German Shepherd Rescue Alliance of Wisconsin

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Basic Traits of a German Shepherd Dog

The Feet

Most GSDs have large feet (they're a large dog) and when it's wet outside, you will be amazed at the muddy prints that they can leave in your house. Keep a towel handy near the door and you will minimize the stress for both you and your dog. And like all dogs, they need to have their nails trimmed on a regular basis. If your dog does a lot of running on concrete, it may not need trimming as often as it would if it only runs on grass, but they should be inspected often, regardless. If you are not comfortable trimming the nails yourself, take the dog to the vet and ask them to teach you. Doing it yourself is easy and can save you money. [/tab]

The Coat and Fur

German Shepherds come in a variety of colors from black & tan to black & red, sables of varying intensities, pure black, and white. There are basically two types of German Shepherd coats: long and short. Most of the dogs we see are short haired, but both types have a double coat. There is the outer coat which is the longer hair that you see and gives the dog its color, and then there's the undercoat, which is shorter and finer, like down, that provides insulation for the dog. The don't call these dogs "German Shedders" for nothing....:)

This double coat sheds constantly, year round, and will put your vacuum cleaner to the test. Be sure you have a good one! Then in the spring and fall of each year, the dogs will "blow" their coat. Some will shed more than others but be ready, this is the time to stock up on vacuum cleaner bags!

The Appetite

GSDs are large, very active dogs. They need to eat. A lot. Depending on your dog’s level of exercise, an average amount consumed is between fifteen and twenty-five pounds of high-protein dry food per week. A good, high quality food is not cheap, but a good diet is very important. Adding warm water to dry food and letting it soak in before serving may help avoid bloat, a potentially fatal condition. Your dog should have its own place to eat, its own personal food and water bowls and be fed at the same time every day. Your dog should always have clean, fresh water to drink, whenever it wants. Your dog is not a garbage disposal. People food and table scraps may not be good for your dog, and feeding it from the table will enforce a habit that will become annoying and difficult to break. Your German Shepherd will be healthier if he is slightly underweight. An overweight dog is more susceptible to disease. And remember, what goes in, must come out! Caring for your yard will be no little consideration. Take a scoop and a bag with you when you take your dog out for a walk. Be thoughtful of others.

 Medical Care

Regular trips to the vet are essential. Routine check-ups each year, which include vaccinations against various diseases, flea and tick control and heart worm preventative are your responsibility. Take good care of your dog. Be a responsible pet owner.

What a german shepherd dog is:

German Shepherd Rescue Alliance of Wisconsin

Thinking about a German Shepherd?  They are a wonderful breed of dog.  However please consider the following carefully before deciding on bringing one into your home.

What a German Shepherd Dog is NOT:

  • not a backyard dog
  • not a kennel dog
  • not low energy
  • not highly sociable with strangers
  • not able to thrive without training
  • not able to thrive with long hours alone
  • not able to thrive when neglected
  • not submissive to other dogs

  • family dog
  • companion
  • working dog
  • territorial
  • protective
  • loyal
  • energetic
  • a dog who needs to be involved in your life
  • a dog who thrives with something “to do”
  • sociable with children

Breed Characteristics

Loyal, protective, dutiful, intelligent, are all words to describe the German Shepherd Dog. They can be trained for any number of canine professions but are just as happy as house pets and family members. German Shepherds today are used throughout the world as police dogs, armed service dogs, guides for the blind, schutzhund sport dogs and search and rescue dogs. There is high demand for German Shepherds as family companions, obedience dogs, show dogs and even still as herding dogs. It is the extraordinary character and sound temperament, an incredible sense of smell and efficient working dog structure and size that makes the German Shepherd the most versatile dog today.

The German Shepherd Dog was bred to herd livestock. Because of this, they will sometimes display the traits of herding, such a nipping at heels. These dogs have enormous energy and need a tremendous amount of exercise every day. If they are not kept busy, they will often create their own entertainment. This is not always a good thing. Some GSDs have a stronger need to stay active than others, but too often, a dog will end up in the animal shelter because the former owners wanted a laid-back "couch potato" rather than an active dog that requires a good amount of attention.

A German Shepherd also needs human companionship and can be destructive if not given proper attention by its owner. A potential owner needs to be aware of the time, attention and energy this breed demands. Give these issues a great deal of thought!

Adult GSDs are very loyal and protective, active and quite intelligent. The German Shepherd Dog can also be quite willful. The owner must be able to assert himself/herself as "alpha" or leader of the pack. Your GSD wants you to be the leader and wants to follow the rules. Without proper socialization, training and routine guidance, they can become rambunctious and difficult to handle. It is up to you to teach your dog how to fit into your family's lifestyle and a structured routine will be very beneficial to good dog behavior.

Training the dog is not a job that ends after a six or eight week obedience course. The training is an ongoing process that will continue throughout the dog's life - much like raising children. Please also give this issue a great deal of thought as well!

A German Shepherd requires a lot of work but repays the investment tenfold with its loyalty and loving companionship. If you are not willing to avail yourself to such a high level of commitment, we urge you to consider a different breed. There are a lot of nice dogs that require less effort on your part that make very good pets.