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Thinking of adding a new member to the family? While there are plenty of dogs to consider, this article will be putting the spotlight on German Shepherd Dogs (GSD). The GSD is one of America’s most popular dog breeds. The breed is amazingly versatile, excelling at most anything they are trained to do. German Shepherd Dogs have been trained as guide and assistance animals for the handicapped, police, military, herding, search and rescue, drug detection, competitive obedience, and as a guard dog and faithful companion for families, of course.

          The German Shepherd Dog is a relatively new breed, dating back to 1899. Captain Max von Stephanitz, a career captain in the German cavalry, was the first man to breed a German Shepherd Dog with a goal of creating a German breed that would be unmatched as a herding dog. As Germany became more industrialized, Stephanitz saw a need for such dogs decreasing but was determined to keep the German Shepherd breed as working dogs. Stephanitz decided that the dogs’ future would be in police and military service so GSD’s began their service as Red Cross dogs during World War I.

          GSDs are generally healthy but, like all breeds, they can be prone to certain health conditions. Not all GSDs will inherit these issues but it is always important to be aware of them if you are considering adopting one (or two) into the family. Hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand’s disease are all common issues that are well known to German Shepherds. Regular check ups with your veterinarian can help keep an eye on any changes that may be happening with your furry friend. Some common issues can be solved with medication while others may need surgery. However, when picking out your furry friend, try to find the health clearances that prove the puppy or dog has been tested for and cleared of any common conditions.

          There are pros and cons to keep in mind when adopting any new animal into your family. You want to make sure that the animal is a good fit for your lifestyle. Some breeds require high levels of activity and some may shed a lot more than others. There is nothing wrong with being picky when it comes to finding your new best friend so is the German Shepherd Dog the right fit for you (and your family)?

          Are you away from home frequently or for long periods of time? GSDs can become anxious or bored if left alone for long periods of time and are more likely to express their worry with excessive barking, chewing, or digging. Some German Shepherds can also suffer from extreme separation anxiety if left alone for too long. Crate training can help teach them to be calm and happy when separated from their owner but it is best to have the availability to be near your pet as much as possible so as to not leave them alone for long periods of time.

          What is your activity level? The German Shepherd Dog is an active and intelligent breed. They need to be kept busy learning, playing, and working constantly and consistently. Daily exercises, both physical and mental, is a must. GSDs love to run, play, and learn new tricks that keep their minds active. GSDs are highly intelligent, trainable, and thrive on having a job to do. You can train these dogs to be do almost anything and they’ll love to make you happy!

          Are you looking for a loyal family companion? Though German Shepherd Dogs are not normally aggressive, they can sometimes be aloof and suspicious of strangers. Because of this, they makes an excellent guard dog. They are a reserved breed, easy going and approachable around family, but when threatened they can be strong and protective. The more you expose your puppy to new places, people, and experiences the better your chances are of having a social and well-behaved dog. Obedience training, starting with puppy classes, is important for German Shepherd Dogs to become use to other people and dogs as well as taught basic canine manners.

          Do you like hair? German Shepherd Dogs shed, a lot! In fact, their nickname is the “German shedder”. These dogs need to be brushed often, preferably daily. They especially need daily brushing during a change in season when they start to blow (shed) their winter coat. It would also be a smart idea to have a good vacuum on hand because, even with daily brushing, there will still be hair lingering. As a German Shepherd owner, you will likely find hair in the most peculiar places so be ready with a brushing schedule to avoid out of control shedding.

          German Shepherd Dogs can be a great addition to almost any family. Remember that they are a working dog breed and thrive best on the ability to complete jobs and constant attention. They love their family and will become protective if they feel threatened. You will have a life long companion with a German Shepherd Dog in your life. Once you’ve adopted one (or two) you must remember to take them to your veterinarian for a wellness check to make sure they are up to date on vaccines and are happy and healthy!