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German Shepherd: Your Complete Dog Breed Information Guide - PawSafe

German Shepherd: Your Complete Dog Breed Information Guide

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

German Shepherd dog

Ever found yourself captivated by the intelligence and loyalty of German Shepherds? If so, you’re in for a treat. The German Shepherd Dog (GSD) is not only the second most popular AKC registered breed in the US, but also in the world. So, if you’re looking for a German Shepherd Puppy for sale, you’re far from alone. 

But like any breed, it’s essential to first do your research if you want to add a GSD to your family. So, we’ve turned to German Shepherd experts like Rich Godfrey, a seasoned pro in the world of German Shepherds. As an AKC and AHBA Herding Test and Trial Judge, Rich brings decades of experience to the table. His insights into the unique herding techniques of German Shepherds will give us a whole new perspective on these incredible dogs.

Next, we have Dr. Malcolm Willis, an authority on genetics and the history of German Shepherds. His research sheds light on the origins and characteristics of this beloved breed, providing invaluable insights for both enthusiasts and prospective owners. With these experts by our side, we’re set to embark on a journey into the heart and soul of the German Shepherd. So, are you ready to dive in and discover what makes these dogs truly special? Let’s go!

Contents show

German Shepherd Keypoints

  1. German Shepherd Characteristics –  Known for loyalty, intelligence, and versatility, German Shepherds excel as working dogs and family companions.
  2. Pros and Cons –  German Shepherds offer loyalty, intelligence, and versatility but require proper training and socialization. They shed heavily, may not be allergy-friendly, and are prone to genetic health concerns. However, they are highly trainable and suitable for various tasks, from protection work to therapy.
  3. Nutrition Guidelines – German Shepherds need a diet tailored to their sensitive stomachs, with balanced insoluble and soluble fiber, highly digestible protein, and controlled calcium and phosphorus levels. Omega-3s and vitamin E are essential for joint and heart health.
  4. German Shepherd vs. Malinois – Comparison of characteristics, temperament, and suitability for roles such as family pets and working dogs. Malinois are highly driven working dogs, while German Shepherds offer versatility but may be better suited for family life.
  5. Exercise Needs – German Shepherds require 1-2 hours of daily exercise, avoiding excessive running due to hip and heart issues. Moderate activities like walks, hikes, and play are beneficial, while purposeful tasks such as obedience training and protection work keep them mentally stimulated. Swimming is recommended for joint-friendly exercise.

German Shepherd Temperament and Behavior

stunning long haired German Shepherd dog laying down on white background

German Shepherd Temperament and Behavior

When it comes to temperament and behavior, German Shepherds (GSDs) are in a league of their own. Renowned for their intelligence, loyalty, and versatility, these dogs have captured the hearts of many dog enthusiasts worldwide.

However, a key point to understand about the GSD is that they need a job. The degree to which they need a job may differ based on their bloodlines. This is why many breeders do temperament tests on their puppies before deciding on their future

For example, American Show Line GSDs are more likely to make a good family pet. On the other hand, German or European working line dogs tend to be high-energy and driven. This means if they don’t have a job to do, they can quickly become a problem.

The Versatility of the Breed: Insights from Rich Godfrey

One of the main features of this breed is their versatility. GSDs are one of the few breeds that work in the military, as therapy or service dogs, work as tracking and rescue dogs, or as family pets. They can even herd and protect livestock! In fact, the breed originally started as herding breed, which is why the word “shepherd” is in their name.

As an AKC and AHBA Herding Test and Trial Judge with decades of experience, Rich emphasizes the breed’s innate herding instincts and unparalleled work ethic. 

He explains, “Unlike work with Collies, German Shepherds never gather sheep into a flock. They never use what is called the ‘eye’’ to control sheep and they are never used to cut sheep out of a flock.” Instead, they adopt a unique tending style, acting as living fences and maintaining order without relying on intense herding stares.

Understanding Reactivity: A Common Challenge with GSDs

One aspect prospective GSD owners should be aware of is the breed’s propensity for reactivity. But what does that mean? Essentially, reactivity refers to a dog’s tendency to react strongly to certain stimuli, often out of fear or anxiety. This can manifest as aggression or fear-based behavior, especially in high-stress situations or unfamiliar environments.

One common mistake made with GSDs is assuming they’ll thrive in settings like dog parks or daycare facilities. However, due to their guarding instincts and sensitivity to their surroundings, GSDs may become reactive after just one negative encounter with another dog. 

Rich explains, “One bad experience with a strange dog can quickly trigger fear-based aggression or aggression towards unfamiliar dogs.” 

As such, socialization for GSDs isn’t about encouraging excessive interaction with other dogs; rather, it’s about teaching them to remain neutral and focused on their owners in various situations.

