I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume you mean you are considering getting this dog as a 'family' dog. You want the dog to be companionable to your 4 year old child, but the dog will be trained and cared for by you.
That said, the person who currently owns the dog should be able to give you insight into the dog. Has the dog been socialized? Has the dog interacted with children and does the dog like children. Likewise, has your son been around dogs? Does your son understand proper behavior around dogs and will you ensure that your son is respectful to the dog? EX: Dogs are not horses. They are not for riding. They are not jungle gyms for climbing on, etc.
If the dog has been exposed to kids and your child knows how to interact with dogs, I see no problem bringing an 18 month old GSD into the home. I brought in a 2 year old GSD, when my son was 2. It was a match made in Heaven.
Natty Boh 6-27-12
Annie 1998 - 8-2-12 RIP
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