German Shepherd Pros And Cons

By helloBARK!
Updated on 13 July 2021



When you think of a German Shepherd, a hard-working, muscular dog comes to mind. Given their role as guard dogs and service animals, you’d be forgiven for judging these dogs on their brawn rather than their intelligence. However, German Shepherds are one of the smartest breeds in the dog world. They were ranked third out of 137 breeds in a study in 1994. Only the Border Collie and Poodle are more intelligent. Usually, it takes five repetitions to teach a GSD a new trick and these dogs will follow the first command 95 per cent of the time. If you bring home a German Shepherd, you will have a brainy dog on your hands.

Lola (pawsofshire) is an example of a German Shepherd that is quick to learn new commands.

Lola is very intelligent and easy-going. She has never destroyed the house, and rarely kicks up a fuss about anything. She will pick tricks up with a few repetitions and has a very good understanding of the things you’re asking her to do. We do a lot of mental training with Lola too as opposed to psychical exercise so she is very good at switching off and knowing when is chill time and when is play time.

Easy to train

Phoenix the German Shepherd (Photo: phoenix_n_rex / Instagram)

Phoenix the German Shepherd (Photo: phoenix_n_rex / Instagram)

Naturally given their high IQ, German Shepherds are easier to train then a lot of dog breeds. This probably won’t surprise you given the breed already play a large role in our society. German Shepherds work alongside the military and the police, while they were the first American service dogs. Rather than the Golden Retriever or Labrador, the German Shepherd was the first blind eye dog in the United States. Experts suggest keeping the commands short and sweet will help to make the training process a little bit easier. Some people consider describe these dogs as “highly trainable” rather than smart. They have an eagerness to please, which helps too.

Phoenix (@phoenix_n_rex) has undergone regular training since being rescued.

When we rescued Phoenix, he walked terribly on lead, constantly pulling and lunging towards people and dogs. We sought out a professional to help teach us how to train him and we haven’t looked back. He’s got a very high drive for a showline dog and is extremely intelligent. He just needed someone to set boundaries and help him direct his energy. We have trained him to be a very obedient dog and to get walks off lead perfectly and can even do a few tricks.


German Shepherd Freja (Photo: @wanderwithfreja / Instagram)

German Shepherd Freja (Photo: @wanderwithfreja / Instagram)

They have a reputation for being very loyal dogs to their owners and immediate family in the home. German Shepherds have a desire to protect and have got a reputation for being great family dogs. The degree of loyalty depends on the amount of work that you put in during their puppyhood. With their eagerness to please and willingness to follow commands, you can strike up a strong relationship with your GSD pup which will cultivate their loyalty to you. German Shepherd owners who can establish themselves as the parental-type figure in the home can grow a companionship with their dog that is full of love and mutual respect.

Freja the German Shepherd is extremely loyal to her owner.

A GSD will never stab you in the back, it will always have your back. You have a unbreakable bond with your dog and they will support and help you during their whole life. I will have a long life companion.

Great guard dogs

While these dogs can make great family pets due to their caring and loving personalities, German Shepherds are universally recognised as one of the best types of guard dogs. In terms of appearance, they don’t look like dogs you’d want to mess with. Classed as medium-to-large sized dogs, a German Shepherd can grow to be 60-65cm (24–26 in) tall and 30-40 kg (66–88 lb) in weight. They have very powerful jaws and their bite strength is second only to their compatriot, the Rottweiler. The GSD is a bold, courageous and fearless dog, all characteristics that make it ideal to guard the home. They are quick to learn commands and if trained properly, they will back off if a welcome stranger enters the home.

Beauty’s owner shed light on German Shepherds and their potential to excel in a guard dog role (@beauty.the.gsd pictured above).

German Shepherds are very loyal and committed. They will protect their owner, family and their house. They are amazing guard dogs and great family pets that will surely keep you safe. They are naturally protective and loyal twords their owners and will stick by you with everything.


This breed can serve a purpose, whether it is guarding your home, assisting those in need or working alongside the police force. For all their admirable traits, perhaps their best is their beauty. These dogs are long, elegant animals that have a lush coat. Their wide head and square muzzle give them a powerful stature, while their pointed ears and big brown eyes give them an alert appearance. With a gentle, sloping bushy tail, the German Shepherd is a breathtaking breeds.


