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Is german shepherd a good dog for first time owner? 13 Pros and Cons

Last Updated on January 18, 2022 by Dogs Vets


Is the german shepherd a good dog for first-time owners?

At the point of acquiring your first dog can be scary, especially when a big dog needs a lot of attention, like a German Shepherd.

You may be thinking of focusing on this breed of dog. Still, it’s crucial to know if German Shepherds are suitable for a first owner and if they’ll work with your lifestyle.

are german shepherd a good dogs

German Shepherds are beautiful dogs for active first-time owners. They are brilliant, loyal, and loving dogs that are easy to train and can quickly become great companion dogs for single owners and families. Still, they do require a lot of time and effort.

These dogs can work well for many people, and the reasons are apparent. This breed is not only obedient, but they are also brilliant and caring.

German Shepherds are beautiful dogs, but they require you to have the proper lifestyle.

They are giant dogs that require regular training, so you must be willing to spend several hours of the day taking them out and spending time with them.

To know if a German Shepherd will work well with you as a first-time owner, you first need to take a significantly closer look at your lifestyle and decide if you really should get one.

If you’ve wanted to own a dog for a long time and you’ve decided on a German Shepherd, there are a few other things you need to consider.

These German Shepherd dogs are not the most time-consuming, but they still take a lot more time than most other breeds. Take the time to look at your situation and consider the following things:

Do you work full-time? Shepherds are very time-consuming dogs. They require at least one one-hour walk per day but preferably two and need a lot of socialization and attention.

If you typically work 9:00 am-5:00 pm and don’t have anyone else to spend that time with them, it’s just not fair to the dog.

German Shepherd are likely to get bored if they do not get enough exercise and develop behavioral problems if the dog is left alone consistently.

Do you live with other people? If you have another person living in your home who is happy to take care of your German Shepherd while you’re away, you’re in the clear.

Having someone there to help you walk them, feed them, spend time with them, and exercise them is extremely useful.

Someone like a significant other, housemate, or family member is ideal for keeping your German Shepherd dog happy and healthy when you can’t be with them.

Are you prepared financially for health problems? Without knowing everything about your Shepherd parents, you can’t know what kind of health problems to expect.

Over time, this dog breed has developed specific hereditary diseases due to poor breeding practices, so don’t be surprised if your Shepherd has some problems throughout his lifetime.

Being diligent and having a saving account dedicated explicitly to funding bills for any health-related problems is a good idea when you run into a problem.

I also recommend paying for pet insurance so that you can be sure your German Shepherd dogs are covered if something terrible happens to them.

German Shepherd History

The German Shepherd, also known as Alsace in the UK and parts of Europe, is among the ten most popular dog breeds in the US and probably one of the most recognized breeds in the world.

They owe part of their fame to a tiny puppy plucked from a bullet and bombed a hybrid breeding kennel in France during World War I by Corporal Lee Duncan.

At the end of the war, Duncan took the puppy back to his hometown of Los Angeles, U.S.A and trained him, and turned him into one of the most famous dogs in showbiz – Rin Tin Tin.

Rin Tin Tin appeared in dozens of films and, at the height of his stardom, received 10,000 fan letters a week.

Is german shepherd a good dog for first time owner

The German Shepherd has had many jobs other than a movie star – leading the blind, chasing criminals, sniffing out illegal substances, serving in the military, visiting the sick, and herding are just some of the jobs this versatile breed has.

The German Shepherd dog has even taken on the role of a national hero.

German shepherds were searched, and rescue dogs crawled through the ruins of the World Trade Center after the September 11 terrorist attacks, searching for survivors and comforting rescue workers and families.

The German Shepherd may contain some of the best qualities of dogs, but they are not for everyone. Originally bred to pack all day, this is a high-energy dog that needs lots of activity and exercise.

Preventing them from it, they’re likely to express their boredom and frustration in ways you don’t like, including barking and chewing.

