Finding The Right German Shepherd, by John Adrain

I don’t profess to be a writer or the authority on German Shepherd dogs. But I can share almost four decades of experience with my German Shepherds. Growing up in Ohio, one of my first experiences with dogs was with Golden Retrievers. They are fantastic loving dogs, and you’re more likely to be struck by lightning than bit by a Golden Retriever. However, if you want a dog to protect your family, they are pretty much worthless. They are more likely to roll over and piddle than protect you. We had a female, which is generally more protective than males, and that was the drill. There are also documented cases of carjackings where the Golden refused to get out of the car and went with the carjacker.

My first experience with German Shepherds was in the mid-1980s. My roommate who was a notorious swordsman in Southern California brought a puppy home one night. Since Ben (an alias) spent every free moment he had helping a woman with floor exercises, he had very little time for his dog Ranger.

The first time it rained, Ranger was whining outside. So, I let him in, to sleep in the hallway. Then during the night, I thought we were having an earthquake. At the time I was sleeping on a twin bed, yes that isn’t a typo twin. Immediately there was a real estate problem on the bed. I looked at him and he looked at me with: “what are you looking at?” He was only about six months old at this time.

From then on, I took him everywhere I could when Ben didn’t have him. He was a devoted and loyal friend. For about the last three years of Ranger’s life, I had him full time. By this time, I was living on the beach in the Ventura, California area. My neighbors would compete to watch him when I traveled. He loved to swim in the ocean every day. I had a waterproof military strobe light that I fastened to a small log for him to retrieve from the ocean at night when I got home. I had an older car just for traveling with him so I could keep my other car hair-free. On the beach, fleas are a problem, so I would bomb that car for fleas once a month.

It is difficult to write about him even this day. At 10 years of age, he developed hip and kidney problems. I had to put him down, which as many know is very difficult. But you don’t want any animal to suffer. I had about 15 sympathy cards from neighbors when they heard the news. He was from an American breeder and I think that partially accounted for his short life. German Shepherds have an average lifespan of 12 years. It would be very difficult to put into words all the wonderful experiences I had with Ranger. The more time you invest with them the better your experience will be. German Shepherds need lots of exercise and don’t like to be left alone. The very rare times I leave my dogs at home, they are always waiting by the door or sitting by the window waiting for me to come home.

My Next, From Slovakia

I did a lot of research before getting my next German Shepherd, named Giff. I found a trainer in Colorado that imported his dogs from Slovakia and the Czech Republic. This time I choose from three different dogs that were all trained. One of them seemed to gravitate towards me and I chose Giff. At the time my wife had a Dachshund named Stanley that had the personality of a commandant in a prison camp. Stanley wasn’t afraid of anything. When I got Giff we were in the process of moving from an apartment on Telegraph Hill San Francisco to a home in Spokane. I brought Giff in the apartment for the first time and seconds later Stanley was hanging from Giff’s neck. It didn’t faze Giff at all. For the next week, both dogs traveled with me back and forth from San Francisco to Spokane. They almost immediately became best friends.

On the second trip to Spokane, I had my 4×4 van parked at a pizza place, while I was eating dinner with a friend that was helping me. I had my Valentine radar detector on the visor with all the windows half down. I always park where I can watch the vehicle when I have animals. Someone decided that they wanted to grab my radar detector. I don’t believe that they even touched the radar detector. Giff wasn’t a barker so the thief had zero warning. He fell backward onto the pavement, and only his dry cleaner knew how frightened he was. At this time, I knew I had a completely different type of companion. I could have left a stack of hundred dollar bills on the dash and no one would have been able to make a withdrawal.

German_ShepherdGiff was a great companion for years. The dogs learn very quickly your lifestyle and what’s “normal.” Giff was always on high alert. There is nothing like the devotion and loyalty of a German Shepherd dog. Giff had a following of friends all over the country. He went with me everywhere for 12 years. About the second week, he got anxious because I had to travel overseas. After I got home, we went out for dinner and left Giff at home. I guess he didn’t like it because when we got home there were pieces of our Italian sectional leather sofa all over the house. He chewed it to shreds down to the wood frame. I didn’t discipline him because you must catch them in the act, or they don’t understand. Discipline dogs at the collar — never hit them. You always want them to defend themselves.

