A 6 month old German Shepherd is now out of the juvenile growth stage and is officially an adolescent. They are half way to adulthood and their equivalent to a “teenage stage” will start to surface. You will need patience now more than ever as these big fur balls show their true colors and try to see exactly how much they can get away with.
At 6 months old, they are still big kids with plenty of youth and enthusiasm to go around. But watch out because they are still quite the trouble makers at this age.
However, hopefully by now some of biting, chewing, and jumping has subsided and they are a bit more mature than the previous month. Especially if you have been busy socializing and training them consistently.
They will now begin to exert their independence and do a lot of exploring. They can also start to get a bit rowdy around other dogs and may get a bit rough with younger children.
One month ago, you were most likely dealing with biting and zoomies. You may still be dealing with some of that but teething should be close to over if it isn’t already.
You may experience a new problem which is referred to as “resource guarding.” This happens when a dog gets real possessive about their toys and doesn’t want to let any other dogs or humans touch it.
They may even growl or snarl at other dogs and if they don’t have their own toy, they may go after another dog that does have one.
Unfortunately, this behavior should not be tolerated and must be dealt with to avoid future issues. It can lead to possible aggressive confrontations with other people especially at a dog park or public location.
Avoid Dog Parks:
Dog parks are not a great place to take your GSD, especially at 6 months old. It is much better to find local dog owners for play time. You put your German Shepherd at great risk being around possible irresponsible owners that don’t have control of their dogs.
At the 6 month mark, your German Shepherd should have the basics mastered. This includes, bite inhibition, crate/potty training, socialization and at least 5 commands. They are still highly susceptible to training at this stage so you want to continue consistent training.
The window for socialization typically closes at around 16 weeks, so at this point they should be fairly comfortable around other animals or dogs. If not, it will be more difficult at this stage.
Some helpful tips for training effectively:
- Continue to instill that you are the leader but never force them to into listening and learning.
- If they are stubborn and not obeying, don’t be too aggressive as it can have a negative effect.
- Learn how your dog communicates and try to relate on their level.
- Practice patience and be consistent, training them for at least 10-15 minutes daily.
- Use positive reinforcement to instill obedience rewarding them with praise or treats.
Now that basic obedience training is over and your German Shepherd knows at least 5 basic commands, it is time to start teaching him/her some intermediate commands. If you haven’t taught them the 5 basic commands, go back to the month prior for help.
- Crawl – Get your dog in the down position. Lure them forward by holding a treat a few inches from their nose. Get them to follow the treat as you move back. Reward them when they obey.
- Fetch – Get your GSD to chase a ball or stick. Reward them for chasing it. Then call them back to you. Reward them with praise and a treat when they obey.
We recommend teaching your German Shepherd two new intermediate commands a month. If you are ahead of the game and your GSD already knows crawl and fetch, you can check out the full list here.
If you need a little help with training, this video has some great tips and tricks:
At month 6, they are still growing like a weed and should be at least half of their future adult size. They most likely packed on another 7-8 pounds since the previous month.
Males should now be standing almost a foot and a half tall and in the range of 16 to 18 inches at the withers. Females are only an inch or two behind and should be standing around 15 to 17 inches at the withers.
By now the males should be half of a hundred pounds and officially considered a large dog breed. (Any dog over 50 pounds and under 100 pounds is considered a large dog breed) Males should be somewhere in the range of 49 to 57 pounds. Females on average are 5 pounds less and should weigh in the range of 44 to 49 pounds.
Teething should be wrapping up if it hasn’t already and they should now be sporting all forty two of their adult teeth. Their full adult double coat of fur should also be completely filled in. That means a good weekly brushing with a good undercoat rake is advised.
Ears should be standing up if they weren’t last month. If not, which isn’t completely unusual (some can take up to a year to totally perk up), you can consider taping.
Sexual Maturity Begins:
Now that they are half a year old, they will begin the sexual maturity stage of development. This is equivalent to puberty in humans.
As the male’s hormones kick in, they will start to go on the prowl for female mates. So, it’s a good idea to keep them away from any stray dogs in the neighborhood or at the dog park.
They will also simultaneously begin to mark their territory. Females on the other hand, may begin to go into heat as their estrogen kicks in.
At this age, a German Shepherd’s body is growing rapidly, so a healthy diet with the correct number of calories and enough protein is vital. They are still young and should either be eating a high-quality puppy kibble or a homemade diet.
We recommend feeding your dog an all-natural diet that includes raw meats such as chicken, fish and turkey. Combine that with fruits and veggies and your dog will be healthy and happy. Just make sure to avoid any toxic foods in their diet.