The breed also has a distant and sometimes suspicious nature – perfect for a guard dog, but not the kind of family dog that makes guests feel welcome.

However, suppose you expose a German Shepherd to many different situations and people starting at puppyhood. In that case, they can learn to take new people and circumstances in stride.

If you adopt a puppy, you’ll get a slightly different type of German Shepherd depending on whether they are descended from dogs that come from American versus German breeders.

In general, American breeders often strive to create champions for dog shows, and they breed more just for the distinctive German shepherd appearance than for the amazing German shepherd talents.

While fans say that American-bred German shepherds are calmer than their German counterparts, many critics say that these dogs have lost some of their talents for working conventional German shepherd jobs and are more prone to behavioral problems symptoms such as separation anxiety.

is german shepherd a good dog for a first-time owner

On the other hand, a German breeder is bred for working ability, as well as to fit the breed’s traditional appearance.

Before you can breed a German Shepherd in Germany, they must pass several tests to prove that they measure up to the physical and mental benchmarks for which the breed is known.

German Shepherds tend to have a more energetic and driven personality.

But the only way to guarantee what kind of dog you’ll get as a first-time owner is to spend time with them. So go to the shelter and meet your new best friend before you even take them home!

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Do You Have Little Children? 

German Shepherds are calm and tolerant dogs, so they often fit well with children of all ages. Nevertheless, if they are not socialized well, they can be dangerous to children.

Children can be very pushy and can upset animals easily, so for their safety; you need to lay down some rules and let your kids know what’s good and evil.

Overall, your children should be fine around a German Shepherd, but you need to make sure that yours are well trained and that your children don’t disturb him too much.

Pros and cons of owning a German Shepherd

Like all dog breeds, the German Shepherd has both advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to take these into account before deciding if they’re the right dog for you.

Bear in mind that for most German Shepherds, their pros far outweigh their cons, provided, of course, they are raised correctly.

Pros or Advantages 

They are great family pets – Their loyalty and calm temperament make them great for most families. They do well in tolerating children and can be great entertainment at any age due to their high energy.

They Are Brilliant watchdogs – One of the most common watchdogs to acquire is a German Shepherd. But if you’re not into training yours to be a guard dog, you can still rely on them to be pretty good guard dogs.

They will be spending a lot of time looking for potential threats or danger and will bark very loudly if they spot one.

Tough and Highly Protective – The strong bond German shepherd have with their owners can cause them to become extremely protective if they think something bad is likely to happen.

This is why a strong upbringing with the German Shepherd breed is so important. If they’re neglected or not raised well, these dogs can pose a danger to others.

Good in all weather – Shepherds have a double coat, which means they do well to keep cool in warm weather and stay warm in colder weather.

Love to follow commands – German Shepherds can be exceptionally obedient dogs and will be very happy to follow their owners’ commands, so long as they have been trained.

Intelligent and can easily be trained – German Shepherds are one of the most intelligent breeds, so they do well at picking up on tricks and understanding the difference between right and wrong at a very young age.

Cons or Disadvantages


They are very vocal – I don’t just mean they bark too much. They will whine, moan, howl, and make other strange noises if they feel like doing so. Be prepared to deal with several kinds of noise because your environment won’t always be quiet when you’re around these dogs.

They can most likely become aggressive – As almost all dogs do, without having a good upbringing and a strict training routine for the dogs, German Shepherds can become aggressive towards other people, animals, and sometimes even you, the owner.

Try your best to raise them properly, so you don’t have to deal with a problem dog.

Require a lot of effort and time – German Shepherds are definitely not a dog for lazy owners or people who simply can’t spend most of the day with them.

They need to be kept active, so they should always be paired with someone willing to take them out for many walks/runs so that they can get the exercise they need.

German Shepherds Doesn’t do well on their own – GDS are definitely not a “leave at home while you’re at work” type of dog, so they almost always need to have someone with them.

You can’t leave them without checking up on them for more than 2-hours as a little puppy or 6-hours as an adult.

