Like all dogs, German Shepherds are individuals with their own unique personalities. In order to get the most out of having one in your family, it is important to make sure that their temperament (their personal traits and natural predisposition) is compatible with you and your needs. Follow these tips, and you’ll be able to answer the question, “Which German Shepherd temperament is right for me?” with ease! Most importantly, you’ll be able to find a lasting and loyal companion.
Understand the General German Shepherd Temperament
Even though all dogs are individuals with their own quirks and traits, it’s important to understand that the German Shepherd breed in general is known for certain things. For example, most German Shepherds are highly intelligent and very loyal to their owners. They can also be very protective and are some of the most trainable dog breeds around, which is why they are often used as police dogs, military canines, guard dogs — even service and therapy animals. The dogs’ loyalty to their owners can also come with a natural distrust of strangers, but well-trained dogs will be friendly once introduced.
It’s also worth noting that German Shepherds are very much work animals, and they thrive when they feel they have a “job” to do. Even if your pet’s job will not be an official one, it’s worth thinking about how they will fit into your home and family.
Always Meet the Dog First
Even though most German Shepherds are naturally friendly, it’s always a good idea to go meet a potential pet (or service dog) first before deciding to officially adopt. If possible, ask the dog breeder (or group you are adopting the dog from) for a trial run with your new German Shepherd. This way, you will be able to see early on if the dog’s temperament works well with you and your lifestyle. A trial run also allows you and the dog to bond and see what kinds of activities (from sports to cuddling!) you enjoy together.
Evaluate the Type of Environment the Dog will Be in
A dog’s environment can greatly affect their temperament, just as certain personalities will do better in different settings. German Shepherds with calm, playful demeanors (of which there are plenty!) will do best with families, particularly those with small children. The loyal part of their temperament will also be great for a family, though they may need to be calmly introduced to strangers and visitors to know that they aren’t a threat to their loved ones.
And while we’re on the subject of environment, it is worth noting that dog owners with children (or in an environment where exposure to children may be common) and other pets need to make sure that the German Shepherd they bring into their family has been well socialized. German Shepherd puppies can quickly learn to adapt to environments with other animals and young people, but older dogs that have not been socialized from an early age may do best in a home with all adults (and where they are the only dog).