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Hi all, I’m looking to get my first GSD this fall. Ive been looking into breeders and plan to get a puppy. I would really love a puppy as it will be my first one and would like to raise and train it. I’m single and work full time so I know it would be hard work but do-able. I’ve also considered adopting a young adult but have some reservations. I know the dogs background plays a big role in its temperament but I’m nervous I will never really trust the dog regardless and I don’t want to be afraid of my own dog. I’m also nervous it won’t be loyal to me and listen well, although I would plan to do some professional training with it. I was just wondering what other people’s experience has been with rescues and if I’m being too cautious/crazy. Thank you
 

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If you work with a reputable shelter/rescue, they will have given the dog a temperament test, and find out what type of compatibility the dog has (other dogs, cats, kids). A good breeder will also know their dogs. Don't be afraid, work with someone and be honest about your specific needs. From volunteering, I have found that a "good fit" dog will show up if someone is willing to wait for the right relationship. I think your lifestyle and plans for the dog matter more in the decision making process. Do you want a dog that can be in a crate for eight hours if needed without creating a tsunami of bowel movements? How about kinks in the different kid/teen stages? Do you want a couch potato dog that needs a walk to satisfy it's energy and not much more, or do you want a dog that can run with you twice a day? How confident are you with dogs now? Either way, yes, training.

My experience with my shelter dog has been pretty great. It's a tiny thing, really, but I wish I knew her birthday! They did have an old rabies record from a city in central Wisconsin that put her at approximately two and a half years old. Someone put a lot of work into her and it shows. The person who surrendered her said she washed out of police training when young because of her toy obsession (no idea if the history is correct), but it's been easy enough to manage. I have negative zero regrets because I had a list of must haves before looking, and I didn't cave because "cuuute."
 

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I used to be all into rescue, but after many problems that could have been avoided, I now prefer breeder dogs. Evaluations are only as good as the evaluators. It varies a lot. You can find an excellent rescue if you are patient, but there are always questions if it’s a stray or shelter dog. If it’s an owner surrender you may get better information. You need to find out why a dog was given up. That can give you a huge advantage. If I got another older dog, it would be from a breeder and have some training. It would also have to be an indoor dog rather than kenneled all its life.
 

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We picked up a shepherd/border collie mix from the humane society think she was around 12-14 months old, no history. Could not have asked for any better dog, smart, loving gentle with kids and other dogs, great off leash, cast iron stomach, never know what your are getting tho, I read horror stories here about from the best breeders and nothing but issues.
 

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My previous dog was 1.5 yrs old when I got her, and to this day I know very little about her background except that she was a WGWL that was raised in a household with 7 children and many other animals. When I got her she had had a litter of puppies, and the people wanted to get rid of her too because they couldn't afford to get her spayed and they didn't want any more puppies. I went to get a puppy, but they'd just given the last one away earlier that day. So I ended up with mom! When she came home with me she would growl and show her teeth when approached by any child shorter than 4 ft tall, and acted sort of fearful when approached by new people. Essentially she was a mess LOL! What she became still amazes me, though, as a more intelligent, stable, obedient, and loyal dog would be hard to find! By 3 yrs old the dog would hold a stay in a new, unfamiliar location for days if asked (actually did that on a couple of occasions), and she was stable enough to take anywhere with me offleash. In fact, though I was stopped a time or two by animal control for having her offleash, I'd just show them the control I had with hand signals and was never ticketed! She was an amazing dog!

Though I know other people who've not had great experiences with a rescued dog, a lot of what you end up with is on you. All dogs need stable leadership, puppies included, and training. The really great thing about an older puppy or an adult dog is that you often have a better idea of what they're personality is like when you adopt them. Puppies can be a crap shoot, and they need much more attention early on. I'm not trying to talk you out of a puppy, but they can't go all day without pottying and exercise, so if you can't do that personally you'll need a neighbor, friend, or family member to help you out, or you'll have to hire someone if the other options aren't available to you. To put things in perspective, read through some of the issues people have with puppies on this forum, either in the puppy section, or in the aggression section. And best of luck to you whatever you decide!
 

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Dog that are well bred learn from their handlers. If their handlers make mistakes, the dogs will too. It’s not enough to get a good dog, the owner needs to know what they are doing. Some rescue groups are better than others. Sometimes adopters get lucky.
 

