Shelters and rescue groups are overflowing with young GSDs (8 months to 2 years). Most have ended up there through no fault of their own, but are victims of the misunderstanding of what it takes to train and care for a German Shepherd.
Shepherd rescuers hear some of the same reasons for relinquishment again and again. Let’s break down two of the most common:
1) The German Shepherd sheds too much.
2) The German Shepherd is too rough with the kids.
Number one: Sheds too much.
This is a fact of German Shepherd ownership: German Shepherd Dogs DO shed. A lot. All of the time. And sometimes, when they’re blowing their coats, they shed even worse.
DogTime.com has a handy chart showing which dogs shed the most and least. It’s a simple tool you can use when you’re comparing breeds for your next puppy, or your friends or family ask you for advice about getting a German Shepherd.
Brushing your German Shepherd multiple times per week and having a reliable, strong vacuum cleaner that can hold lots of hair is key. (We’re partial to the Dyson Animal.) Understanding that you’re getting a dog that sheds a lot, all of the time, on a good day should be written into every German Shepherd breeder’s puppy contract!
Number two: Rough with the kids.
German Shepherd puppies are notorious for using their mouths to explore EVERYTHING until four or five months of age — mouths full of needlelike, razor-sharp teeth. Anyone getting a young pup must be prepared for the absolute onslaught of “shark mouth” and be ready to manage all interactions between your GSD puppy and child.
For starters, young children (4-5 years and younger) and German Shepherd puppies generally don’t mix. Baby gates, crate training and tethering (temporarily anchoring the leash to a sturdy location so snapping jaws stay out of reach of clothing and hands) are essential tools if you’re going to try to keep everyone safe and under one roof.
And the ONLY way to ensure your puppy and your child get along is by training — and lots of it, daily. If you haven’t already started puppy training classes with your GSD pup, you can search for a trainer who offers them via the Association of Pet Dog Trainers or the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.
Exercise is a good start, but it does not solve the problem of a dog who has not learned to control himself. German Shepherds are not fully mature until about three years of age — that’s a long time to live with an excitable or hyper BIG puppy. Hence why so many of them end up in shelters.
You can do your part to keep German Shepherds out of shelters and rescue by sharing this article with your friends and family — pass it on!