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Hey everyone,

I have been looking into adopting or purchasing a GSD for several years now. I do not have much first-hand experience with the breed other than talking to breeders & owners at the agility trials I attend and watching a few SchH classes that the local club holds/talking to the trainers and handlers. (Although I am continually learning a LOT from this forum!) I am confident that I can handle a GSD, but whether or not the breeder or rescue thinks so might be a different story. Anyway. Onto the questions.

Currently I have two small/medium females, a 3 year old Sheltie and a 6 year old Border Collie mix. The mix, Pixie, is extremely dominant, while Kayla, the Sheltie, is timid and submissive. I was wondering, in the event that I end up with a GSD, what gender would be better? Since I do have two females representing both "extremes" in the pack order, I have been told that getting a male would be wise. However, my mom is concerned that housebreaking a male would be a nightmare because she says that male dogs mark EVERYTHING (which to an extent is true, but I think that can be trained out...plus, wouldn't neutering help? I'm not planning on breeding.) Another concern is that, in general, GSDs are big dogs, but males are larger than females. My parents are already extremely apprehensive as to owning such a large breed, so I'm thinking that a female would be best in that case. But again, the whole dominace thing - three females in one household? Can it be done?

I would really appreciate any information you all could give me. All of this is theoretical, really, since I'm not even sure if my parents would agree to allowing me to get a third dog. But GSDs are my favorite breed, and I've been dying to learn more about them and hopefully own one since I first laid eyes on the breed about 10 years ago.
 

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MALE, MALE, MALE!

You have 2 females that get along and that is GREAT. But adding a 3rd would DEFINATELY be asking for trouble.

As far as males being larger, sure they are in GENERAL. But there are plenty of us on the board that have females what are larger than the average male.

As far as housebreaking goes, I have had several males, NONE of them were difficult to housebreak and NONE of them ever attempted to mark in the house. (And most of them were/are intact. And were NOT "only dogs".)
 

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Honestly, the size bit isn't going to be an issue. If you're able to house a female GSD, you're capable of housing a male. While yes, they are noticably bigger, if you're purchasing a big dog, they have all the same major concerns.

As for concerns over owning a large dog - What are the issues your parents are working with? Is it cost of living? Potential destructive habits? Owner control? Some things are a matter of responsibility - Such as training your dog - and others are unavoidable - vet bills. I've only ever owned large dogs. They're actually my preference, but it sounds like you're still living under your parent's roof, if their input matters so much, and you're doing well to keep their comfort in mind.
 

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Well, here's my opinion.

I would get a male. The whole marking thing is only with some males. Obviously my boys are still young, but I had a previous dog who marked the fences outside and that was it. One time we moved with him and he marked a column inside the house, but that was because the previous homeowner had a greyhound. The one I had before him I believe didn't mark at all. It was awhile ago, so my memory is a bit fuzzy on that. But I do know of males that don't mark at all.

Three females might could happen, but I wouldn't chance it. What if they don't get along? Could you handle seperating them for the rest of their lives?

My understanding is that Males heightwise aren't that much taller, maybe four to five inches? Weight wise, yes, there's definately a difference. Also, males tend to be goofier than females. I do love my goofy boys though. That being said either gender can protect you. I'm sure you'll make the right decision.
 

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can 3 females in one household be done? yes. would i ever do it? no. my best friend and her mom have five females in their house, including them makes 7, lol and each time i visit i'm amazed. i had trouble with just two girls before.

anyway, in your situation my vote is for a male. a female CAN work (but with more work from you which, for a first time gsd owner can be tough), but i think the chances are higher that a male will, plus if you rescue, you'll have a wider selection since i'd guess 4 out of 5 males will be okay as oppose to 1 (maybe 2 if its a puppy) out of 5 females.

by going thru a rescue you can obviously control the size of your dog... and if you purchase from a breeder - the lines & pedigree will be a pretty good predictor of size.

my male is a doll... very sweet & passive nature with my dominant female... and he's just 25" 73lbs. not a monster of a dog at all. i got him at 9 months and he was 60lbs.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you all so much for the information! I will definately be getting a male then, if in fact I can get a GSD at all.

"As for concerns over owning a large dog - What are the issues your parents are working with? Is it cost of living? Potential destructive habits? Owner control? Some things are a matter of responsibility - Such as training your dog - and others are unavoidable - vet bills. I've only ever owned large dogs. They're actually my preference, but it sounds like you're still living under your parent's roof, if their input matters so much, and you're doing well to keep their comfort in mind."

