Is a GSD right for us? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-28-2012, 01:01 AM Thread Starter
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Is a GSD right for us?

Hello!! So glad I found this, because we are planning to add a dog to our family in the next few months, and are trying to decide if a GSD is right for us. We are not totally new to dogs, we have had 2 in the past, but both were small mutts that we adopted when they were 10 and 11, respectively, so they needed zero training, and little more than a warm place to sleep and people to hang out with LOL.

We are a young active family, it is me, my husband, and our 2 kids, ages 5 and almost 2. Planning to add at least one more (human!) child down the line. I work mostly from home, with the exception of some appointments (realtor). We are usually home, sometimes in and out for errands/soccer/gymnastics/etc. We also have 2 cats. Currently renting, in the process of buying a home, the home we buy will probably be about 2000 square feet and have a yard, but in this area, they are not huge. This is my first concern. The yard will be about .25 acres. Pretty tiny! But we would like a large, somewhat sturdy, dog. Does a GSD need a larger yard than this??

Here are my main questions:

Yard/House size needed?

Amount of exercise needed? (Planning on as much fetch/romping with kids in the yard as possible, probably one walk/jog each day...how long?? We also like to do a longer run one or two times a week, 3-5 miles.

How tolerant do they tend to be with young kids? (We do teach our kids to be respectful of animals, but the occasional ear or tail pull sometimes is hard to avoid =)

How are they, when raised properly, in social situations? As I said, we are a young active family. We like to go to the lake during the summer/hiking/etc, and the snow in the winter. We also have soccer practice and games all Fall and would like to include our dog in all of this. Often times there are many other dogs/people around these areas, are GSDs less tolerant of this?


Finally, what age would you recommend? Puppy? Teenager? Adult? We have done the geriatric dog thing twice now and definitely want to go younger this time, just not sure how young? What is the best place to find a dog? Breeder? Shelter? Rescue?

The reason we are considering a GSD and not, say a lab or Golden retriever, is because we would prefer a dog that would be a little more reliable at alerting us if a stranger was on our property/at our door. And that could possibly scare someone away with it's bark. We are NOT looking for an aggressive guard dog, but my husband often works nights, I am home alone with our kids, and would like a dog that could/would bark and alert me if needed. I feel like a lab or retriever would A. probably not even bark, and B. if they did, wouldn't sound or look very intimidating LOL. That said, we also want a family pet that will be our daughter's furry sibling =)

I know this was long, thank you if you made it this far!!!
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post #2 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-28-2012, 01:17 AM
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A properly trained and socialized GSD would be fine in most situations, given the proper exercise and mental stimulation. I have had a working line GSD in an apartment and he did well, but we went on one long off leash hike with lots of fetching. I think a GSD can do well in a small yard. It just depends on how much you exercise them outside of home and it depends on the dog.

Every GSD that I have had has been wonderful with children. They still have to be watched, because you never know. Both dogs and children can be unpredictable. Also, since they are so large, they tend to knock little kids over. Our baby never minds though. We have a 4 year old female, and a 3 month old male, and a 2 year old small mutt. I have never had a problem with any GSD that I have had being aggressive or reacting to the occasional tail pull, toy taking, or even riding like a horse (don't recommend that though).

There are a lot of great rescues where you can find some great purebred GSDs. Puppies are a lot of work, especially with young kids. They like to bite and chew and little kids are perfect targets for that. A young adult from a rescue may not be a bad idea.

Also, when they are fully grown, they make excellent running partners. I love running with mine and look forward to running with my next one when he is older.

Good luck on finding your next family member!
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post #3 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-28-2012, 01:35 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by meldleistikow View Post
A properly trained and socialized GSD would be fine in most situations, given the proper exercise and mental stimulation. I have had a working line GSD in an apartment and he did well, but we went on one long off leash hike with lots of fetching. I think a GSD can do well in a small yard. It just depends on how much you exercise them outside of home and it depends on the dog.

