The personality of the German Shepherd (or Alsatian) is one of the biggest reasons why they are so popular – for the right reasons and the wrong reasons. Since they make great police and military dogs, some people rush to get a German Shepherd thinking it will make a vicious guard dog. The German Shepherd is so eager to please, that it can be easily taught to attack. But the German Shepherd is not a vicious dog by nature – they are just doing what they’ve been taught to do.
German Shepherd dogs do, indeed, live up to the fictional resume of Rin Tin Tin. They are noble, loyal, brave, friendly and eager to please. Yes, you read that right — they are incredibly friendly. However, because they are so eager to please their people that they will quickly learn to attack if that is what their people want. At one point a few decades ago, German Shepherds were as feared as Pit Bulls are today.
German Shepherds are indeed powerful dogs that can take quite a large chunk out of you – when they are given the command to. They will also attack if they think anyone in their family is being threatened. There are some German Shepherds that, in the presence of an intruder, will run and hide rather than attack, but they don’t get much press. They have to be trained to attack before they would ever attack another human being.
This incredible ability to learn and remember can get the German Shepherd in trouble. One director of an English German Shepherd rescue had a desperate phone call from a woman clearly at her wit’s end. “My son taught the dog to turn in circles and he won’t stop!”
A German Shepherd dog needs regular exercise, attention and grooming. Getting them spayed or neutered will also not only lengthen their life span, but also make them more willing to pay attention to you. German Shepherds really are not suitable for apartment life, unless they get a lot of outdoor exercise.
German Shepherds will still want to be your friend even if you are having a bad day. German Shepherds will still want to be by your side even if you are homeless and spat upon by other people.
German Shepherds are prone to some health problems, more so than some other breeds, most notably hip dysplasia. These can be costly to cure – but they can be cured. When you take on a German Shepherd, you must be willing to care for vet expenses.
Some are more timid than others. Some are more serious than others. Some seem more psychic than others. But they need a lot of activity and attention in order to really become a member of your family.