What To Know Before Getting A German Shepherd

What To Know Before Getting A German Shepherd – 5 Important Things

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Thinking about adopting or buying one of these amazing dogs? Size is a very important aspect that will definitely affect your decision when it comes to owning one of these amazing Shepherds. It plays an important role when considering things such as health issues, overall costs and living space. It is very smart to weigh these options before making a final decision. Here is a list of what to know before getting a German Shepherd!

1. Health Issues:

Health issues are definitely an important factor when it comes to the size of your GSD. Large dog breeds can encounter health issues stemming from their size including hereditary diseases. Here are some of the more common issues facing the German Shepherd.

Dog Lying Down.

Heart Problems

German Shepherds can encounter several different types of heart disease due to their size throughout their lifetime. Dilated Cardiomyopathy is one of the most common to affect this breed. It is a degeneration of the heart muscle. Due to the heart muscles becoming thinner, the pressure of the blood causes the thin walls to stretch causing their heart to enlarge.

Symptoms of Heart Disease include:

– Harsh hacking type cough usually at night time while your dog is resting
– Lack of overall energy including a difficulty exercising
– Difficulty breathing caused by a lack of oxygen being pumped to the body

Treatment for Heart Disease:

Taking your dog for an annual checkup can help prevent heart disease. The vet can prescribe medication that can often times adds many years to your pet’s life when detected early on. The vet can do this by checking for heart murmurs and abnormal heart rhythms during their examination.

Hip Displaysia

Hip Displaysia is a deformity in the hip that usually occurs during the growth of the joints. It is one of the most common health issues facing large dog breeds which means the German Shepherd can be susceptible to this condition. Close to 20% will get HD during their lifetime.

Genetics and the environment can have an impact on whether or not your dog gets this condition so be sure to check for certification that your dog is free of HD when purchasing from a breeder. Some of the things that can cause this condition include injury, too much exercise and over feeding.

German Shepherd Hip Dysplasia X Ray

Symptoms of Hip Displaysia include:

  • Clicking sounds coming from the hips
  • Difficulty standing up
  • Hopping instead of running
  • Limping in one or both of their legs

Treatment For Hip Displaysia:

Treatment is available for this condition in the form of medicine that can be given for pain and inflammation. It is recommended that you take your dog to the vet for a yearly checkup to help deter HD. The condition can get worse over time with age.

Your vet can diagnose your GSD with a physical examination and radiographs. Surgery can be a last resort in severe case but is very costly considering the dog would require an artificial hip joint replacement.

Degenerative Myelopathy

Common in German Shepherds, Degenerative Myelopathy usually affects middle age dogs. It is a progressive degeneration of the spinal cord which is prompted by the auto-immune system. Starting in the hind legs, it eventually weakens the entire body. Early signs of this disease can be detected early on by using a DNA Flast Test. Talk to your breeder about this test.

Symptoms of Degenerative Myelopathy include:

  • Difficulty standing from sitting or laying position
  • Easily falls over if pushed
  • Loss of muscle or weakness in the back legs
  • Toe nails are abnormally worn

Treatment for Degenerative Myelopathy:

Unfortunately there is no cure as of yet used to treat this disease. Often times it can get worse as your dog gets older. Mobility devices are sometimes used to help your pet get around.

2. Overall Costs:

The cost of a bigger dog breed such as the German Shepherd can be greater due to the amount of food they eat and common health problems associated with larger canine breeds.

German Shepherd Overall Costs

Purchasing a Puppy from a Breeder:

You can expect to pay between $500 and $1500 when purchasing a full breed German Shepherd puppy from a breeder. The average cost is around $800 for a GSD bred to be a family dog. The price can of course go up from there. Some moguls and celebrities often pay between $40,000 and $60,000 for a German Shepherd that is bred to protect and is an expert in the sport of Schutzhund Training.

Adopting a German Shepherd from a Kennel:

Adopting a GSD from a kennel or a rescue service is a great option. While it may not be a pure bred, you may just save the life of a dog from euthanasia. You can usually expect to pay between $300 and $600 when adopting.

The average cost per year while owning a German Shepherd is approximately $1200 to $1500. With the life expectancy of 9-13 years you can expect to pay between $10,800 and $19,500 during their lifetime.