Giff never chewed anything again except a bite suit. Giff had bite training and would attack on-command. He was trained in the Slovak language. You don’t need a lot of words to get a dog to do what you want. I took Giff to the 911 Healing Field flag ceremony in Utah when he was 12. The police had a K9 demonstration and after their demonstration, I asked the officer in the bite suit if an old man could give it a whirl. Giff brought the officer down on the first engagement in 1-2 seconds. The officer was in shock and asked again how old he was. These dogs have a relentless pursuit of pleasing and protecting you. There is no question that they would die for you. Their fierce protectiveness sometimes clouds their judgment — as in one incident with a porcupine.

I now have Giff’s son, Ruger, and his mother, Bella. Females are a lot more protective than males. Females also tend to be more affectionate. Males are calmer and more collected. Ruger is a lot like his father (except on steroids.) I prefer having two dogs because they are very effective as a team. With dogs, 1+1 doesn’t equal 2. It equals 10. They also keep each other company and play together. At the very least they are a formidable force. I feel very blessed to have my children and my German Shepherd dogs.

How to get a good dog

I prefer Eastern Bloc German Shepherd dogs because they tend to have fewer health issues.   (Notably, dogs from many American breeders are famous for Hip Dysplasia, Elbow Dysplasia, and Cataracts.) An aside: It was illegal to own a German Shepherd dog in Slovakia up until 1999 unless you were military or police.

My advice, in a nutshell:

  • Research the breeder/trainer.
  • Talk to some of his clients and have them send pictures/videos.
  • Go a pick your dog up yourself so you can meet the breeder and the dog.
  • Have a breeder/trainer work on advanced techniques on protection with you, your family and your dog.
  • It’s always better to have a selection.
  • You don’t need papers or AKC to find a great dog.
  • It’s possible to find a great German Shepherd at a shelter because people don’t understand the commitment.
  • If you can afford it, then get a 2-to-3-year-old that is fully trained.
  • You most likely don’t have the skill sets or time to train it.
  • If you have a problem with the dog, then it is most likely you. The dog is only as good as the quality time you spend with it.


    1. Yes. After having 2 shepherds we decided to go with a Malinois (dad) German Shepherd (mom) mix with hopes to avoid the overbreeding problems we’ve experienced. Our Shepinois “Archie” is much more energetic and demands more human stimulus throughout the day, but we’ve noticed that he is also much more loving and cuddly at beddtime. He’s a bit smaller at about 75 lbs than our previous shepherds. He has a natural instinct to chase any humans running from him and his bark is fierce. He is highly trainable and learns commands much quicker than our previous Shepherds. He’s been awesome around the family and does well with visitors to our house…taking cues from us. I also highly recommend looking at Amish breeders in the Lancaster PA region for your next pup.

      1. My family has had Beagles and we are down to one now. I was considering a Malinois instead of a Beagle replacement. I’m in a Lancaster, PA. Is there a particular Amish breeder you could recommend?

    2. I also am a lover of German Shepherds.
      My first, Ike, in 1971, was wonderful, never snarled or bit..
      My daughter was born that July and he slept under her crib, her protector…one day I took him for a long walk on the streets of PalmBeachGardens…a young man was digging a hole to plant a new tree..he hit a large stone with his shovel and Ike took off towards him, I needed all my strength to hold him back..he snarled, growled and showed his snapping teeth..never saw this b4 from Ike..and he never did it again
      I got him from a local Fl. breeder, bad hips were his demise at 8…went on to have more GSheps: Junior, Boolie, Bruno, then a wolf/Shep/malamute mix, BrunoJr .

      Today I have a BritBulldog, a 60 # Female(first female dog ever for me) she is wonderful, so clean, so loving so gentle w people..but a vicious monster – jealous of all dogs which approach her