They Shed A Lot of Furs – A German Shepherd’s double coat means that they shed a large amount of fur hair twice a year from their undercoats as the season’s change.

To make matters worse, they still shed throughout the year, just not as expected.

A German Shepherd’s dog is prone to health issues – Unfortunately, German Shepherds have become prone to several health problems due to improper breeding over time.

Some of the most common health issues for a german shepherd dog include hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and degenerative myelopathy in dogs. 

There are still many more health problems that these dogs face, so it is vital to research these and find a reputable breeder before purchasing one.

They almost always need something to do all the time. As you already know, German Shepherds are very active dogs, so it only makes sense that they need something to do. 

German Shepherd dogs are often given responsibilities such as guard dogs, service dogs, detection dogs, etc.

Raising a German Shepherd properly.

So one important thing to know is that without proper upbringing and strict training from a young age, your German Shepherd will not turn out the way you might want him to.

They can quite quickly develop aggression towards other animals and people if they are not raised properly. Hence, a weak upbringing is the main reason why these dogs can often end up being aggressive.

are german shepherd easy to train

As you should know by now, the German Shepherd is a dog that requires a lot of attention, and you really can’t slack off with this. Otherwise, things can turn for the worse over time.

With a great upbringing and with plenty of love, socialization, and training, your German Shepherd will be a brilliant companion and friend for a very long time.

So you can make sure your German Shepherd gets the best upbringing he can, you should do a few things with him from a young age.

As a first-time dog owner, it will be pretty challenging to know exactly what to do with them, so here are some things you should do when they are very young.


Lots of socialization is vital.

Socializing with your German Shepherd is vital if you want them to get on well with strangers and other dogs. Not only does it help them get to know other people and animals, but it also helps them become more comfortable around strangers.

When you hang out with a dog from a young age, you’re getting them to step out of their comfort zone in a way.

The more socialization they get, the more strangers they have to meet, so they become more comfortable meeting new people and animals over time.

Without socializing, they may be wary of dogs and strangers, so they are less comfortable and more likely to be aggressive around them. Introducing them to many new people is necessary to have a happy dog.

Spend a lot of your day with them

If you have time to spend, spend it with them. If you don’t have time to spare, you shouldn’t get a dog.

These dogs require a lot of attention from their owners, so doing what you can to spend hours with them every day is perfect for strengthening your relationship.

You can play with them, feed them or take them for walks. Anything that involves actively spending time with them will do. Just make sure you keep them busy and don’t let them get bored.

If you can’t spend every day with your German Shepherd, it can help you a lot to have someone who can visit them regularly. Not only will it help them to spend time with a new person, but it will also keep them company, so they don’t get bored or lonely.

Keep your dogs happy with lots of praises.

Make sure you have plenty of treats when you are with your puppy because you need them. By treating them or giving them verbal praise when they do good, it associates with what action they did as something positive. Hence, their brain remembers it, and they should continue to do it.

They need lots of new experiences.

Giving your puppy new experiences every day can really do a lot to boost their confidence. Just like spending time with them, it pushes them out of their comfort zone.

By putting them in uncomfortable or new situations, they get used to dealing with new things regularly, so they become better at handling those new situations.

If you don’t introduce your puppy to many new and potentially scary situations, they will grow up to be shy, fearful, or even aggressive in certain circumstances.

An important thing to note when doing this is that the experiences you introduce them to should not negatively affect them in any way.

There always needs to be something good from the situation, like some treats or verbal praise.

Make sure they listen to commands.

The moment your dog listens to you when you tell them to sit is a huge deal. Not only does it show that they’ve learned something, but it also shows how much your bond has developed. The fact that they do what you ask indicates that they are beginning to trust you.

Raising your German Shepherd to listen to your commands is not only so you can get them to sit, but it’s also very beneficial in keeping them safe.