To be honest...I'm having a hard time getting a solid answer as to why we cannot get a third dog. Every time I talk to my parents about it, I get the same answers. "No, the money isn't the issue. I like the size of our dogs. We already have two dogs, we cannot get another." In my opinion, the fact that we have two dogs isn't even an issue. I love them both dearly and know what it takes to train and socialize a dog. I have been involved with agility for almost 9 years, which is one of my main motivations for getting another dog - 1) I'm passionate about the sport and about GSDs in general and 2) my baby dog is going to be 4 years old in September!

I understand that my parents have a completely different point of view than their teenage daughter...but it's so difficult sometimes, lol. They know that I'm passionate about dogs and agility, they know that I can handle a third dog, they know that I'll be successful in the sport, they know that I'm interested in learning about SchH...they just don't want a third dog, which baffles me. I take completely responsibility for the dogs, I train them, feed them, excercise them, help out with vet bills, pay for entry fees. The simply allow me to keep them - which I realize is A LOT to be thankful for, but...still, I'm just not sure as to why they don't want another dog.
 

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their concern in the back of their head could also be - "are we gonna get stuck with 3 dogs when she moves out". its tough finding a place that allows dogs, let alone a gsd, let alone renting to someone 18,19,20. i've always been able to manage but with lots of luck and favor apparently.
 

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It sounds like your parents may be apprehensive about a large dog, especially a GSD. Could it be that they are somewhat fearful of large dogs? Are they worried about aggressive behavior that they may have heard about or maybe a friend has supplied them with misinformation regarding the breed in general? I am just trying to put myself in their place and figure out why they are against a third dog.

It says in your avatar that you are moving soon. Where are you moving to? Are you headed for college out of town?

Would your parents be willing to read more about the breed or better yet, peruse the forums?

I know that my DH was very reluctant to get a third dog. He said that two was a nice, even number. He said that about our kids, too. Hmm.

Anyway, I had to beg, cry, the whole nine yards, before he gave in and agreed to let me rescue my first GSD several years ago. This was an abuse case where I knew the family who had my GSD and begged them to let me have him. I was more financially able to care for him. When DH gave in, he says it was the best thing he ever did. Maybe your parents need persuasion, too.

Whatever happens, you sound like the kind of person who will persist and eventually get your GSD. I wish you all the best and I truly hope your parents consider bringing a GSD into their home while you are still there. I bet they will be won over like DH was!
 

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That's another thing I forgot to mention. I'll be taking the dogs with me wherever I end up going to college in 2 years. I do well enough in school that I could get into just about any college I apply to, which is a blessing. The college I end up going to will greatly depend on 1) the cost of living in the area, because I'll end up renting and 2) how much agility is in the area. As well as what programs they have to offer I guess...(lol, can you tell that my life revolves around my dogs?)

The interesting thing is that the other day when I was talking about it to my mom, she mentioned that I should just leave Pixie with them when I move out. She said that "Dad will have a hard time letting her go." Which is true, Pixie is very bonded to my dad...but it kind of came as a shock to me, the fact that they want Pixie to stay when all along I had been planning to take all of the dogs with me.

Whatever the reason is, I can assure you that they will not get stuck with the dogs when I move out. I don't think I could survive without my babies.

EDIT; Just saw your reply, ShepsRgr8. I don't think they are concerned about aggression or the misinformation that the media puts out about the breed. Whenever I learn something about the breed, I share that information with them and have people that they can talk to to back me up on it. So I doubt that's the issue...

Yes, my family and I are moving next month to central Texas. This is another reason why I think it would be a great time to start looking at breeders and rescues! I have located several breeders and a rescue not too far from where we will be living and am already in contact with the closest agility club. We will be living in a larger house than we have now (with all tile floring - makes puppy clean up easy!) on a half acre, fenced in with a 7 ft privacy fence. We will be living a few miles from Stilhouse Lake, which will make daily runs much less of a chore. It sounds like the perfect opportunity to me, but they don't see it the same way.
 

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3 dogs and college would be a lot of work and $$ (and possibly a LOT of $$s) for one person, even a driven young person like you

Just be sure to look at the future possibilities as well as the now.

(could it be that your parents are doing that and don't want you to think that you can't do 3 dogs and college or that they think you can't?)
 

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German Shepherds are a lot to handle on top of being in college and having 2 other dogs. Looking back at my college years (I graduated in 2001), I could not imagine having 3 dogs on top of all my class work and having a job to pay for it all. That is a lot of work. I have been competing in agility now for almost a year and to tack agility competitions to your list of things to do while at school and training, you will be one exhausted college student with all of that.
 

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If your parents are not totally on board with being backup for a GSD when you go off to school, then IMO you should hold off.
They are big, vocal, hairy, scary (to some) dogs. They can be pushy and obnoxious.
You may fall in love with someone deathly allergic--your college roomie may hate dogs. I know you may say, "not me" but it does happen:)

On the other hand, GSDs are wonderful, intelligent, gorgeous dogs and MANY are doing really well on the national level in agility.
 

