fall into the category of "things to be hunted for fun", if not trained to the contrary.
Are you comfortable with a lot of dog hair?
GSDs shed heavily, particularly in the summer months. If you are a meticulous housekeeper consider if you want to spend more time vacuuming.
Does your housing situation make it viable to own a GSD?
Is your current housing situation stable enough for a GSD? Do you own your home? If not, does your landlord agree to allow a big dog such as a GSD share your living quarters? Do you have adequate space, including a completely fenced yard for a large dog such as a GSD? What about your neighbors? Will they tolerate a large dog with a large bark?
Do you anticipate a move in the coming years?
"We're moving" is a common reason dogs are dumped in shelters. If you are expecting a move, please give serious consideration to getting a dog, unless you are certain you will be able to take your dog with you.