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Honestly with young kids and a nervous wife I would rec an easy going English show line lab, not field obviously. Generally the safest choice for almost any family.
That's what I was going to write exactly. The GSD can wait and field Labs can be totally idiots if they don't get what they need, depending on the dog you were "given".
 

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For what it's worth, I'll stick with my recommendation to get a lab if you need more of a family pet that keeps your wife happy and not needing a family protector/outdoor athlete.

But for the record, my Dad believed that all dogs should be kept outside (warm and doing a job in the barn) and that you should never leave a GSD alone or too close to a child (unpredictable, eventually will eat your children). He grew to love all my GSD and my Mom now thinks they are the best breed in the world. However, more than once she has told me how lucky we have been with the temperaments of our dogs lol
 

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Most people already made great points and I agree with getting an adult laid back show line GSD if you decide to go GSD. Most GSD puppies are extremely mouthy (more than Labs), tend to stay in the phase longer, and as a breed tend to bite harder. Many Labs (primary English or breeders who title/work their dogs in hunting/fowl retrieval) have a natural or are bred for a softer bite/mouth. This is so they bring the duck back unharmed. My 17 month old GSD is still mouthy and if over-excited will jump and nip at my clothing waiting for me to throw his ball. Not popular with my 13 year old son when he acts this way. He is also a very confident male and will stand his ground if challenged. If your wife is already nervous about being around GSDs, this situation could be disastrous if she does not have confidence.

So I would recommend a Lab for you at this time if you want to go puppy or really in general. Having had a Lab and trained with many, they are a much easier dog to handle. Labs can be protective, but their first instinct is that people and other dogs are there to play or are friendly. They are not aloof or distrustful to strangers. Having people and young kids coming in and out will not be a worry in general. Your sandwich is in more danger. Most people are also more open to approaching your Lab to say hello and God forbid the dog escaped, people are more likely to grab or catch a Lab.
 

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Also wanted to add in reference to your father in law and his experience with working/military GSDs in Vietnam. My father was a young Army Veterinarian in Vietnam and then went on to work in his own private practice till about 3 years ago. The GSDs, Dobermans and other breeds used at that time are not the same dogs we see today in homes or as working dogs. Yes, some were nasty, not bred with the right temperaments, bite handlers and needed to be muzzled/tranquilized for care/exams. However, keep in mind many were traumatized or injured and returned to the field to work. I know my dad patched a lot of injured dogs up and I can only imagine what these dogs went through listening to other dogs crying and whining in pain during recovery in the kennels or smelly death of humans and other dogs.

If he didn't believe in the GSD as a breed, he wouldn't have considered them as one of his favorite dogs to treat and wouldn't have bought a high drive working line one for his college-aged daughter for Christmas to watch over her many moons ago.
 

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When in doubt, get a lab. They are the quintessential family dog.

Steer clear of field bred dogs. They are ballistic missiles until they are about 4 and then they slow down to Ferrari.

They are so easy to train and they are just friendly dogs.

Watch their weight. Bench bred dogs are generally chow hounds.
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
Also wanted to add in reference to your father in law and his experience with working/military GSDs in Vietnam. My father was a young Army Veterinarian in Vietnam and then went on to work in his own private practice till about 3 years ago. The GSDs, Dobermans and other breeds used at that time are not the same dogs we see today in homes or as working dogs. Yes, some were nasty, not bred with the right temperaments, bite handlers and needed to be muzzled/tranquilized for care/exams. However, keep in mind many were traumatized or injured and returned to the field to work. I know my dad patched a lot of injured dogs up and I can only imagine what these dogs went through listening to other dogs crying and whining in pain during recovery in the kennels or smelly death of humans and other dogs.

If he didn't believe in the GSD as a breed, he wouldn't have considered them as one of his favorite dogs to treat and wouldn't have bought a high drive working line one for his college-aged daughter for Christmas to watch over her many moons ago.
That's a really good informative post about the time and conditions back then. For better or worse, my father in law has an encyclopedic memory and is very set in his ways. I would like to share this story with him sometime though, hopefully just to soften him a bit. I'd hate to see his entire opinion shaped from just one encounter. Maybe even bringing them along to visit a breeder wouldn't be a bad decision...at least then they would get the opportunity to see some great dogs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
When in doubt, get a lab. They are the quintessential family dog.

Steer clear of field bred dogs. They are ballistic missiles until they are about 4 and then they slow down to Ferrari.

They are so easy to train and they are just friendly dogs.