  1. Seth, yes there is a huge difference between German Shepherd Dogs and Malinois. Most importantly, Malinois need to be trained by someone who knows that Malinois are different as it takes different methods for the different personality traits and behavior traits. People, including law enforcement, think Mali’s are the same as Shepherds and end up having problems, with Mali’s. Mali’s are good dogs for the right people with the necessary skills for training them. I have handled and trained GSD, for over 20 years as a law enforcement officer. I had the opportunity to travel to several states, interact in training scenarios/conferences with police depts. in four states in the U.S. and found handlers and trainers seriously lacking in knowledge, or ability to properly train Mali’s. Mali’s are a high energy dog, more so than most Shepherds. As a result, I have found more Mali’s to be nearly uncontrollable due to the lack of technique and understanding the Malinois personality. The videos on the internet of Malinois make the breed seem to be super dogs are the result of people that know the Malinois and have perfected their knowledge and training methods especially for the Malinois.
    Malinois can be trained, but the
    problem lies in most people thinking they are just smaller statures German Shepherd Dogs, they are not. My former agency in the South, attempted switching from GSD to Malinois back in the 1990’s, mainly due to the cost of purchasing GSD. We must have attempted to find one Malinois that was trainable out of over a dozen acquisitions. Those problems were caused by breeders and lack of high breeding standards, using cost factor as the main reason for switching from GSD to Malinois, lack of proper knowledge of the trainers at the time in the agency and handlers lacking the necessary skills to maintain training and further skill development. After expending wasted funds, they switched back to GSD. Now, once again, a new administration is trying Malinois again. The previous trainers and handlers of the first Malinois experiment have all retired and that previous knowledge has been forgotten. The new ” decision makers” are learning the hard way those old lessons long forgotten. They do not have the training knowledge, nor handler skills to safely use Malinois in police work. Of course, there will be those who adamantly defend the Malinois and say they never had a problem with the breed. I am not disputing the Malinois CAN be trained and handled properly, I am stating there are significant differences between the breeds that require specific knowledge of the breed. Former GSD trainers, or handlers, without special training by some one with those skills, from my experience, have not produced well trained Malinois that are not a liability to themselves and their agency. I experienced first hand, as a trainer, the physical pain and tissue damage poorly trained Malinois can inflict supposedly under the control of handlers that were assigned Malinois without proper training, or continuous maintenance training on the job.

    So, yes. Malinois are a different breed, in stature, personality, cost and most importantly, training methods required to properly socialize and control a Malinois.

      1. Yes, my partner in Slovakia is a veterinarian and we strive for the healthiest, most intelligent & trainable dogs. I do the same thing here in Colorado with GSD’s
        that are big-boned, intelligent, and more clear-headed than Belgian Malinois’. Some, for the more experienced handler, with more drive, but stable and have a “switch” to turn off.

  2. Great article, thanks for sharing!
    We acquired a Belgian Malinois from a local breeder for exactly some of the health-concerns mentioned. As with many breeds of dogs, there is and has been a lot of in-breeding taking place to obtain purebred lineage. From what our breeder said, quite a bit of effort by Malinois breeders is being taken to avoid the same mistake.
    So far we have been very pleased with Dante. We’ve had him a little over a year, wicked intelligent, very, VERY high energy dog. If you’re a busy professional, this is not the breed for you. He weighs about 80 lbs now, but still filling out, even at 16 mos. old. Dad is a 100-lb dog, I’ve met him, very impressive animal. We opted not to do the bite-training offered by our breeder (breeds, sells, and trains several of the local law enforcement K9 units). Frankly it’s not necessary for the animal to do what comes naturally to it. That is of course assuming you allow the animal into your pack. If you’re interested in an outdoor-only working dog, you won’t build that kind of bond. If you do treat it as a family ‘pet’, it will put itself between any of your pack members and harm, instinctually, with no training needed.
    One time a girl who knows my daughter approached the open car window to say ‘hi’. Dante was not familiar with this friend of her’s from school. Without warning he leaped into the passenger seat and started barking vociferously. I concur with the authors article – no need to lock your doors with him in the car. Our breeder told a similar story about one of his dogs owned by an over-the-road trucker.
    I have been very impressed so far, and would recommend anyone interested talk to and meet with a local breeder. They are an excellent companion.

    1. Your experience reminds me of the day we were receiving a box from UPS… We opened the door, the carrier placed the box just inside and tried to slide it in for us as a courtesy. One of our Newfs had different ideas, and placed her jaws around the man’s forearm. She did not bite down, but we’re sure she would have done just that if the need to do so had arisen. It was a scary moment, and at the same time strangely reassuring because of her very protective nature. We were extraordinarily cautious going forward with everyone who was unfamiliar to our dogs — for the safety and comfort of all!

  3. I really liked this post. Growing up on CT farm, we had dogs, usually dumped dogs, one which looked like a Flat Coated Retriever, lived 20 years with us and he had been dumped, as fully trained adult. I always wanted to be a vet, used to worm the tame barn cats, train the dogs, and had a great time.