German Shepherds in the Home: Family, Kids, and Other Pets

German Shepherds (GSDs) have a rich history as working dogs, known for their loyalty, intelligence, and protective instincts. When considering them as family pets, it’s essential to understand their temperament and behavior, especially in relation to other dogs, pets, and children.

Working Lines vs. Pet or Show Lines: Understanding the Difference

GSDs bred for work, particularly those from European or German working lines, often show intense drive and focus. This type of German Shepherd is usually a bit much to handle for the average dog owner. 

They inherit strong herding and guarding instincts, making them well-suited for tasks like police work or search and rescue. 

On the other hand, American GSDs, primarily from show lines, may lack the same instinctual drive and can be more prone to anxiety or behavioral issues if the breeder focuses on breeding for looks over temperament (or health).

Are German Shepherds Good Family Dogs?

In the home environment, GSDs from working lines may display heightened protectiveness, especially towards their family and territory. They are vigilant watchdogs, often vocalizing to alert their owners of potential threats. However, this protective nature requires early socialization and training to ensure they can distinguish between friend and foe, minimizing any unwarranted aggression.

When properly socialized, GSDs can coexist harmoniously with other dogs and pets in the household. However, their herding instincts may manifest in behaviors like chasing or nipping, particularly towards smaller animals. Supervision and gradual introductions are essential to foster positive relationships between GSDs and other pets.

GSDs and Children: Safety and Supervision

German Shepherds have a natural affinity for children, often forming strong bonds with them. Their gentle and affectionate demeanor makes them excellent companions for active families. However, their size and energy levels necessitate careful supervision, especially around young children. 

Early training helps teach GSDs appropriate behavior and boundaries, ensuring interactions with kids remain safe and enjoyable for all parties.

Is the German Shepherd Right for Me? Pros and Cons Of GSDs

Deciding to bring a German Shepherd into your life is a significant commitment, requiring careful consideration of various factors. Here’s a summary of key points to help you determine if the German Shepherd breed aligns with your lifestyle and preferences:

Additionally, note that German Shepherds can be great dogs with kids with proper training and supervision.

Loyalty and Devotion: German Shepherds are fiercely loyal and devoted to their families, forming strong bonds.High Energy Levels: German Shepherds have high energy levels and require regular exercise and mental stimulation.
Intelligence and Trainability: They are highly intelligent and trainable, making them suitable for various tasks and activities.Grooming Needs: German Shepherds have a thick double coat that requires regular grooming to control shedding.
Versatility: German Shepherds excel in a range of roles, from family pets to working dogs in fields such as protection, therapy, or emotional support.Potential Behavioral Issues: Without proper training and socialization, they may exhibit behavioral issues like aggression or anxiety or excessive barking.
Protectiveness: They exhibit innate protective instincts, making them excellent watchdogs and providing a sense of security.Space Requirements: Due to their size and energy levels, they need ample space to move and play, which may not be suitable for small living spaces.
Family Compatibility: When properly socialized, they can integrate well into family life, forming bonds with children and other pets.Health Concerns: German Shepherds are prone to over 50 genetic health concerns, including hip dysplasia and degenerative myelopathy.
Excellent choice for various work tasks: They are well-suited for a variety of jobs, including protection, therapy, or emotional support.Shedding: German Shepherds shed year-round, requiring regular grooming and cleanup of loose fur.
Good for active homes: They thrive in active households where they can participate in regular exercise and activities.Not allergy-friendly: Due to their shedding and dander, they may not be suitable for allergy sufferers.
High intelligence: German Shepherds are the third smartest breed in the world, making them quick learners and adaptable to various tasks.Tendency to be reactive: They can be reactive to new situations or stimuli, requiring careful socialization and training.

GSD Breed Characteristics

Black and Tan German Shepherd Running on Beach

German Shepherd Dogs (GSDs) are well-muscled, agile, and known for their characteristic appearance and temperaments that complement their work as versatile dogs.

Physical Appearance

Your German Shepherd Dog stands out with a look that’s both athletic and powerful. Not bulky or clumsy, the GSD’s physique is indicative of a ready-to-act and capable working dog. 

Male GSDs showcase a more masculine frame with a thicker neck and denser bones, whereas females possess a sleeker build, though still strong and athletic as per the breed standard. Their head is proportionate with alert, dark eyes, a long muzzle, and erect ears that are mobile and expressive.

Size and Weight

GSDs are classified as a medium-to-large breed, embodying strength without sacrificing agility. Males typically stand between 24 to 26 inches at the withers, with females slightly shorter, from 22 to 24 inches. 

Regarding weight, males weigh between 65 to 90 pounds, while females average 50 to 70 pounds. Although some German Shepherds might be larger, staying within these standards is crucial for their health and agility.

