6 Reasons Behind The Large Number Of German Shepherds In Shelters


Have you ever thought about why there are so many German Shepherds in shelters?

A couple of months ago, I read somewhere that German Shepherds are among the top 10 most common dog breeds that you can find in shelters, and are often in search of a forever home.

Truth be told, this information kind of surprised me, and it prompted me to do my own research and get to the bottom of the issue.

The more I researched, the more frustrated I got. It pains me to see how many beautiful dogs are in animal shelters or waiting to be rescued.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), approximately 3.1 million dogs enter U.S. animal shelters annually nationwide, of which 390,000 are being euthanized every year.

Why is that so?

What needs to happen for a person to abandon their dog that they once got with so much love, and that was supposed to be their best friend?

In the next couple of lines, I will present to you all my findings about this topic, and hopefully provide you with a valid reason (not that I approve of) for the questions above, so stay tuned!

Really, Why Are There So Many German Shepherds In Shelters?

Sad German shepherd in the aviary

When I started doing my research, the stories of overcrowded shelters, rescue crises, and influxes of rescue dogs, such as German Shepherds or Siberian Huskies, truly overwhelmed me.

This subject started gaining public recognition in May of 2021 when the Ramapo-Bergen Animal Refuge shared an image on their Instagram page of a beautiful and extremely terrified GSD named Shelby.

Shelby was rescued alongside eight other equally terrified pups throughout Northern New Jersey. In May of 2022, the Ohio SPCA/Humane Society shelter in Lima shocked again with a rescue story of 22 German Shepherd dogs that were saved from “deplorable” living conditions.

However, that is not all. The Friends of Daviess County Animal Care and Control in Kentucky also posted a plea to stop breeding a large number of GSDs due to an abnormal influx of these dogs in shelters nationwide.

Unfortunately, this situation has not improved at all, and there are still a lot of poor German Shepherds picked up by Animal Control and in shelters all over the United States.

It is said that in some parts of the USA, GSDs are nearly the most euthanized dog breed; however, I couldn’t find the accurate data to confirm this.

Pitbulls and Pitbull mixes are still the most abused, neglected, and euthanized dog breeds to this day.

Let’s try to explain why there are so many German Shepherds in shelters:

1. They Require Serious Commitment

beautiful german shepherd running in the grass

German Shepherds are big dogs with high-energy levels that require serious commitment of the dog owner. They need a minimum of two hours of physical and mental stimulation per day to stay happy and healthy.

They are very active and agile dogs, and if they don’t receive a lot of stimulation, they might resort to destructive and aggressive behavior. This can be a bit too much for some pet parents, which can result in surrendering the dog.

Learn more about aggressive dogs, and how to socialize them with our guide for all dog owners.

After Covid, a lot of people (who got these dogs when they were stuck at home and had enough time to pay proper attention to them) had to return to their job, which also meant that those people could not take care of these dogs anymore.

Due to the negative economic situation, a lot of people had to reduce housing costs, which also meant moving from a large home to a smaller one that was simply not appropriate for large dogs such as German Shepherds.

Not to mention that a lot of rental places did not allow dogs such as these in their apartments or houses.

2. They Are Highly Intelligent Working Dogs

German Shepherds are known for being the most popular all-purpose working dogs that excel in many jobs, such as working for law enforcement as K9 police dogs and service dogs.

Because of this, and their high-energy levels, these dogs require a lot of dog training, socialization, and hard work to be proper family dogs. If they are not properly trained, they might be unbearable to live with.

Related: Will A German Shepherd Attack A Child? Things You Can Do To Prevent It

3. They Shed A Lot

Woman's hand with a tuft of wool German red shepherd during molting

According to many GSD owners, German Shepherds fall into the heavy shedding category. They shed all year round; however, this increases especially during the shedding season. As a GSD owner, you need to be prepared to see and deal with a lot of hair around your house.

The problem is that many people do not realize that a GSD is a high-shedding breed of dog, and they either simply cannot deal with that much hair or have to brush their dog regularly.

Related: How To Stop Dog Shedding? Grooming Tips & Tricks

4. They Are Very Vocal

German Shepherds are very vocal dogs that love to speak, even when they are not asked to or allowed to. It is said that once you hear their barking, you will never forget it.

Barking is a way for them to express their emotions and communicate; however, this can be very annoying and inappropriate sometimes. As their owner, you must have a lot of patience, love, and knowledge in order to properly train them and learn to control it.

Unfortunately, this can be too difficult for some people, which is why a lot of these dogs might end up as shelter dogs.

woman hugging her dog german shepherd

According to the AKCs Most Popular Dog Breed List, the German Shepherd is the fourth most famous dog breed in the United States.

Large, wolf-like dog breeds, such as German Shepherds and Siberian Huskies became even more popular due to different TV shows, such as Game of Thrones, which created an idealized image of these dogs.

The same thing happened, for example, with the movie, Hachi: A Dog’s Tale, starring a Japanese Akita dog, and also the more recent hit movie, Dog, starring a Belgian Malinois.

Due to their popularity, a lot of kennels and dog breeders start breeding this breed uncontrollably, which resulted in an overwhelming surge of these puppies all over the country.

Also, there is a lot of backyard breeding going around simply for profit, which also contributes to the increased number of these dogs in shelters. The same goes for puppy mills and other unethical dog breeders.

6. Irresponsible Dog Owners

Negligence, irresponsibility, and inadequate research about the breed might be the biggest reasons why there are so many German Shepherds in shelters.

These dogs get adopted purely because of their appearance. Many canine behaviorists and vets say that little to no research is usually done prior to adopting a dog.

People usually get this dog just because it is cute as a puppy, without realizing how much work actually goes into taking care of it. German Shepherds are very cute and easy as puppies up to three months of age, but they require a lot of hard work until they are 18 months, or “teenagers”.

As adults, they are a little bit easier to take care of; however, a lot of people simply don’t want to deal with their “turbulent stage”, and decide that it is too much for them.

Read also: Where Can I Sell My Dog: 10 Best Places And Methods

To Sum It Up

German shepherd in the summer in the park

So, why are there so many German Shepherds in shelters?

There are a lot of possible reasons; however, I believe the biggest cause for this unfortunate situation is irresponsible dog breeding and owning.

Please… before you decide to adopt a certain dog breed, do the proper research, and make sure that this particular breed fits your lifestyle, wishes, and budget. Owning a dog is a huge responsibility, and you should be 100% sure that you want to do this, and that you can handle being the dog’s owner in the first place.

If you want to help dogs like GSDs, Pitbulls, Chihuahuas, Labrador Retrievers, Dachshunds, and other breeds that can usually be found in shelters, visit your local shelter or a rescue organization, and try to save at least one life today.

With proper research, understanding of the breed, and a bit of work, these dogs can definitely be the best dogs and amazing companions to many families.

Read next: Are German Shepherds Color Blind? Eye You Kidding Me, Human?