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Last Updated:
7/19/2024 1:42 AM

Adopting a German Shepherd 101:Generic Shepherd Laying Down Cocked HeadIf you have done your research, and concluded that you and your family are a good match to bring a German Shepherd into your home, the next step is finding one.  Chances are, since you are reading this, you have already weighed the option of purchasing versus adopting. 

The Sad Truth:

Sadly, German Shepherd Dogs (GSDs) are the number two breed in rescue.  That is to say, there are more homeless, abandoned or unwanted GSDs than any other breed in the world.  Unfortunately, we see staggering numbers being euthanized daily or simply being abandoned.  Your decision to look at adoption is a great one, but should also be considered carefully to ensure a German Shepherd is right for you and your family.  The decision to adopt any dog is not an individual’s decision, it should be a family decision as it will impact everyone in the household.

Be Honest:

Be realistic about what it is you have in mind for your new addition, both in terms of size, personality, maintenance, etc.  You should put more of a focus on these things and try not to get attached to a particular visual appearance of any breed.  German Shepherds are beautiful dogs, but when in the wrong hands they can be a real handful.

What to Expect?

There is considerable variation within our breed with respect to type (structure) and temperament. Each of these dogs is so much an individual that one size cannot and will not fit all. Lack of research frequently results in mismatches; wrong type of GSD for an individual or family, unrealistic expectations and general misconceptions about the level of commitment required to share one's life with a GSD. German Shepherds are not the easiest, but most certainly the most versatile breed. They typically are not mellow nor are they easy keepers. 

Set Your Dog Up for Success! Know the facts of owning a German Shepherd.

Some Common But Often Costly Mistakes You Can Avoid:

1.    Getting two puppies at the same time without understanding the comitment.
2.    Adopting a second rescue dog before you have trained, socialized, bonded and learned about the first.
3.    Getting a second dog to try and solve any issues or problems of your first or as a replacement to the time/ exercise you must offer as a responsible owner.
4.    Buying or adopting a dog as a gift or surprise for someone else.
5.    Buying or adopting any dog without the knowledge and agreement of other adults in the home.
6.    Never taking your GSD off of its property.
7.    Leaving your GSD outside when you are not home, chaining your GSD outside, etc. (i.e. isolation).
8.    Making emotional or impulse choices; choosing a GSD strictly by the way it looks.
9.    Making the decision to purchase based on the myth that all rescue dogs are "damaged" or have behavior problems.
10.  Sending your dog away for training without researching the trainer(s) first. 
11.  Not doing your research on the breed you are interested in adopting.
12.  Not providing adequate excercise and discipline to your dog.

Some Helpful Further Readings:

  • Monks of New Skete: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend; Little, Brown and Company.
  • Monks of New Skete: The Art of Raising a Puppy; Little, Brown and Company
  • German Shepherds For Dummies; D. Caroline Coile