The German Shepherd is the second most popular breed out of 193 American Kennel Club registered breeds, as well as second throughout the world. Each year, 130,000 new German Shepherd parents register their dogs and introduce them to their families.
Before registration and bringing the wonderful new addition to their family there are many decisions for prospective dog owners to make, like:
- Do German Shepherds make great family dogs?
- How to find the best German Shepherd Breeders?
- How much does a German Shepherd Cost?
- How much does it cost to have a German Shepherd?
- Can I adopt a purebred German Shepherd from a rescue organization or animal shelter?
- What are adoption fees?
These are just a few of the many questions we answer for those considering a German Shepherd.
Expert German Shepherd Advice
We talked to a reputable German Shepherd Breeder, Julie Bennett from Central Coast German Shepherds to get you some of these answers and more. Ms. Bennett has bred some top German Shepherd Blood lines on her hobby farm on the Central Coast of California. Central Coast German Shepherds primary goal in breeding is to provide the highest quality German Shepherds with the family in mind so we are grateful to learn from her wisdom.
Do German Shepherds Make Great Family Dogs?
Our first question to Ms. Bennett, was whether German Shepherds make great family dogs since she has proudly owned German Shepherds for decades.
Ms. Bennett answered a resounding yes according to Bennett:
German Shepherds make excellent family dogs. She went on to say that German Shepherds are very social dogs and should be expected to live with the family. They are extremely intelligent and loyal dogs and do best in a home where they have some kind of a job. For many the job can be companionship and to keep the family safe and for others it may be to keep their family member(s) doing their exercise with regular daily activities and for others it could be to perform life saving interventions. German Shepherds are extremely versatile dogs.
Dog owners of German Shepherds often form a lifelong affinity for the breed after having an initial German Shepherd.
This is more likely to occur if they started with a German Shepherd from a reputable breeder and were able to avoid certain health conditions that may affect German Shepherds that come from “puppy mills” or those that are not from responsible breeders.
How Much Does a German Shepherd Cost?
Ms. Bennett noted that prices from a backyard breeder with no health testing or real knowledge of lineage might range from $800-$1500.
Purebred German Shepherds from American Lines typically range from $2,000 – $3,000 and the Imported German Lines can range significantly. German Shepherd Puppies from imported parents from West Germany can vary significantly in price depending also on the parents’ accomplishments. You should expect to pay an average price of anywhere from $3,000 and up from German Imported, Titled Parents, says Bennett.
German bloodlines are important for foundation breeding. Ms. Bennett notes that in Germany a dog is required to have his breed survey in order to even be considered for breeding. A breed survey includes breed specific health screening such as Hip X rays with passing of Fair, Good or Excellent and Elbows as Pass. They also are screened for sound temperament, correct conformation, endurance and sound minds. All of our breeding dogs at Central Coast German Shepherds, are German Imports for this reason, says Bennett.
“Although some may consider German Shepherds to be expensive dogs”, says Bennett when we consider all of the benefits of working with a reputable German Shepherd Breeder, the cost is certainly not excessive.
This is especially true when we consider all that goes into breeding a healthy and well socialized dog from the breeders perspective and that the purebred German Shepherd will be a lifelong friend, companion and perhaps working dog, the cost of a purebred dog is very reasonable.
Vet medical costs and the heartbreak of health issues in adult dogs indicate that if you are in love with this breed an experienced breeder with superior bloodlines is very beneficial for the long term health and wellness of your dog.
What Are the Ongoing Costs of Having a German Shepherd?
Before you make the exciting commitment to get your German Shepherd another important question besides the German Shepherd price is the routine day to day costs of having a German Shepherd. The basic costs of any large dog will be very similar to those of a German Shepherd.
Food is first and foremost the greatest regular cost for most pet owners. High quality food costs vary but are typically between $75.00 and $80.00 or more for a 35 pound bag which your dog will likely eat one of per month.
You can also purchase a dog food subscription or make your own food (see our article on homemade versus store bought dog food here)
In the first year of owning your dog you also need to consider extra vet care as you get all of your initial shots. These can be expensive as to obtain the series several vet visits are necessary.
