German Shepherds are one of the most recognized and popular dog breeds in the world. In addition to being beautiful, German Shepherds can also be good family dogs that thrive around children if given the proper socialization and training from a young age.
Keep reading to learn more about how German Shepherds are great pets for kids and adults alike.
History of German Shepherds
The origin of German Shepherds can be traced back to the early 1800s in Germany.
A cavalry officer named Max Emil Friedrich von Stephanitz admired the German dogs he saw herding sheep and decided to breed them.
At a dog show, the breed earned high marks and others took great interest in them.
German Shepherds continued to be bred and sold for their beauty and ability in the region, leading to the development of the first German Shepherd club in history.
The dogs registered in the club became the first official members of their breed, and the breed was readily accepted by the American Kennel Club in the early 1900s.
Why German Shepherds are Good Family Pets
There are many aspects of German Shepherds that make them a good choice for many families.
Take a look at their temperament and abilities to see if they’re a good fit for you and your kids.
German Shepherd Traits
What German Shepherds Were Bred For
German Shepherds were originally bred to be work dogs, herding sheep in the fields. Because of this, they have an innate nature of loyalty, confidence, and steadiness.
German Shepherds are gentle dogs with high intelligence and full of energy. Though they can be trained to be more protective and stoic, they are usually quite affectionate around people and young children.
This is particularly true for people that German Shepherds bond with from an early age.
German Shepherd Temperament
Because they are larger in size and have the potential to be aggressive, you should still heed caution before approaching another German Shepherd.
You should also take into consideration any other pets you have before bringing a GSD puppy home, as this breed gets along better with some breeds than others.
When introduced early, though, most German Shepherds end up being loyal to everyone in the household, both animal and human.
What is the American Temperament Test Society (ATTS)?
The American Temperament Test Society is a nonprofit organization that issues temperament ratings on a large variety of dog breeds.
The goal of their testing is to provide data so people better understand the potential behavior of their dog or a breed they are thinking of adding to their family.
Are Male German Shepherds More Aggressive Than Female?
Most dog experts agree that the German Shepherd dog breed, in general, can be aggressive at times. But should you consider getting a male or female dog? Does it matter?
Yes, the consensus is that male German Shepherds tend to be more aggressive and protective in nature than a female GSD.
While a male GSD can still be a good family pet they are larger dogs, they may engage in rough play more often, and also have a greater protective nature which could be good or bad.
A female German Shepherd may be a better choice if you already have young children or other pets as family members.
German Shepherd Skills
As previously mentioned, German Shepherds are known for being loyal and intelligent.
Their intelligence makes them one of the easiest dog breeds to train which makes them well suited for being police dogs and service dogs in the military.
They also excel at agility and obedience for those interested in dog shows or simply bonding with their dog through these methods.
German Shepherds can be used to herd animals, serve people with special needs, track and hunt, and guard your home.
They can also easily learn tricks and commands such as sit, stay, lay down, roll over, shake, and more. Housetraining is also easier with this breed as they learn habits quickly.
How to Choose a German Shepherd for Your Family
It is important to note that since German Shepherds are large breeds with the potential to be aggressive, it is vital that you take time and consideration in choosing them as a family member.
Consider the different ways you can find a German Shepherd for your family and what to look for in a German Shepherd below.
German Shepherd Breeders
Buying from a professional breeder that is recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) can be a great way to find the perfect pup for your family.
A reputable breeder can be found on the AKC website and they also announce new litters there.
AKC-registered puppies will be higher in cost but you will know your puppy’s genetic background and have the option to register him in AKC competitions.
Having a German Shepherd puppy from a young age is a perfect scenario for introducing your small children to your new family member.
Since your GSD puppy will be familiar with your kids from a young age, he will form a strong, protective bond with them. These dogs get along wonderfully with kids.
Adopting from Local Shelters
Another option to bring home a German Shepherd is to check out your local shelters. These dogs will not be AKC registered but are still loving and in need of a home.
When adopting from a shelter, it is important to ask the adoption specialists about the temperament of the dog you are considering.
They have experience with that particular dog and may be able to share any important information about its history or behavior.
If the dog came from an abusive background or is known to be aggressive towards others, it may not be a good fit for you and your kids.
However, you may find adult German Shepherds with perfectly fine temperaments in shelters. You may even find available puppies in shelters at times.
Make sure that any GSD you’re looking at is gentle with you and your kids during interactions and they may be the perfect fit for you.
Adopting from German Shepherd Rescues
The final place you could find a German Shepherd for your family is from a German Shepherd rescue.
These rescues specialize in this breed and are more familiar with their characteristics and temperament than an ordinary shelter may be.
A German Shepherd rescue can help match you to an adult dog or puppy that will fit best with your home and needs.
You can find information about German Shepherd rescues online. Websites such as PetFinder or Facebook can direct you to the pages of rescues near you that are willing to help.
Consider Other Pets in the Home
Regardless of where you get your German Shepherd, be sure to consider other pets you have before taking home a new dog.
If adopting an adult, seek a German Shepherd that has a history of living with cats and other dogs.
These adults will already be used to cohabitating with smaller animals and will likely be gentle with yours as they get used to them.
