German Shepherd Puppy Guide

Sam Shephard is an experienced German Shepherd owner and has learned throughout the years how to optimize the breed's health and wellness.

German Shepherd Dogs (GSDs) are one of the most popular dog breeds on the planet. They are strong, loyal and a pleasure to be around. These dogs, however, require a great deal of care.

This breed is known for shedding and they are also prone to a number of health conditions. If you want to make sure that your German Shepherd has the happiest life possible, the best option is to make sure that you start caring for them at a young age. In this article, we are going to describe the best ways for you to take care of a young German Shepherd puppy.

Preparation Stage: Choosing a Puppy

If you haven't already purchased your German Shepherd, there are a few things that you might want to consider before doing so.

One thing to keep in mind is the temperament and behavior of the puppy's parents. This means that, if possible, you should meet both of the dog's parents. This will give you some idea of the temperament that it will likely develop when it grows older. Try to avoid bringing puppies home on a whim, just because you think they are cute.

This means that you should avoid buying a German Shepherd from common pet stores. Make sure that you don't order them online, either. Buying a puppy from either one of these places makes it difficult for you to learn about his lineage. Furthermore, these puppies are likely to come from puppy mills, where dogs are treated unfairly.

Your best bet is to seek a dog that was raised by a German Shepherd breeder. Breeders know a lot about the dogs, and we'll be able to tell you what do you need to learn about raising it properly. They will also be able to inform you about the dog's ancestry, and we'll probably be able to introduce you to his parents.

Other good choices for choosing a puppy are animal shelters, which help to relocate abandoned dogs, or from specific German Shepherd rescuers.

How to Pick a German Shepherd Puppy

How are you supposed to know which dog to choose from? They are all going to be adorable. How can you tell which one will grow up to be the type of dog that you were looking for?

If you are not prepared to deal with it, trying to avoid getting a dog that has undergone trauma. Signs of trauma, like anxiety, distance, or antisocial behavior can be indicators of this. If there is any suspicious behavior from the breeder or anything that gives you cause to question the way that they care for their dogs, then you should not hesitate to seek a different breeder.

Make sure that the puppy you are choosing has just as much energy as their peers. Make sure that it is relatively easy for you to develop a connection with the dog before purchasing it. If he does not approach you or does not seem interested in developing a connection, they may have experienced trauma, or they may simply not like you. Some dogs simply don't enjoy affection, and in many cases, this does not change when they become adults.

However, you must consider all aspects. If you are looking for a dog that will primarily be guarding your house or business, and we'll be spending ample time alone, then perhaps it is wise to choose a dog that fares well on its own.

Considerations: Cost, Diet, Size and Temperament

One of the first things that you should consider is the cost of a German Shepherd. In addition to the cost of a normal dog, which is anywhere from $300 to $700, you will also have to pay the cost of keeping the puppy healthy and safe.

German Shepherds cost about $1,500 to $2,500 a year. This cost will cover things like food, the supplies that you will need to groom your dog, and care from a veterinarian. This depends on where you live, the price of decent dog food, etc. In my country, I can keep costs below $ 1,000.

Another thing to consider is the diet of your dog. German shepherds grow up quite quickly, and you will need to adjust their diet according to the age and size of your dog. Diet is also incredibly important for a German Shepherd because a proper diet can help reduce the chances of them in developing joint and bone conditions later in life.

Also important is to learn about the type of dog that you are buying. Understanding the temperament of a German Shepherd, as well as their intense energy levels, can help prepare you for raising one.

Taking the Puppy Home

Taking your puppy home safely and soundly is the first step in caring for your dog. Trying to get them to lie down and fall asleep before starting the vehicle.

One of the most important things to do is make sure that you take your puppy to a vet. Doing this within 24 hours after purchasing the dog will help to ensure that you know what it needs. Don't skip this step just because the dog is being seen by a veterinarian already.

Taking Your Puppy Out to Potty

One of the first things that you will have to do after you get your dog home is take them to the bathroom. Have a place prepared for them to relieve themselves. Take them here, and praise them they successfully relieve themselves in the proper area.

A German Shepherd puppy will have a very small bladder. This means that it will need to relieve itself quite often, probably at least once every 2–3 hours, if it is drinking enough water. One way to know that your German Shepherd needs to go to the washroom is that it will be walking around in circles, sniffing the ground.

When I get a new puppy, I usually take a couple of weeks vacation. I fence off a small part of the garden for them to play and we have an area with beach sand and poles where the dog can pee and poop.

