Potential New GSD Owner
I am considering buying a GSD puppy but still have some doubts so I am writing this post.
My family owned two GSD when I was a kid, they were great family pets and I remember them fondly. I do remember them being a bit of a handful regarding strangers coming to the house as well as dealing with small animals like cats. At the time I lived in an isolated area with few people around so the dogs weren't socialized the way dogs in more urban areas are.
While I don't remember my dogs being this monumental challenge to own, I was a kid so I'm sure my memory isn't complete. The dogs were never agressive with any of us kids and were awesome companions and protectors for us.
Reading the "should I buy a GSD" posts and stuff makes it seem like these dogs are and incredible challenge to own (besides the hefty exercise requirements) and is making me second guess my own memories of my dogs. Is their behavior that sketchy towards other people and animals or does it depend on the dog?
My main concern would be that the dogs not be aggressive with anyone in the family, that they be able to get along with my 6 year old daughter, my existing mutt and a cat but that it still guard the house against any unwanted guests. This combination of traits may not be possible for any dog and if so I will pass on a GSD for now and wait until my situation changes.
Finally, the last thing is regarding breeders. I have found about 5 breeders that would meet the "reputable breeder" guidelines posted on this forum. I have emailed or FB messaged all of them. I have gotten only two responses. You would think that if you were trying to find people with $1,500-$2,500 to spend on a dog you would be eager to get back in touch and answer their questions. Maybe I need to call but the web sites said email was best....??? Would you rule out a breeder who didn't respond?
Also, what's the deal with the rescue shepherds, most of them seem pretty questionable behavior-wise and health-wise....can a quality dog be found at a rescue? I wouldn't want one that was too old.
In any event, I look forward to any feedback you might have before I do or do not join your ranks.
Do you want a pet or a guard dog? It sounds like you have a lot going on already with a small child, a dog and a cat. Ask yourself why you want another animal?
I'm not an expert by any means, not a breeder or trainer, but I have owned German Shepherds my whole adult life and let me tell you, I wouldn't own another breed.
Your 1st question, yes a german shepherd can fit the description of what you want in a protective reliable family member. Some of the "sketchy" behavior you are concerned about can be genetic or training (lack of) based on the dog. German Shepherds do require a lot of training to be happy, a lot of activity to be happy. A bored dog, or one without a clear set of rules to live by will make up their own, and more than likely you won't like them. (the rules they make that is)
Your 2nd question about breeders, how long has it been since you have contacted them? People get busy. I get busy and neglect returning phone calls etc, I'm sure you do too at times. Give them the opportunity to get back with you, or drop them another line. Good breeders aren't in it for the money, so it's not like a business for them. You can't look at it like, if they want my business they will do x y z.
Then about rescue shepherds, I don't have personal experience with this. Surely someone will chime in with their experiences. There are lots of threads that I have read though about rescues that are positive. The way I understand it is that the dogs and potential adoptees are matched. You tell the rescue what you are looking for, your life style etc, and they match you up with dogs they have in their system that might be suitable.
Good luck with your search!
decide if you want a showline or a working line.find a reputable
breeder. you put in what's necessary to train, socialize and raise
the dog properly and you're going to have the type of dog you
want. when it comes to protection some GSD's are protective
some aren't. a lot of GSD's can be trained for protection work.
to me owning a GSD is a peice of cake. they learn so easily.
they're highly trainable, versatile and they look so good.
Well our rock was a rescue got him at 7 months, I was a Bully breed guy before hand and Rocky was a whole different world.
If your current dog is a female don't get another female.
The cat thing is irrelevant if you do it right, don't let the dog chase the cat...ever! Not one paw forward! If the dog is calm around the cat then the cat will accept the dog or ignore him, it's a cat! If the cat wants to engage the puppy I'd allow a little slack but still no "chasing!"
With only one dog you might not have an issue with this one but GSD have high rank drive. I never dealt with that with my other guys but that was my biggest issue with Rocky and Gunther two Dominate males. Gunther Bull Mastiff/Pit Mix apparently Roc had a "problem" with not going out the door first! My mistake and it showed up in the 18 to 28 month range.
People, company in the home, yep that was work, My others guy took to company like ducks to water ( especially the Boxer). Rocky not so much, more training and a soft muzzle were involved, He never bit anyone (never gave him the chance) but he clearly indicated that hugs and kisses were not on the menu for guest!
Overall he was a lot more work than I was expecting but he is a happy well adjusted dog that is safe with company (Roc go to bed and stay) and in public and around other dogs in public places. (No dog parks for us, so I've no idea how he would do in that environment but he's fine at the Vet office.).
He's still not a big fan of having company over but he's safe and civil in the home and pretty much aloof to strangers, good enough for me. :) 7 yrs old now.
I did all the hard work and he turned out just fine, so I would consider another GSD, my wife on the other hand loves our Rocky but she says "NO."
So it'll be back to Boxer world for us, for Rocky's next buddy!
Welcome to the forum!
I don't think you actually want a dog that will attack strangers entering the house. Better to have a dog that is just really scary looking and sounding. Otherwise you could have liability issues, plus it sounds like you really want a pet first and foremost and not a personal protection trained dog. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that and I think that the benefit of GSDs is that by their reputation they are a deterrent without actually having to be aggressive at all.
Since you have a lot of requirements (must be good with cats, other dogs, and kids) it would probably be better to go with a puppy...I love my rescue to pieces but she is not good with other dogs and we had to work really hard to get her to accept the cat.
If you think you want a puppy, read (and then re-read) the threads on this board about "land sharks." They can be enormously time consuming (and destructive, if you aren't careful).
As for rescues, the most common age I see in my area is adolescent. People buy cute puppies from breeders, the puppies turn into land sharks that keep growing, then they destroy a couch and who knows what else. People lose patience and realize they have too much dog, so the dog gets dumped. We see it over, and over.
Sometimes those dogs have fancy pedigrees, sometimes their origin is simply unknown. There's one in rescue in a nearby city who was a German import, IPO trained--but they had a new baby, so the dog was out.
We've seen many dogs in rescue who would be fine with a mutt, a cat, and a 6-year old. How do we know that? Because the foster has kids that age, cats, and personal dogs! I think you are much more likely to find a dog who can happily enter that kind of pre-existing pack if you look at young adults who've been fostered for a period of time in homes with kids and cats.
I would recommend you take your family to look at the pups and meet the breeder and dogs. There are a lot of threads to do your research. If you decide to go working line, research into the pedigree via online and ask experienced members.
My opinion is that a GSD is a deterrent for those that want to cause trouble. (You can insert other breeds in here as well) My wife and decided to go with a working line and training in obedience will soon follow. Everything takes work! I don't own one yet and I can't tell you how hard it will be. My wife and I just had a baby on the 15th and so far I love everything about it (including the sleepless nights). I think if you and your family are dedicated you'll be able to do it. If you are worried or on the fence then don't pull the trigger just yet and keep researching. As you can see, everyone has their opinion. Take your family to the breeder and interact with the pups and parents, read the threads about finding a reputable breeder. I know when I get the pup, it's going to be a lifetime commitment and another family member in the house. Good luck!
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