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Is a German Shepherd Good for a First-Time Dog Owner? The Surprising Answer!

Written by: Jessica Kim

Last Updated on April 16, 2024 by Dogster Team

German Shepherd

Is a German Shepherd Good for a First-Time Dog Owner? The Surprising Answer!

German Shepherds are one of the most popular dog breeds in America. They’re known for their bravery and strong loyalty. However, this dog breed isn’t recommended for first-time dog owners. A German Shepherd’s loyalty must be earned, and it takes a lot of work to train one.

German Shepherds require an experienced dog owner who can provide firm and fair training consistently. Dogs that don’t receive adequate training and socialization can easily resort to aggressive behaviors and become out of control. So, make sure to do your research and ensure you can meet a German Shepherd’s needs before bringing one home.

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German Shepherd Temperament

German Shepherds are active working dogs. While they can be some of the best animal companions, they have a strong work ethic and thrive in homes where they have a consistent job. This is why you see many German Shepherds working as police dogs, military dogs, and search and rescue dogs.

Another key thing to know about German Shepherds is that they’re high-energy dogs that need at least 2 hours of exercise a day. Oftentimes, a daily walk doesn’t suffice, especially for younger German Shepherds. These dogs need to run around and let loose. So, they need a safe, fully fenced yard or daily access to a dog park. German Shepherds also make wonderful hiking and running companions, so they’re best suited for people with active lifestyles.

German Shepherds have a muscular build and a strong set of jaws. When untrained and left alone, they can quickly resort to destructive behaviors and destroy all the furniture in a room. German Shepherds can also become aggressive and become a safety liability.

german shepherd standing on the grass
Image Credit: Pixabay

Training a German Shepherd

While German Shepherds are often eager to please and easy to train, they tend to have dominant personalities. So, they do best with strong owners that they can trust. Owners must be firm and consistent but also be affirming and encouraging while training their German Shepherds.

German Shepherds need a solid foundation in obedience training, plenty of exercise opportunities, and socialization. If they miss any of these three things, things can quickly go awry.

So, it never hurts to invest in obedience training classes or private training sessions with a reputable dog trainer. It’s also helpful to slowly expose German Shepherds to new environments and experiences, like playing in a dog park and interacting with children.

Give Them a Job

Since German Shepherds are working dogs, they often enjoy having a job. While they may have an intimidating appearance, they can actually be quite affectionate and become successful therapy dogs. So, it doesn’t hurt to get them trained to be therapy dogs and volunteer to visit various organizations that welcome therapy dog services.

german shepherd dog resting his head on his owner doing training
Image Credit: Natalliaskn, Shutterstock

Establish a Routine

As a breed that thrives on work, German Shepherds particularly benefit from having a consistent routine. So, it’s important for owners to establish and stick to a routine. You’ll often find German Shepherds quickly picking up on routines and anticipating the next thing on their schedules. Building a routine for German Shepherds can even help reduce anxiety and destructive behaviors.

Dog Breeds for First-Time Dog Owners

If you’re a first-time dog owner interested in bringing home a dog, make sure to look for dogs with temperaments more suitable for beginners. While not all dogs are guaranteed to share their breed’s temperament, learning about different dog breeds can help you narrow down your choices.

Dog breeds known to be easygoing and easy to train are often excellent choices for first-time dog owners. This is why Labrador Retrievers, Bernese Mountain Dogs, and Golden Retrievers are popular dog breeds for beginner dog owners. All these dog breeds are known to be friendly, intelligent, and highly trainable. While all dogs require daily exercise, these breeds aren’t as high-energy as German Shepherds and tend to have more relaxed personalities.

If you’re looking for smaller companion dogs, the Bichon Frise, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Maltese, and Papillon are great breeds to consider. These smaller dogs also have lower exercise needs than German Shepherds and are more well-suited for apartment living.

cavalier king charles spaniel dog hold by owner
Image By: TsElena, Shutterstock

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Overall, German Shepherds aren’t recommended for first-time dog owners. They’re best suited for experienced owners with active lifestyles that also have the time to invest in high-quality training. It takes a lot of work, patience, and consistency to earn the trust and loyalty of a German Shepherd.

Fortunately, you can find many other dog breeds that are more suitable for first-time dog owners. So, take as much time researching and looking for dog breeds that best match your lifestyle. Doing your due diligence will only help you find a dog that’s a good fit for you and ready to become your next best friend.

Featured Image Credit: Osetrik, Shutterstock

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