The German Shepherd breed was initially created to herd flocks of livestock from sunrise to sunset; therefore, this breed is built to be energetic and active and to have the stamina to work long hours. Owners of this breed should plan to give their German Shepherd plenty of time to exercise daily both in mind and body. The breed loves to run and chase and excels at agility and obedience competitions that require a sharp mind and respect for the owner. If left alone without the ability to burn off energy or to engage the mind, the German Shepherd can become unruly and destructive. Inactivity and boredom can lead to digging, chewing, and barking issues.
Barking is a quality of this breed as it is with other herding dog breeds. With proper obedience training, the German Shepherd will learn to go silent on command; however, the breed may bark incessantly due to separation anxiety or boredom if not adequately exercised. A German Shepherd should receive at least two hours of exercise daily once he reaches adulthood.
The German Shepherd is a chewing breed; they love to chew, and their powerful jaws can quickly destroy what they pick up in their mouths. Keeping delicate or expensive material out of their reach will protect both your property and your dog’s health. German Shepherds may swallow material that can cause blockages in their gastrointestinal system leading to significant injury or death.
Diet is critically important for this breed. The German Shepherd should have food that is created with large-breed dogs in mind. Your veterinarian or board-certified nutritionist can devise a diet with proper portion sizes to adjust to this breed’s growth from puppy-hood to geriatric age. German Shepherd grow quickly between five and seven months of age, making them susceptible to bone disorders; generally, a low-calorie but high-quality diet is necessary for this breed.
Because the German Shepherd grows so rapidly, it is best to not let the breed play on hard surfaces during puppy-hood until the age of two when their joints are fully formed and strong enough to withstand the pressures of unforgiving surfaces. Be careful not to overfeed this dog breed as they can easily become overweight and place more pressure on the joints, leading to joint diseases and other health conditions.
The German Shepherd’s toenails should be trimmed monthly and the ears checked weekly for any redness, foul odour, or dirt that may be a sign of infection. Clean the ears with a pH-balanced cleaner to keep the ears clean and clear.
As German Shepherds are notorious chewers, they need to have their teeth brushed regularly to reduce the buildup of tartar and to keep the gums healthy and clean. Safe dental chew treats and toys can provide additional support for this breed’s strong teeth.