Here is a breakdown of the approximate costs:

  • Annual Exam and Vaccinations: $100
  • Dog Crate: $100
  • Flea and Heartworm Medicine: $250
  • Healthy Dog Food: $1000
  • Local Licensing: $25
  • Supplies: Brush, Chew Toys, Collar, Food and Water Bowls, I.D. Tag, Leash, Shampoo: $250

Other factors to consider include boarding your animal if you go on vacation which can run $30 to $50 a night with weekly boarding costing approximately $150.

Unexpected illness and trips to the vet can add up as well. Many factors can contribute to this as your GSD ages. We highly recommend getting annual check ups. They will help you stay on top of any emerging issues.

3. Living Space:

Due to the large size and energetic nature of German Shepherds, a house with a big back yard is ideal. However they can still live in smaller living quarters. This includes apartments if their needs are properly met.

German Shepherd Living Space

Needs to Consider:

There are many needs to consider when it comes to living with such a large breed. Make sure you do your research before deciding on your new furry friend. Certain breeds will require more space than others. Some dogs also require a lot more stimulation than others.

Apartment Living with a German Shepherd:

They can live in smaller spaces but here are some things to keep in mind when considering one of these exquisite animals.

Dog Crate:

You will definitely need a dog crate if you plan on keeping your GSD in an apartment. You will need to housebreak your dog by teaching them how to control their bladder and bowel. The crate is a great way to do this because dogs by nature do not like to soil where they sleep.

This does not mean that you can leave them caged for 8 hours a day. Do not leave your German Shepherd in it’s cage for more than 6 hours a day especially when they are young puppies.

We recommend at least a 48″ dog crate for your GSD. MidWest Homes makes a nice one for extra large dogs. You can get one here.

Check with Your Landlord:

Check first with your landlord and ask if GSDs are allowed. Some apartments have restrictions on certain breeds and size or weight. Some apartments can also require that they are neutered or spayed.

Often times Apartments will ban certain breeds that they think consider aggressive or dangerous. Some of these breeds include Chow Chows, Dobermans, German Shepherds, Pit Bulls and Rottweilers.

Some tenants are dishonest and claim that their dog is another breed. This can lead to financial and legal troubles so honesty is always the best policy. You will be taking your German Shepherd out for bathroom breaks and walks routinely allowing apartment employees and neighbors to them.

Plan for Your Dog While Your at Work:

You will definitely need a plan for your dog while you are at work, assuming the they will be home alone. They can get into a lot of trouble in the span of eight hours if you don’t plan properly. If you aren’t careful and strategic, you can come home to find the food pantry raided and the fluffy couch cushions destroyed.

Some GSDs can also suffer from separation anxiety making it even harder to leave them alone. It is best to prepare them when they are younger if you plan on being away during the work days. Teach them early on to get use to a crate or to be sectioned off into a smaller part of the house. You can also get them use to not constantly spending time with you.

To relieve some of the anxiety, try to give them some activity before you leave for work including playtime or walks. This will help to release some of their energy, making them a little more peaceful during the day. Stay very calm when you leave so that they don’t get over excited.

4. Mental Stimulation:

German Shepherds need a lot of stimulation to deter boredom. The are very intelligent and inquisitive. Too much boredom can lead to barking, chewing, digging or whining. Teaching them commands and playing with them on a regular basis are a must. Also advised, is taking your GSD to training school when they are young.

  1. Toys are a wonderful way to keep them occupied and on point. From basic chew toys to tennis balls, any toys that keep them playing and thinking are great. Keep them busy as much as you can and get creative.
  2. Tricks are another great way to keep their minds sharp. Teach them as many tricks as possible.

5. Physical Exercise:

Physical Exercise is one of the best things for your German Shepherd. They love to run and need at least two hours of physical exercise a day.

  1. One of the best ways to give them the required exercise is by taking them for a jog or a walk.
  2. Dog parks are a great place to take them and usually have trails for you and your pet to take.
  3. Hiking is another amazing way to bond and spend time with your GSD while also giving them enough exercise.
  4. Get creative and construct an obstacle course for them to run and time them for extra incentive.
  5. A good old fashioned toy is the best way to keep them running. Playing fetch with them daily will definitely have a positive impact on their well being.

In Closing:

Stay tuned for more articles on these remarkable animals! We have listed some of the most important things to know before getting a German Shepherd. I hope you find the perfect pup for your new home if you haven’t already! If you do already own a GSD puppy here are some first time owner tips!

Please leave a comment below and let us know what you think!

Do you have any important suggestions for potential new owners that could help them prepare for a new GSD? Let us know! We would love to hear about your personal story!

Ruff! Ruff!

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