Is the GSD right for me? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 129 (permalink) Old 04-10-2017, 10:19 PM Thread Starter
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Is the GSD right for me?

Hi all,

This is my first post on the forums. Im looking for advice on whether or not a GSD is the right fit for my family. We (myself, spouse, and three boys ages 8, 5, and 1.5) are moving into a new home this summer. My oldest boy is pining for a dog terribly and weve decided we will add one to the family once were in the new house. He has said for about a year what he really wants is a GSD. As I started researching I accidentally completely fell in love with the breed. My husband has been reluctant to agree for a number of reasons, mostly the shedding and that he is skeptical we can meet the dogs energy needs. Hes pushing for a Golden Retriever rescue. I am at this point completely hung up on the idea of the GSD, but soliciting opinions to see if thats maybe just foolish.

Thanks for any insight
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post #2 of 129 (permalink) Old 04-11-2017, 08:45 AM
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With three young ones I'd say you'll have the energy that GSD needs, go for it, there is no better dog for your kids and yourselves.
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post #3 of 129 (permalink) Old 04-11-2017, 09:42 AM
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This a question you have to ask yourself. As long as you are aware of the time and attention a Gsd needs as they have much energy. If you are willing and able to devote the time then sure. They make great family dogs and great with kids and enjoy going on many family outings.
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post #4 of 129 (permalink) Old 04-11-2017, 10:27 AM
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If you are being real with yourself and are sure you have enough time to work with the dog you should be okay. Your child may want a dog now but some kids aren't so enthused once they actually get the dog. I'm not sure how your family works but it is great if you set up beforehand some ground rules and responsibilities for the kids to make sure they stay involved, such as cleaning up dog poop and taking the dog for walks and playing with the dog. Your kid might be one of the ones who stays committed to the dog, I don't know you and your family though. Make sure you take the time to find a good breeder and research what type of GSD you want. Also I'd look into a couple other breeds just to make sure the GSD really is the one you want. Personally I'd look into the temperament and purpose of the dog first, then it's looks no matter how hard it is, dogs are cute. For example hounds and huskies can make great pets but they are also know to run and be loud, they are a lot of work. GSDs can be great dogs but they generally need a lot of work, they aren't always the 'easiest' dogs but they are a joy to have.(I feel like this is a jumble of words, hopefully you can tell what I'm trying to say? )

Good luck in whatever you do decide.
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post #5 of 129 (permalink) Old 04-11-2017, 11:02 AM
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Hi Oatmeal! You would probably be a great family for a GSD, but it might be easier to make a recommendation if you gave us some more information about what you expect from a dog and how you plan to take care of it.

We have a 1.5 year old son (and another on the way) and 2 GSDs. GSDs aren't the easiest breed to own, but they're not the hardest either. Have you or your husband ever had dogs before? Do you have any training experience? GSDs definitely take some commitment--they need training, exercise, structure and boundaries. I don't think the average GSD is ideal for the casual owner who has no interest in training or exercising a dog.

I would recommend taking a puppy to obedience classes for the first year or two (at least that is what we do and it has worked out well for us). A fenced yard is also helpful as it's nice to have an easily accessible place for your dog to run off leash (and a lot of GSDs aren't good dog-park candidates).

To help tip the scales in favor of getting a dog w/a stable temperament and good health, I would also recommend saving up, researching, and getting a puppy from a reputable breeder or from a rescue group that temperament tests their dogs before placement. Stable nerves and good temperament are party genetic, I believe.

A well-bred, well trained GSD will likely be one of the best dogs you've ever had, but an untrained, under-exercised GSD will not be a joy to live with.

(EDITED to add: Also, keep in mind that most GSD puppies like to play bite A LOT, which some people find hard to deal with. Search for puppy biting on this forum for tips).
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Last edited by sebrench; 04-11-2017 at 11:13 AM.
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post #6 of 129 (permalink) Old 04-11-2017, 11:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oatmeal View Post
Hi all,

This is my first post on the forums. Im looking for advice on whether or not a GSD is the right fit for my family. We (myself, spouse, and three boys ages 8, 5, and 1.5) are moving into a new home this summer. My oldest boy is pining for a dog terribly and weve decided we will add one to the family once were in the new house. He has said for about a year what he really wants is a GSD. As I started researching I accidentally completely fell in love with the breed. My husband has been reluctant to agree for a number of reasons, mostly the shedding and that he is skeptical we can meet the dogs energy needs. Hes pushing for a Golden Retriever rescue. I am at this point completely hung up on the idea of the GSD, but soliciting opinions to see if thats maybe just foolish.

Thanks for any insight
I'm in a DINK situation, and we got a GSD as our first dog. We were early thirties, somewhat active (became much more so after getting the dog). I've sort of reconfigured my entire life outside of work to accommodate what the dog needs, but that was something I was happy to do; I wanted to do obedience and some type of dog sport/activity, and we found that was a lot of fun. Your oldest is maybe a tad young to do those things with the dog now, but by the time your dog was 2, I'd think he'd be old enough.