Coat and Colors

The GSD has a double coat consisting of a dense, harsh outer coat and a soft undercoat which sheds seasonally. Their coat can be medium-length, though some display a longer coat which harks back to their herding ancestry. 

Color-wise, you’ve got options, from the classic black and tan, black, to the rare white shepherds, and to even rarer colors like the striking Isabella color. You may even encounter the Panda German Shepherd, which boasts unique white spotting due to a genetic mutation. Sable GSDs have multi-colored hair strands, ranging from silver to red shades, adding to the breed’s diverse color palette.

German Shepherd Training and Socialization

Sable German Shepherd standing with female owner while training

Training your German Shepherd Dog is both a journey and a partnership. It hinges on good leadership that doesn’t involve force or intimidation. Instead, creating a routine, providing clear guidelines, and using positive reinforcement will foster a cooperative and well-behaved companion.

Training Techniques

For effective training, your German Shepherd needs structured exercises that play to their intelligence and high trainability. Since these dogs are easy to train, rely on techniques that are reward-based, which could come in various forms like treats, praise, or playtime. This approach keeps learning obedient behaviors a fun game rather than a chore. Remember, the goal is for your dog to view training sessions as positive challenges that yield exciting rewards.

  • Positive Reinforcement – Highly effective; uses treats or praise to encourage good behavior.
  • Consistency in Commands – Essential to avoid confusion and ensure quick learning.
  • Short and Engaging Sessions – Keep training times brief but frequent to maintain attention and interest.

Socialization: Teaching Your GSD Not To Overreact In Public

Socialization is vital for curbing any inherent tendency toward shyness or aggression. Expose your German Shepherd to various environments, people, and other animals to build confidence and prevent unwarranted barking or wariness. 

They are naturally attentive, so use that to your advantage by rewarding calm and friendly interactions with new stimuli.

  • Introduce New Experiences Gradually –Helps avoid overwhelming your dog.

Pro-tip: skip the dog park or doggy daycare if you have a German Shepherd. Instead, focus on teaching your dog to be neutral towards other dogs or in public.

The video below explains better on how to properly socialize a GSD or other guardian breed:

Dealing with Aggression

Aggression can be managed and often prevented with properly timed socialization and training. It’s crucial not to reinforce aggressive behavior inadvertently. Instead, when your German Shepherd behaves calmly, especially in potentially high-stress environments, that’s the behavior to reward. A stressed or frightened dog might bark more, so the attention and reassurance you provide can help significantly.

  • Rewards for Calm Behavior – Reinforce calmness instead of aggression.
  • Steady Leadership –  Your consistent leadership helps your dog understand expected behaviors.

By integrating these methods into your daily interactions, your German Shepherd is more likely to grow into a well-mannered and dependable dog. Whether aimed to become a guide dog or simply a well-behaved family pet, incorporating fun into the learning process enhances agility and obedience, creating a harmonious human-dog relationship.

German Shepherd Common Health Issues

Cute German Shpeherd Puppy for sale runnning grass

German Shepherds (GSDs), your loyal companions, are known for their courage and versatility. However, they do have some health issues that you, as an owner, should keep an eye on. 


On average, their lifespan ranges from 9 to 13 years, and throughout their lives, they may experience various health challenges. One Study found that the average lifespan of a GSD is 10.3 years.

Cardiovascular Issues

These dogs may face heart problems like Patent Ductus Arteriosus, especially the females. Look out for older GSDs too; they can develop conditions such as Pericardial Effusion and Hemangiosarcoma, which involve fluid around the heart. Also, be aware that irregular heartbeats, known as Ventricular Arrhythmias, can be concerning for young GSDs.

Dermatological Issues

Your German Shepherd might deal with skin issues, with Anal Furunculosis causing discomfort near the tail-end, and Atopic Dermatitis leading to itchy skin reactions based on where you live.

Gastrointestinal Issues

When it comes to Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI), it’s when your dog’s pancreas isn’t making enough digestive enzymes. Another serious condition to watch out for is Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (or bloat), where the stomach twists and expands.

Musculoskeletal Issues

Commonly seen in these dogs are Hip and Elbow Dysplasia. Your GSD’s joints might not be shaped quite right, and that can lead to arthritis. Degenerative Myelopathy and Lumbosacral Disease are spinal conditions that might also affect your pup’s mobility.

Neoplastic Conditions

Unfortunately, cancers like Hemangiosarcoma and Osteosarcoma are risks too, the former being an aggressive type that likes to hide in the spleen or heart, while the latter may target your dog’s bones as they get older.

Neurological Conditions

Keep an eye out for signs of Epilepsy. Seizures can be common, and the more severe cluster seizures are even tougher to manage for your pup friend.