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My first three GSDs were all rescues. I didn't get them from a shelter - they just kind of fell into my lap. Lili needed a new home when her owner had to go into a nursing home, and my uncle (his neighbour) promised to look after her. However, he was a dairy farmer, and she was scared of the cows. Tasha was found by my room-mate wandering the streets of Scarborough after her owners dumped her. Ranger belonged to a neighbour of my mom's who decided he wasn't a good enough watch dog.

Tasha, at 9 months, was the youngest of the three. Ranger was 3, and Lili was already 5. The biggest PITA was Tasha, who was constantly getting into mischief. Ranger had to work out some issues with the cat, but they soon became best friends, and despite him having been an outside dog, he was quite easy to house train. Lili went from a farm to the 11th floor of a high rise. She had a grand total of 2 accidents in my apartment before she got the idea.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Here's Ranger with a friend, as I was on my way home to Ontario, after having had him for only three days: Ya think he's bonded to me yet? :grin2:

Yes, I had to put some work into these dogs. Neither Lili nor Ranger had even been taught to walk on a leash. As Lili was my first dog, I enrolled her in obedience classes. After 4 weeks of classes, the club staged a fun match. We entered the novice level class, which was more advanced than the beginner class we were doing. She scored 175 out of 200 points! I was particularly proud with how she aced the 3 minute down-stay, with the dogs on either side of her less than a foot away.

Tasha was the only one of the three that had any aggression problems. We always warned people to let her come to them when they first met her, and not to get right in her face when petting her. The flip side of that was she was a wonderful protector of our home and car.
 

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For a brand new dog owner, who works full time, and has no one to fall back on for help, there's so much to be said for a nice adult that's been fostered, has an energy level that matches your lifestyle, that's already got some basic OB and house manners. They can handle being left alone all day while you work. I've known so many of those dogs that just slid easily into being wonderful companions after adoption, and they already had so much OB on them from good foster homes that when the newbie owners finally went to class, the dogs made them feel like a superheroes.

That kind of success builds handler confidence and is a marvelous way to develop skills as an owner.

A lot of the dogs in rescue were puppies not long ago, bought by novice owners, who simply got in over their heads. They tend to show up in rescue as adolescents once they stop being cute and the novice owners get tired of the aggravation of an untrained, poorly mannered adolescent that's grown into a big dog.
 

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I had had four rescues, all of whom have been great dogs. The first was a yellow Lab, the other three were shepherds. One of the shepherds I had to rehome as he was more than I could handle. In retrospect, I was still grieving from the loss of my previous dog to cancer and made a poor decision when I took him. He was a good dog, though, only very young, 7 or months old, and was a bad match for me. He is doing great in the home where he is now.

The only advice I can offer is to figure out some of the things you are looking for, ask lots of questions and be prepared to invest some time and money. Volunteering at a shelter beforehand for experience and seeking out a dog that has been fostered are excellent ideas as well.
 

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For a brand new dog owner, who works full time, and has no one to fall back on for help, there's so much to be said for a nice adult that's been fostered, has an energy level that matches your lifestyle, that's already got some basic OB and house manners. They can handle being left alone all day while you work. I've known so many of those dogs that just slid easily into being wonderful companions after adoption, and they already had so much OB on them from good foster homes that when the newbie owners finally went to class, the dogs made them feel like a superheroes.

That kind of success builds handler confidence and is a marvelous way to develop skills as an owner.

A lot of the dogs in rescue were puppies not long ago, bought by novice owners, who simply got in over their heads. They tend to show up in rescue as adolescents once they stop being cute and the novice owners get tired of the aggravation of an untrained, poorly mannered adolescent that's grown into a big dog.

I was going to respond to the OP before seeing this post. Please, please consider the wisdom here. As a former breeder I can tell you that raising a puppy is more work than you realize, and I noted a certain nervousness about your post that tells me an older, trained adult is the way to go.



BTW, I am also looking to "adopt" an adult. I have 45 plus years of GSD ownership, raised many pups to adulthood and my next perfect dog will be between 3 and 7 years of age. The only reason I'd hesitate to take an even older dog is not that I'd be concerned the dog wouldn't bond with me, but because I've lost 2 senior dogs in the past three years as well as an old cat and I can't handle another loss anytime soon.

