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There are some dog breeds that almost everyone is familiar with, and while the Golden Retriever might take the prize, the German Shepherd is also right up there! It is an impressive dog that is commonly used within law enforcement and military, as guard dogs, service dogs, in various canine sports and more, and it is popular among families that are only looking for a pet in many parts of the world.
German Shepherds are loyal and brave, they stand by their human(s) and they tend to form a very strong bond with their owners, and seeing a GSD puppy – it is hard not to fall in love! Are you the right person for a German Shepherd? And do you know what to look for when picking out your puppy? Let’s have a look.
About German Shepherd Puppies
An adult German Shepherd can be somewhat aloof and standoffish to strangers, especially at first, but they adore their own family members and tend to warm up to new people if allowed to do so at their own pace.
A German Shepherd dog puppy may show similar qualities, yet they should be outgoing, courageous and unafraid of exploring their new surroundings once they move in with you.
While living with their littermates, it is not unusual for German Shepherd puppies to pick out one puppy in the litter that will then be picked on, but it is a behavior they don’t usually take with them to their new families.
A German Shepherd puppy also has an unbeatable sense of humor, and while they may seem a little serious, they are anything but boring! It is an incredibly intelligent dog breed that loves to try new things and spend time with you! They are easily trained, observant and the kind of dog that will grow up to be your best friend.
What to Look Out for When Buying a German Shepherd Puppy
You should never buy a puppy that is younger than 8 weeks old, as all puppies need to be with their mothers and littermates up until this age (some breeders prefer to keep them all together until they are at least 12 weeks old).
Separating a German Shepherd puppy from its mother too soon can have negative consequences on their ability to become balanced and properly socialized, and for a growing German Shepherd dog, this can quickly become a problem.
If you are given the opportunity to see your puppy with its littermates before going through with the purchase – take it! Look for all the qualities mentioned above; pay attention to coat quality, the eyes and whether the puppy seems willing to approach you.
The puppy hiding in the corner, or the skinny puppy that won’t get up to say hello when you come to visit, might not be your best option as both could be symptoms of a less healthy GSD puppy.
German Shepherd Life Stages
Being a larger dog, a German Shepherd is expected to live somewhere between 9 and 13 years (a normal life span for a dog this size), depending on their genetics, care, and overall health condition.
It may seem like a lifetime away when you hold your new puppy in your arms, but the truth is that every decision you make for your puppy is going to affect how old it eventually gets. This is why everything from food t exercise is important. Puppyhood also passes by very fast for a GSD, so be sure to enjoy it while you can, before the growth spurt hits!
The adolescent stage of a German Shepherd can be somewhat chaotic, as the dog matures physically before it matures mentally, which can create confusion both for you and the dog. You might notice how your GSD suddenly seems to struggle to focus, how they may start marking territory more than before and possibly pick fights with other dogs. This is a breed that requires patience and a strong hand, and someone who is willing to stick to positive reinforcement methods.
As German Shepherds grow older and take the step across the line and become senior dogs, you need to start making sure the dog gets regular vet checkups to make sure they are healthy, and they should be given bone- and joint supplements like Chondroitin and Glucosamine, preferably already from a young age. The senior years of a German Shepherd can be wonderful, and many GSD’s life active lives up until the very end.
German Shepherd Health Concerns
The health conditions associated with the breed do not affect every GSD dog, but it is a breed prone to several health issues. Inbreeding is a contributing cause to some of them, unfortunately, and others are simply related to the size of the Shepherd dog. By knowing what your dog might come to face, you are given a chance to spot the symptoms early, which could be what gets your pup to the vet in time to have it sorted out.
Common health issues when dealing with a German Shepherd or a Shepherd mix are hip- and elbow dysplasia, diabetes, allergies, thyroid issues, bladder stones, epilepsy, urinary tract stones, cancer, dental health problems and more.
A German Shepherd and a German Shepherd mix might also be a little extra prone to bloat – a potentially lethal condition that requires instant veterinary care. A health guarantee is not something you’ll be getting when you purchase a GSD puppy, but many of the conditions the breed is prone to can be treated or prevented, and many German Shepherds go through their lives remaining healthy.
German Shepherd Breeder Information
A trustable dog breeder is extremely important when you are purchasing a German Shepherd, especially due to the problem with inbreeding and poor genetic lines; buying from a breeder associated with the AKC (American Kennel Club) or an official kennel club from your location will not only make your puppy purchase safer, but it will also benefit the breed as it indirectly promotes responsible breeding and helps fight backyard breeders and puppy factories.
When it comes to sold puppies, not all GSD’s come from professional breeders because professional dog breeding is about so much more than just allowing your dog to have puppies. A breeder that is serious about preserving a breed takes great care when choosing parent animals, which is crucial for there to be healthy puppies destined for long lives.
If you don’t have any breeders living close by, you can always opt for puppy shipping or for traveling to the breeder’s location yourself, which is always preferable over getting a puppy from a less reputable individual or breeding business.
German Shepherd Puppy Diet
A common beginner’s mistake is to purchase commercial dog food – supermarket dog food – for your dog, but this just won’t do for a German Shepherd. This is a large and powerful dog breed that needs their nutritional needs fulfilled, and you owe it to your new puppy to do your research prior to its arrival and to purchase a high-quality dog food with plenty of protein. You might want to check with your breeder what brand your puppy has been eating previously, so that you can phase him or her over slowly, to avoid stomach upset.
Is a German Shepherd Right for You?
A German Shepherd has a very strong genetic desire to work, so if you are planning to get a GSD puppy, you need to make sure you are up for keeping it both physically and mentally stimulated. It is not a breed that enjoys spending 24/7 in the backyard, and to successfully own a German Shepherd you need to be an active person with a great love for animals, and with the will and desire to work together with your dog to become a team.