The German Shepherd Dog (GSD) is one of the most popular breeds in America behind the Labrador Retriever with over three million GSDs in the United States. This working dog is intelligent and protective, making it suitable for roles as police, military, drug enforcement, and guard dogs across the country.
The breed has long been known for its protective nature, (human) familial bond, sloping topline, and inquisitive eyes that seem to carefully assess the environment. True to name, most historians refer to German military officer and aspiring veterinarian, Max von Stephanitz as the father of the modern German Shepherd breed. Despite a three decade long name change because of anti-German sentiment during and post World War II, popularity continued to increase in the United States, sky rocketing to the become the second most popular breed in the US. The returning WWI soldiers and features in television shows to include Strongheart and Rin Tin Tin lead to a rapid ascent in popularity.
Today the protective nature and classic brown/ black two-layer coat are traits most dog people are familiar with when envisioning the German Shepherd Dog. GSDs are great dogs, but may require more more deliberate socialization than other popular breeds. These high-energy working dogs require a great deal of engagement and excise and have well documented health concerns as a member of the DogGear team is well aware. In the end, GSDs are highly intelligent, fiercely loyal and affectionate dogs that simply want to be near their owner at all times.
German Shepherds are high energy dogs, notably as puppies and during adolescence. GSDs are true working dogs and adult GSDs crave a purpose and task. Many older German Shepherds suffer of hip dysplasia and are less active during the twilight years.
GSD Diet and Health
A dog’s diet is critical to health, impacting energy levels, dental health, healthy skin, and more. Careful consideration should be made when selecting dog food for your German Shepherd. Many have sensitive stomachs and require special blends of dog food. Calorie consumption and food ingredient needs vary by age, special health condition, activity level, and sometimes even region so we recommend GSD owners evaluate a number of potential options.
German Shepherd Puppy Food
A dog’s diet is critical to health, impacting energy levels, dental health, healthy skin and more. Careful consideration should be made when selecting food for your German Shepherd. Many have sensitive stomachs and require special blends of dog food. Calorie consumption and food ingredient needs vary by age, special health condition, activity level and sometimes even region so we recommend GSD owners evaluate a number of potential options.
Adult GSD Foods
Like all dogs, as they transition from the puppy phase into adolescence and then adulthood we recommend making adjustments to the food selection and considering what many consider to be the gold-standard of German Shepherd food, Royal Canin while we do also recommend Taste of the Wild adult dog food or Diamond Large Breed adult blend.
German Shepherd Puppy Bowls
Now that the food is taken care of, what are the best dog bowls for a German Shepherd? Most German Shepherd puppies enjoy playing with food and water dishes, which is typically not ideal, so we have our favorite non-skid and anti-tip bowls. One of our favorite heavy duty and dishwasher safe bowls is a Durapet No-Tip Stainless Steel bowl. Another option if looking for a set of two is a 32oz personalized set of both water and food bowls.
Adult German Shepherd Bowls
As your German Shepherd outgrows the puppy stage and enters adolescence and adulthood his or her needs change. GSDs are deep chested and bloat is an unfortunate breed trait (as a member of the DogGear team is well aware). An overeager German Shepherd must be slowed down for safety reasons; therefore, we recommend choosing a puzzle bowl. One of our favorites is the Outward Hound fun feeder and here is another option. As your German Shepherd ages and (hopefully) becomes more patient with breakfast and dinner, raised bowls may be a great option. This Neater Pets food/water combo is great looking and functional makes eating more comfortable for a taller GSDs. Another interesting combination is the raised bowl and puzzle bowl combo.
For treats, our team likes a lot of different puzzle treat devices, but our German Shepherd Owners LOVE Kongs, especially fun puzzle Kongs or the classic Kong.