Some people train a puppy to relieve themselves using a newspaper. Encourage them to relieve themselves on the newspaper, and then move the newspaper outside. Once they are accustomed to relieving themselves on the newspaper, and if you praise them enough for doing so, they will then want to relieve themselves outside when you move the newspaper outside. I prefer not to do this, it takes too many steps for me. I put the puppy in a bench the first couple of weeks, when I'm not around in the house and just get them out very often.

Raising the Dog: Training and Socialization

There are many things to consider when raising a German Shepherd dog. Having a dog is no small responsibility. Think of it like having a small child—the dog requires lots of love, lots of food, and lots of education.

If you don't train your dog early in its life, it will become more and more difficult to train it as it gets older. If you want your dog to behave well, then it is vital that you train it early in its life. It’s also extremely important to properly socialize your dog so that they can interact with humans and other dogs comfortably.

Tips for Socializing Your Pup

One of the first things that you will want to do with your dog is socialize it. The best way to do this is to introduce it to all manner of people and dogs as early as possible. You will want it to get to know people of different sizes, ethnic backgrounds, and ages, so that it becomes familiar with these types of people as soon as possible.

It's also important to get your dog to bond with other types of animals. One of the best ways to do this is to enroll your puppy in a training school. This will not only help your dog get to know other dogs, but it will help them become properly trained.

Tips for Training Your Pup

Training a German Shepherd takes an exorbitant amount of time, and unless you have a huge amount of spare time it may be difficult for you to train your dog.

One of the best ways to tackle two of the most important parts of raising a puppy— socializing and training—is to enroll them in some sort of puppy kindergarten or training course. Try to do this before your dog reaches 6 months old.

After you have completed basic training courses, your dog can be moved up into more personalized and advanced training lessons. German Shepherds are highly intelligent and can retain a lot of information about their lessons.

Be a Good Leader

One of the most important things about raising a dog is to make sure that you assert dominance. If you don't exert dominance, then your dog probably won't want to listen to you.

One of the most difficult things about having someone else train your dog is that they may not learn to respect your dominance. For this reason, it's wise to establish dominance before you sent them off to training.

Some people confuse the idea of being dominant and assertive with being abusive. There is certainly no reason to be abusive to your dog whatsoever when asserting dominance, or ever. There are a number of influences involved in establishing leadership and dominance over a dog—namely body language, consistency, and training.

There are many guides on establishing dominance available, and there is too much information to convey here. Some tips, though:

  • It’s important to establish boundaries with your dog. Remember that it’s not just OK to say 'no', it’s vital. This lets your dog know that you’re the boss and helps them know what is acceptable behavior.
  • Learning dominant commands, such as 'leave it' or 'sit down', will help your dog positively respond to your influence.

Again, it’s probably a wise idea to do some basic training with your dog before you send them off to another trainer so they don’t begin to respect the trainer more than you.

Nutrition and Health

Like any dog, it's important to feed your dog the proper food. There are a number of things for you to consider when feeding your German Shepherd.


German Shepherds do not digest grains very well. For this reason, you should avoid getting them food that contains grain, according to a recommendation from the official German Shepherd dog resource guide.

The ideal diet would be similar to what the dog would eat in the wild. Most dog foods marketed specifically for German shepherds will have some ingredients that reflect this. Read the ingredients carefully if you are choosing a dog food not specifically made for Shepherds.

The dogs can eat up to a hundred pounds of dog food on a monthly basis.


When your dog is young, you will want to feed them between three and four times a day. This will help to ensure that they get the nutrition that they need to grow strong and healthy. In between feedings, remove the dog bowl so they do not beg.

Dogs older than a year can generally feel comfortable eating three meals a day, whereas adults only need two meals a day.

Make sure to regularly take your dog to the vet during its first couple of years. The vet can evaluate whether or not your dog is growing at a healthy rate, and can comment on the diet that you are feeding it.


Your dog may experience health problems during its life. One of the best ways to avoid health problems is to make sure that you only purchase a puppy from a breeder who can provide health records from the dog's parents. Ideally, they will be able to provide a record of previous joint testing done on the dog's parents, as well.

In addition to developing joint and bone problems, some shepherds are also likely to develop cancer and pancreas problems. They may also develop heart disease. Preparing for these possibilities is one of the best ways to ensure that your dog will be properly cared for if they occur.

Grooming and Aesthetics

These are beautiful dogs, and this means that they require a significant amount of upkeep. Here are some basic tips for taking care of your German Shepherd.


You are going to need to brush your German Shepherd quite often. They have long hair, and they shed quite a bit. Make sure that you brush them at least twice a week, preferably once a day if you have time. If you don't have time expect a lot of that fur to end up on your furniture.

