The number three most registered dog breed in the United States according to the American Kennel Club (AKC) is the German shepherd dog (GSD). We have a breed profile on the German shepherd but the breed profile can only tell you so much. So…we really wanted to give possible German shepherd owners a better understanding of the German shepherd such as: are they good for families with kids? Are they aggressive? Do they shed a lot? Do they bark a lot? What are their good and bad traits?
We wrote a survey asking German shepherd owners just these questions. Read the real answers from over 250 German shepherd owners. We don’t want to discourage anyone from getting a dog. But we want the right match.
Read the responses of hundreds of German shepherd owners and find out if a German shepherd is right for you!
Questions we asked in our survey included:
1.What type of pet or pets do you own? In our survey, 57% have dogs, 1.6% had cats, 38% had both dogs and cats and approximately 4% had a dog but recently lost him or her. As you can see 38 % of German shepherd owners have cats!
2.Do you have a German shepherd at home? Over 99.2% answered yes and the remaining answered that they had a German shepherd until recently.
3.How old is your German Shepherd? In our survey, 15.5% were less than 1 year old, 35% were 1 to 3 years old, 22% were 4 to 6 years old, 12% were 7 to 9 years old, 9% were 9 to 11 years old, 5% were 11 to 13 years, 1.2% were 13 to 15 years and approximately 1.2% were over 15 years old.
4.How much does your German shepherd weigh (Approximately)? The majority of German shepherds weighed 71 to 90 pounds (35.5%) followed by 51 to 70 pounds (27.4%). Approximately 24% were over 90 pounds and 10% were less than 50 pounds. We believe those less than 50 pounds were growing puppies. An additional 2% had no idea what their dog weighted.
5.What is the gender of your German shepherd? In the German shepherds owners surveyed, 35.5% were neutered males, 40.3% were spayed females, 12% were intact males and approximately 12% were intact females.
6.Do you think your German shepherd is weight proportional? More than 84% of responders believe that their German shepherd is just right, 8% believe their German shepherd is overweight and 8% thought their German shepherd was underweight (too thin). In our experience, German shepherds can have a tendency toward being able to maintain their weight pretty well.
7.Do you think a German shepherd is a good “first pet”? (I mean the first dog for someone that has never had a dog before). Approximately 57% say, no, the German shepherd would NOT make a great first pet. Approximately 43% said yes, the German shepherd would make a good first pet. Out of the German shepherd owners that expressed concern about a German shepherd being a first pet, their concern stemmed around the fact that German shepherds can be demanding requiring both substantial time and energy. Any first time dog owner needs to realize and plan for time that a German shepherd requires.
8. Do you think German Shepherds are good pets for senior citizens? Approximately 46.3% say, yes, the German shepherd would make a good pet for senior citizens and 54 % said no, that the German shepherd would not make a good pet for seniors. Many German shepherd owners thought German shepherds would be good companions and would benefit seniors by encouraging them to walk and exercise their dog. However, many German shepherd owners had concern that a high-energy German shepherd may be too much for some seniors and that they dog may not get the exercise they need. They are also very strong dogs and need someone that can handle them. In general, the opinion of German shepherd owners is that if a senior is active and willing to give them the attention and exercise they need, they would be GREAT dogs for seniors.
9.In general, do you think a German shepherd is a good dog for families with children? Approximately 97% answered an enthusiastic YES! Only 3% said no. Relative to other breeds we surveyed, the German shepherd is ranked pretty high as being good with for families.
10.Do you think a German shepherd is good with other dogs or prefers to be alone? Approximately 81% believe that German shepherds are good with other dogs and 19% thought they preferred to be alone.
11. Would you recommend a German shepherd as a breed good for someone with “allergies”? Almost half (45% answered that they were not sure if a German shepherd was good for someone with allergies or not. 46% said no, and 8% said yes. Those surveyed did not seem to have a problem with allergies but did not seem to know how to answer the question because they have found that German shepherds do shed quite a bit.
12. Is your German shepherd good around cats? (no signs of aggression, doesn’t chase or bother) Approximately 48% said their German shepherd was good around cats, 19% indicated that they were not sure as their dog had not been around many cats and 33% said their German shepherd was NOT good around cats.
13. How would you describe your German Shepherd’s intelligence or trainability? Over 85% of German shepherd owners said their German shepherd was very smart and very trainable. An additional 14% indicated their German shepherd was “smart” and reasonable trainable, less than 1% said their German shepherd was “not real smart” and no owner said their German shepherd was “actually pretty dumb”.