Beauty the German Shepherd (Photo: beauty.the.gsd / Instagram)

Beauty the German Shepherd (Photo: beauty.the.gsd / Instagram)

Require lots of exercise

If you don’t have a lot of time to exercise your dog then the German Shepherd probably isn’t the right fit for you. These German dogs require a lot of exercise. Experts recommend at least two hours a day of exercise to keep your GSD happy. Depleting their energy levels can result in a better behaved dog at home – GSD have a reputation for chewing furniture. While committing to multiple, lengthy walks might be a con for some dog owners, it could also be a positive for those with the free time to pursue an active and healthy lifestyle. If you are unable to give your GSD the necessary exercise due to work commitments, you may want to consider hiring the services of a dog walker.

Beauty’s owner warned prospective GSD owners that the breed do require a lot of exercise.

German Shepherds also require much of your time to keep them healthy and calm. If left unexercised, shepherds tend to become very hyper, anxious, and not well tempered. You need to have lots of time open to exercising your dog such as walks, runs, and socializing them daily.

Health problems

Lola the German Shepherd (Photo: @pawsofshire / Instagram)

Lola the German Shepherd (Photo: @pawsofshire / Instagram)

Unfortunately, German Shepherds do have a lot of health problems. One of the biggest issues facing the breed is hip dysplasia. A lot of GSD owners have encountered this problem and it is a reoccurring theme with the breed. They are also susceptible to epilepsy. It is a common hereditary disease found in these working dogs and can result it seizures. German Shepherds have also been known to suffer from bloating (otherwise known as Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus) which occurs when gas builds up and makes it difficult for a GSD to breathe or sends their body into a shocked state.

Lola’s mum (@pawsofshire pictured above) had some advice for anyone thinking about getting a German Shepherd.

If you’re considering a puppy, paying more for a health tested puppy is always something I would recommend. GSDs have a lot of hereditary problems which is something you need to be aware of because if they did happen to get these problems, or if they were diagnosed with hip dysplasia for example, you’re looking at hefty vets bills, potentially for the rest of their life. There are plenty of things to consider with GSDs, and there are breeds which may be much better suited to you if you’re after a dog so please don’t get a GSD, or any breed, purely because of social media fame.


German Shepherd puppies cost on average between $500 and $1000. The price can vary depending on each breeder. For GSD from certain bloodlines, you can expect to pay quite a bit more. Aside from the initial cost, feeding your German Shepherd and regular trips to the vet can hit your budget hard. Experts suggest that owning a member of this breed can cost between $1000 and $2000 a year.


Lola the German Shepherd (Photo: @pawsofshire / Instagram)

Lola the German Shepherd (Photo: @pawsofshire / Instagram)

German Shepherds are big culprits when it comes to shedding. Prepare for lots of hair around the home! They shed heavily year round so you will need to be prepared to get the vacuum out on a regular basis. They have a thick undercoat which blows out twice a year, which can be a particularly challenging time for a GSD owner. If you don’t keep on top of it, your home could become decorated with German Shepherd hair. The good news is these dogs don’t require a lot of baths. Three or four times a year should suffice!

Lola’s mum (@pawsofshire pictured above) explained that German Shepherds do Do German Shepherds Shed?!

The amount of times I have to hoover my house daily is ridiculous. I could easily hoover 5 times a day and there would still be dog hair everywhere, and I mean everywhere. It gets stuck in the carpets, in the laundry, I find it in my food. I even bring it to work with me and find it in my work diary. I bathed Lola the other day, ended up clogging the drain up and had to go out and buy drain unblocker before I could use my shower again. Shedding season is even worse. We’ve had one full shed with Lola so far, each day was a different part of her body shedding. Hair everywhere, enough to make a new dog friend made of her hair for her. Aside from this, Lola gets near daily brushes using an undercoat rake and a slicker coat. Doing so tends to keep the hair under control, but you still find it everywhere. We like to call it ‘German Shepherd glitter’ at this point.

Nervousness around strangers

Lola the German Shepherd (Photo: @pawsofshire / Instagram)

Lola the German Shepherd (Photo: @pawsofshire / Instagram)

They do have a reputation for being nervous around strangers. That’s why it is important to socialise these dogs with other canines and humans from an early age to help develop a well balanced dog. By observing other dogs interact with their fellow pooches or humans, a GSD can learn the proper way to behave. Their alertness makes them good guard dogs but you don’t want your GSD to potentially harm humans who enter their territory.

Lola’s mum opened up about her German Shepherd’s nervousness outside the home (Lola pictured above).

She is obviously a very shakey and nervous dog, to the point where people out and about have commented about how young and nervy she is, or sometimes we pull up places in the car and she’s shaking, scared to get out. This isn’t the same for everyone but this nervousness makes it difficult to train Lola outside the house. Her attention is on loud noises or even something like wind, but we try and remain patient with her at all times. We use positive reinforcement training only and will continue on this path for the rest of her life.

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