Every GSD that I have had has been wonderful with children. They still have to be watched, because you never know. Both dogs and children can be unpredictable. Also, since they are so large, they tend to knock little kids over. Our baby never minds though. We have a 4 year old female, and a 3 month old male, and a 2 year old small mutt. I have never had a problem with any GSD that I have had being aggressive or reacting to the occasional tail pull, toy taking, or even riding like a horse (don't recommend that though).

There are a lot of great rescues where you can find some great purebred GSDs. Puppies are a lot of work, especially with young kids. They like to bite and chew and little kids are perfect targets for that. A young adult from a rescue may not be a bad idea.

Also, when they are fully grown, they make excellent running partners. I love running with mine and look forward to running with my next one when he is older.

Good luck on finding your next family member!
Thank you! Yes, I am already not toooooo open to the puppy idea, LOL. So I am happy to hear that it is possible to get a great dog from a rescue! I really like the idea of say, a 1-3 year old dog that has a bit of training already in them! I just wasn't sure (and now, typing it out, it sounds so ridiculous), that you could get a slightly older GSD and have them bond with the family/be safe with our kids/other pets.....mainly because I have a few friends and family screaming at us that they are awful, unpredictable, etc, etc......hmmmm...maybe another bonus would be reduced visits from my mother? LOL

And I am *THRILLED* to hear they can be a running partner! I only recently got really in to it, but I have been slowly adding miles each week and would LOVE at some point to have a dog that I could share that with!!!
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post #4 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-28-2012, 01:40 AM
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*Please note: This is my experience but GSD's can vary drastically depending on breeding, nerves, and training, along with many other factors.*

House/Yard Size: In my opinion, doesn't matter as long as your committed to exercising them outside of your home every single day. I actually think that sometimes people with a limited yard and house size tend to be better about exercising their dogs because they can't rely on their yard all the time And most GSD's really just want to be with their family 24/7 anyways so a huge yard is only nice for interacting with the dog.

Amount of exercise: I would plan on long (3-5 miles) daily walks at a minimum, off leash hikes would be even better. Play is good but GSD's generally need more daily structure than just going to the park for a game of fetch. They need training and interaction at a higher level than your average dog.

I've never had kids around on a regular basis so I can't comment on the kids question, but I've heard they can be wonderful

As far as the social settings go, personally, these have never been stress-free for us with our shepherd because she is reactive to other dogs. We've always had to keep one step ahead of her to avoid a confrontation. I think you'll get mixed reviews on this question... Truly depends on the individual dogs personality and socialization. It can be done (and many GSD's are wonderful in these settings) but I do think it is more difficult than it would be with other breeds.

With everything you're going to need from a dog, I would strongly suggest going with an adult rescue. I would also look for a dog that is currently in a foster home and if possibly with some history on him or her as far as the cats and kids go. By being in a foster home you'll know a lot more about him or her than you would if they were just in a run at a shelter. In my experience, for the most part, what you see is what you get with an adult dog. Puppies can and often do go through many crazy stages and it sounds like the last thing you need is another handful!! A young adult will still have many awesome years left but will spare you the trials and tribulations that GSD pups can bring

Good luck looking for a new family member!!

Oh, and by getting an adult you'll know if they're a runner or not Even when Sasha was healthy, running was waaaaayyy too boring for her and about a mile in she'd just stop and lay down! If I took her leash off she could run for miles and miles but there was no way she'd run on leash. Finally I just gave up...

