What you need to know

Why Adopt a German Shepherd?

María Besteiros
By María Besteiros, Expert veterinary assistant and canine/feline hairdresser.. April 19, 2021
Why Adopt a German Shepherd?
German Shepherd

Animal file: German Shepherd

The German Shepherd is one of the most widely known dogs in the world. Besides being a good companion dog, their excellent qualities allow them to participate in police and support work. In this article AnimalWised article, we will focus on the advantages of having a German Shepherd in our home, whether a purebred or cross. This will be regardless of the age, as we should also learn to look beyond just adopting puppies and discover the advantages of adult and senior dogs too.

So, if you are thinking of adopting a dog with these qualities and you want to why adopt a German Shepherd? If you already live with one, you will know the benefits of GSDs already, so please leave a comment with your own reasons for adopting them.

You may also be interested in: 5 Reasons to Adopt a Cat


  1. Basic characteristics of the German Shepherd
  2. Advantages of having a German Shepherd
  3. Disadvantages of owning a German Shepherd
  4. Can I have a German Shepherd if I live in an apartment?

Basic characteristics of the German Shepherd

To understand the advantages of having a German Shepherd as a companion, the first thing to do is to know the basic characteristics of this breed. Indeed, we should acknowledge that no matter how good a dog’s qualities are, if they do not fit with our living conditions, problems will arise. For example, the German Shepherd is very intelligent, but if we have little time to stimulate their intelligence then they will become frustrated and bored.

The origins of the German Shepherd dog lie Germany, as the name of the breed indicates, and was dedicated to herding sheep. The breed soon diversified to military, police, security or support work, as well as companionship.

These dogs have a life expectancy of between 12 and 13 years, weigh between 30 and 40 kg (66-88 lb). They measure between 60 and 65 cm (24-26") tall at their highest point. Therefore, this classes them as a large dog breed. They have adapted perfectly to life in the city, although they have no problems if they have to live in the countryside. They are good guardians and excellent obedience students, as well as very active animals that display great energy.

Although the best known is the black and tan colored German Shepherd, there are a lot of shades, even white, and with long or short hair. They all share a wolfish appearance with elongated muzzle, intelligent eyes and erect ears that transmit an expression of permanent alertness.

As a peculiarity, female German Shepherds are capable of giving birth to large litters. It is very important to keep the puppy with their family for a minimum of eight weeks and to provide careful socialization and education from the very beginning. This will avoid handling problems that can be very serious since they are such a large dog.

Advantages of having a German Shepherd

After reviewing the main characteristics that reveal some of the possible advantages or disadvantages of adopting this dog breed, let's look at the benefits of having a German Shepherd:

They are an ideal size

Leaving aside their beauty, which is always a matter of taste, the size of a GSD is neither too big nor too small. This allows those people who like big dogs to have one that is not impossible to handle or even to house in an apartment.

Although expenses can be high, as many are associated to the size of the dog, they are not excessive. Besides, big dogs like German Shepherds or crosses, especially when they are of an advanced age, can stay perfectly calm in the home without needing big spaces.

They make great students

It may be that the first possible advantage of having a German Shepherd that comes to mind is its high capacity to learn. It is true, but we should acknowledge that this is a double-edged sword. An interest in learning means that the dog will need constant stimulation. Without it, dogs can become frustrated and this can result in behavioral problems. We should remember that dogs have the ability to learn throughout their lives, so adopting a German Shepherd or any of its crosses as an adult, or even as an elderly dog, will not present any problems.

Take a look at our related article for some tips to train a German Shepherd.

One of the most intelligent dogs

Related to the previous point, the German Shepherd is a highly intelligent working dog. In fact, according to the list elaborated by the psychologist Stanley Coren in the 1990s, the German Shepherd ranks 3rd out of 79 dog breeds. This list measures, from highest to lowest, the dog's ability to learn commands, how many attempts it takes for the dog to complete the command, and how likely they are to obey.

A very active dog

High activity levels can be considered one advantages of having a German Shepherd at home, but only as long as we also lead active lives. This canine breed will need plenty of both mental and physical stimulation. Therefore, this breed is ideal for spending time together playing, excursions in nature and sports activities where we can also introduce obedience, e.g. agility.

If we are not very active, but we would love to live with a German Shepherd, we always have the option of adopting an older individual. They will maintain their same qualities, but will need less physical activity.

A dog that makes us feel safe

The German Shepherd has a reputation as a great guard dog and has served as such throughout their history. However, we should recognise that for a dog to be able to perform activities such as defense, it has to be trained by professionals.

We emphasize the protective role as an advantage of having a German Shepherd because their company alone can provide security. In addition, they are dogs that are characterized by their loyalty to their family and, when well raised and educated, by their balanced character. All these qualities, plus their alert attitude and their size, give us a sense of security when in their company.

One of the most loyal dogs

Precisely because of their protective instinct, they are one of the breeds of canine that are most faithful and loyal to their family. This loyalty can lead them to prioritize the defense of their family group above everything else and, above all, create a strong bond with all its members.

Disadvantages of owning a German Shepherd

Rather than talking about ‘disadvantages’, we should defined these as characteristics that do not fit with our lifestyle. Those same reasons for owning a German Shepherd mentioned in the previous section can also constitute a reason for deciding not to adopt one. For example, if we are not active people, perhaps adopting a puppy or young German Shepherd is not the best option. If we still think we want to live with a GSD, adopt a senior dog instead.

The German Shepherd is an active dog that loves to play and needs to receive mental and physical stimulation to stay balanced and healthy, so it is essential that we are able to meet these needs. If we feel that we are not going to be able to do so, these characteristic features of the breed can become a disadvantage for us.

On the other hand, indiscriminate breeding has unfortunately given rise to dogs with physical and mental health problems. The well known problem of hip dysplasia, but also gastrointestinal and eye disorders, exaggerated nervousness, shyness, phobias or aggressiveness are some of them. A healthy and well-cared for German Shepherd will be a even-tempered and obedient dog.

Take a look at the common diseases of German Shepherds to know more.

Can I have a German Shepherd if I live in an apartment?

Living in an apartment or small home is not a disadvantage when it comes to German Shepherds. This canine breed adapts perfectly to any space and situation, as long as we cover all of their needs. If we can offer them the mental and physical exercise they need, we socialize them correctly, we give them a good education based on positive reinforcement, we dedicate time and love to them, then a German Shepherd can live in an apartment without any problems.

If you want to read similar articles to Why Adopt a German Shepherd?, we recommend you visit our What you need to know category.

  • Fogle, Bruce. (nineteen ninety five). The Encyclopedia of the Dog . London. Dorling Kindersley.
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Why Adopt a German Shepherd?