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Would a GSD be right for me?


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So I've been looking to get a new dog and I'm really interested in the German Shepherd. I've never owned one, however I do have experience with large and medium breeds. Here is a bit about me to get a better idea whether a GSD would suit my home or not -
 

- I'm 19 years old, live on a 2 acre property which is fenced with a gate
- Will basically be able to spend all day with it, I stay at home mostly and don't go out much
- I'd be able to do around 2 to 3 hours exercise with the dog a day
- Will be able to groom dog daily, as well as baths once a week
- I live with two other people however no children
- Willing to put a lot of time in training the dog the basics, as well as hoping to get into more advanced things like tricks

The only thing I'm worried about however is that in the house we have cats, as well as chickens outside. I'm not sure if a GSD would be able to get along with these animals due to it's prey drive and whether the GSD will just keep trying to chase around the animals or not. It's a worry for me due to having a previous dog that would constantly chase/attempt to nip the cats and chickens.

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Probably not.

 

German shepherds are a late-maturing breed with a strong drives, including prey drive. Although it is certainly possible to find a GSD with lower prey drive, this requires considerable knowledge of the breed and bloodlines within the breed. You will need skill to train a German shepherd or any working breed dog to ignore cats and poultry, and you will need time and probably mentoring to acquire that skill.

 

Before you get any dog, but particularly a large working breed dog, you need to think about your future circumstances. A six year old German shepherd is a highly athletic, energetic, driven dog that needs a lot of on-going training and mental and physical exercise. GSDs are also a breed that many landlords don't regard favourably. Where will you be living when you're 25, and will you still have time for a GSD?

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GSDs are wonderful dogs but need very dedicated owners. Not sure what your previous breed or mix of breeds was that chased the chooks and cats but the worry is that you were not able to train that dog not to chase them.

So I think you need to look at a breed that is fairly easy to train, you might want to think about a GSD later in life after you have had success training another breed.

Most large breeds are slow maturing, often that means they might not get out of the naughty teenage stage until they are 2 or 3 or more, of course the more effort you put into training (and learning how to train) the happier you and the dog will be - not to mention the chooks and cats.

Weekly sessions at the local obedience club or group sessions with a private trainer, whichever suits you, plus daily sessions on your own are the best best way to learn training. Choose a breed (you might want to consider a lab or golden or a standard poodle) and find yourself a breeder who is willing to help you by picking out a puppy with the right temperament not to chase! You might need to wait six months or a year for the right pup, but it will be worth it.

I second DATM's comment about thinking hard about where you will be in a few years time; in ten years time; in 15 years time etc. because getting a pup is a 15 year commitment.
 

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7 hours ago, sandgrubber said:

There is no such thing as " a GSD".  The breed is diverse! you buy an individual dog.  You could probably find a GSD that would suit, and with some training, could get many/most pups to be fine with cats.

I agree there is a bell curve on any breed, but the point of a purebred is that 90% are in the centre of the bell curve rather than the unknowns where a parent may be unknown for a random cross.

I think the real issue is that the OP wasn't aware of how to train a dog not to chase chooks and cats, so logically they should select a breed that has less drive and is less challenging to train.

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The GSD curve isn't bell shaped, it's multi-modal.  The GSD originated, I believe, as a farm dog in an environment where guarding was important.  If you've ever been inside a traditional German farmstead, you would see that dogs and chooks would coexist.  Off the farm, working lines and show lines have diverged, strongly.  Prey drive has been amped up in some lines, not so much in others. I'd bet you can find GSDs that would be more inclined to guard chooks than to kill them.  I just had a look at the standard.  Nowhere does it mention prey drive.  Much stress on trainability.

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Just adding my two cents here, I have 2 German Shepherds currently. When I brought them both home as pups I had cats. My half WL/SL was by far more interested in chasing them then my WL was. I managed to control the situation and all was fine. However I could not risk having chickens that the dogs could get to. Molly goes bananas at any bird that dares land in one of the paddocks whereas Cooper (WL) will quite happily lie down and birds will land around him, he just watches. So in saying all of that, I guess it depends on the individual dog and how well you can manage and train.

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7 hours ago, Rebanne said:

All my GSD's (5) lived with cats with next to no problems. Free ranging chooks may have been a problem though

My parents were GSD breeders and trainers, and I've owned one or more GSDs - often alongside cats and poultry - almost all my life. The worst that ever happened was when a GSD greeted me at the front door with a duck in her mouth. I took the duck from her, put it down and watched it waddle away.

 

BUT...

 

They were carefully selected and trained to be sensible, obedient dogs. I see too many advertisements for "high drive" German shepherds, posted by breeders who seem to think that unfocused "drive" is always a good thing, but don't realise that drive is only valuable in the context of other instincts, trainability and natural sense or judgement to guide the dog's behaviour.

 

In recent years, I have been dismayed to see GSDs behaving hysterically, barking and lunging at other dogs. I would love to own another GSD but I would be very careful in my study of kennels and bloodlines before I bought one.

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Welcome :) 

Most of it's been said . 

What fencing do you have ? is it all very high, and totally dog proof ? 
if not , there will need to be a separate dog run . A safe , ultra secure spot where your dog can be relaxed, and both protected and  prevented from doing harm. 

You are  sharing a house? 
if so .. do the other people  concur with your choice? are THEIR friends/family  comfortable with a large GSD  being present ? 
Yes, it is important  ;) 

My suggestion ?
do your homework ..which you very wisely began here :D 

Study up on  dog temperament /drive/breeds.
Start reading /learning about the different training regimes, and how to best choose a dog to suit your circumstances ...

I adore LH GSD's ,  One has never been on my 'to buy' lists , as I do not think I am the right person to own such a dog .Could not do them justice ... I will admire them from afar :) 

PLEASE be guided by the info you get from folks on these pages - there are so many years of experience  here, so many levels of dog breeding/ownership and training , and it all comes from a place of wanting the best and safest outcome for dogs and owners . :)

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I have a very high prey drive working line GSD ... and at the age of almost 9 years old he is just starting to "mature" and settle down but still has his crazy moments.  Most days he is like a 2yr old on red cordial ... and if you give him an inch he would take it a mile.  Our boy is very smart so you have to keep one step ahead of him and be very firm in dealing with him ... but having said I have never had an issue with his attacking my aviary birds and he has a spectacular recall. 

 

If you really want a GSD find a good breeder and discuss what you are looking for and they can help you pick the right pup for you.  There are GSD clubs around the place - it might be a good place to start looking and talking to people.

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I worked on a dairy and we had my bluey and a German Shepard, was a brilliant working dog and so soft with the cattle. He did the walking them and the bluey nipped the slow ones. Worked as a great team.

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