    Decades later living in a large CT town in an older ranch style subdivision, and working in the city, I came home to see some people walking thru the neighborhood that I knew did not live there and seemed to be “casing” the place. Came home one Spring day, found a knife slice in my living room picture window screen.

    Next day, called a nearby town and found that someone had dumped a 90 lb. German Shepard. The ACO wanted to keep him, but his Mom said “no”. I went down there, and this 90 lb. GS was brought out, sat at my knees, and as I looked into his calm brown eyes, I could see that he was for me. GOOD THING I PICKED CORRECTLY, because I took him home, gated him in the kitchen and he started scratching his ears.

    I had cats, in the “cats room”, so I took Spencer to my favorite Vet. He had a severe bacterial infection in both ears, they were RED, RED, RED. I had to clean out his ears, then put ointment in them!

    So, there he was, with large teeth, and me, but he cried as I did it and gave me no problem. Never a growl, he was devoted to me! I could tell he had been trained, though he never walked on a leash, he pulled, and he HATED other animals, esp. possums (in the yard), and cats, and would try to kill them. He did not care about the neighbors in the subdivision, but the next door neighbor’s teenage girl had a boyfriend that I am pretty sure was using Pot, and Spencer did NOT like him! I think he was a K9 dropout! He was highly intelligent as most GS are.

    I could do anything with him, but alas as the years went by and we moved (1 big dog flown to West Virginia, and I drove down with 8 cats) to a hilltop old house and away from too many people and the rat race, he got arthritis.

    I had read decades ago, that in the 1920’s the Germans had “culled” their less than satisfactory males and females GS and shipped them to America! Hence, many of our German Shepherds have sloping backs, instead of the flat back, and arthritis sets in. This is why the Military uses those from Germany for the most part. Spencer had a straight back, but eventually he was in too much pain.

    I lived alone on the hill, and he had three barks: barking at the many deer feeding in the yard, barking, that good people were coming to visit, or barking when an unknown vehicle pulled into the gravel driveway at the bottom of my hill. I KNEW he would protect me to the death.

    I had not raised him, but I knew what he was, and when relatives came to visit with their 3 year old boy, I boarded him in a kennel. He liked most people and I felt absolutely safe with him.

    As a child, there were only 121 AKC approved breeds, but I have known good breeders and they tell me that many will inbreed their dogs, hence the many health problems most of dogs have. I consider that an abhorrent thing to do to any cat or dog, but I know that many breeders “falsify” papers.

    All in all, if I had to live alone, now that I am back in the Blue State I left, I would have a large dog, a doggie door, a very HIGH fence with “roller bars” on the top to hopefully keep out the bobcats, raccoons, etc. that might just want to get into the fenced yard and wander through the doggie door!

    So, whatever breed dog anyone selects, read up on the health problems, the personality of the breed, and try and find an HONEST breeder. Talk to at least 3 or 4 different veterinarians to see what problems they encounter with the breeds that are of interest. RESEARCH, as almost in everything, is key before laying down $$$ especially for a new “member” of the family. Also, check out your local shelter, or dog rescue group. You could find just the dog for you, and take a GOOD POSITIVE DOG TRAINER with you to assess the dog and its behavior. If you have children, or ever have children visit you, be sure you know the dog’s temperament. A puppy, you can train your puppy the correct way so that it will not end up biting someone (though some breeds are NOT generally good with small, loud, children as they can see them as prey), I usually tell visiting children to sit quietly with the dog next to me, and gently pet the dog, and then leave the dog alone.

    National Dog Bite statistics could be of some help in one’s selection.

  4. I found a Yugo GS at a rescue shelter. She had just turned 2 years old. I became her 7th, and last, owner. She was a ferocious dog on a leash or protecting home or us. When I met my now x wife I warned her to not look at or acknowledge the dog. Told her to keep her hands at her side walk in and sit on the couch with me. In very little time Leanna was dropping her ball in the women’s lap. She lived to nearly 13 and is missed.

  5. We have had three GS, two from the shelter, and the one we have now that we got as a puppy. The level of devotion and separation anxiety with this one we have had from a puppy is almost scary. We have tried to take vacations without her and have someone come in twice a day to feed and let her out. She is fine for one day and then on the second, goes nuts when she figures we’re not coming back. She has torn her way out of a steel cage and destroyed the carpet for several feet around it. Now when we go on vacation we board her, when she is around other dogs and people to keep her occupied and not dwelling on the fact that we’re not there, she’s fine. But what devotion! Yes they truly are your ‘partner’.