After that, routine health checks and vet care will be necessary. Expect to pay $1,000.00 over the first year and at least $900 every year thereafter up until your dog enters their senior years when that annual cost will increase again.
In the senior years your dog will require greater vet monitoring for typical issues associated with senior dogs. See our post for a guide on vet care and health issues in your dogs senior years.
Vet care costs may reduced significantly with pet insurance. Pet insurance may cover certain vet care costs if the coverage is included in the policy.
You may consider pet insurance for your German Shepherd. Pet insurance costs depend on several factors including whether you obtain it early in your pets life. If you do you will have superior coverage at lower cost. But you still should expect to pay between $45.00 and $65.00 per month depending on deductibles and coverages and the age of your dog when you obtain the pet insurance policy along with many other factors.
As we talk about in Motherpuppin’ Adorable: What to do when your dog is better than everyone else’s, the tongue in cheek guide to navigating life with your dog, Pet insurance does not cover everything. Be selective of the insurance you select and pay attention to what it covers.
Other costs include, bed, crate, leashes, collars and treats and chews of course. German Shepherds also need regular grooming. You can groom your dog yourself with some learned dog grooming skills or your can take your dog to a groomer. (If you need help selecting one check out our top tips for how to select a dog groomer. If you do elect to do your own dog grooming you will need some tools. However, after you are set up there will just be minimal costs for shampoo and tools. (Check out our post on the best dog brushes for long haired dogs)
If you do go to a groomer, depending on your area it will cost $45-60 a visit and upwards due to German Shepherds size and coat.
Lastly, you also will want to leave room in your budget for training classes and support. Nowadays this may be online or in person. In person training is a great opportunity to socialize your puppy with other dogs provided your pup is vaccinated.
What is the Typical Size Of a German Shepherd?
Any new pet owner needs to understand the full size of the adult dog they are bringing home. Our family used to adopt Great Danes and it was incredible to learn that many Great Danes are surrendered to rescue organizations when people simply do not understand how big they will be as adult dogs.
Although German Shepherds are certainly not a Great Dane they are a large dog that will take up some space. According to the Prrrs and Wags Blog the German Shepherd is considered a large dog breed. Males can grow to be 24-26 inches tall and weigh 65-90 lbs. Female German Shepherds are smaller, measuring 22-24 inches tall and weighing 50-70 lbs.
However, in general, German Shepherds are healthy dogs, though they do have a few genetic health problems and age slightly faster due to their larger size. Their lifespans are between 7-13 years, with the expectation that they’ll receive regular veterinary care and exercise and eat well-balanced, healthy foods.
What Else Can I Train My German Shepherd to Do?
As Ms. Bennett indicated, German Shepherds are a very versatile dog. German Shepherds can perform many tasks for us. We know that German Shepherds are police dogs, show dogs, guard dogs, service dogs, and have been used as working dogs for important scent detection work like medical detection dogs, cadaver dogs and bee detection conservation dogs and make excellent family companions. With proper training it seems German Shepherds abilities are limitless.
Central Coast German Shepherds have placed dogs” in service homes; seizure alert, diabetic alert, search and rescue, law enforcement, show homes, competition IPO (Schutzhund) and of course family homes that want an amazing companion, best friend and protector of their property and family” says Bennett.
How Do I Know If I Am Working With a Reputable German Shepherd Breeder?
It seems of late that many Dog Breeders are popping up and there are many choices available when you are looking for a new German Shepherd so we asked Ms. Bennett how to find reputable German Shepherd Breeders.
According to Bennett, a reputable breeder should provide you with education about the breed, provide a written health warranty, references and reviews and provide health records of their breeding dogs. They should give health records of their puppies reflecting proper deworming and vaccinations according to age and no puppy should ever leave the breeder prior to 8 weeks of age.