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Also, you can't make your educational choices based on your dogs. I love mine and would do anything for her, but just like I wouldn't limit myself for a boyfriend, I didn't decide on my college based on where I could live off campus. I'll tell you right now, about 50% of universities REQUIRE incoming freshmen to stay on campus. 60% of the time, the areas of town where your university is can be described as 'ghetto' 'run-down' and 'unsafe'.

Oh, that's no problem, You'll say, I have a German Shepherd to protect me! You can't take that dog with you everywhere you go. It will not be allowed in lecture halls or the library. Leaving it tied up outside in the middle of winter isn't reasonable either. Even if the weather permits, leaving dogs restrained in public areas in a prime way to have it tormented without your knowledge - My uncle's Doberman hated teenagers because two of the local boys would pound on the window everyday on the way home from school. It doesn't take much.

I understand the thought of 'I'm responsible enough.' I'm 19, attending my freshmen year of college this fall, but I have a prime advantage - I live with my parents, with a huge yard, a great neighborhood, and natural trails less then fifteen minutes away in any direction. In Alaska, many apartment buildings allow pets - they have to. Does that mean you should hightail it to Anchorage for college? Not unless you want to shell out 900 a month for a mediocre apartment in a shady part of town.

Ridiculous, yeah? How do you know where you decide to go won't have the same cost of living problems?

If you want to take your dogs with you, you won't just have to pay for them. Aside from Room and Board for yourself, lab fees, cost of living, and entertainment money - because you will be needing it, you'll have to pay for the dog's food, vet bills, entry fees, you'll likely have to find a training course, possibly a trainer, a kennel club - most which charge membership fees.

And, a biggy, you'll need a car big enough to haul your dogs and your equipment. That means, reasonably, a pick-up or an SUV. There goes another 150 per tank - if you're lucky - not to mention car insurance for a 18-20 something woman - which, depending on your driving record goes from expensive to exhorbent - and, I'm guessing since you love them so much, for your dogs, too.

You seriously need to research price qoutes for all of that - and I don't mean 'The cheapest apartments run 150 a month!' because you won't want those. That'll be in the bowels of town where no one dares walk the streets alone. If you can reasonably afford all of that, you have to add on top of it the possibility of you falling very very ill and needed to go to the hospital/doctors office- You'd be surprised how many college student do, for things like the flu, mono, or - a nasty but possible problem - stds. Do you know what your health insurance covers? Do you know know for a fact you're still covered after 18? Not everyone is.

Sorry, this has turned into a raving rant of 'be prepared', but the truth is, if you're not your parents and the dogs are the ones suffering for it, not you.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thank you all for your concerns. I will need to think this through a little bit more. Sorry if I don't get back to you for a few weeks - my family and I will be in Delaware.
 

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Kristen,

Considering you have been so involved with your dogs and especially in agility while being a teenager who has done well enough in school to call her own shots when it comes to college I will not even address the time and responsibility part. Age does not make you a responsible owner, maturity does and you are way ahead of most adults out there. If you're responsible there is plenty of time for a GSD while at college and form a parents perspective the more you work with the dog the less time there is to be getting into trouble (not that they have a concern with that in you).

The choice in gender is a no brainer. Male would be wisest and the path of least resistance. As far as marking goes, my male Diesel came to me about 8 months ago. He is an intact dominant high drive working line male that was always kenneled or crated prior to coming to live with me. I just had to catch him while trying to mark once, and his response to my verbal correction was basically "Oh, you don't want me to do that in here?!" and he never once has done it again. He has not been crated day or night either.

As far as your parents go, you're on your own there. This sounds like your biggest obsticle.
 

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Originally Posted By: RiptideHowever, my mom is concerned that housebreaking a male would be a nightmare because she says that male dogs mark EVERYTHING (which to an extent is true, but I think that can be trained out...plus, wouldn't neutering help? I'm not planning on breeding.) Another concern is that, in general, GSDs are big dogs, but males are larger than females. My parents are already extremely apprehensive as to owning such a large breed, so I'm thinking that a female would be best in that case. But again, the whole dominace thing - three females in one household? Can it be done?
hard to housebreak?? NOT TRUE my male was house trained in just a few short days when he was 7 weeks old. marking?? he has never. breeding?? thats a whole nother boat to float my friend. its not like ur breeding cats or rabbits here. GSD's are on the rise for health problems and careful breeding needs to be takeing place. if there is a slight problem with haveing a LB dog in the house, in my opinion DONT GET ONE. there are already enough GSD's in shelters and foster care. 3 females in the house may be an issue, especially with a GSD. research the facts on the breed and u will see that this breed is a "dominant" breed and this may cause some extreme issues with ur other females. also i may add (altho i have never owned a female) from what others on this board have described about females, it seems that they are a bit more "serious" than that of a laid back male

just my $.02
 

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Originally Posted By: gagsd_pup1If your parents are not totally on board with being backup for a GSD when you go off to school, then IMO you should hold off.
They are big, vocal, hairy, scary (to some) dogs. They can be pushy and obnoxious.
You may fall in love with someone deathly allergic--your college roomie may hate dogs. I know you may say, "not me" but it does happen:)

On the other hand, GSDs are wonderful, intelligent, gorgeous dogs and MANY are doing really well on the national level in agility.
ill second every word of that!!
 