14. How would you describe the energy level of your GSD? Most users, over 65% said that their German shepherd was high energy sometimes and laid back sometimes, 30% said their German shepherd was high energy almost all the time and approximately 5% said their dog was very laid back/low energy.
15. How would you describe your German shepherds exercise tolerance? This question asked, for example, his or her ability to run a long distance? German shepherd owners indicated that 60% had a high exercise tolerance and great ability to run long distances. Approximately 34% said they thought their German shepherd had a moderate exercise tolerance and 5% though their dog had a low exercise tolerance.
16. Would you describe your German shepherd as a good “watch dog”? Most German shepherd owners think of their dogs as great watch dogs. Approximately 95.2% said yes, their dog was a good watch dog with 5% saying “no”, their dog was not a good watch dog.
17. How destructive is your German shepherd? In this question, we asked specifically, does your German shepherd destroy your furniture, shoes, garden and other items? Only 2% thought their dog was very destructive, 16% thought their German shepherds were sometimes destructive, 35% thought their German shepherd was rarely destructive and 48% said their German shepherd was never destructive.
18. How does your German shepherd handle being alone (when you go out or to work)? We asked this question to determine if this breed had “separation anxiety” issues. Approximately 10% indicated their dog was very anxious when they left and almost 4% indicated their dog would become destructive. The remaining 87% said their dog did not mind when they left and had no issues with separation.
19. If a stranger came on to your property or came up to your dog, what would your German shepherd do? With this question, we were trying to determine the temperament and also reevaluate its overall value as a “watch dog”. Approximately 14% said their dog would wag their tail and want to play or be petted, 75% said their dog would bark and alert them to their presence, and approximately 21% said their dog would potentially act aggressive.
20. Has your German shepherd ever growled or shown its teeth to you or anyone in your family? We asked if their dog had shown signs of aggression to anyone in the family. 88% indicated no – the dog had never acted aggressive and 12% said the dog had shown some signs of aggression.
21. Has your German shepherd every bitten anyone? Over 84% of German shepherd owner said their dog had never bitten anyone. Almost 12% said their dog had “snapped” but never bitten and 4% said their dog had bitten someone.
22.How would you describe your German Shepherd’s personality? In this question, we asked how they would characterize their German shepherds personality. The most common traits were affectionate (68%), playful (64%) and very sweet (54%). Less common traits were independent (28%) and demanding (19%). The least common traits were that their dog was anxious (10%), nervous (6%) or aggressive (8%). Hundreds of users filled in the blank to tell us additional terms such as protective, stubborn, attentive, cautious, intelligent, loyal, and laid-back yet “on guard”. Some owners describe their dogs as very outgoing and others as sky – taking them a while to warm up to people.
23.Have you done any obedience training with your GSD? Nearly 71% of German shepherd owner indicated that had done obedience training with their German shepherd and 29% said they had not.
24.How would you describe the “shedding” your German shepherd does? German shepherd owners answered as follows: sheds a lot (63.5%), sheds sometimes (32.5%), and doesn’t shed much (4%). In our experience, German shepherds do quite a bit of shedding”.
25.Does your German shepherd like to be brushed or combed? Most German shepherds love to be brushed or combed (53%), and additional 43% tolerate it and only 4% hates it.
26.How does your German shepherd handle nail trims? Approximately 20.6% of German shepherd owners said their dog doesn’t mind their nail trims, 52% tolerate it, 20% said they hate it. The remaining 8% say they don’t know, they have never trimmed their dog’s nails.
27.Does your German shepherd like to be dressed up (wear t-shirts or sweaters)? Most German shepherds prefer to wear their own skin (no clothes). Only 2.4% indicated their dog liked to be dressed up (all the time) with an additional 18% saying their dog liked it sometimes. Approximately 79% indicated that their dog didn’t like to be dressed up.
28.How often do you think your German shepherd needs “regular grooming”? We asked German shepherd owners how frequently they thought their German shepherd needed regular grooming which we defined as combing, brushing, and/or bathing. Most German shepherd owners thought their dogs needed some attention a few times a week (30.2%), then weekly basis (22.2%), daily (17%), every couple weeks (10%), monthly (14%), and less than monthly (6%).
29.Is your German shepherd “fussy” about what he eats? Approximately 9% indicated their German shepherd was very fussy, 32% said their dog was moderately fussy, and 59% said their German shepherd is not fussy at all – eats anything they put down.
30.Do you give your German shepherd treats? Most German shepherd owners love to give their dog treats! Approximately 53% of German shepherd owners said they give their dog treats all the time, 47% said occasionally, and <1% said they did not give their dog treats.