  6. I had 5 German Shepherds, one after another. Had raised them all from pups. When my last one died, it affected me so bad, that I had a ‘Flashback’ from my Vietnam days, 47 years before, when my best Buddy was shot and killed right beside me. I watched the light go out of his eyes.
    That was the end, for me, of raising my dogs from pups. Now I adopt from the local animal shelter, minimum age of 1 year old.

    1. WarVet, I can’t imagine the depths of sorrow of losing your best buddy like that. I’m sooo sorry… In addition, I understand flashbacks and the resulting pain. No one wants that pain to repeat. Once was enough. Your new sop of a minimum of 1 year old puppy makes complete sense. Blessings to you with your latest!

  7. My last GSD was the perfect dog. She naturally did everything you’d want. It was not necessary to train her. She did her job, was absolutely amazing, and scary smart. Her blood line stems from the original dogs brought over. These dogs must be well socialized. I found out latter she was inbred, and her siblings had serious issues. She did not. If you can afford it, pay for good genetics from a responsible breeder. Otherwise you will be paying the vet down the road, and the dog suffers.

  8. Our girl River is a fantastic family dog! We have 8 children and she really belongs to our 24 year old daughter that is still at home. We never had an indoor dog before but we live in the country and we couldn’t just put her outside when she was a little pup, so our daughter took River to her room and she still lives in there. 🙂 We take her everywhere with us. We travel by large homeschool family van and she loves it! She is another layer of protection for our precious children and we are so thankful for her. She is sweet and calm but incredibly affectionate and loving. She hugs each family member every morning by pressing her head against you. When we brought her home over 4 years ago, some of our children were still very young and we’ve never had any trouble with her being snappy of ill tempered with them. We can’t imagine our life with out this sweet dog.
    When we travel with her and Dad gets out of the van, to pump gas, etc., it’s so much fun to watch people’s expressions when they see her sitting in the driver’s seat watching them. She doesn’t bark but she will ‘talk’ and any stranger who hears it understands exactly what she’s saying.
    German Shepherds are a blessing to anyone who will treat them correctly.

  9. Great subject. I will comment as we have been blessed to live with a working line GSD for 12 years.
    She is exhibiting typical ailments as seen in high energy working dogs. Joints, hips and senses are slipping.
    We have a great vet. She won’t over medicate and where ever possible she promotes the use of natural remedies.

    When we visited the breeder. Our girl and her brother were the last pups left in litter Z.
    We observed the two puppies together and it was clear that our girl was the leader. She was non stop energy. She was also able to fit the entire width of a seat cushion in her little mouth. That was a clue!
    When we got her home we realized we were overmatched. The puppy teeth had my hands raw. I had people at work ask me if I had a disease. The trainers that tell you to vocalize in pain to teach a puppy not to chew on you have never had a GSD puppy. I squealed and it was game on. I was her squeak toy.

    I made a call to a local trainer who had German Shepherds. The message I left went something like this. Help! Please call me back. I do not know what I am doing.
    She called me back and that is when my wife and I started to be trained to be a GSD owners.

    The trainer visited our house. She got out of her truck leaving her “loaded gun” GSD in the front seat.
    Our trainer immediately saw our puppy with her paws on my leg. She asked me if I wanted a 70lb dog jumping up on myself or others. She suggested that I not encourage or allow behaviors in a pup that I do not want in an adult.
    We spent the next two years taking our girl to training. We learned how to train her. It never ends and in fact is how these dogs work. They were bred to work.

    Major mistakes on my part have caused our GSD to exhibit leash aggression and not be social to other dogs.
    You must be vigilant in big box pet stores. Some people don’t understand that when you have your dog in a down stay that is not an invitation to have their dog sniff her.
    Children need to be encouraged to visit ONE at a time and only after getting permission from the dog owner.
    Stay away from dog parks. GSDs are switched on when they are around others they do not know. A dog park that is good for a Golden Retriever is very bad for a working line dog.

    I cannot over emphasize the pleasure we have had in having a GSD in our lives. The price we all pay for the privilege of having these companions is the end. If you are considering a GSD please take your time to study the breed. I recommend reading the book ” The Art of Raising a Puppy” by the Monks of the New Skeet.
    Once you are ready, find a puppy or adult dog that you want to commit to and go for it.
    The love and loyalty you get back is priceless.