Early care of developing puppies is also important and the way the breeder starts the puppies out in life. Central Coast German Shepherds provides ENS – Early Neuro Stimulation beginning at 3 days old. Early neurological stimulation (ENS) has been proposed to enhance the natural abilities of dogs. “This kind of stimulation involves subjecting pups aged between 3 and 16 days to mild forms of stimulation leading to “stress,” and is said to lead to faster maturation and better problem-solving abilities later in life and stronger immune system support” says Bennett
Central Coast German Shepherds also provides ESI – Early Scent Introductions which can help determine those puppies best suited for jobs in search and rescue or diabetic or seizure alert dogs by determining which puppies are more sensitive or interested and motivated with different scents.
As Ms. Bennett says, “every puppy has his strengths and can perform a job. It is our job as breeders to provide early imprinting so they can be placed with an owner that can fulfil the needs of each and every puppy so they can develop into the best that they can be whether for a working home or for a family home, making it a win – win for puppy and owner.”
What was most surprising to me is that a breeder does extensive health testing to ensure the health of your dog and that it is free of common issues like hip dysplasia but a good breeder will help also to contribute to a dogs mental health and well being with support in its younger years.
In addition, a dog breeder ensures that there is a good match. Whether it be dog showing, police work, scent work or a family dog your breeder should have intimate knowledge of each puppy to ensure that there is a correct with a new owner.
Can I Get a German Shepherd from an Animal Shelter?
There are many animal shelters and rescue organizations that focus their rescue efforts of German Shepherds specifically like German Shepherd Rescue of Northern California and many German Shepherds that they have would make a great family pet. However, as we have discussed with all of the breeders efforts to bring you healthy pets the background of rescue dogs are unknown.
We at The Popular Pets are huge proponents of rescue organizations and animal shelter adoptions but only if you make your choice for a long lasting friend that will become part of your family. The best place to get a German Shepherd for your next companion depends on you.
Other German Shepherd Facts
When you are choosing your next dog even if you are set on a German Shepherd, these facts may help you decide or prepare for your dog.
German Shepherds are double-coated and SHED!
German Shepherds can have short- to medium-length and long-haired coats. There are many types of German Shepherds but they are double-coated. Their longest coat is the overcoat, which contains longer guard hairs. Their undercoat is softer and denser – it protects their skin from extreme heat and cold weather. Both coats shed a lot, giving the German Shepherd the nickname “German Shedder.”
According to Bennett, who has done her fair share of German Shepherd maintenance, “German Shepherds are a double coated breed and shed their undercoat twice a year. German Shepherds have pretty simple grooming to maintain a healthy coat which includes regular brushing but they do need more attention during the blowout of their coat in the Spring and Fall. Using a De-Shedding Rake can remove the loose undercoat and reduce the shedding by up to 90% during those shedding seasons.”
German Shepherds are the third-smartest dogs
If you have a German Shepherd, you know how intelligent they are. They are actually considered the third-smartest dog breed. Researchers say that Poodle and Border Collies have them beat in the brains department, but I am sure it was a close call!
Of course, this is why we often see German Shepherds as working dogs since their intelligence also makes them very trainable which of course is an asset for a family dog as well.
German Shepherd Breed Colors and Markings
You will find that there are 11 different colors of German Shepherds that can be registered with the AKC, including Black German Shepherd, Sable and White German Shepherds, and the highly desirable black and red German Shepherds.
Currently, according to Bennett the White German Shepherd can be registered with AKC only if both parents are purebred; however, the white German Shepherd, as of this date, is disqualified by the AKC.
Central Coast German Shepherds breed the Black and Red German shepherd, the ideal color is for deep rich pigment and a medium length coat.
Although you may consider the black and cream, black and tan or black and silver coat color when you think of a German Shepherd, there are vast color options in purebred dogs.
Can I buy a German Shepherd from a Pet Store?
Certain pet stores in various communities may have German Shepherds for sale. Although pet store puppies may be available at lower prices, you should take care when purchasing any puppy from a pet store. Pet store puppies may not have been socialized or have all of the health checks that were noted above that are normally done with reputable breeders.
Getting any new puppy is an exciting time but it is important to measure all of the options, including the cost of a German Shepherd puppy before you make your selection. A reputable breeder can help you navigate the new world of puppy parenting with tips and advice and by ensuring that the puppy you select will have a long and healthy life. Check out more new puppy resources that Central Coast German Shepherds had gathered for new puppy owners.