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Hi all! My name is Taylor and I’m semi-new to German Shepherds. (Before I continue I hope this post is in the right forum). Anyways, I’ve been looking to finally own a shepherd of my own. My husbands parents have them and they are great dogs. I have one dog already that’s about 65lbs and a cat. My biggest concern with a shepherd would be the prey drive and my concern over my cats safety. I completely understand that raising them together at a young age will help tremendously, but was also curious if certain shepherds are more inclined to be “cat killers” i.e. high prey drive shepherds. I found a puppy that I like and the breeder assured me, but couldn’t say 100%, that the puppy would be good with my cat. He has very high prey drive and ball driven parents. So I guess this post is a mix of advice and also that I’m still looking around for a GSD puppy preferably below 10 weeks old. Thank you!
 

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If I were you I would tell the breeders you speak to that you have cats and be very clear about it. Be honest and upfront about your daily life, your time constraints and your experience. Let the breeder take it from there.
Invest your time into researching breeders, not dogs. Go to events and visit clubs.
Anytime you put animals together there are risks involved but you can mitigate the risk by ensuring that you do your due diligence and always provide your cats with a safety zone.
 

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It sounds like you just started looking. There are many breeders in your area, so unless there is a rush, why not talk to more of them and visit some kennels? Meet the parents. That is a good indication of what the puppies will be like as adults. Find how what kind of training their dogs have because getting from a puppy to a calmer, trained adult is a long process.
 

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My two very high prey drive dogs act totally different with the 2 cats we had (was just fostering, not my own cats) in the home. One loves to play with them, and the cats figured out pretty quickly that she was a safe bet, and they would play back with her, and sleep curled around her. This same girl would absolutely 100% death shake a cat that wasn’t in our home. Which she had done to a stray that had the misfortune of climbing our fence and getting into our yard.

My male Husky/GSD thought cats, ALL cats, and any small dogs, would make amazing tasty treats. So for the two weeks we fostered, we had to do the crate and rotate with the cats and the Husky. So really, there are no guarantees on prey drive = death for the cats.

I would have bet money that my female would be aggressive with them, and my male would be fine with them. It was surprising to find it was the complete opposite.

Your situation is different though, as the cats are already in your home, and they pup isn’t. You will likely see your cats being more aggressive with the puppy than the puppy with the cats. Which can lead to bad ending when the pup gets bigger and fights back.

Take what I say with a grain of salt though, I’m in no way a professional, and am just sharing my personal experiences.
 

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So as described by me from the breeder of this puppy is that the parents are “hunters”. Anything that makes it into the property won’t always make it out. She says a cat wouldn’t last 5 minutes with the dam and sure. I’ve expressed my concerns on my cat and the breeder claims that any creature raised with another should do good together. She said especially since the puppy is still young. Now she couldn’t guarantee that being left alone together they’d be alright but who can, really?
 

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So as described by me from the breeder of this puppy is that the parents are “hunters”. Anything that makes it into the property won’t always make it out. She says a cat wouldn’t last 5 minutes with the dam and sure. I’ve expressed my concerns on my cat and the breeder claims that any creature raised with another should do good together. She said especially since the puppy is still young. Now she couldn’t guarantee that being left alone together they’d be alright but who can, really?
There's a general consensus that "prey drive" for a ball, tug, or toys in general is not the same as predatory prey behavior. A dog can have one trait, or the other, or both, or neither.

Some dogs that have VERY high object prey drive ("ball drive", some people call it) are not predatory toward small animals, and the dogs are clear about the difference. One of my current dogs is like this.... psycho for balls and inanimate toy objects, but safe around chicks, ducklings, cats, domestic rabbits, etc. Some of it was training, but a lot of it is having a clear-headed dog.

If I prioritized having my dog loose with small domestic animals, I'd be very wary of buying from lines that are legitimately predatory. Either plan on a lifetime of management (where the dogs are not allowed access to the cats) or be prepared to roll the dice.
 

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as someone above mentioned... it seems as tho you’re still fairly early in the process. i would use this time to continue researching the breed and breeders until you feel comfortable. there are too many good breeders out there... you should be able to find a pup with moderate drives whose parents aren’t “hunters”. unless of course you need this level of drive in order to pursue other interest or activities with your future dog.

of my 4 GSD raised with my confident, dog savvy cat. Gia was neutral/indifferent, Coda had very high interest and years later went on to kill a stray cat, Tilden was mostly neutral but accepted affection from the cat, Keystone (who is proven to not be safe with wildlife or fowl) was playful and excited with her, but safe. they maintained a love-hate relationship for many years, but Mica (cat) had her “safe zone” set up if she ever needed a break or escape.

that said - Gia had low prey drive, Coda high, Tilden low, Keystone moderate. but rest assured, all would be more than happy to chase a running stray if allowed. Well, maybe not Tilden. these dogs were all introduced to my cat at 7-12months. i’ve also visited and house sat homes with cats and behaviors were consistent as in my own home.
 

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I had a cat who lived through 4 gsd not all at the same time The other piece is after a while the cat becomes dog savy she did not run Only the last gsd had high prey drive though
 

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You don’t have to name the breeder, but I’m curious if the parents are titled or trained at all. One reason we ask for titles in the parents, or at the very least, the sire, is that it shows the dog is capable of high level training and has somewhat decent temperament and behavior. Genetics do show up in behaviors and even trainability of their puppies. Behavior on one’s own property is very different from behavior around other animals and people. Ideally both parents would be titled, but realistically some breeders don’t title their dams due to the amount of time it takes.

If you were an experienced GSD handler. I would say if you like the puppy, go for it. But since you are not, please search here for all the new puppy owners who ended up with more dog than they can handle and come here only after they have problems. You want this to the the best dog experience of your life, not the most difficult. The time to make the right choice is now, not after you have a high drive puppy that challenges every ounce of your patience and abilities.
 

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So as described by me from the breeder of this puppy is that the parents are “hunters”. Anything that makes it into the property won’t always make it out. She says a cat wouldn’t last 5 minutes with the dam and sure. I’ve expressed my concerns on my cat and the breeder claims that any creature raised with another should do good together. She said especially since the puppy is still young. Now she couldn’t guarantee that being left alone together they’d be alright but who can, really?
My current dog is a hunter. No way would I trust her with a cat.
Further to that to claim that raising animals together will make it ok is a load of crap. There are countless cases of that being proven wrong. Walk away.
 

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My shepherd is now 2. He came home to existing cats in the environment who were used to old dogs. We train extensively with him. He is East German (hey, aren't those supposed to lack in prey drive? - giggle). He has a different relationship with each of the 3 cats. They bring him prey and release it in my house and he then hunts it with them. But one of the cats he obsesses over and I have video footage of him catching hold of her when we aren't home and playing with her. No prey shaking but it is still rougher play than I like. He had her by the scruff, flipped on her back, laid upon, etc. During the play session she had opportunities to get away from him and didn't. (No one was bloodied or clawed. I had found hunks of cat fur on the floor to clue me in to go watch cameras.) And I cant get her to stay away from him. I have two dog doors so my home and backyard are bisected. There is no reason for her to go hang with him but she does. She may yet be rehomed.
 
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