Watch their weight. Bench bred dogs are generally chow hounds.
Thanks for the input. Just doing some research today on breeders while I've been back and forth on the forum and the field bred dogs do have a look like they're about to be shot out of a cannon. I'm going to remain positive in this; I love dogs and either way I'm getting another dog, I enjoy researching so I'll have some learning to do as well. I'm not giving up on that second dog though... plenty of time to work on my wife and the rest of the family 😄
 

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I would like to say that I would never get a young adult Shepherd, not with a six-year-old in the house. Shepherd will bond much better if you raise it from a puppy, train it the way you want it. With a young adult Shepherd, you have a dog that is already full of hormones, and that is their teenage Butthead phase when they don’t listen to the people who raised him from the time they were a puppy!

Having read more from you, I, too, would steer you toward a lab.
 
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Thanks for the input. Just doing some research today on breeders while I've been back and forth on the forum and the field bred dogs do have a look like they're about to be shot out of a cannon. I'm going to remain positive in this; I love dogs and either way I'm getting another dog, I enjoy researching so I'll have some learning to do as well. I'm not giving up on that second dog though... plenty of time to work on my wife and the rest of the family 😄
If you Google my name and Fama, you can read about my journey through school with my military dog. She bit me several times and lots of other people.

Fama ended up retiring with me and spent 5 years with my family, including babies, toddlers and crazy young kids. She was 100% safe with kids and a wonderful family dog.

Serving in the military is a completely different environment than being part of a family. Just like soldiers have a different mindset while deployed, dogs also live in the moment and react to things differently. I wouldn't judge the temperament of humans or dogs by sampling soldiers at war.
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Your sandwich may be in real danger with a lab in the house 🤣🤣. They are foodies for sure. And I call them lab-a-gators because of the way they are prone to eat fingers when you feed them a cookie. I mean serious chomping.
 

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Just one last plug to vet your breeder thoroughly. I own a boarding kennel and I handle dozens of people's pet labs per week. I have many who are definitely field bred, and many who are definitely english (what David called bench bred).

Then there is another whole category which I suspect are the product of less than ideal breeders and likely a mishmosh of the two lines. And these are usually the ones with temperament all over the map. Many of these "other" category labs have the off the chart drive and energy but unpredictable temperaments. I feel pretty sure they are just a mixup of lines by a backyard breeder with no real purpose. I board one who is dog aggressive. She's just not quite right in the head. Sometimes she tries to bite me when I towel her off. If she is "loading up" at a gate or something, she's totally unpredictable.

Another one has to board every time the kids in his family have a birthday party because he can't be trusted with a bunch of other people's kids on the property. He barks aggressively and charges people and dogs although he's not actually dog aggressive and he can be good in groups of dogs once he gets past his poor greeting skills.

Go to a breeder that exhibits their dogs--- conformation shows, rally, obedience. My English lab's breeder does some hunt tests with her dogs too. You don't need a "show dog" for a pet, but you do need a breeder who is well respected by their local breed club and exhibits their dogs in lots of settings so they know what they really have. Breeders that have been established and exhibiting their dogs for a long time are more likely to produce a predictable temperament...."non quarrelsome with man nor beast"...
 

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Finding a reputable breeder is important, as is agreeing on a breed.

After a long while finally agreed on a smaller more less active needing pup - King Charles when the kids were one and three. When she passed away I was addicted to the spaniel type dog. I also always liked doberman and never had one no one else wanted a Doberman. Kids still on the younger side but having more time for a larger active breed. We decided to go with the Gordon setter not to many breeders and no available pups, by then husband started talking about another Germans shepherd. Called some breeders and and after choosing Max’s breeder, while waiting for Max to be old enough to come home - my heart was still on those Gordon’s setters. It was my other half that wanted the gsd. I can tell you though, I changed my mind real quick. I kind of laugh at all of it now. Any German Shepherd you are going to need plan to put a lot of time into the pup the first two years-3 years keeping them mentally stimulated and physically stimulated. Max an asl was a land shark on steroids as a pup , a big boundary pusher, spade invader lol- but so so much fun not for the kids as a teething pup - as a lot of structure was put into place - that is not always fun for kids.

My wgsl female not so much mouthiness and she rarely pushed the boundaries easy pup. She slept the first night in her crate all through the night. I felt that made a nice combo these two dog personalities for myself.

Both shepherds are great with all family parties ,old and new friends coming into the house etc. sleep overs. It’s a plus when your dogs enjoys the chaos. Always taking the dogs out with us to beaches , people parks , hikes , public places for shopping , errand etc. all the while keeping us safe at night. It’s hard figuring out what you want and one can easily talk yourself out of what you do not want especially in a breed like the gsd , when your heart is stuck on another breed at the moment.