  10. Very heart warming, we have an adorable 3 YO male German Shepherd we got from an outfit with a 90 year breeding/training program so we knew we were getting quality. He’s laid back as you say but probably THE most affectionate dog we have ever had. I had been describing his temperament as a “cream puff” to others until… unknown to the dog, I was coming in from the garage after having gone on an errand, my wife just happened to be coming out to the garage and during the 2 seconds it took the dog to realize it was me was nothing short of terrifying (for me). SOOO glad he figured it out before teeth met skin, but gratifying at the same time. Whew.

  11. The author references a “trainer in Colorado that imported his dogs from Slovakia and the Czech Republic”, can I get that person’s name if possible ??

  12. We just got our GSD from a breeder about 6 weeks ago. She is an older dog, (5 years) and fully trained. She spent a year in Germany to receive her training. Yes, she was expensive but she was exactly what we were looking for. From the first time we went to meet her, she welcomed the attention and laid at our feet when we were talking to the breeder. The dog had to be accepting of our grand children and willing to accept guests onto our property. We have watched her carefully over the last 6 weeks and she has been great. She has learned our routines quickly and now even anticipates our next moves. She dotes on our grandchildren who are under the age of 3 and has not shown any signs of aggression towards them. Our son also has a GSD from the same breeder. He got a male puppy who is now about 11 months old. The two dogs spent the weekend together at our place and we came away from the experience grateful that we chose the dog we have. We have an acre of property and the dogs could run as much as they wanted. It was good for both of them but the puppy needed much more attention and someone to work him out more often.

    Our female loves to go in the car. All you have to do is mention the word “go” and the dog goes to the back door ready to go with you. A quick “mount up” and she is in her traveling crate without any further discussion.

    Knowing the longevity of GSDs, we debated getting an older dog, but we have had no regrets. She’s already part of our family and we fell safer having her around.

  13. Thank you, John Adrain! What a heartwarming story of your loving connection to these canine companions. We understand, having shared great love with our furry friends as well. Most recently we had a couple of Newfoundlands. The loss of these friends was more painful than words can express.

    Your insight with regard to trained German Shepherds from Eastern European countries was very interesting and helpful. Are there any cautionary tales or recommendations about how best to vet a breeder outside the country, or insights into the process and procedure for bringing a dog into the United States?

    Again, many thanks!

  14. Mr. Adrain – would you please elaborate on your comment about disciplining dogs “at the collar”. I’m not familiar with that term or description. Thanks in advance.

  15. I have read your article twice, and cried each time at the passing of Ranger and Giff.
    Then, when you said you had Giff’s son, Ruger and mom, I cried some more. So much love and goodness!
    You had me laughing many times as well. Your comments about the Golden Retriever were hilarious. As well as Stanley being a commandant and hanging off Giff’s neck! I especially loved you had a second old car just to take Ranger in!

    Thank you for sharing advice from experience. Great tips. Also, if you have time to write more stories, please consider doing so. You are a pleasure to read.
    Hugs and treats to Ruger and Bella from Krissy!

  16. Hey John, totally gotta disagree with your first sentence, you’re definitely a writer. Anyone who has me crying and LMAO all inside of five minutes gets my vote! Hope to see more of your articles in the future. Makes me want to buy a GS but the cat said definitely not!

    Best of luck to you. 🙂

  17. We started fostering a rescue GS that was 3 years old about 6 years ago. The story goes that a veteran got her but went overseas on duty, left her with his Mom who kept her tied outside neglected and emaciated. A very nice woman got her and started nursing her back to health, who in turn gave to us. She now has normal weight and looks great. She also is in great health so far for her age of 9. She’s definitely a great watchdog and good with people once she’s done scaring them.
    HOWEVER, we may not be the most deserving family for this wonderful creature.
    If I could find her a better home I would be happy for her. She is not coming inside.
    My wife and mother-in law are constantly yelling at her to get off the deck. She knows she’s not supposed to come up on the deck but still tries getting away with it.
    Our house has all windows at the backyard and she does keep tabs on us through the glass like a stalker. One time she got scared by the fireworks on the 4th of July and got out. We got a call 8 days later by an HPD cop who caught her on the runway at IAH disrupting air traffic. (which they have orders to shoot he said) This was 10 miles from where we lived and across multiple busy Houston freeways. How she ended up in there is a mystery.
    She would make a great dog for a farmer or rancher. She loves to follow you around while you work, seems to be the only time she’s happy. She’s not happy unless she is saving your life 24/7.