Water Bowls and Over heating
Summer is hot, especially in the southern United States. Travel bowls are great and are essential gear for most responsible dog owners. One for the car and one for the backpack is ideal so we recommend the PetBonus Silicone 4 pack and for the car have found the PETKIT EVERSWEET Dog Water Bottle to be ideal. While hiking, especially in the summer months, your German Shepherd Dog is going to get hot. Rest is critical so be sure to plan plenty of stops and pack plenty of water. Try taking a rest well off of a trail where your GSD is able to relax and enjoy the day as much as you. The DogGear team has witnessed German Shepherds overheat. One of the main causes is their combination of over and undercoat. We recommend the Furminator brush to help thin out your dog’s coat and keep it cool.
GSD Health Concerns and Dog Insurance for Your German Shepherd
Now that your German Shepherd has the idea bowls for food and water, we would like you to ensure your dog is up-tp-date on all vaccines to maintain optimal health. Sometimes despite all of the right bowls, shots, and food things just happen. German Shepherds get hip dysplasia, it is just what happens with the breed. Another common breed health issue is degenerative myelopathy. Both hip dysplasia and Degenerative myelopathy have been experienced by staff members of the DogGear team. Dog insurance is a great option for all German Shepherd owners to consider. We love our GSDs, but they have a number of genetic related disorders, and due to their size, active lifestyle, and service dog drive medical bills are not just a risk, but a way of life for many German Shepherd owners. We highly recommend pet insurance for dogs. Nationwide has been a leader in the pet insurance industry for years and another great option is the ASPSA.
Leashes and Collars for your German Shepherd
We highly recommend taking your German Shepherd puppy for regular walks because a tired German Shepherd puppy is a good German Shepherd puppy. It is important to practice good habits from a young age with the owner being one step ahead of the dog. The proper dog leash is critical to developing great on-leash etiquette. For inquisitive German Shepherd puppies we recommend a leash 4-8 feet in length so you maintain control to prevent unwanted interaction with other animals, people and cars. For this we recommend GOMA chew resistant leash (remember chew resistant and puppy go together) or BlueBerry Pet Classic.
Adult GSD Leash Options
When your German Shepherd reaches adulthood or even adolescence we recommend transitioning leashes. The Fairwin braided Leather Leash is a heavy duty 6 foot leash that is able to help manage even the most protective and loyal GSDs. A hands-free leash definitely has its time and place, especially for active German Shepherd owners taking a German Shepherd for a run. This Bungee Waist Leash is an excellent choice and can withstand the rigors of the most active owners and dogs.
For those owners with wrist and hand injuries or disabilities or for those living in cooler climates, we would advise you to look at the EZ dog Bungee Leash
Best Crates and Dog Beds for German Shepherds
For German Shepherd Dogs crate training is a critical developmental element. Our experts ranging from explosives detection dog handlers to veterinarians would all agree rates provide dogs with the much-needed den feel and experience. For German Shepherd puppies we’d consider the icrate and the Amazon basics dog crate. Both crates provide the much needed and sought after developmental atmosphere for German Shepherd puppies.
As your dog grows and for those owners in warmer regions of the country we advise you to consider the Expawler. It is great for traveling with grown German Shepherd and it is extremely airy, allowing your GSD to enjoy a breeze or a rest in the air conditioning. Another crate to consider for those looking for a larger metal crate is the 54 inch Midwest Homes for Pets for its combination of durability, and size. Another item to consider to make the crate more comfortable, especially your your German Shepherd ages is the orthopedic dog crate pad by Big Barker. The crate pad isn’t necessarily for your dog’s comfort, it is help with current or future German Shepherd hip dysplasia. For those living in the colder climates our team agrees the icrate ideal for insulating with blankets both inside and out.
Always a favorite among German Shepherds, the Pawz fleece blanket is ideal for cooler months across the United States. This highly regarded product is a must have for a number of potential scenarios.
German Shepherd Toys
Most German Shepherd puppies begin teething at approximately 6 weeks and continue losing puppy teeth and getting adult teeth by the 4-6 month mark. Because of this proper toys to manage the constant gnawing and develop strong, healthy teeth are high recommended during this teething stage. As we mentioned earlier, on of the best German Shepherd toys is the Teething Kong. It not only is great for gnawing it also serves as a rewarding and sometimes time consuming past time attempting to retrieve the prize for younger GSDs.