My friend has lab from a showline breeder that shows labradors for many many many years. They are big big dog show people. I have not met a lab I’d did not like from this breeder. The breeders daughter would walk into the Christmas barn party home with a few of her dogs and into a room with a massive amount of unknown people and the dogs would plop on the floor and just lie there off leash. As people stepped over them as it was right in the middle of the room.

My friend’s lab is a hostess at the barn to all who enter. She sits and watches very carefully as her owner rides and trains some unruly horses. She has a some focus and always impresses how she watches over her owner. She is in the middle of a jumping ring watching all of of it. Once her owner is off the horse the lab leaves all on her own to look for someone that may need company. My friend wanted a lab for a long long time and very happy she got the breed of her choice. The lab was exactly what she wanted and needed. The breeder was the same family friend whose many of her dogs have been visitors of the barn to meet and all have an incredible temperaments. I met most of the lab family over 15 years myself.

My friend and her husband also disagreed on what breed to get after their sheltie passed away. Their shelty had to be put away and or walked on a leash through the barn. The lab breeder would not allow her a pup until they both agreed on their breed of choice. I can say they are both happy now.
 

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A lot of good comments here, but I thought I'd weigh in because I'm actually kind of living this situation right now with a GSD pup so I can share my experience to-date. Personally, I don't think there's a right or wrong answer here. What you want to do is make the right decision for the right reasons with the right set of expectations.

First, here's our situation: two young kids (almost 4 y/o and almost 2.5 y/o, both girls) and a wife who is anxious/scared around medium sized and bigger dogs. She didn't have a trauma of any kind, just not a dog person to begin and not a fan of dogs, particularly those with reputations. Anyway, the big difference in our situation is that we had a GSD before. It was my dog that was about 4 y/o when my wife and I met and so my wife got about 5 years of GSD life (and skipped the puppy phase), including 18 months with our older daughter when she was first born. I'd say our old GSD was the sweetest dog you'll ever meet, but as you can see from other comments, that's part of the breed when you have a well-bred, well-trained GSD. They're amazing and can be the platonic ideal of a family dog if you ask me. It also helped that our old dog was also "petite" as far as GSD females go so that helped from an intimidation standpoint that she just wasn't that big of a girl.

Fast forward, I'm pretty much Go GSD or Go Home so it wasn't up for debate when I was ready to get another dog. My wife is still anxious/scared around medium sized and bigger dogs, like I said, but she was supportive. In my mind, getting her to go through the puppy phase and have her (and the kids) bond with the puppy would be a big advantage as she got bigger. Well, apparently, I've completely blocked from my memory everything about the puppy phase from the last go-round. It's brutal. At least once each day I think about giving her back to the breeder (some days, that's all I think about). The teeth, the nipping, the chewing, the nonstop energy, etc. Having a GSD puppy is no joke and if you had them growing up or earlier in your life, you might very well be forgetting some of this or maybe you were shielded from some of it.

Bear in mind, I'm not trying to talk you out of it, but I'm the GSD fan in our household and even I get pushed passed the limit regularly. There's another post that does a nice job of talking about year one and the poster mentions in passing his thoughts maybe he should have gotten a golden retriever. I'd literally said that exact thing to my wife two days before I read that post (and another commenter on the post echoed that it exact thing).

So, how's it working out then with my wife, you might ask? Just fine. In part, because I'm on pup duty 100% of the time. The pup is on a leash in the house most of the time when not in the crate, which is as much because of the chewing and house training as needing to "handle" her around the rest of the family to make sure there's no nipping or biting or whatever around the more fragile household members. That said, as the nipping dies down (slowly, too slowly, but slowly) and the bite inhibition is taking root 🤞 and as we do more and more training (I'm spending an ungodly amount on training) and getting her to dog parks and doggie daycare to socialize and get corrected by other dogs appropriately, plus burning off puppy energy, we're making lots of progress. We've had her for about a month and half and she's about 4.5 months now. It helps to read other posts to remind myself of the light at the end of the tunnel as much for me as the rest of the family.

I don't know if any of this helps, but here's I guess the main takeaway that I want to leave you with. Based on your dynamic, if you get a GSD, you should go into it knowing that it's going to be on you - not your wife - to make it a successful experience for the family. She needs to be open-minded and involved and willing to go beyond her comfort zone, but you have to take as much responsibility to make it work for her and then also in general. And that's hard. It's hard. I wish I remembered how hard it was back when I was a just a single guy in my 20s, let alone now, so I could have been a little more prepared. Anyway, despite it all, I kind of love this puppy now and I still think it's 50/50 that one day I drive 90 minutes out to the breeder and just throw in the towel. What keeps me going is knowing that the bond I had with our last GSD defies any words that I can think to put in writing. And my wife loved her, too.