During the spring and fall season, your dog will shed a lot more than usual. During this time, you can be expected to be vacuuming a lot more than usual. It's also vital that you make time to brush your dog at least once a day during these times.


Bathing is another important aspect of taking care of your German Shepherd. It's important not to bathe them too often because bathing them every day can cause their skin to stop producing natural oils. Over time, this can lead to irritation.

During their shedding seasons, you will probably want to bathe them as often as is necessary to keep them clean. However, for the rest of the year, you should not bathe them more than twice a month. Unless they are really smelly. Make sure you only use a shampoo that is made specifically for dogs and preferably made specifically for this breed.

Ear Cleaning

Also very important to make sure that you clean behind your dog's ears. German Shepherd ears stand tall and upright and are therefore prone to collecting bits of dirt and dust. If you don't clean this dirt and dust out of their ears, they can develop infections and hearing problems.

Cleaning their ears is quite simple. All you need to do is give a gentle, thorough wipe with a damp rag. Many pet stores sell moist wipes specifically for this purpose, but there’s no harm in making your own.

Much like raising any other dog, it's important that you give you a German Shepherd a lot of love. They are very strong, powerful, and loving dogs, but they also require a great deal of care.

It's very important that puppies are socialized at an early age. This ensures that they will be comfortable and happy with other dogs and people for the rest of their lives. It's also important to make sure that they get a lot of exercise, both during their childhood and otherwise.

Following the tips provided in this article should give you enough information to begin raising a German Shepherd puppy - but remember, discussing the issue with a trainer or breeder can help you learn more about your dog.


  • Palika L. and Albert T. Your German Shepherd Puppy Month by Month, 2nd Edition: Everything You Need to Know at Each State to Ensure Your Cute and Playful Puppy. Alpha, 2016, 352 p.
  • Monks of New Skete. The Art of Raising a Puppy. Little, Brown and Company, 2011, 352 p.

© 2019 Sam Shepards

Jean on August 20, 2020:

Is the shephard available

Sam Shepards (author) from Europe on December 18, 2019:

THank you for your comment. German Shepherds are not aggressive by nature normally. It all depends how they are brought up and trained. In general they are a safe breed, but I would not advise getting a dog as first time owners when having one or more very small children. You need to know what you are doing and that both the dog as the kids are safe and have space.

The German Shepherd

Versatility on four feet


Characterized by its great adapability and physical prowess, the German Shepherd Dog is respected, admired, and utilized throughout the world. One of the most easily recognized and one of the most popular of all breeds, it is acclaimed for its versatility, renowned for its intelligence, and beloved for its devotion and loyalty to its owner.

Surprisingly, the GSD has been in existence as a distinct breed for only about 90 years. The breed traces its ancestors to a widely diverse group of sheepherding and farm dogs in Germany. In the late 19th Century, informal breeding groups of sheepherders banded together through a common interest in their dogs and attempted to produce dogs with the desired working attributes.

The initial group disbanded, but another society formed in 1899 flourished. This group, Der Verein fur Deutsche Schaeferhunde (sv) was founded by Max von Stephanitz, a cavalry officer known as the father of the breed.

The GSD came to the US as early as 1908, but its popularity rose dramatically after World War I, when returning soldiers told of the heroic dogs' work with the Red Cross, at the front, for the police, and on guard duty. In addition, Rin Tin Tin and Strongheart, two beloved silent film stars, captured the hearts of the American public.

Today, the German Shepherd is distinguished for his loyalty, courage, and ability to retain training for a number of special services. Members of the breed are widely used by police officers and the military, as guide dogs for the blind, guardians, drug and contraband detection dogs, and Search and Rescue dogs. Most, however, are purchased to serve the important role of devoted family friend and protector.


A sound temperament is of the utmost importance in a good companion. Temperament is inherited, and therefore is a direct result of the dog's breeding.

The character of the German Shepherd Dog is one of self-confidence and nobility. Although a mature German Shepherd will not wear his heart on his sleeve, he should be approachable and outgoing. Strangers may be regarded with some suspicion, but the dog should be neither overly sharp and aggressive nor cringe with fear.

A sound German Shepherd makes an excellent companion. An unsound one is a disaster waiting to happen.

Because of a desire to have a family protector, many GSD puppy buyers think they need a very dominant, aggressive dog -- an unwise choice for a family. Sound GSDs are naturally protective of their homes and families.

Puppies will begin to show some awareness of "their" people and "their" space at about five or six months of age and will display a desire to warn of approaching strangers. An alert dog and a few warning barks is all the protection most families require.