An improperly trained dog may have a habit of running off when you least expect it, so they are in danger if they bump into the road, construction sites, etc. Being able to tell them to stop will save them from potential danger.

Remember that dogs can’t understand us, so you need to train specific words and actions in them so that they can understand what to do when certain sounds come out of their mouths.

Without this training, your German Shepherd will not listen to you, so it is essential to implement it when young.

For more information, you can also read about german shepherd behavior stages.


Feeding your German Shepherd Dog

A German Shepherd dog diet should be designed for a large breed with high energy and training and exercise needs.

You should consult with your veterinarian or professional nutritionist for advice on what to feed your German Shepherd and the proper portion size.

Their nutritional and diet requirements will change as they grow from puppy to adult and older age. Keep up to date on these nutritional needs.

However, you must be especially very careful when feeding and training a German Shepherd puppy.

German Shepherds are very rapidly growing dogs, can grow really big between four and seven months of age, making them prone to bone disorders. They will do well on a high-quality, low-calorie diet that will prevent them from growing too quickly.

And don’t let your German Shepherd run, jump or play on hard surfaces like the pavement until they are at least 2-years old and their joints are fully formed. However, it’s okay for puppies to play on grass; they should be fine.

Over-feeding your German Shepherd and allowing them to pack on the weight can lead to joint problems, as well as other health conditions. Limit treats, keep them active and serve regular meals rather than leaving food available all the time.

German Shepherds Rescue groups

German shepherds are often acquired without any clear understanding of what goes into owning one. Numerous German Shepherds need to be adopted and/or fostered, and there are several breed-specific rescues across the country.

Check out this listing of German shepherd dog rescues being organized by the state. Or you can also take a look at the American German Shepherd Rescue Association, Inc.


German Shepherd Overview

Body Size: Weight Range: Male: 75-95 lbs.  Female: 75-95 lbs.

Heights: Male: 25  Female: 23


Upright ears (naturally)


Exercise Requirements:  up to 40 minutes/day
Energy Level: Average
Longevity Range: 10-12 yrs.
Tendency to Drool: Low Tendency to Snore: Low
Tendency to Bark: Low
Tendency to Dig: Low Social/Attention Needs: Moderate

Bred For:

Guard dog and Herding


Body Coat:

Length: Medium
Characteristics: Double coat
Colors: Most colors, other than white, are permissible
Overall Grooming Needs: Moderate


Club Recognition:

AKC Classification: Herding
UKC Classification: Herding Dog






Are German shepherd dogs dangerous?

The breed is naturally very protective of its owners. If the German Shepherd is not properly socialized, it can be excessively aggressive towards strangers. German shepherds have been involved in several fatal dog attacks and many attacks that have resulted in catastrophic injuries.


Do German Shepherds attack their owners?

This misconception is likely supported by the common use of German Shepherds as police and military dogs. Such dogs tend to act aggressively and have been known to injure their owners accidentally. … Facts: German shepherds do not attack their owners more often than many other dog breeds


Can a German shepherd kill you?

Because of their combat service background, GSDs tend to be seen as an inherently violent breed, making people worry about the safety of their families. The biggest question is: Can a German Shepherd kill you? Yes, a German Shepherd can kill you.


Are German Shepherds known to be aggressive?

The German Shepherd dog breed is known for its aggressive behavior and tendencies. … German Shepherds are regarded as good watchdogs, but unless they are fully trained as guard dogs, you need to limit any aggressive tendencies.


How do you punish a German Shepherd?

To discipline a German Shepherd, reward good behavior with positive reinforcement, such as giving him treats and withdrawing the reward for bad behavior. Don’t use physical punishment, yelling, rubbing noses in the dirt, and never encouraging bad behavior.



Fact Check

We strive to provide the latest valuable information for pet lovers with accuracy and fairness. If you would like to add to this post or advertise with us, don’t hesitate to reach us. If you see something that doesn’t look right, contact us!


Reference: Wikipedia, hillspet.com, and dogtime.com 

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