I'm sure you can get that with an English Lab. Maybe.

(edit) PS - I just re-read your original post and see that you lost your dog in May. I'm sorry to hear that. It took me 1.5 years before I was consider getting another dog and 2.5 years before we actually did. You might want to have a heart-to-heart with your wife about whether she's ready for another one, emotionally that is. Some of the hesitation could be that it's too soon for her and she's not ready to consider another type of dog because she's not ready to let go of your last one. I think another poster said something similar. Don't mean to psycho-analyze here, but worth surfacing that back up. Like I said, given how hard it will be already, wouldn't want to also add in unacknowledged emotional considerations on top of it.

(second edit) PPS - thinking more here... you said a few other things, in particular, you always had shepherds growing up, had one as an adult before meeting your wife and also that it was her dog and they bonded. I'm sure you loved that black lab, if you've said any of these things out loud to her, you might have set the stage for her to feel like getting a GSD would be "your dog". That might need to be acknowledged and talked through, plus emphasizing that you're not looking for "your dog" after 13 years of "her dog" but instead a "family dog" for all of you to bond with and love. Even if you're driving the decision on the breed and she's going along with it. Otherwise, there could definitely be thorny emotional consequences for you guys when the going gets tough. Again, not to be all psycho-analytical here, but I think people underestimate the emotional component of pet ownership. Anyhow, I'll shut up now!
 

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If you spend most of the time with the dog you should get what you want, if your wife is doing all the work you should get what she wants in my opinion. Labs are usually super nice and cuddly but often not very bright especially in comparison to German Shepherds. Our German Shepherd doesn't like to cuddle unfortunately on the other hand he doesn't go to every freaking person that comes along for cuddles and attention, I love that. We live in the city and we have to go to dog parks to let him loose. In the dog park or on the way there we see a lot of other dogs and when the dogs don't get along the German Shepherd is a lot to handle and if the other dogs owner fails to react you may have to handle 2 dogs going at each other. I've got nipped at and bitten quite a bit by our own and other dogs when they got mad at each other. Your wife and 6 year old would not be able to handle those situations. But if you live in a house with a big yard and you can get him running and exercise there you don't have the issues I'm dealing with. I grew up with a German Shepherd and it's the only breed I ever want.
 

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Hi everyone,

Our family lost our Black Lab after 13 years in May. My wife and I decided that we wanted to get another dog, and knowing my love for shepherds we decided to move forward with choosing our next puppy. I grew up with German Shepherds my entire life, and I owned one as an adult before meeting my wife. I would never choose anything else. She bought our lab a few weeks before we met and he was a great dog and ended up being great with our son after he was born as well. He definitely was not the surfer dude lab everyone would think of, however. He loved and bonded to my wife and was clearly her dog, similar to how a Shepherd would behave with an owner.

We've visited a few breeders (all WGSL) and everything has gone great. All of the dogs have been friendly and well tempered around my wife and son and I am at the point where I feel comfortable committing to a breeder. However, I still feel this trepidation with my wife. I finally got it out of her that she is somewhat scared of shepherds and worries about them around the rest of the family and if she could handle one. My son is still young(6 years old), so when I ask him what he wants he tells me he wants a lab and a Shepherd. I can't get both. It's upsetting, because I thought I took care of all of this and got it out of the way by visiting various breeders and allowing her to see many adult dogs. I'm hoping that once we got a puppy of our own she would love it and overcome any doubts, but I'd hate to put ourselves or a wonderful dog into a stressful situation. Has anyone dealt with something similar with their family? Should I just give up and start looking into a new lab pup to make her and my son happy?
Go for the GSD... she'll come around. Had problem with a grandkid who was afraid of 8 week old puppy. Now she sits with him and laughs at his antics, and they're best of friends. You're starting out with a lot of love (from you), and your son is already half way there for a GSD.
 

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A lot of good comments here, but I thought I'd weigh in because I'm actually kind of living this situation right now with a GSD pup so I can share my experience to-date. Personally, I don't think there's a right or wrong answer here. What you want to do is make the right decision for the right reasons with the right set of expectations.