For those who have a true need for more serious protection, a sound, balanced dog is still the best choice. Such a dog can be trained in formal personal protection by a competent instructor. An overly aggressive or unsound dog should not be trained in protection, for it will be a danger and cannot be trusted. Anyone planning to acquire a personal protection dog should choose the dog and the trainer carefully, for a poor dog or a poor trainers can court disaster.

Physical attributes

On the physical side, the German Shepherd is of middle size with enough weight to be effective as a herder or a patrolman, but not so big as to be cumbersome. This is a trotting dog that can cover a lot of ground very gracefully, with almost no effort. The impression of the dog should be one of ruggedness combined with nobility, power, agility, and elegance.

The GSD generally weighs 75-95 pounds, with males usually larger than females. Males should be 24-26 inches at the withers (top of the shoulder blades), and females 22-24 inches. Although larger dogs exist, excessive size is not desireable.


Popularity of the breed has led to a great deal of diversity. Colors are black and tan, black and red, black and cream, black and silver, solid black, sable, and white. White is considered to be a fault in the US and white shepherds cannot enter breed classes at shows.

Coats come in a variety of lengths from short to long. Long coats are a fault in the show ring.

Since many fanciers have specialized in a single area of interest, some dogs are better suited for the show ring, some are better suited for protection training or obedience competition, and some are best suited to be good home companions.

While each of these roles is not mutually exclusive, a knowledgeable breeder can be a big help in selecting the right dog to fit your needs.

Fitting a GSD to your family

Those considering a German Shepherd Dog as a family addition should make sure that this breed is the best fit for the situation. The dogs are strong in body, spirit, and mind. They need much attention, love, and firm guidance as they grow -- which they do quite quickly.

As a gawky, awkward teenager, a GSD may unintentially knock over a small child or a frail elderly person. Their strong, happy tails can clear tables, and their powerful jaws and teeth wreak havoc on furniture.

This is a slowly maturing breed with a long puppyhood, so the new owner must be prepared to provide kind but firm discipline and a secure environment to help the dog develop into a well- behaved adult. German Shepherds are active dogs. They love to run and explore their surroundings with their excellent noses. They require considerable exercise, especially while growing. This exercise can be provided by an active owner, another dog or two, or a fenced yard or dog run. Tying this dog to a house is unacceptable, as it will create frustration, boredom, and a potentially dangerous dog.

German Shepherds are very sociable dogs. They need attention and companionship. They do not do well if left in isolation from people and other companion animals.

They make excellent family dogs, because, although they sometimes pick one person as their special person, they can relate well to all members of the household. If they are raised with children, they will develop an abundance of tolerance to the grabbing and poking of tiny fingers.

Raising a puppy with young children takes extra patience and effort for parents. Often the fast-growing puppy will use his teeth in playing with children and their toys, sometimes resulting in scratches. Young children often excite puppies who want to wrestle and chase -- like they did with their littermates.

Children can undo all the work a parent has done in training the puppy because a small child is neither firm nor consistent with the pup. As long as parents realize that they will need an extra dose of patience, the German Shepherd puppy can grow up side by side with the children and be a source of lasting memories for all.

Care and training

German Shepherds are keenly intelligent and enjoy learning. Basic obedience training is excellent for them. Many of them enjoy learning tricks as well (or more!)

This is a natural breed, meaning that it does not require clipping or unusual grooming. Only occasional baths are needed. German Shepherds are double-coated with a coarse, water-resistent outer coat and a heavy, woolly undercoat. They are heavy shedders, especially in spring, and require regular combing. This is definitely not a dog for those who cannot abide dog hair on the furniture, carpets, clothes, etc.


As with many breeds, popularity has had its drawbacks. Many dogs of poor quality and unsound temperament have been brought into the world by unknowing backyard breeders and puppy mills. Many of these unfortunate puppies are in poor health and have genetic abnormalities and poor temperaments.

So, if you've decided to buy a German Shepherd, it is well worth your while to find a responsible breeder with a broad knowledge of the breed and the ancestors of the dogs he is working with. Although its helpful, just having Mom and Dad on the premises is not a hallmark of a good breeder.

A responsible breeder will know about the hereditary problems in the breed, have a working knowledge of genetics, and will take precautions to minimize the chances that your pet will endup with a health or temperament problem. A responsible breeder will also offer a written sales contract and a written guarantee of the health and soundness of their puppies. He wants the puppy you take home to be a welcome and successful addition to the family as much as you do and will make every effort to match the right puppy with you.

Good breeders can be found through referrals from veterinarians, breed or kennel clubs, established kennels, and training clubs. Prospective puppy buyers can talk to breeders at dog shows.

