Hello pet lovers!
We are thinking about adopting a pup German Shepard. We sort of need a guard dog, but want one who will love our kiddos and let them play on them, tug, etc.
Anyone have experience with this??
Can you explain what you are specifically looking for when you say "guard dog"?
Do you mean "alerts us to potential problems" or a protection dog? Are you thinking about getting in to schutzhund? (that would make for a very nice guard or protection dog potentially, but it's a pretty serious investment of time)
Protection dogs require a lot of training. Not all GSDs will be suited, so it doesn't automatically mean that buying a breed will mean you'll have a guard dog when it grows up (unless you mean an alert dog, you could pick a yappy little dog for that though. ;) )
We will be getting a GSD in the next year, but we're looking for a dog to do agility with and just have general fun/companionship, not for the purposes of protection (I'm not interested in investing that level of training to be honest, and though schutzhund looks mega-fun I don't want a high-drive dog).
We have a gsd mix. She's great but very smart - which can be a bad thing (when she's determined to get into something she shouldn't. She has been good with kids but she would not be a great guard dog. She certainly sounds an alarm at everything & looks intimidating to most people but she's waaaay too friendly at heart.
I agree a lot with what tigerchild said.
good posts, most dogs will guard bark, but not sure about a guard dog, schutzund isnt meant to be used to train a dog to be a guard dog, it is a sport. Seperate training would be required. GSDs are not dogs for the feint of heart, nor are they good for those who dont have a lot of experience with strong dogs.
I had a GS and so did my brother (he had more than one over the years). We both absolutely love them they are friendly, intelligent, patient and protective.
My experience was that the dog would not just bark at anything out of the ordinary but rather just silently look and be on guard until an intervention was needed or she was called off. We always joked that the dogs knew how strong they were and did not need to assert themselves with barking (like some other "guard dogs" do) but just raised hackles or a deep rumble was enough.
Both our GS were female so not sure how the male's behaviour would differ but they were unbelievably patient with kids both ours and other.
All in all I think they are a very versatile dogs and can be trained do fit any doggie need. I live in an apartment now so no space for a big dog and my brother's dog died of old age last year and he is still looking for a suitable puppy (GS of course) to replace her.
Good luck with choosing :)
I so loved my German Shepard! He has been gone nearly a decade now....he was a fantastic dog. I agree more with Sandysmama about how they behave - highly ALERT. I will say a few things about their guarding behavior - my children were 6 and 3 when he died - so he went through two pregnancies and two births, two toddlers - When i was first pregnant - he became "My" dog - he started following me around from that point on - i never went to the bathroom alone again! Every room i went into - he followed. He protected the kids relentlessly - when DD was first home in her bassinette, he slept under it - with one paw on the bottom rail - like so if the bassinette was moved at all - his foot would move too....
i remember distinctly chasing after my son when he was first learning to crawl - at about 6 months - i was also on all 4's calling 'im gonna get you' and crawling after him....all in good fun for us of course, but the dog thought otherwise. He got in front of me - didnt bark or growl - just blocked me from 'getting' the baby.
i also saw him nearly grab our neighbors daughter - we didnt know these people and she used to hang her hand over the fence and the dog would jump up and bark at her and it looked like he was snapping at her hand. I asked her not to do that - it was clear she was teasing him.
I should also say he wasnt very well trained at all! we never did anything special - and we werent the worlds best animal parents back then - i would say my Ex and i werent very consistent. He moved with us from an apt to a house - he needed A LOT more excercise when he was young - after the age of 3 he mellowed right out - and by 6 he didnt want to get off the couch anymore than i did!
He also did tend to bully our other dog a bit - if she jumped up and got hyper - she could expect a nip on the ear.
I would say with enough excercise and no other animals in the house - they are great around YOUR kids - watch very carefully ( i didnt let him near my DD's friends when they come over for a visit) around other peoples children.
They ARE great for protection, but they interpret actions - they dont understand context - all in all, the safeguards were worth it - and i would LOVE to have another GS!
My fiance and I have two GSD's, a girl who is 3yrs and 6mos and a boy who is 3yrs. We absolutely LOVE them!! Our girl is a little more cautious of people and our boy is a bit of a attention stealer, but both are very protective and great with kids. They are very family oriented and even are loving and protective of our cat. They love lots of attention and affection and are very tolerant of fur/tail/ear pulling. I think a GSD pup would be a wonderful addition to your family. I must say though, I don't recommend buying from a pet store as they tend to be very hyper and might come from a puppy mill. We had a third GSD for a few months (bought from a pet store) and he was hyper and had an eating disorder where he would inhale all of his food in less than 30 seconds (We think this is because he was from a puppy mill and had to eat quickly to survive). But either way GSD's make a great member of the family!
I love GSD's. My aunt and uncle have one (we lived with them from Oct. - Jan), and she is the sweetest, most lovable, wonderful dog. I'm NOT a fan of dogs in general, but this one is amazing. I've known her since she was 2years old (when I was 16 I stayed with my aunt and uncle for a summer - she went running with me and has loved me ever since). She is VERY good with kids, and after we moved in with them discovered that my ds (3yo) was the easiest target for kisses and loves since they are the same height. They also have 2 cats, and the dog is pretty intent on herding them, needless to say this doesn't work and the cats lead her around in circles - but she is ever gentle with them, and would never hurt either of them. She would also get very excited whenever my ds went to play in the yard - she decided it was her job to watch him (I always went too, but she is 100% trustworthy with anyone) and loved to play in the yard with him.