Last edited by sashadog; 01-28-2012 at 01:43 AM.
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post #5 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-28-2012, 01:46 AM
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Oh, and Sasha is bonded to us like crazy glue We adopted her when she was 2 years old and it only took about a week for her to realize she was here to stay. She hasn't left my side since
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post #6 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-28-2012, 01:48 AM
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I personally have 3 dogs in an apartment, with lots of open space for VERY active play, plus about 4 walks a day each. I have a two year old golden retriever that believe it or not is a very good watch dog. Because of his size he is not approachable and I prefer that. He actually barks at any stranger and his fur goes up, which makes him look threatening, but he is the biggest baby when it comes to family. He is the first dog to bark if he hears a noise or someone is at the door. He loves kids, dogs, and cats...his is very tolerant of all of them and I trust him 100%. I also recently got a german shepherd puppy that I can see at her very young age is going to be fearless, loyal, and not as loveable as the golden. I love both breeds but there is a big difference in the breeds...Golden was potty trained at 12 weeks and no crate was needed from that point forward...he chewed one little corner of the door, got yelled at and never chewed again. German Shepherd is going on 5 months and still not completely potty trained, not much of a chewer but more mouthier--trying to bite hands, the cats head, the goldens tail, etc. The golden has gone through one year of training and the shepherd is going on her second class, but when it comes to kids at this point and comparing the two dogs at the same age, the Golden Retriever wins--he is well rounded, great temperment, and a good watch dog, but I wouldn't trade my shepherd for anything..she is giving me a run for my money but I can see great potential with her...just a different kind of potential because she has a different job to do then the golden

Misty- Samoyed Mix, Tannor- Golden Retriever CGC
Robyn- GSD CGC, TC, Midnite-GSD CGC,TC, Brennan-Golden Retriever CGC, Batman-Husky/Greyhound , Apollo-GSD
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post #7 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-28-2012, 01:54 AM
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Originally Posted by sashadog View Post
A young adult will still have many awesome years left but will spare you the trials and tribulations that GSD pups can bring
This is the truth, my german shepherd is very high strung and active...sometimes I think she has ADD

Misty- Samoyed Mix, Tannor- Golden Retriever CGC
Robyn- GSD CGC, TC, Midnite-GSD CGC,TC, Brennan-Golden Retriever CGC, Batman-Husky/Greyhound , Apollo-GSD
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post #8 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-28-2012, 01:54 AM Thread Starter
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I personally have 3 dogs in an apartment, with lots of open space for VERY active play, plus about 4 walks a day each. I have a two year old golden retriever that believe it or not is a very good watch dog. Because of his size he is not approachable and I prefer that. He actually barks at any stranger and his fur goes up, which makes him look threatening, but he is the biggest baby when it comes to family. He is the first dog to bark if he hears a noise or someone is at the door. He loves kids, dogs, and cats...his is very tolerant of all of them and I trust him 100%. I also recently got a german shepherd puppy that I can see at her very young age is going to be fearless, loyal, and not as loveable as the golden. I love both breeds but there is a big difference in the breeds...Golden was potty trained at 12 weeks and no crate was needed from that point forward...he chewed one little corner of the door, got yelled at and never chewed again. German Shepherd is going on 5 months and still not completely potty trained, not much of a chewer but more mouthier--trying to bite hands, the cats head, the goldens tail, etc. The golden has gone through one year of training and the shepherd is going on her second class, but when it comes to kids at this point and comparing the two dogs at the same age, the Golden Retriever wins--he is well rounded, great temperment, and a good watch dog, but I wouldn't trade my shepherd for anything..she is giving me a run for my money but I can see great potential with her...just a different kind of potential because she has a different job to do then the golden

Thank you!!! This is **very** interesting! We are not completely sold on one breed or another at this point, just trying to gather information and do research on potential breeds. Anyway, whenever I try to ask anyone if a Golden or a Lab could be a watch/alert dog, I get laughed at and told to get a Rott or a Pit.

So hearing about your Golden does give me pause for a minute, thank you!

All of this information is so helpful, you guys are great!
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post #9 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-28-2012, 01:59 AM
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This a picture of my golden and my shepherd



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Misty- Samoyed Mix, Tannor- Golden Retriever CGC
Robyn- GSD CGC, TC, Midnite-GSD CGC,TC, Brennan-Golden Retriever CGC, Batman-Husky/Greyhound , Apollo-GSD
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post #10 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-28-2012, 02:04 AM Thread Starter
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Oh my gosh, they are both absolutely adorable!!!!!
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