Purchasing a fine dog from a responsible breeder costs very little more than buying a poor quality dog from a pet store or an unknowledgeable person. A good breeder cares about the puppies he brings into the world and about where they are placed. (Don't be surprised if the breeder asks questions about you, your home, and your plans for care of the dog so he can decide if he wants to place a puppy with your family.)

Before purchasing a GSD, visit a dog show or observe a training class to decide if you are interested in training and competition. If so, the breeder can assist in selection of the puppy that has the most promise in these areas.

Even if you do not intend to compete, basic obedience training is a must.

The German Shepherd Dog has a proud and distinguished heritage. A sound dog, raised well, makes an owner forget that other breeds even exist. If this is the breed for you and your family, you will never have a better friend.

Carolyn D'Orta

This page is a part of the Dog Owner's Guide internet website and is copyright 2021 by Canis Major Publications. You may print or download this material for non-commercial personal or school educational use. All other rights reserved. If you, your organization or business would like to reprint our articles in a newsletter or distribute them free of charge as an educational handout please see our reprint policy.

We will be modifying the Dog Owner's Guide site with new and updated articles in 2021 as well as new booklists so check back often to see what's new!

Why Fidelco?

We know there are many guide and service dog schools out there. So, why Fidelco?

  • We breed, raise, and train only Fidelco German Shepherd guide dogs." Created from Bavarian stock, the Fidelco German Shepherd is an outstanding and exclusive product of selective breeding from strong working lines thus, our dogs possess the characteristics of the ideal working guide: intelligence, temperament, stamina, and stability.
  • We provide our German Shepherd guide dogs at no cost to clients. All the training you receive from our certified trainers/instructors and all at-home follow-up visits (at least once yearly) are also provided free of charge, as is access to our 24/7 hotline.
  • Our In-Community placement program allows you to bond and train with your Fidelco Guide Dog in your home and in the community in which you live and work. Fidelco pioneered this program, and it remains the gold standard - and demonstrates that Fidelco understands you may not have the time, nor the desire, to be away for weeks.
  • Because you train at home with your dog and with your dog's dedicated trainer, the client-to-trainer ratio is always 1:1. The strength and safety of your team is all that matters.

Partnering with a guide dog is a big decision, and it's one that can be truly life-changing. At Fidelco, we take great pride in our work, and in the often life-saving partnerships we create. Our clients have referred to us as their "Fidelco family," and we'd love the opportunity to welcome you into that fold.

From our stringent application process to our equally rigorous method of matching clients to dogs, which help ensure that we are not only creating successful partnership but loving friendships as well, Fidelco has a team in place to walk you through each step and our support continues for the entire working life of your unique partnership.

Ready to learn more? Or maybe you're ready to apply for a guide dog - and to live your life with a Fidelco guide dog leading the way. Learn more about our application process or call 860-243-4044. We look forward to hearing from you.

Only purchase from breeders with experience

Backyard breeders aren’t the best place to purchase your German Shepherd puppy. You should make sure that you are going to purchase or adopt your puppy from breeders with experience and that have a good record.

You want to make sure that the puppy is in good condition and healthy. That the parents are healthy as well. You can ask to check their records of dogs bred there before. And, if the puppy is really cheap, then you should be warned. German shepherds are great family dogs, but only if they are bred pure and have a great bloodline. Then, you and your family will enjoy your new addition to the family.

Shy German Shepherd dogs

Any good German Shephard isn’t shy. They like playing, see what you are doing, and is always playing. Active and healthy German Shephard puppies are the best ones to choose. You should make sure that your puppy is happy at your home. Shy and anxiety puppies will become aggressive later on. And, this can become really dangerous for you and your family.

This is why you should make sure that the puppy you are choosing is fun to play with, and not show signs of shyness or anxiety.

How to Take Care of a German Shepherd

Last Updated: March 5, 2021 References Approved

This article was co-authored by Pippa Elliott, MRCVS. Dr. Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS is a veterinarian with over 30 years of experience in veterinary surgery and companion animal practice. She graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1987 with a degree in veterinary medicine and surgery. She has worked at the same animal clinic in her hometown for over 20 years.

There are 15 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 53 testimonials and 95% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status.

This article has been viewed 837,966 times.

German shepherds are large and active dogs that are highly intelligent and loyal companions. They require thoughtful care and consistent training in order to live long and happy lives. German shepherds need to be fed and housed properly, in addition to requiring regular health care and exercise. With some effort and care, your German shepherd can live a long and happy life and will be a steady companion for you for years to come.

Watch the video: German Shepherd Puppy Training - First 2 weeks of training. 4K

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