As far as a guard dog? Well, her bark is terrifying, and she HATES other dogs. Other people though? The joke is that when other dogs go by she scares away all the people too, but if the people came in the house (which is almost always unlocked) she would be so excited to have company and would let them take whatever they want. She's a big dog though, and looks intimidating (she's an all black german shephard).
As other pp's have said, she's very tolerant of everything, and is bomb proof when it comes to tail pulling, fur pulling, toddler kisses, being used as a pillow, doesn't mind being stepped over and seems to expect that's how you'll get out of the room she's in if she's blocking the doorway. If I were ever to get a dog (which is unlikely - I'm not a dog person), I would want a german shephard.
She's also good with all children, but she hates, and I mean HATES other dogs. Taking her for walks was sometimes challenging, and I didn't do it with my ds ever, because if we came across another dog we would have to change direction to avoid them (she's getting older, so its easier to walk her than it was when she was a pup).
Here is a phone pic taken yesterday of my 2.5 year old GSD, Sam.
First off, anytime you are getting a breed for a certain quality (such as a shepherds tendency to be protective of their family), understand that you probably won't be seeing any benefit of said quality until the dog is at least 2 years old. They are all kind of idiots in the puppy stage and you can see their good qualities come out from time to time but they aren't consistent.
I can tell you my experience with Sam. He is a fantastic dog. I love him tremendously and hope he is with us for a very long time. That said, he JUST started sleeping out of his crate. I mean, within the last month. Previously, he could not be left unattended because he would find a way into the pantry, chew the kids toys, chew the furniture. We still have to crate him when we leave the house because he has an affinity for granola bars and if left alone in the house, he WILL find a way to get to the granola bars. When he was a puppy, he chewed. And I mean, he CHEWED. He could shred kids toys in an instant. He literally took every bit of supervision that you have to give a 1 year old baby. And if you put him in the back yard, he would chew the lawn furniture. He chewed our GRILL to the point that it was no longer usable. Since shepherds are bred for herding, they are really mouthy. You have to train them to keep their teeth off people because being an intimidating breed, the last thing you need is your neighbors kids coming over and trying to play rough with your dog and ending up "getting bit" because your dog doesn't know better than to be mouthy. And while he learns not to mouth on people, he's going to do it to you and your kids. And they might actually get hurt. It won't be bad, but puppy teeth are sharp and it takes a while to teach them to keep their teeth off of people.
Now, as an adult dog, Sam can't be left in the yard because he'll be over the fence in an instant. Generally he just goes to the front yard and waits on the porch and he can stay outside for a little while if we are home but if we leave the house, he has to be crated. He digs. And he is big so the holes he digs are big. He sheds like you wouldn't believe in the spring and fall, despite the fact that he is raw fed (which greatly cuts down on shedding). I am vacuuming daily right now and there is still hair everywhere. He costs about 50 bucks a month to feed, and that's on the cheapest way to do raw (homemade, which requires about an hour a week of my time to prepare). I would highly suggest researching shepherds and a raw diet before committing to getting one. Before switching to raw, Sam had some serious skin issues, which are very common in these dogs. Thankfully raw has cleared that up but it does require more time and effort.
Now before you read all of that and write it off as "I'll be a better dog owner so I won't encounter these problems", let me assure you, these are just parts of having such an intelligent, easily bored, strong working breed of dog. Despite all of the stuff I just listed, Sam in an exceptionally well behaved dog. He is well trained, has been housebroken since 12 weeks old. He can be outside in the front yard with us without even trying to run off. He plays well with other dogs and is fantastic with the kids. He will certainly not be the last GSD I will own but I can assure you, it will be another 5 years at least before I will even consider another puppy. It is HARD work.
As far as him "guarding" the house, I do sleep a little more soundly at night knowing he is no longer sleeping in his crate. Would I ever depend on my family pet to protect us from an intruder? No. But I do know that if someone starting breaking in our house, a booming bark from a 90 lb. german shepherd would certainly be a deterrent. He is intimidating. That is a perk in those situations but it comes at a high price. You can not afford to have an intimidating, agressive breed of dog without being the authority over them and completely training them to respect that authority. Otherwise someone could get hurt.
Google "german shepherd forum". There are some really good resources out there. I also advise researching the importance of buying from a reputable breeder. GSD are also notorious for hip dysplasia and its a very sad thing to watch them suffer like that and it is avoidable by good breeding. Look for GSD rescues. Even if you aren't interested in an older dog, I think it's good to educate yourself on how many of these dogs are out there being put down and abandoned because people didn't realize what they were getting into.
I hope this helps. I really do love when people get GSDs and are serious about caring for them, but I want to discourage anyone from entering into it lightly. They can be one of the most rewarding pets you will ever have but it won't come without sacrifice.