First, here's our situation: two young kids (almost 4 y/o and almost 2.5 y/o, both girls) and a wife who is anxious/scared around medium sized and bigger dogs. She didn't have a trauma of any kind, just not a dog person to begin and not a fan of dogs, particularly those with reputations. Anyway, the big difference in our situation is that we had a GSD before. It was my dog that was about 4 y/o when my wife and I met and so my wife got about 5 years of GSD life (and skipped the puppy phase), including 18 months with our older daughter when she was first born. I'd say our old GSD was the sweetest dog you'll ever meet, but as you can see from other comments, that's part of the breed when you have a well-bred, well-trained GSD. They're amazing and can be the platonic ideal of a family dog if you ask me. It also helped that our old dog was also "petite" as far as GSD females go so that helped from an intimidation standpoint that she just wasn't that big of a girl.

Fast forward, I'm pretty much Go GSD or Go Home so it wasn't up for debate when I was ready to get another dog. My wife is still anxious/scared around medium sized and bigger dogs, like I said, but she was supportive. In my mind, getting her to go through the puppy phase and have her (and the kids) bond with the puppy would be a big advantage as she got bigger. Well, apparently, I've completely blocked from my memory everything about the puppy phase from the last go-round. It's brutal. At least once each day I think about giving her back to the breeder (some days, that's all I think about). The teeth, the nipping, the chewing, the nonstop energy, etc. Having a GSD puppy is no joke and if you had them growing up or earlier in your life, you might very well be forgetting some of this or maybe you were shielded from some of it.

Bear in mind, I'm not trying to talk you out of it, but I'm the GSD fan in our household and even I get pushed passed the limit regularly. There's another post that does a nice job of talking about year one and the poster mentions in passing his thoughts maybe he should have gotten a golden retriever. I'd literally said that exact thing to my wife two days before I read that post (and another commenter on the post echoed that it exact thing).

So, how's it working out then with my wife, you might ask? Just fine. In part, because I'm on pup duty 100% of the time. The pup is on a leash in the house most of the time when not in the crate, which is as much because of the chewing and house training as needing to "handle" her around the rest of the family to make sure there's no nipping or biting or whatever around the more fragile household members. That said, as the nipping dies down (slowly, too slowly, but slowly) and the bite inhibition is taking root 🤞 and as we do more and more training (I'm spending an ungodly amount on training) and getting her to dog parks and doggie daycare to socialize and get corrected by other dogs appropriately, plus burning off puppy energy, we're making lots of progress. We've had her for about a month and half and she's about 4.5 months now. It helps to read other posts to remind myself of the light at the end of the tunnel as much for me as the rest of the family.

I don't know if any of this helps, but here's I guess the main takeaway that I want to leave you with. Based on your dynamic, if you get a GSD, you should go into it knowing that it's going to be on you - not your wife - to make it a successful experience for the family. She needs to be open-minded and involved and willing to go beyond her comfort zone, but you have to take as much responsibility to make it work for her and then also in general. And that's hard. It's hard. I wish I remembered how hard it was back when I was a just a single guy in my 20s, let alone now, so I could have been a little more prepared. Anyway, despite it all, I kind of love this puppy now and I still think it's 50/50 that one day I drive 90 minutes out to the breeder and just throw in the towel. What keeps me going is knowing that the bond I had with our last GSD defies any words that I can think to put in writing. And my wife loved her, too.

I'm sure you can get that with an English Lab. Maybe.

(edit) PS - I just re-read your original post and see that you lost your dog in May. I'm sorry to hear that. It took me 1.5 years before I was consider getting another dog and 2.5 years before we actually did. You might want to have a heart-to-heart with your wife about whether she's ready for another one, emotionally that is. Some of the hesitation could be that it's too soon for her and she's not ready to consider another type of dog because she's not ready to let go of your last one. I think another poster said something similar. Don't mean to psycho-analyze here, but worth surfacing that back up. Like I said, given how hard it will be already, wouldn't want to also add in unacknowledged emotional considerations on top of it.

(second edit) PPS - thinking more here... you said a few other things, in particular, you always had shepherds growing up, had one as an adult before meeting your wife and also that it was her dog and they bonded. I'm sure you loved that black lab, if you've said any of these things out loud to her, you might have set the stage for her to feel like getting a GSD would be "your dog". That might need to be acknowledged and talked through, plus emphasizing that you're not looking for "your dog" after 13 years of "her dog" but instead a "family dog" for all of you to bond with and love. Even if you're driving the decision on the breed and she's going along with it. Otherwise, there could definitely be thorny emotional consequences for you guys when the going gets tough. Again, not to be all psycho-analytical here, but I think people underestimate the emotional component of pet ownership. Anyhow, I'll shut up now!
Excellent points!
 
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