How to Socialize Your German Shepherd
Proper socialization is extremely important when making sure your German Shepherd adapts to your kids, especially if they are young.
Taking the proper steps and precautions can help ensure your furry friend bonds with your family quickly.
Introducing Your German Shepherd to Older Children
Older children may have an easier time winning over your dog’s affection as they understand personal boundaries better than younger children.
They are also larger than your dog which helps them to see your children as companions rather than prey.
Give older children a role in training your dog. You can give them treats to help teach the dog how to sit or stay.
Over time, your German Shepherd will see your older child positively as they will associate them with treats and obedience.
This will help them form a bond and your German Shepherd will likely become protective over your children.
Introducing Your German Shepherd to Younger Children
Younger children will need more assistance when it comes to introducing them to your new German Shepherd.
Because small kids typically don’t understand personal space or the consequences of their actions, it can be easy for them to stress your dog very quickly.
There are several tactics to help you introduce your German Shepherd to your children as smoothly as possible.
As with older children, give younger children treats to give your German Shepherd when they pet and interact with them. This is a great way to give your dog a positive association with your children.
You can also do this by teaching your children to play with your dog by throwing tennis balls in the yard or giving them a chew toy and petting them.
Introducing Your German Shepherd to Other Pets
German Shepherds are not always fond of other pets. In particular, they are not always fond of smaller animals such as cats or small dogs, and they may see other small breeds as prey.
When deciding on a GSD puppy, it is important to keep in mind any other animals in the home and to consider how the addition of your new dog may impact them.
Though German Shepherds prefer other dogs of the same or a similar breed to them, they can get along with cats or smaller dogs under some circumstances.
In most cases, getting your German Shepherd as a puppy will help him learn that the smaller animal belonged to the household first, allowing him to get used to the presence of that animal by being raised alongside it.
Challenges of Owning a German Shepherd
Not all German Shepherds are open and friendly with others at first. Many can be guarded or closed off due to training or past experiences.
Consider the below issues you may face in bringing home a German Shepherd and how they may affect its potential relationship with your children.
Older German Shepherds
German Shepherds that are older in age may have shorter patience and difficulty learning new things.
If adopting an older dog, you should always be gentle with him and interact often to make sure he gets used to you on his own time.
You should also introduce your children more slowly as particularly energetic or small children may trigger older dogs more easily.
Anxiety in German Shepherds
Physical Anxiety Signs
German Shepherds are just as susceptible to anxiety conditions just as much as any other dog. Being a responsible owner means understanding the signs of anxiety in your dog.
Dogs that display behaviors such as licking lips, lowered ears, pacing, baring teeth, and growling are showing signs of nervousness.
Behavioral Anxiety Signs
Anxious dogs may also display behavioral issues such as urinating in the house, destroying household objects, and constant barking.
If you notice these chronic behaviors in your German Shepherd, take him to a vet to determine a treatment plan. Treatment plans may include anxiety medication or more behavioral training.
Though children should always be supervised around animals, always be extra cautious to watch your child around an anxious German Shepherd.
Anxious German Shepherds should preferably be kept away from kids to prevent them from acting out if they get too nervous.
With treatment, your German Shepherd may be able to handle better interacting with your children.
What Other Pets Get Along Well With German Shepherds?
German Shepherds are not always fond of other dogs but are more likely to get along with dogs of the same or similar breed.
Labrador Retrievers and Boxers are the best choices as they are similar in size and energy level to German Shepherds.
What are German Shepherds Known For?
German Shepherds were originally known for their sheep herding abilities. Nowadays, they are better known for their police work and military duty because of their loyalty and intelligence.
They also make excellent guard dogs.
Are German Shepherds Aggressive Dogs?
German Shepherds can exhibit aggressive behavior depending on the situation they find themselves in.
They are very protective dogs and if they feel threatened or if they perceive a potential threat to their family they may act aggressively.
Proper care, early socialization, and professional obedience training are ways you can avoid unwanted behavior from your German Shepherd.
If given the proper training, German Shepherds can be excellent family dogs and will likely not show any signs of aggression.
How Hard Can a German Shepherd Bite?
A German Shepherd’s bite force can reach up to 238 PSI. For reference, this is greater than the American Pit Bull at 235 PSI but less than the American Bulldog at 305 PSI.
What Activities Do German Shepherds Enjoy?
German Shepherds enjoy the same activities all dogs enjoy, including treats, toys, walks, and games.
Because they are very active dogs they tend to have more energy than other dog breeds. German Shepherds prefer higher-level exercises such as jogging or agility games such as tug of war and fetch.
How Do I Groom My German Shepherd?
Because German Shepherds typically have two layers in their coat (a top coat and an undercoat), they tend to shed often and need more frequent grooming.
Brushing with a de-shedding brush several times a week and bathing at least once a month will keep your German Shepherd clean and healthy.
It will also help to keep your floor and furniture fairly fur-free!
German Shepherds are beautiful, loyal, and a highly intelligent dog breed. These traits make the German Shepherd one of the most popular dogs in the world to have as a pet.
They are a large dog with a great personality and are also known for their service abilities. Most German Shepherds can be excellent family dogs given the proper training.
When taking that adorable GSD puppy home, make sure to introduce him to your kids early and often, and they’ll form a bond in no time.