Toys with audible feedback mechanisms are popular among German Shepherd dogs and owners. These toys range from toy ducks to size appropriate squeaker style toys available here. Nylabones and Chewing ropes can also be the perfect outlet for the teething German Shepherd puppies as well.
When a German Shepherd pup reaches its new home we recommend including a plush toy and one to two other toys that carry the mother dog’s scent. To help minimize separation anxiety our team recommends the ZippyPaws Woodland friends and research suggests German Shepherd Puppies enjoy the West Paw Zogoflex Ball.
As your German Shepherd ages, we recommend continuing to introduce new toys and activities. A great toy is a size appropriate tennis style balls. A good change of pace toy for an older German Shepherd is this no stuffing plush toy, which lends itself to fun, interactive and durable. Possible the pinnacle of toys for a full grown shepherd are naturally sourced and sustainable elk antlers. Having a number of dog toys and rotating them appropriately can help your GSD live a happy and engaged life. Something to remember is the German Shepherd sensitivity to hot dry and hot humid climates. The DogGear team has witnessed GSDs suffer heat injuries while deployed in combat theatres. Knowing the symptoms to look for and ensuring high-play drive breeds like German Shepherds are getting plenty of rest and water in warmer climates is a necessity.
Grooming Insights for GSD owners
Grooming and hands on care for you Labrador Retriever puppy are key to socialization and allowing growth into adulthood free of fear. Our research guides us to recommendations across the full spectrum of grooming and hygiene products, even if you do use a groomer frequently. For a Lab puppy we recommend at the least a set of puppy clippers, puppy shampoo, a brush, as well as dog toothpaste and a dog toothbrush.
If you are near any body of water then you should ensure you Lab puppy has shampoo that will help get the scent of water (which may be dirty), off of their body without harming them. The Pro Pet Works products have a great performance in our research, and we recommend them for use even with a Lab puppy who requires regular bathing since they are natural and do not dry out the puppy’s coat.
In colder climates in the northern part of the US, or in the wintry stretches in the south, drying your lab after a bath is vital. Once again, we recommend the dog towel for your Lab, and our analysis and research around the product leads us to believe you will be impressed.
German Shepherd Travel Gear
In most cases German Shepherd Dogs will not need raincoats or jackets, but if you find yourself in a suitable situation here are a few options. Krousers are an innovative and impressive product and if you need to keep your German Shepherd dry, our research shows this raincoat is well regarded by many dog owners.
In the majority of situations German Shepherds will not need boots or shoes. Our team has found situations when it is necessary, mainly when navigating harsh taulus. If you find yourself and your GSD in this situation you can look to Qumy dog boots which are a preferred brand by large breed owners. Remember, heat escapes from a dog’s feet so use the boots only when conditions call for them. Our team has found a the OneTigris backpack to be a great tool to give your German Shepherd dog a sense of purpose and burn excess energy to enhance the trainability of the dog.
When you need your German Shepherd puppy to travel longer distances, walking is not always the best option. The dog stroller is practical and almost a necessity for active puppy owners. Consider the Pet Gear dog stroller due it its ease of use and refined engineering. On the other end of the life spectrum, the elder German Shepherd many times is in pain. One way to help your German Shepherd is through a good glucosamine supplement. You should always consult your veterinarian prior to administering any supplements, but this is one used and recommend by the DogGear team. We also have experience and recommendations around dog wheelchairs. Our team has found Best Friend Mobility Large Dog Wheelchair to be ideal for German Shepherds with hip dysplasia, degenerative myelopathy, and other health issues such as ACL repairs and spinal stenosis.
The German Shepherd is loyal, energetic working dog that can be an amazing family member and friend. We hope you found this article valuable. Feel free to email us, message or simply come back for more assistance. If there is a product we haven’t reviewed, feel free to send a recommendation over, and we’ll get our team of experts to analyze, review, and recommend. Feel free to visit our large dog overview page to discover more products for your favorite dog breeds.