  18. I’ve been a member here for a lot of years, and this is my first post ! I couldn’t help but post when it’s about my favorite dogs ! I’ve had German Shepherds my whole life. I currently have 3. Ruger, German bred, Remington, American bred, and Kimber, from Slovakia, a long hair shepherd. They all have completely different personalities. Ruger is 10, and the boss of the two females. Remington is 3 and very docile. Kimber just turned 2 and has the personality of a malinois. She chases butterflies for fun. And just about anything else that runs ! We live on a ranch, and the dogs have free rein on over 100 acres. They’ve been taught not to cross the driveway gates or our fences. They are very good guard dogs, but yet play with the grandkids, 5 and 2, that come most every day. They don’t bother the cattle or horses, or chickens and ducks or barn cats. They’re taught the rules very early. They even know which driveway alarm is which. Very smart animals! Ruger has saved me more than once during two bulls fighting. He has no fear of 2500# animals. And can come right back to the house and sit for my disabled son to pet him. They are truly amazing animals!

    1. Gramma Cookie,

      I love hearing about your GSD’s. We have been thinking about getting one as well. This article is timely in that we know more about what to look for. And I love the names of your dogs. 🙂

      Krissy, You are so kind and sweet in all of your posts. I just wanted to compliment you on that.

      1. Hi, SETX, thanks for your kind words. I hope your dad is doing as well as can be expected, and that your family is staying cool in the heat. Blessings of strength and patience to each of you, Krissy

        1. Hi Krissy,

          You are welcome for the kind words. Unfortunately, my father passed away at the end of April. He is now in a better place and enjoying his time with our Lord and Savior. We are rejoicing in that knowledge. Also, my mother and my siblings and I were able to be with him at the end.

          1. Oh, SETX, what bittersweet news!

            Oh, that we might all be so blessed to have those we love and that love us be with us when we pass over the Jordan, from loving arms into the everlasting arms.

            For your mother, I claim the verse that says,
            “He is near to the broken hearted.” Psalm 34:18

            May the Lord keep her. May His face shine upon her and give her peace.

            May you be a comfort to her.
            May the Lord bless you with more of Himself as you lead your family.
            In Christ, Krissy

    2. So nice to meet you, Gramma Cookie!
      Your ranch sounds like heaven on earth for your grandkids and GSD’s.
      What a blessing you have grandkids so close that can visit everyday.
      Your GSD’s sound absolutely amazing too.
      Blessings on your week, Krissy

  19. We’ve had three GSDs and three Airdales. Both are protective and loyal, but the Airdales love to wander off sniffing trails. The GSDs stick around close. One was a rescue dog from a breeder…the original owner had cats and Fletcher loved to chase them. So, an expensive dog of German lineage came to us basically free. Had a lot of red in his handsome coat.
    Anyway, we were supposed to pick him up on a Friday. I came home on a Wednesday night about 2am (normal work hours) and I heard this nasty growl in the dark. “CAROLINE!!!!!” Wife came running to my rescue and I was formally introduced to our new dog. He was magnificent. Unfortunately, my wife had to put him down the same day I had heart valve repair surgery. Also had an Alsacian GSD that weighed about 125 lbs. LOVED our cat, and they would nap together on the floor. An enlarged heart took him away from us. Now, our third is fading, with hip trouble. This is the hard part about having these great animals, the end of the line. We’re not sure if we’ll get another GSD as age is creeping up on us as well. Don’t know how we’ll get an injured 90 lb dog into our vehicle for a trip to the vet.
    Great article on this breed, and the comments were great.

    1. sob. One of my GSD’s got very ill out of the blue, overnight, and I couldn’t lift her 90lb frame into the car to take her to the animal hospital. My husband and son were both traveling away from home. I was out of my mind and couldn’t get a vet to visit in the middle of the night. She passed away early that morning. She dragged herself over and put her head on my feet and I heard her take her last breath. I lost it. I just can’t forgive myself. Sigh… painful. This is what we take on when we love these animals with all our hearts.

      I realize after raising many GSDs, that my new puppy will require ALL that I have in terms of training, exercise, and health. I’m looking forward to picking him up, but I also realize the huge responsibility before me. He is of Polish and Czech lines and from a local breeder. After failing in my adoption efforts of GSD rescues, I decided to go with a puppy who I can raise to be a well trained, happy, confident dog.