As much as you are tempted, avoid giving them too many treats throughout the day. And if you are training make sure to use small, lean treats without too much fat. Obesity can exacerbate health issues that German Shepherds are already susceptible to including hip dysplasia.
Being overweight also increases the risk of your GSD getting various diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, hypertension and even cancer.
If you simply don’t have time for a homemade diet and decide to feed them puppy kibble, give them 2 to 3 cups of food total spread out over 2 meals. Try to be consistent with your feeding times.
We mentioned earlier how fast they are growing but you want to make sure that they are meeting the recommended height and weight requirements for their age. You can keep up by referring to this size chart and writing down their size each month.
By now they should have had their first three vaccines and won’t be getting the next DHPP, rabies vaccine until they are at least one year old.
If you are thinking about neutering or spaying your German Shepherd, you may want to reconsider. While some vets recommend getting it done at the 6 month mark, most breeders disagree and recommend you wait until they are at least one year old.
This can be hard with a female that is going into heat but keep her lean and try to wait as long as you can when possible. The reason for waiting is because GSDs that are neutered or spayed before 6 months of age are at a higher risk of the joint condition hip dysplasia.
Overall, your German Shepherd should be thriving at this age with a healthy diet and plenty of exercise. You don’t have to worry too much about any major diseases as those don’t usually surface until around 5 years old.
That being said, it is a good idea to take preventative measures for any future health issues. You can get a step ahead by doing some research into their parents and pedigree for any possible hereditary problems present in their bloodline.
You can also use tools such as a DNA test to possibly predict future conditions. One example is degenerative myelopathy which can be detected in your dog’s genes.
While it is too early on to worry about major diseases, you still want to keep an eye out for any type of sickness your GSD may encounter. Don’t hesitate to take a trip to the vet if you notice anything out of the ordinary.
Signs and symptoms to look for:
- Change in normal sleeping pattern
- Coughing, gagging or sneezing in excess
- Decrease in appetite
- Drinking and urinating a lot
- Dry itchy skin
- Labored breathing
- Loose stool
- Personality change
- Red or swollen gums
- Runny eyes and/or nose
- Sudden weight loss
- Throwing up
- Trouble urinating
Contact your local vet if you notice any of these symptoms. They may be something minor but they could also mean something more serious.
Now to the most important part of your 6 month old German Shepherd’s journey, caring for them on a daily basis. At this age, your GSD should be bursting with energy so they are going to need plenty of exercise and activities to keep them busy and their mind strong.
German Shepherds are highly intelligent and notoriously hard workers. This is what makes them such exceptional service dogs in the police and military. They thrive when they are given specific tasks to accomplish. Subsequently boredom can lead to negative behaviors.
GSDs at this age need at least 30 minutes of exercise daily. You can either do one long 30 minute walk or two shorter 15 minute walks every day. Don’t overdo it as their skeletal system is still developing and can be impacted negatively with too much exercise.
Rule of thumb: Give them 5 minutes of exercise daily for every month until they reach the age of two. (6 months + 5 minutes = 30 minutes of exercise) At two years old they should be getting 2 hours.
This is in addition to daily playtime and obedience training for at least 5-10 minutes.
Care tips for a 6 month old German Shepherd:
- Don’t let them get near any neighborhood dogs or strays as they start maturing sexually.
- Feed them a healthy lean diet of either high-quality puppy kibble or all natural foods.
- Keep a monthly chart of their height and weight to make sure that they stay on track.
- Give them a constant fresh supply of water to keep them hydrated.
- Make sure they are up to date on their vaccinations and parasite free.
- Make sure they have a nice warm cozy place to sleep at night preferably a dog crate.
- Train them daily for 5-10 minutes in obedience and try to learn two intermediate commands.
Important: This is our personal advice. You should contact your local vet for a specific plan concerning their diet and health.
A 6 month old German Shepherd will be bright, energetic and tons of fun. They will love to explore and spend time with you. As fluffy and adorable as they are, GSDs are a huge responsibility and owning one shouldn’t be taken lightly. If you are looking for a chill dog that isn’t a lot of work, this breed isn’t for you.
They fit best with someone that has an active lifestyle who can keep them busy. Make sure you do your research and try to learn every important aspect about the breed before making a commitment. Put a plan into place for their diet, health and training before owning one.
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Do you currently own a half year old German Shepherd puppy? What advice would you give to someone who has a dog this young? Let us know! We would love to hear about your personal experience!