During my time in the military and afterward I had the pleasure of working with German Shepherd Dogs. I found them to be extremely intelligent and relatively easy to train, which is why they are one of the most popular and sought after purebred dog breeds in the USA. Not only do they make good pets for most people, but they are hard workers and can be a terrific alternative for police agencies and security companies looking to avoid the overuse of firearms or technology. I was once in charge of security for a 3500 unit apartment complex which included garden and luxury apartments, as well as a shopping center, in a major U.S. city. Speaking from personal experience, just by walking my purebred German Shepherd around that property a couple of times a night I reduced car thefts by seventy percent and overall crime by eighty percent. Criminals are more frightened of German Shepherds than they are of armed officers or security cameras and devices.
Originally bred as working or herding dogs in Germany, the breed dates back to 1899. The breed standard varies by country, but most accept that males should be twenty-four to twenty-six inches and females should be twenty-two to twenty-four inches at the shoulders. Weights should be from ninety-five to one hundred pounds, although I have seen many purebred Shepherds which are larger (especially those with long and distinguished lineages) and tend to weigh up to one hundred and twenty pounds. Like most purebred dogs, German Shepherds have some health issues and various forms of cancer are the most notable. This breed does have a good record when it comes to general health concerns and Shepherds live an average of nine to ten years with a good quality of life.
German Shepherd Dogs can be trained to be aggressive when the need arises, but during my experiences with them I found these animals to be docile unless they are challenged in an aggressive or domineering way. Like all large dog breeds, they should never be allowed to be alone with children without some sort of adult supervision. Dogs are animals which rely on instinct to make split second decisions. They cannot think things out the way that humans do, so caution is always the key when dealing with dogs. I have seen tiny Chihuahua dogs act far more aggressive and do more damage to adults and children than any German Shepherd I have ever worked with or known.
If you plan to adopt a German Shepherd Dog, I suggest you adopt a puppy, rather than an adult dog, from a licensed kennel or reliable Breeder with outstanding references. This will not be cheap or even easy. In some places there are waiting lists for people who want to adopt German Shepherds from a Kennel or Breeder with excellent references and an impeccable reputation. Why? Because many of these adoption sources offer pups with lineages that can be traced back many generations to Germany and tend to be bred responsibly without the kind of inbreeding that goes on with backyard or inexperienced Breeders.
The danger in adopting from a Breeder or Rescue Center that cannot fully document the background of a German Shepherd pup or adult (if you choose to go that route) is that the animal they are offering may be a mix, even it it looks like a purebred, or have other issues. It is a little known and not often publicized fact that many rescue or dog welfare centers purchase puppies at regional breeder auction meet ups when their supply of popular breed puppies runs low. Those are the same places where many pet stores get their pups.
Dog rescue and welfare centers claim that by making puppy purchases at these auction meets the animals they buy have a better chance at a good home once they are made available to screened and loving owners and they may be correct in that assumption, but Puppy Mills are the ones who sell their animals at those places and they are anything but careful or responsible Breeders. Most of the pups they sell at auction meets tend to be litter leftovers that they could not get top dollar for online or in person due to size, inbreeding or health problems.
If you want to adopt a German Shepherd puppy with a satisfactory background from a reliable source, expect to pay anywhere from about six hundred to well over five thousand dollars depending on the pedigree. Avoid back yard Breeders at all cost and understand that these dogs require a huge amount of social interaction and at least a modest amount of daily exercise in the form of walking. Train your Shepherd to respond well to commands and act docile around other people. That will allow you to take it with you as often as possible. There are a number of excellent dog trainers throughout the USA who specialize in training shepherds and most large dog breeds. If you need one, get lots of references and avoid discount training clinics at big box pet stores. They tend to be largely ineffective when it comes to training Shepherds.