Re the shedding, I find it absolutely hilarious that your husband is pushing for a Golden instead. My spayed shepherd bitch sheds year round and she does a mild version of coat blowing a couple of times a year (a few extra tumbleweeds). The shedding is constant and the struggle is real, but I'm not vacuuming daily, put it that way. Three to four times per week and making sure I go over her with a pin brush at about the same frequency, and it isn't so bad. Golden owners have told me that if I ever got a Golden, I should expect to eat hair, find it in beverages, find it floating in my kitchen cupboard and refrigerator, it is just everywhere and constant and the sheer volume has them marveling at how there's still hair on the dog.

Back to the GSD, I've found based totally on anecdotal evidence that some individuals seem to need more physical exercise, some need more mental, and some need a balance. They all need both, but how the balance tips might be different. I'm one of the lucky ones whose dog needs both in approximately equal measure. So we do Nosework, play brain games in the house, run obedience, AND go for walks and play raucous idiotic games in the house and take weekend runs/hikes. The advantage to this is that she loves to be active both physically and mentally, and I can throw just about anything at her and she'll think it's fun - the downside is that it's just my husband and me who provide her with all of that stimulation. You may find that with more people who can engage the dog, it is easier.

For what it's worth, as she's maturing, I find her developing (slooooowly, because I didn't teach her very well) more of an off switch in the house. Every retriever I've been around ever seems to have no off switch. They don't power down; they just recharge.
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post #7 of 129 (permalink) Old 04-11-2017, 11:15 AM
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Just thought I would tell you what my life is like with a German shepherd AND a golden retriever. First of all, while my shepherd is only 7 months, he sheds much less than my golden girl. I'm not sure if his age has to do with it, but when I find stray hairs, they are always from my golden. I brush Brooklyn (the golden) at least four times a week, so she sheds way less than the average dog anyway. I dog-sit for another golden puppy, and holy cow! I've never seen so much fur come off of one dog! The owners never brush their golden, and you can really tell. As far as I see it, my golden sheds more, but my shepherd is WAY more crazy in other ways. Think "running around the house for hours on end."
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post #8 of 129 (permalink) Old 04-11-2017, 11:29 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies. My number one concern is the kids' safety -- particularly the one year old, especially as I've read that GSD puppies (more so than other breeds?) are land sharks. I don't know if maybe a one year old and a GSD are an especially bad mix. Second to that, meeting the dog's energy needs -- we live in Florida and tend to stay inside (in the a/c) from...April or May to November, haha. I realize that will have to change, but becoming more active would be a positive change anyway I think. One thing that kind of crushed me is we visited our home site last week and I only now (after seeing the foundation poured) realized just how small our yard will be. It's a new house in one of these new developments with tiny yards. There's room for a swing set for the kids and maybe some room to throw a ball for a dog, but not much room for running.

As an aside my husband grew up with dogs, I have absolutely no pet or animal experience -- in fact I've been scared of dogs for most of my life, and this is part of what prompted us to consider adding a dog to the family-- we don't want our boys to turn out the same way, haha. Also my oldest son has terrible emotional meltdowns that have been a real parenting issue for us lately, and we have this (perhaps romanticized) idea that a dog would comfort him and maybe help prevent his meltdowns from reaching quite the extremes they do now. I realize that may be silly though.

I over-analyze and over-research things, and I've just about thought this dog issue to death at this point. I've read many posts where people said to keep in mind the high exercise (physical and mental) needs of the dog, but as someone who has never owned a dog before (especially a German Shepherd) I really don't know what that means. Going on a jog? Once a day? Twice a day? And how much could this vary depending on our specific dog? -- I fell down a rabbit hole reading about show vs. working lines and Czech vs. East or West German vs. American....basically at the end of the day we are looking for a loving, intelligent dog to become another member of our family.
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post #9 of 129 (permalink) Old 04-11-2017, 11:51 AM
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Personally I don't think dogs are ideal for a family with infants. Wait until your youngest is at least 4 and can better understand the proper treatment of animals. My GSD likes kids and is good with them, as is my Great Pyr, but when you have bigger dogs they will often knock kids down on accident. My Pyr loves kids more than I've ever seen a dog love kids, she sees one and will stay with it and insists on being cuddled, but she's also about 30 inches tall and 110 lbs, so any kiddos who aren't big enough to handle being bumped by her are just going to end up on the ground. She also is also less hyper than GSDs generally are.

There are also no breeds of dog that will be 100% reliable with kids. You will have to always keep an eye on your dog and your kids when they are together, are you ready for that? Most incidents occur when the parent is not watching.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adirondackman View Post
With three young ones I'd say you'll have the energy that GSD needs, go for it, there is no better dog for your kids and yourselves.
How so? My siblings all have kids and they have no time for anything but their kids, they barely have the energy to keep up with the kids.
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post #10 of 129 (permalink) Old 04-11-2017, 11:57 AM
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I don't think this has been stressed. Really with either dog the expert breeding is essential. Go with the best breeder you can find and be willing to spend the money for the dog and for a year of training. A good breeder will be able to guide you well. No crap shoot is worth it in these circumstances. I agree that getting a puppy and having an infant, let alone 3 kids, can be very difficult. Puppies of both these breeds will need a lot of attention from the adults in the house so you don't get bad behaviors. You could look for a bomb proof adult dog.

Adult shepherds do shed a lot, but so do most other breeds. Goldens shed too.
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