Dogs called German Shepherds were first exhibited at shows in Germany towards the end of the nineteenth century but they were hardly Shepherds as we know them today being rough coated, short tailed and rather resembling mongrels. The German Shepherd Dog as we now know it didn't really appear until after the Second World War.
The breed has grown enormously in popularity and is now one of the most popular pedigree breeds in the UK as a pet, it is still the favourite working breed for many forces especially the police and they are widely used for security purposes.
It is a fine sight to see a well-trained GSD with his handler, working well to serve and protect. Unfortunately one of the saddest sites is the poor GSD used to guard premises often chained up alone in some dismal filthy yard with a lifetime of incarceration and little stimulation to look forward to.
The German Shepherd is a highly intelligent beast who will show undying devotion to his master but he is a dog that needs company and stimulation to be at his best.
If you are thinking of buying a German Shepherd as a pet and you have not previously owned one, it is important to research the breed and talk to experienced owners so that you fully understand what you are taking on. GSD's do indeed make wonderful family pets but it is important to remember that this is a working breed and that they do have certain characteristics that can make them more difficult than your average Retriever, Labrador or Collie.
The characteristics of a good working GSD should be firmness of nerve, attentiveness, unshockability, tractability, watchfulness, reliability, and incorruptibility together with courage tenacity and hardness. A German Shepherd is naturally protective and territorial which is something to bear in mind if you have lots of visitors to your house when careful introduction may be required to assure your pet that the visitor is not a threat to his family.
This is also a breed that requires a lot of time, stimulation, training and exercise - you will never wear them out, they will always be ready for more. A bored, lonely GSD can be very destructive and can cause an awful lot of damage to property in a short space of time.
Perhaps some of the less endearing traits of this breed are the tendency to be very vocal which can be a big nuisance and may be a problem with neighbours. They also shed hair in copious amounts all year round so your vacuum cleaner will work overtime and it's unlikely that your clothes and furnishings will ever be free of dogs hairs again as well as what you are eating invariably being contaminated with that stray hairs.
The biggest problem with the German Shepherd Dog is the fact that to a large extent the breed is being spoilt by irresponsible breeding by inexperienced back street breeders who care nothing about preserving the breed but only about making money from the selling of puppies, Health and temperament problems are all too common, so it is important to take expert advice and try and find a reputable source if you are contemplating buying a puppy.
Consider first taking on a rescue German Shepherd Dog from a reputable rescue that should be able to give you a good assessment of a particular dog. Remember too that an older GSD will be a very rewarding addition to the family and will be house trained, won't chew, well behaved, probably require less exercise than a young dog and will be very loyal and grateful.
The German Shepherd Dog
by Jayne Shenstone
Training Your German Shepherd Dog Written by Jayne Shenstone who runs German Shepherd Rescue UK which helps rescue and rehome GSD's across the UK.