7 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Adopted My German Shepherd


I was always a big German Shepherd lover! My family owned three of them throughout my life and they were all great dogs. 

But, I wasn’t really mature back then to realize what kind of responsibility comes with a German Shepherd… not until I decided to get my own. I was without a dog for quite some time and felt like it’s the moment to get a GSD. 

For me, they’re ideal family pets and no one beats their intelligence and loyalty. 

When I saw my dog at the shelter, I knew he would come with challenges. I didn’t mind them at all. I know it’s a job to raise a smol pupper. I was ready. Or, did I just think I was ready?

I really wish I knew some of the things I’ll mention to you today before getting my GSD. No, they wouldn’t scare me away from getting one. They would prepare me better! 

I sincerely hope you’ll be really prepared to bring a German Shepherd into your life because once you do, he’s in it to stay!

1. They Need So Much Space

german shepherd dog standing on the grass
Source: Pixabay

I knew I was getting a big dog. There was nothing unclear to me about that. I knew my adorable GSD puppy would grow up to be a chunky fellow. But, I forgot to take one thing into consideration: At the time, I was living in a rather small apartment. 

There was no chance for me to move, so we had to stay there for a while. Needless to say our place was crowded and we spent every possible moment outside in our neighborhood park. My dog was feeling a bit cornered, so I did everything I could to make him feel comfortable. 

When we moved to our new house, I felt like my dog started breathing again. He loved the back yard, and to this day, he spends more time outside than inside. 

German Shepherds require lots of space not just because they’re big dogs, but also because they’ve got lots of built-up energy. You can’t shove a dog like a GSD into a tiny space. That dog will suffer! 

2. They’re So Clingy

german shepherd puppy lying on the couch
Source: Unsplash

To anyone that says Dachshunds are clingy, I have one thing to say: you haven’t met my German Shepherd!

I swear, if he could, he would follow me to the bathroom, but I put some boundaries there.

And, it’s not just me… it’s my family, too! He sticks around whenever we’re all inside the house, and he begs for attention. The moment someone sits on the sofa, he’s there to squeeze in and cuddle. 

You’d think a big, badass German Shepherd would never show any sign of affection! Hah! I wish I had known this earlier. Maybe I would’ve gotten a lap dog that actually fits my lap. 

3, They Can Be Quite Pricey

adorable german shepherd puppy looking into camera
Source: Daily Paws

And, no… I’m not talking about their initial purchase price. German Shepherds can be pretty affordable in that matter because their price ranges from only several hundred to $1,000. 

What I meant was the cost of their upbringing. 

When I first got my dog, I thought the first years would be the hardest ones in terms of money. It always is. You have your regular vet checkups, buying all the doggy items, experimenting with different kibble brands, etc.

We did spend around $2,000 in the first year of owning our GSD. I didn’t complain. I wanted only the best for my dog and good quality costs money. 

But, then year two came and went by, and our expenses were almost the same. 

The biggest reason behind this is definitely our switch to feeding our GSD a raw diet. Raw meat is pricey these days, and curating a meal from scratch each day can drain a significant chunk of money from your pocket.

In addition, our dog needed some tests from the vet and treatments because he was a bit ill. He’s fine now, but the money went there, too. 

When you put down everything on paper, owning a German Shepherd is an expensive sport. Think twice before joining in to play.

4. Their Need For Exercise Is Unbelievable

german shepherd dog running on the beach
Source: Kimballstock

I was shocked at first, but I pulled myself together, remembering that German Shepherds are like that by nature. Bear in mind that I didn’t own a dog for several years before my GSD. His level of activity shocked me, but now I know it was in a good way. 

It was during the pandemic when we got our dog, so we all were staying at home and working from our office. My dog was thriving! He couldn’t believe he had us there all the time. There was almost no chance of us going outside the house without him. 

Even when we did go out, we went to hike in our local mountains. 

The situation ensured my dog lots of exercise and playtime. If they say German Shepherds need two hours a day of exercise, our dog was getting three, sometimes even more. He was fit, in terrific condition, and boasting health.

We kept on the same routine even after the world got back to normal. Our days are still filled with hikes, walkies, and playing in our back yard. And, I have to say, I never saw my dog energetic at the end of the day. He always goes to sleep or snoozes if we stay up late.

5. They Shed Like Crazy

fluffy german shepherd dog sitting outdoors
Source: Love Your Dog

I grew up with German Shepherds, but they were outside dogs. Our house back then was too small for three GSDs to fit in. I did groom them regularly, and I did notice they shed quite a bit, but that can’t compare to living with a GSD.

Now, I know why they call them German Shedders! 

I vacuum every day and I still find dog hair on my sofa (even though he’s not allowed there). I swear, if I skip a day and don’t brush him, we would be over-swamped in dog hair. 

Grooming a German Shepherd takes time. After all… beauty takes time, too, doesn’t it? I beg you – don’t get a GSD if you’re only going to groom him occasionally. There’s nothing sadder than a scruffy dog.

6. They Must Be Trained

german shepherd running with a stick in his mouth in forest
Source: Giant Dog

Good thing I know a thing or two about training dogs! German Shepherds are a menace to society when not properly trained. I kid you not!

Everything starts at the breeder, with early socialization and desensitization. Since my dog is a rescue puppy from a shelter, we had quite a lot of problems with socializing him. 

He wasn’t kind around cats (still isn’t, but I guess he just doesn’t like them), and he used to be awkward around other dogs, too.

My dog used to bark at everything and everyone. He didn’t like strangers, but now he approaches them with caution. He didn’t like noise or visiting unknown locations. My dog was perfectly fine in his own little bubble. But, I wasn’t. Socialization and basic training had to be performed.

We started small… one baby step at a time. I did get some help from a professional dog trainer in my area, but only in the form of advice. We trained and socialized our pup at home all by ourselves, and I’m super proud of it.

It wasn’t that hard once we passed the first barrier and my dog learned that we’re in charge – not him. German Shepherds are strong, dominant dogs. They’re leaders, but also they need a leader. 

7. Their Prey Drive Must Be Curbed

german shepherd running in the park
Source: iStock

I will never own a cat. Not just because I’m not a cat person, but because my dog hates them from the bottom of his heart. He’s really not a fan of any tiny animal. He tolerates small dogs, but I bet he wouldn’t like to live with one.

German Shepherds have a seriously strong prey drive. I see it whenever my dog is chasing his ball or catching a frisbee. Those are also some of the ways to control it. 

If we channel his focus onto something like a ball or a frisbee, he will chase that… not the animals around him because that’s what brings him joy.

Before you get a German Shepherd, you should know they’re friendly, loyal, and kind, but only to people and animals they choose to like. No one can guarantee that your GSD will love cats. Given the fact his origin is from herding dogs, that’s highly unlikely.

To Sum Up…

Would I get a German Shepherd ever again? Definitely yes.

Would I do anything differently or pick another breed? Absolutely not!

I just wish I had known these 7 things before picking up my GSD so that I would be really prepared. 

Living with a German Shepherd is an adventure. They will knock you out of your shoes with their charm, but also make you go crazy with some of their quirks. But, I guess that’s the price every GSD owner has to pay to enjoy the companionship of these wonderful dogs.