General Question

FlutherBug's avatar

What is it like to own or keep a German Shepherd?

Asked by FlutherBug (1100points) August 19th, 2016

Does anyone here have any experience with German Shepards?

How are they different from other dogs?

Do they make a great guard / security dog ? For a home ? Since a lot of the police uses them?

How costly would it be to train the dog? Are there places that would train the dog to bite an attacker, or someone bad? How would they know who is a threat or not ? For example if I’m hiking / running by myself and my dog is with me. Let’s say there’s a scary looking guy behind me, following me, or wants to rape me. Would the German Shepard know who/ and when to attack?

Would a female German Shepard be just as good for a security dog as a male German Shepard?

Is it possible to get a pure breed German Shepard or are they way too costly?

Thanks everyone for the insight, I know I tend to write a lot and ask a lot :) Heheh.

I don’t have a German Shepard at the moment, but I am thinking of getting one…........... I don’t like teeny tiny chihuahua dogs.

Unless I can train this intelligent dog myself, I would more than likely need to send the dog to a good training school right? To be a guard / security / companion dog ?

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28 Answers

SecondHandStoke's avatar

Good faithful dogs.

However rear suspension bushings are known to degrade early.

PriceisRightx26's avatar

Dogs are like children in the sense that they are a full time job and if they aren’t cared for properly, they can become very destructive. Call a local vet and local dog training service and ask them for advice, as they’ll be able to give you accurate prices for the area you live in and what to expect. I know for certain that vet bills can be expensive and that large dogs especially require lots of exercise. Pure bred GS pups (in my area) are around $600, though I stand firmly with the sentiment: don’t breed or buy while homeless die. Relatively speaking, behavior lies almost entirely in the training, not the breed.

Coloma's avatar

Professionally trained guard/security dogs are NOT a good idea for a lay person.
Shepherds are intelligent and most, naturally, have a protective side. They are also in the top 3 or 4 breeds most likely to bite and KILL people. If you have never owned a dog, or a Shepherd, I suggest you hook up with a professional dog trainer and find someone to assist you in finding the puppy/dog that is right for you.

There is absolutely NO reason to have a professionally trained guard/attack dog if you basically want a family pet and basic security. Any dog will bark and most burglars do not want to break into a home with a dog of any kind. I have owned a GSD / Queensland Heeler mix that looked like a purebred Shepherd. She was very sweet, smart as a whip, learned very quickly but also stubborn and very independent.

FlutherBug's avatar

Thanks everyone for the advice. I’m not getting one yet or soon, just looking into it. I do love them and think they are so beautiful & cool. Not right now, but within 2 years I’d like to adopt one.

@Coloma Yes I understand what you are saying. It won’t be a family pet. Not in the traditional sense. We have a castle in France, but no pets or animals there. It’s an old castle that has been in the family for ages. It’s huge. I was thinking of the idea to bring in a guard / security dog. I’ve just never liked teeny tiny dogs.

FlutherBug's avatar

“Don’t breed or buy while homeless die”

That is a GREAT quote.

I actually just found a GSD rescue!!!

But I am not getting a dog anytime soon, just inquiring, probably down the line within 2 years.

@PriceisRightx26

lynfromnm's avatar

My silver point German Shepherd, Chinook, was my boon companion for 14 years. He was easy to train, highly intelligent and extremely loyal. He wasn’t an excessive barker, but did bark whenever someone came to the door. He developed hip dysplasia like a lot of larger breeds. We lived on a property of a few acres, and he preferred that to city life. He was protective of the kids and never threatened or harmed kids.
I miss him – he died 12 years ago.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

A friend of mine bought a German Shepherd with the intent of training it to attack. He took it to Schutzhund training a couple of times, until the trainer said, “You know, this dog is too nice. He doesn’t have it in him.”

Which is for the better. He’s a big beautiful boy and perfectly sweet and obedient. Wonderful dog. He does require lots of exercise. Occasionally I take care of him and I walk him four or five miles a day.

Anyway, the best dogs for home security that I know are simply big dogs that bark when strangers are outside the house. It wasn’t training, they are territorial by nature.

FlutherBug's avatar

I am so sorry for your loss. What a great and loyal companion you were blessed with! Chinook sounded like an amazing companion and friend. I am sure he really loved you and was happy you were his owner. Sounds like a great dog. That is what I am envisioning for my future. It’s a huge castle in the country side so the dog will have lots of room to run & play. That’s my plan.

@lynfromnm

FlutherBug's avatar

@Call_Me_Jay

Aww what a sweet dog….. That sounds so cute…. I love sweet animals :) Yeah that’s true about getting lots of exercise!

Okay thanks :) yeah that’ll be good to have a dog that barks when strangers are outside the house!

kritiper's avatar

They are smart, wolfish dogs. Not real smart, just smart enough to drive you crazy.
The owner of one needs to establish to the dog early on that the owner is the master, not the dog.
The dog will play like it is a brainless idiot to seemingly keep the master in the dark as to what is going on. Thank heaven the dogs aren’t practical thinkers!
For example: One house I lived in didn’t have a fence so I kept the dog chained to a long heavy wire that ran from the house out to a tree in the yard. Sometimes the wire would break and you could tell it was broken as soon as you came out of the house in the morning because there would be little trails all over the neighborhood where the dog had drug that chain during the night. But you would go back to where the dog should be and there he would be with the chain strung out behind him, acting like it was still connected and that nothing was out of place.
Another example: One day I was looking out of a window in my parents house and saw my dog take a running start and jump over a 4 foot chain-link fence. (This surprised the crap out of me since I didn’t think the dog could jump higher than his head!) When I went out in the yard to try to get him to do it again so I could scold him, he just sat there staring at me like I was some kind of idiot to think he could actually jump higher than his head!
But once I established myself as master (by lavishing him with lots of love after he did something I wanted) he was the best darn dog a person could have.
I spoke to him like I would talk to another person and I think he understood English very well. I once told him to do something that I had never asked of him before and he did it!
Using hand/arm signals with commands helped a great deal when he got old and deaf.
While I never had children, and he wasn’t accustomed to babies, he had to be watched. But once he became accustomed to slightly older children, he would follow them and protect them. He would walk the school children to the bus stop in the morning and would be waiting for them when they got home. Without training.
Once you fully understand their mentality, you’ll never regret having had one!

