Is a HUGS Dog Right for You?
About German Shepherds
We happen to think that German Shepherd Dogs are a wonderful breed and adore them, despite their many challenges and idiosyncrasies. However, if you have not lived with a German Shepherd Dog before, chances are that nothing could prepare you for what is to come. If you enjoy a challenge, have plenty of patience, have a healthy sense of humor, are entertained by a dog who frequently tests boundaries and often outsmarts you; and don't mind a dog who constantly wants to be on the go, likes to be glued to you, yet is not especially cuddly or openly affectionate.... well, a German Shepherd Dog might delight you! They are wonderful, complex, serious dogs who are not for the faint-of-heart, as they are high-maintenance in terms of time, care, dedication, and financial costs (quality food, veterinary care and health issues, and often times training). If you are looking for an easy-going, uncomplicated dog who will immediately get along with everything and everyone, and who will require little supervision, effort, or attention, a German Shepherd will NOT be the right dog.
Important: Even if you exercise and play with your dog daily in your fenced yard, please remember that, you MUST still take your dog out on daily walks and outings, in order to work on his/her leash skills, manners, and social skills.
And we can never say this enough... Many German Shepherds are NOT fans of being approached or petted by strangers. They often require a certain level of familiarity and trust before they will feel comfortable with that type of interaction. Even more so, if the dog is shy, fearful, timid, insecure, or simply lacks prior socialization. In that case, they will truly need their handler to be confident, and to gently (and progressively) socialize them in public while making sure strangers respect the dog's space (which will help him feel safe and will allow him to relax); and provide fun, positive experiences to help him continue to gain confidence.
German Shepherd Dogs require a great deal of structure, guidance, leadership, training and exercise, every single day, in order to be good companions. However, if you are not afraid of hard work, you are active, kind, patient, and fully committed to being your German Shepherd Dog's forever home, no matter what challenges may lie along the way...well, you will find that there is no greater reward than the love, loyalty, and companionship that comes from sharing your life with a German Shepherd Dog!
HUGS Puppies and Mixed breeds
We often take GSDs and other herding breed mixes into rescue. These can include various Shepherds, Australian Cattle Dog, and Border Collie, among other breeds and mixes. Although they tend to be a little smaller in size, these cuties share many characteristics with our beloved GSDs, including high-energy and mouthing behaviors. They are fiercely loyal, smart, and like GSDs, they require plenty of exercise, socialization, structure, and mental stimulation. We do not know what our puppies are mixed with: any guesses are based solely on their appearance. You can typically expect them to be herding breed mixes, medium to large in size when fully-grown, high-energy, and more likely than not, they will shed quite a bit. If a GSD is not going to be the right fit for you, chances are that our highly-active herding breed puppies will not be either.
Health problems. German Shepherd Dogs, like any large breed, are prone to canine hip dysplasia (hip replacement surgeries have become more commonplace for dogs with severe CHD, but they are costly, and require significant rehabilitation). The breed also struggles with and is prone to elbow dysplasia, allergies, degenerative myelopathy, perianal fistulas (PF), exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI), bloat, panostetis, Von Wildebrand’s disease, Wobbler’s Syndrome, heart disease, skin disease, and thyroid disease.
Top Seven Reasons You Do NOT want a German Shepherd Dog
According to German Shepherd Central, here are the top reasons why you might want to reconsider your choice of a German Shepherd Dog (GSD):
German Shepherd Dogs SHED. I’m not sure who started the rumor that GSDs don’t shed, but if you’ve heard it perpetuated, be prepared for disappointment! The GSD sheds heavily year-round, and “blows” its undercoat (the thick, dense fur under the harsh top coat) twice each year-many GSD owners have nicknamed the breed "German Shedders". While GSDs require little formal grooming, they must be brushed at least twice weekly and have their coats raked during shedding season to keep them comfortable and to prevent skin problems from developing.
Socialization. This goes hand-in-hand with temperament. All dogs need early and frequent socialization to people, other dogs, cats, young children, loud noise, crowds, and the world in general; however, with GSDs, it is an absolute necessity. You cannot lay socialization by the wayside, thinking it will make your dog a protection dog - in reality, the dog will grow up afraid of unusual encounters, so should the time ever come to protect you, he will be thinking only of his own safety! What does proper socializing mean for you? You will be out every day with your dog, exposing him gradually to new sights and sounds, different people, etc., in a careful manner. Because introductions need to be done in a slow and gradual process, and in a safe, controlled setting, the dog park IS NOT an appropriate way to socialize your German Shepherd Dog. In fact, we recommend avoiding dog parks entirely."
Bonding. German Shepherds bond very tightly to their owners, usually to the extent that frequent rehoming can cause behavioral problems brought on by insecurity. If you are considering obtaining a GSD but don’t know what will happen to the dog when you move/get a new job/get married/have children/etc., please don’t get a German Shepherd Dog (or any dog, for that matter - wait until your situation becomes stable!). A GSD can live for 10 to 14 years on average, so you must be prepared to commit to the dog for his lifetime. In addition, this bond requires that your GSD live in the house with you, not out in a kennel or tied in the yard (perish the thought). As pack animals, dogs need close and frequent interaction with their owners, and this applies especially to German Shepherds.
Training. The GSD is a large dog, usually weighing 65-90 pounds or more. A GSD must be taught manners in the house and with guests, children and the elderly; he must not be allowed to roam free or intimidate passers-by. While German Shepherd Dogs are relatively easy to train, they can achieve the most success through positive training rather than training that employs harsh methods. Shepherds also must be exercised by you and be contained in a yard with a real fence - electronic or underground fencing should not be an option for the responsible Gerrman Shepherd owner.
GSDs need a job. This is not a breed for someone who “just wants a dog.” Your GSD will create his own work (often something destructive) if you cannot find work for him! A doggy sport or activity such as tracking, agility, obedience training, flyball, search and rescue, flying disc, herding, therapy work or similar is absolutely necessary to keep your shepherd happy and healthy (and your sanity intact). Do not expect your GSD to be content to lie around the house all day and then do nothing when you get home! He will need both mental and physical exercise - a couple trips around the block is just warm-up time to a GSD.
Shepherds are unique. Why wouldn’t you want a unique dog? For many of the reasons listed above and more! Shepherds are less “doggy” than most breeds, and for this reason it has been said they are “the Cadillac of dogs.” This is certainly true - if you have the time, energy and understanding necessary to choose and raise one with care. A bored, ill-tempered, sickly or untrained GSD can become a nightmare for you and others. Once you obtain a GSD, you and he are ambassadors for the breed, and that means he must be presented at all times as a clean, healthy, well-groomed, and skillfully trained member of his breed. Anything less does a disservice to the breed as a whole and to the legions of people who work and dedicate their lives to improving the German Shepherd Dog.
Information excerpted July 2017, from German Shepherd Central – Wordpress 2017. http://germanshepherdcentral.net/