It’s time to add a new member of the family, and you’re hoping to choose the perfect pet. You may be asking yourself, “are German Shepherds good with kids?”
While German Shepherds are good with kids, they may not be right for every family. Below, we’ll break down everything you need to know about German Shepherds.
Why German Shepherds Make a Great Family Pet
German Shepherds, also known as GSDs, are highly intelligent and are known to have been loyal protectors to families for generations. They’re extremely high-energy dogs that make great playmates for children.
Although GSDs live up to the phrase “man’s best friend”, they’ll typically be skeptical of strangers. For many families, this is a sought-after trait when looking for a dog to protect their homes and families.
The Personality of a German Shepherd
When properly trained, German Shepherds will become very close with children. They tend to be a patient and gentle breed, which are excellent traits for a family pet.
When trained properly, GSDs will be able to handle the unpredictable actions of children. Some dogs may snap if a child runs up and hugs them or accidentally trips on them, but a German Shepherd quickly becomes used to their antics.
Traits Associated with GSDs
- Loyal – Once that bond is formed, there’s no going back. German Shepherds are gentle and loyal watchdogs that will make you and your family feel loved and protected.
- Active – GSDs are an extremely active breed, and need high amounts of play and exercise to feel their best.
- Aloof – Although German Shepherds are big, a well-trained GSD is nothing to fear. When meeting strangers, they’ll remain cool, calm, and collected.
- Intelligent – It’s pretty incredible what you can train your GSD to do. They pick up commands quickly, which is a great quality to have when training a dog around young children.
Are German Shepherds Good with Kids?
When properly cared for, GSDs will be able to energetically keep up with, and possibly outlast, your kids. Although they’re a highly intelligent and hard-working breed, they have a playful side to them.
As your children play with their beloved GSD, they’ll be entertained while simultaneously meeting the energetic levels your dog requires. When both children and a German Shepherd are taught to properly interact with one another, it can be a win-win situation.
Training a German Shepherd
Well-trained GSDs will never intentionally cause harm to anyone they love. Training a German Shepherd, like most dogs, consists of teaching voice commands at a young age to ensure they’re good with kids. Teaching them not to jump on people, for example, can be beneficial for future interactions with small children and babies.
If you get the GSD prior to the arrival of a new baby, you can even train your pup ahead of time. Wrap a doll in a baby blanket to teach your dog how to behave around the soon-to-come family member.
With smaller children, you can give them dog treats to reward the GSD for obeying simple commands. German Shepherds love to be trained, and your children will love seeing all of the tricks they learn to do! As they’re learning to sit, roll over, and shake paws they’re also learning to respect your kids’ requests.
When German Shepherds are not properly socialized from a young age, they can be a threat to little ones. GSDs are born with their protector instincts, and socialization is the difference between this being a good trait and a bad one.
Unfortunately, some puppy mills don’t introduce proper socialization. This is why it’s so important to do your homework before choosing your new pup.
Creating a Bond Between a GSD and Children
Teaching your children how to play with your German Shepherd will quickly create a lifelong bond. Games like fetch allow the child and dog to healthily interact with one another. Teach your kids how to end the games on their own terms so that the GSD stays under control.
Is a German Shepherd Right For Your Family?
Just because German Shepherds are good with kids, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the right fit for every family. There are other factors you may want to consider prior to making your final decision.
Puppies VS Adult German Shepherds
While it may seem like a puppy would be the best decision, this isn’t necessarily the case. Puppies require training and attention which can be a challenge for moms raising pre-school age kids. With GSDs being such an active breed, it’s even more important that they receive the care required.
Tips For Choosing a Puppy
- Wait until children are of school age so that the children have a better understanding of how to interact with puppies.
- Ensure that you have the time and energy to dedicate to your new puppy. This is crucial for the development and health of the new pup.
- Keep in mind that the puppy will need to be properly trained and socialized in order to be family-friendly.
Tips For Choosing an Adult
- Do your research to find a kid-friendly adult that you know has been trained and socialized around young children.
- Check local rescues for a GSD who has previously lived with children and has shown success around them.
- Make sure to choose a dog that not only tolerates kids but one that loves them.
GSDs Interacting With Other Dogs and Cats
Whether or not a German Shepherd will get along with cats and other dogs depends on the dog itself. Typically, a GSD that grows up around other animals will get along great with them. In general, it’s easier to introduce a puppy to other dogs and cats than to an adult. This doesn’t mean it cannot be done, though.
Tips For Introducing an Adult GSD to Other Family Pets:
Let’s say you’re introducing your adult German Shepherd to your family cat. For the introduction to go smoothly, there are a few steps to keep in mind. The tips below can be applied to other animals you want to introduce, as well.
- Get them used to each other’s scent. Rub a piece of fabric on your cat to get its scent, and place it in the GSD’s environment. Do the same with your cat, except you’ll use the dog’s scent by rubbing on their side. When introducing each animal to the other animal’s scent, don’t force them to smell it. Let them do it on their own when they’re ready.
- Pay attention to how your animals react to the other scent. Do they seem calm? Fearful? Aggressive? These could be indicators of how the face-to-face meeting may go and can help determine if they need a little more time to get used to smelling each other.
- Let them see each other for the first time with a barrier. A glass door would work best so that they can see each other, but not have to be in the same vicinity. Allow each animal to approach when they’re ready. It’s important to never force them. Do this step for about 5 minutes each day.
- Allow them to meet within the house. Keep your cat in one room, and dog in the other. Use a pet or baby gate so that they can contact each other without any chances of aggression from either pet. When doing this step, it helps to give each animal treats so they start associating their new housemate as a positive signal.
- Have the two pets meet face-to-face. Now that they’ve had plenty of time to get to know each other, they should be ready to be formally introduced. Start with using a leash on your GSD, and as time goes on you can begin having unleashed sessions.
The steps above may take some time, but it will be well worth it when all your pets are living as one big, happy family!
Maintaining a German Shepherd’s Energetic Needs
GSDs require a lot of stimulation and exercise as both puppies and adults. On average, German Shepherds need about 90 minutes of exercise each day. This, of course, depends on each individual dog’s age, health, and fitness level.
Whether you want to set aside an hour and a half each day to let your kids and GSD play or break up the time with walks, runs, and playtime is up to you.
Find a schedule that works well for you and your family and your dog will be more than happy!
Other Factors to Keep in Mind
As with adding any new pet to your family, you’ll want to keep your children as safe and happy as possible. Below are some factors to keep in mind before determining if a GSD is a right fit for your family.
- GSDs are highly affectionate dogs and love to lick faces, which may scare some children.
- Because both small children and German Shepherds may possibly misunderstand each other, it’s important for there to be supervision when they interact.
- German Shepherds are large dogs who love to jump, which could cause some accidents to happen.
- While German Shepherds are good with kids, they may not be great around stray animals, such as squirrels or cats. They’re breeding dogs with the desire to hunt prey in their blood, so be aware that they may try to chase other animals.
- German Shepherds shed quite a bit, and are not hypoallergenic (but these dogs are!). They’ll require grooming at least a couple of times per week.
Are German Shepherds good with kids?
Overall, German Shepherds are good with kids, and your children will feel blessed to grow up with them, as well. Loyal, intelligent, and playful, these dogs love kids and kids tend to love them. Because children and GSDs are both active, they can be mutually beneficial companions for one another.
However, if you won’t have the time to properly train a German Shepherd or give them the exercise needed, it may be a good idea to wait for a bit. If you don’t have time to train but are able to be active with the dog, an adult may be a great option. As long as a GSD is well-trained and socialized, they’ll be lifelong companions to the whole family.