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

Rin Tin Tin was from France. An American soldier found the puppy on a World War I battlefield. He became the biggest Hollywood star of his time. He won the vote for the first Oscar for Best Actor, but they gave it to the 2nd place human actor.

Here’s a great book – Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend by Susan Orlean

YARNLADY's avatar

There are some anecdotal stories around, but keep in mind that each dog has it’s own personality. The one thing they have in common is they are big. We had one that was friendly to family members and vicious to strangers. His tail knocked over a lot of furniture, including our Christmas tree.

If you want a guard dog, do not expect it to also be a family dog.

No matter what the breed, every dog should be supervised around children.

Seek's avatar

I have a good friend who trains K9s for a living. He offers this sage advice:

A bored German Shepherd is a bad German Shepherd.

Do not adopt one unless you have time to spend with it, to exercise it, to run it, and to train it. They are not housecats.

jca's avatar

One of my friends had a shepherd mix and she told me there was a stranger in her yard and the dog jumped through the closed window to get at the guy.

My aunt and uncle had a white shepherd mix that was really like part of the family. My uncle trained him to jump up on people ( not sure why – this was when I was a kid so long ago). He was a great guard dog – not pro trained just a good watchdog and barker and would probably rip someone’s arm off if they came in uninvited.

I love big dogs but with my work schedule, us not being home for about 11 hours per day, it wouldn’t work right now. Also we have cats so that’s another obstacle.

kritiper's avatar

@Seek “A bored German Shepherd is a bad German Shepherd.” Very true. That can also be said of Border Collies and other dogs of extreme intelligence.

jca's avatar

@kritiper: Humans, too.

ibstubro's avatar

We kept shepherds when I was a kid, living in the sticks. They were very loving and loyal dogs, but I can’t imagine trying to confine one to the house, or even a small yard. They’re big, muscular dogs and need an extreme amount of exercise, IMO.
Get a pet commensurate with your space.

Coloma's avatar

@ibstubro , @FlutherBug says they have a huge, family Castle in the French Countryside. Hell, I’ll be the guard dog if they want me to come live with them. I can patrol around and bark at strangers. lol

lynfromnm's avatar

@FlutherBug Thanks for the kind words about Chinook. I thought I would add that Chinook loved being outdoors but we did bring him inside every night so his barking wasn’t a problem. He demonstrated his ability to jump a 6 foot fence if a female in heat was around. Of course, you’d avoid that problem if the animal was neutered or spayed! Back in those days it was less common to do that.

ibstubro's avatar

Then, @Coloma, I would suggest that @FlutherBug order a dog to specification. For the family Castle.

I would love-a-mutt.
My fenceable yard is only around 2 acres, so probably not a Shepard.

Coloma's avatar

@ibstubro get a pair of geese. Smart as digs, follow you everywhere and great watch geese. My “Marwyn” has chased off many a roving Jehovahs Witness in his lengthy 18 yr. career in witness protection. haha Raise geese from goslings they imprint on you and are the best “dogs” you could ask for.

Coloma's avatar

<———- See house goose. lol

longgone's avatar

I would definitely not recommend a German Shepherd for a novice dog owner.

In my experience, German Shepherds are fairly high-strung. There has been a lot of irresponsible breeding because of their popularity. They come with a genetic predisposition to extreme nearsightedness, a couple of other eyes issues, and hip dysplasia. They will need an insane amount of exercise – think 2.5 hour hikes. They’ll know when you are being inconsistent, and they’re smart enough to understand how to play you.

This is not to say that they can’t be great dogs. They can. The best chance of that is getting one from a great breeder, one who breeds for temperament and health. I think you would be much better off with a different breed for starters, though.

On a general note: Do not ever train any dog to attack a human being. No, they can’t differentiate between “bad” and “good” people. We can’t, half the time, how are they supposed to?

Get a more domesticated breed, and teach your dog how to bark at a human on cue. That’s scary enough, and it keeps him from becoming dangerous.

jca's avatar

Mutts are always recommended as a great dog. I recommend a shelter dog (rescue dog). Save a life!

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

There has been a lot of irresponsible breeding because of their popularity.

That is a problem with German Shepherds registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC) as purebreds. That is no assurance of quality, it is an assurance of lineage. And the line is messed up here in the US.

Over 30 years that was explained to me by a guy with German Shepherds from Germany, and I imagine it’s gotten worse.

Coloma's avatar

Same is true for Pit Bulls. One of my local shelters has 49 Pit Bulls for adoption and only ONE other dog, an older Great Dane. Mind blowing.

longgone's avatar

@Call_Me_Jay I agree. I’m in Germany, so I see the problems at its source, I guess.

@jca That’s recommended, but it doesn’t really make any sense. A cross between Border Collie and Appenzeller, for example, would likely be high-strung, bored easily, and difficult to keep as just a pet. It’s important to evaluate a mutt’s temperament and lineage, if you can. If you can’t, and are a newbie…steer clear.

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