Good luck with your search and don't be afraid to wait for the right dog.:smile2:
 

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I agree with Magwart here. With your situation, it will be a smarter move if you adopt from a reputable rescue. Some cities have GSD-only rescue, like here for example in LA we have Westside GSD Rescue. I've heard really good things about it. I went with a puppy because at that time I just recently moved to the states and didn't know much about the rescue. Puppies are a LOT on your plate let me tell you. They have to go every 2-3 hours, they cry, they get diarrhea, and training has to be consistent. I only got a puppy (7 1/2 weeks) because I was a student and was only out 12 hours a week. So I dedicated my time to my puppy pretty much 24/7 (I still do). Adopting an adult means you don't have to basic train him, his personality will most likely be already established, AND... They can hold their bladder! Trust me, potty issues will ruin your life. You have no idea how sucky it is to wake up at 7am, having to go to class at 8am and finding the puppy in a crate along with his stools and pee. And coming home to such things. I'd say get an adult from a reputable rescue. Just my opinion.
 

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My first GSD was a young adult female, picked up off the streets of Boston by animal control. I saw her by lucky accident. She was picked up on a Saturday when the shelter was closed, so they parked her upstairs in our vet clinic until Monday. She was a bicolor GSD maybe 1, 1.5 yrs old, weighing 29 lbs and suffering from mange and a variety of parasites. She was too skinny and ugly to be adoptable, and would be euthanized on Monday. I couldn’t bear it that she’d be killed for being skinny and sick, so I adopted her as soon as the shelter opened. Everyone I worked with thought I was crazy, but all she needed was food, basic vet care for the parasites, and a safe home. Within a few months she was the prettiest little girl, 53 lbs of love and fun. She was house-broken in 3 days, learned in 1 go to Be Nice on cue when taking a treat, and soon she responded to basic commands and I had enough control of her to go anywhere on a leash. She had her quirks, but she was a loving and fiercely loyal companion for 13.5 years and I miss her still all these years later.

So yes, a rescue can bond with you, and be every bit as loyal and loving and trainable as a puppy you raise.
 

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My experiences are that the dogs in shelters and rescues are probably OK but the rescues are so picky that I resorted to getting my dogs from a breeder. I also prefer to find my own strays actually.
 

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So, I'm curious, @Nmc2489 did you decide? Did you get a puppy or an older dog, or neither? Lots of good people here sharing their experiences and thoughts...what did you do with that?
 

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My first GSD was a young adult female, picked up off the streets of Boston by animal control. I saw her by lucky accident. She was picked up on a Saturday when the shelter was closed, so they parked her upstairs in our vet clinic until Monday. She was a bicolor GSD maybe 1, 1.5 yrs old, weighing 29 lbs and suffering from mange and a variety of parasites. She was too skinny and ugly to be adoptable, and would be euthanized on Monday. I couldn’t bear it that she’d be killed for being skinny and sick, so I adopted her as soon as the shelter opened. Everyone I worked with thought I was crazy, but all she needed was food, basic vet care for the parasites, and a safe home. Within a few months she was the prettiest little girl, 53 lbs of love and fun. She was house-broken in 3 days, learned in 1 go to Be Nice on cue when taking a treat, and soon she responded to basic commands and I had enough control of her to go anywhere on a leash. She had her quirks, but she was a loving and fiercely loyal companion for 13.5 years and I miss her still all these years later.

So yes, a rescue can bond with you, and be every bit as loyal and loving and trainable as a puppy you raise.
I love this!
 

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It strikes me that I never did say what I started out to say. I had my first dog for about 8 years and had him put to sleep at almost 14 because he was very frail, falling, arthritic and becoming incontinent. My second dog was mine for 5 years and I had him put to sleep at around 7 because of metastatic cancer. The third dog that I have now is three years old and came to live with me about 3 months ago. All three of them were completely trustworthy with people of all ages. A good part of that was because I mostly dealt with reputable people who told me the truth about their dogs, another part was luck and another part was that I went looking specifically for nice dogs. I made it clear from the start that I had young neighbor children coming in my yard to mow the grass, etc. and that I did not want and would not tolerate a dog who was a danger to them. Those dogs slept in bed with me every night and often had their big teeth inches away from my face and the worst thing that ever happened was when I was involved in a tug of war with one of my shepherds (over I downspout he had grabbed), he jerked so hard that I broke a finger,

I loved them all dearly and they loved me. It broke my heart every time one of them died.
 

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The work our first GSD, rescued 1.5 year old, needed was so much that I knew I couldn't handle a puppy alone, working full time. I adopted a 7 year old GSD and he is AWESOME!
 

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OP, would you really want to miss out on this? :D
(google youtube German Shepherd puppy tilts head).

I love puppies- the magic, the relationship, the work. Heck, I would change my job to be able to raise a puppy. I'd get some assistance and have someone come over and potty the puppy while I was at work if need be.

I've gotten dogs as adults and dogs as puppies. I'll take puppies any day.
 
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