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Quote:That's another thing I forgot to mention. I'll be taking the dogs with me wherever I end up going to college in 2 years.
I did this too and made my decision about which college I attended based on their willingness for me to live off campus (which I did because I brought my dogs - I had two at the time). I don't regret that decision but it definitely complicated my life and I'm not sure I'd do it again. Finding rental housing with large dogs and/or multiple dogs is really hard and German Shepherds are on most places' "no" list even where they allow other breeds. A lot of places have limits on the number of dogs you can have or charge "pet rent" which can get pretty steep. If you're definitely planning to take your dogs to college, I'd wait to add #3 until you've actually started college, made the move, and found a place that will allow it. This will also give you a chance to see how college is and whether you feel like you have time for the additional dog.

I definitely think it can be done. I had my pets plus I did fostering and rescue throughout college, so I'm not trying to deter you but it's a lot and had I started off with the three dogs, my housing options would have been even more limited than they were. Also, going to a large university and not being in a dorm as a freshmen meant that I never really joined up with the freshmen class and never really got to know any of them - all my friends were older. Then there's things like when you're trying to go on impromtu trips or spend the night at your boyfriend's house (not that I ever did that
). My brother and sister both left their dogs with my folks and were able to do a semester abroad in Europe, which of course, I couldn't. Having pets in college can work when you make it work but it quickly gets complicated and you don't want to stack the deck against yourself too much.

All things to think about.
 

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For sure, I think a male would be the best choice. My male was housebroken pretty quickly, and even though he's still intact, we have no marking in the house. He'll mark outside on bushes an stuff, but never inside. There really isn't a huge size difference. In the standard there are only a couple inches at the shoulder, and weight wise, maybe 10-20lbs.

As far as pets in college, I think it can be managed, especially if you don't have to work while in school. I always found pets soothing to have and they really helped me stay on track. But I really do think you'll find housing to be difficult. It was without a doubt the most difficult thing to manage when having pets where you're not living permanently. Currently I live in a college town with a student. Gainesville is VERY pet friendly as far as rentals go, but you pay for the privilege. In addition to the several hundred $$ I had to put down for a Pet Fee that I will never get back, many places I found also charge pet rent. 2 dogs will easily put your rent up another $50 a month. Now the 2 you have now sound like they would be much easily accepted by potential landlords, neither dog being particularly large. I had a very hard time finding a place to take my 2 GSDs. First they are large. Many places have weight limits they impose. Then there are breed restrictions. This usually has to do with the insurance companies. Even Shepherd mixes are prohibited at some apartments I looked at. You also will be out for using any Student Housing Complexes that do roommate matching. These are most frequently used by students because they are cheaper to manage for students. Out of hundreds of apartments in the student housing guides, there were about 10 that would work, and they were usually more expensive. So that puts you more in the private market for housing. Unless you have people you can live with that you know (Most people looking for room mates don't want additional pets) you're looking at living by yourself. Even in pretty cheap digs, without anyone to share bills you're now easily looking at $800-$1000 a month for rent and utilities. I am not talking about spacious places either, Studios or 1 bedroom apartments. College towns KNOW they have a captive market. They have people that MUST live in rentals near school. Now sometimes you can find deals if you can commute. I have found that the further away from school you go, the more you get for your money, but then you have gas and parking fees. That is for sure a lot to deal with in addition to regular expenses.

If I were you I would stick with what you have for now, take your one dog to college at first, leave Pixie with your parents if they want to take her and then when you have settled in, gotten to know and understand the area you're living in and the reality of your schedule, THEN look at adding another dog. You will be happier in the end not having to deal with the stress of making sure your dogs are provided for and while I can certainly tell your dogs are important to you, you do need to take care of yourself and make sure that you're taking school seriously so that later on in life you can provide the very best for all the animals you will want.
 

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I say wait. It is the hardest thing to deny ourselves something we really want. You need to wait until your life is more stable. Maybe a junior in college.

Ideally I think wait until you are out of school and have a steady job. Dogs are not a big fan of constant change.
 
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