      GSDs (or Mals) are not for everyone. Most live only 10-12 years. Some may consider getting a smaller breed whose main job is a “first alert system” by barking at strangers who intrude upon the property. My Brittany Spaniel lived to 14 yrs and she was a complete delight.

  20. Awesome writing skills. Great rendering of the special uniqueness of the top dog & true Royalty of the Canine world – the awesome German Shepherd. We’ve had two; both already Trained upon arrival & both used in working succession for Personal & Office Protection – a difficult Duty that they “oooozed with ease,” we have long seen. Just one word, not in English, and YOU get to receive their chomp of disapproval! The respect & responsibility that comes with this is something almost totally indescribable. Yet, both were “adopted Family members,” as well, very naturally…around many children, they also protected so very calmly. These dogs know how to work & then go home, though they are never “off duty”! With the 2nd GS, we found how Czech dogs are absolutely superior over the whole breed, especially for Personal Protection; their Genetics are just perfect, obviously. As it is said, “Genetics is everything. Training is everything else!” And, “The schmuck at the end of the leash NEEDS to be trained (to handle & to continue to train the dog), too!” This, because the dog ALREADY HAS all the goods! And then there is their Loyalty. Wow. Unmatched! What a awesome package is the GS. What a deal, too! The GS is soooo very capable to serve & to please. So smart that: “They know who the Perp is – way before you ever do!” (Just observe WHO they start to stare at, in any situation!) But, like anything, if mis-handled, they can be screwed up, too. So, the saddest thing we sometimes see is a dog (any dog) with a owner who disrespects & ab-uses their own dog? There, the dog suffers uselessly, and yet “they never complain.” All Humans could well take a huge lesson from (all) Dogs in this respect. Amazing creatures, dogs, and especially these GS’s!! WE have become better People having owned this very special breed of “dog,” without-a-single-doubt! Just another gift from above, clearly.

  21. Have had a Lab-German Short Hair Pointer mix for years and decided we wanted another dog finally deciding on a Shepherd. Best animal decision we ever made. We searched throughout the middle-south for breeders and found one that breeds from imported stock, large, classic straight back GSPs meant to be pets, not K-9s. Sweet as pie, that said, do not think you’ll get close to the yard/house unnoticed.
    My reservation was would this sweet female hundred pound dog protect us if someone tried to force their way into house. About a month the ago I led an HVAC repairman into the house without putting the dogs in a separate room. When the repair guy followed me out of the garage and into the house without the usual stranger-to-dog introductions our GSP transformed into a hair straight up, loudest bark/growl I’ve ever heard out of her, all teeth, it’s stranger for lunch dog I’ve ever seen. As a former military SERE trainer I worked with K9s and seen them go into attack mode. She was all in. Had I not been there it wasn’t going to be a pretty outcome.

    Great dogs, train them early and often. The Shepherd part is there bite trained or not. Just know unless trained to protect property they may help someone carry your TV out the door. When it comes to the pack, your family, the protect mode seems genetic.

    Oh, be ready for the completely different reactions you get from strangers. I walk with my Lab mix and it’s all “can my child pet your dog, and smiles. I take the Shepherd to the park and women pull their little children behind them… A hundred pound GSP is visually impressive.

  22. Sara, you confirm our planning for the future. In 10 years, I’ll be in my 70s and we’d have a tough time with a stretcher case 90 lb dog. We never trained our GSD for attack…that’s our domain. Bite-trained attack dogs have their risks. You are responsible for any damage done by your dog (or bullet). I’d never take my dog to a store. While I THINK my cuddly GSD is safe, she is a big dog that can do a lot of damage.
    We might look at a Welch Terrier, a downsized Airdale Terrier.
    Our first Airdale, Lily, was a delightful dog in every way. Always playful, great around little kids. Robust and sturdy. We always wondered if she would defend. One day my wife was doing obedience training on our street in Salt Lake. A car with 4 men in it stopped to ask bogus directions. When one of them got out and approached, my wife became fearful, and Lily went into psycho mode. Her 55 lbs hitting the end of her leash nearly dislocated C’s shoulder.
    Goofy got right back in the car and there were no further questions! They left immediately.
    We’ll miss the GSD breed.
    Airdales served gallantly as war dogs in two world wars.
    Also glad the gentleman expanded on the Malinois breed. Not a family pet!

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