Ocular Conditions

If you notice anything unusual about your GSD’s eyes, it could be Chronic Superficial Keratitis (Pannus), an autoimmune condition that, without treatment, could lead to blindness.

Renal and Urinary Conditions

Female GSDs are at risk of developing Renal Cystadenocarcinoma, a kind of kidney tumor often found alongside skin and uterine tumors.

Best Diet For A German Shepherd

  1. Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition German Shepherd Adult Dry Dog Food

This formula is specifically tailored to meet the nutritional needs of adult German Shepherds, including support for joint health and digestion.

  1. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Large Breed Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Made with real chicken as the first ingredient, this grain-free formula provides high-quality protein and essential nutrients for your German Shepherd’s overall health and vitality.

  1. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Featuring real buffalo and venison as the main protein sources, this grain-free formula is rich in antioxidants and supports a healthy immune system.

  1. Wellness CORE Grain-Free Large Breed Dry Dog Food

Formulated with high-quality proteins and balanced nutrients, this grain-free recipe supports your German Shepherd’s energy levels and overall well-being.

  1. Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Great Plains Red Recipe Dry Dog Food

 Combining freeze-dried raw-coated kibble with real beef, lamb, and salmon, this protein-rich formula supports lean muscle development and joint health.

  1. Orijen Original Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Made with fresh, regional ingredients like free-run chicken and turkey, wild-caught fish, and cage-free eggs, this biologically appropriate formula provides optimal nutrition for active German Shepherds.

  1. Acana Heritage Meats Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Featuring a variety of fresh meats like Angus beef, Yorkshire pork, and grass-fed lamb, this protein-packed formula supports your German Shepherd’s muscle development and overall health.

  1. Victor Select Nutra Pro Active Dog & Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food 

Formulated for highly active dogs like German Shepherds, this nutrient-dense recipe supports energy levels, muscle growth, and overall vitality.

  1. Purina Pro Plan Focus Large Breed Adult Formula Dry Dog Food

Enriched with glucosamine and omega-3 fatty acids, this formula supports joint health and mobility in large breed dogs like German Shepherds.

  1. Eukanuba Breed Specific German Shepherd Dry Dog Food

Tailored to meet the unique nutritional needs of German Shepherds, this formula includes glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support, as well as DHA for brain development.

When it comes to feeding your German Shepherd, the right nutrition is key for a healthy life. It’s like filling up your car with quality fuel; it runs better and lasts longer. Let’s break down what a good diet for your German Shepherd should look like.

German Shepherd Nutrition Guidelines

German Shepherds are known for their sensitive stomachs, requiring careful attention to their diet to maintain optimal health. When selecting food for your German Shepherd, consider their specific nutritional needs to ensure they thrive.

1. Insoluble Fiber

German Shepherds require more insoluble fiber than soluble fiber in their diet. Too much fiber can lead to digestive issues such as diarrhea, because they a very different digestive system than smaller breeds.  Opt for easily digestible sources of insoluble fiber, such as white rice, to promote digestive health.

2. Protein and Carbohydrates

Choose dog food with highly digestible proteins like chicken and carbohydrates such as white rice to support your German Shepherd’s digestive system. These ingredients can help prevent digestive upset and provide essential nutrients for overall health.

3. Joint Care

German Shepherds are prone to joint issues and diet can help avoid arthritis, so it’s crucial to provide joint support supplements and monitor their weight. Keep them lean, even as puppies, to reduce stress on their joints. Additionally, pay attention to the calcium and phosphorus levels in their diet, ensuring the right ratio to promote healthy bone and joint development.

4. Omega-3s and Vitamin E

Incorporate Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) and vitamin E into your German Shepherd’s diet to support heart health and lower inflammation. These nutrients can help maintain healthy skin, coat, brain health, and immune function.

5. Tailored Diets

As German Shepherds age, their nutritional needs may change. Transition to age-appropriate diets that provide the necessary nutrients for their stage of life. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the best diet plan for your German Shepherd at each life stage.

Treats and Human Food

And hey, sneaking your dog a bit of your people food? Totally okay—as long as it’s healthy stuff. Think lean meats and veggies, and not more than 10% of their total diet to keep things balanced.

Don’t just fill up a bowl and leave it out all day. Your German Shepherd thrives on routine, and free-feeding can lead to overeating and weight issues.

Choosing the best diet for your German Shepherd might seem tricky, but once you know the basics, it’s pretty straightforward. Feed them well, and you’re on track for lots of happy, healthy years together.

Best Exercise For A German Shepherd

German Shepherds are known for their athleticism and high energy levels, but it’s essential to provide them with the right kind of exercise to keep them healthy and happy. Contrary to popular belief, long-distance running or excessive jogging may not be the best form of exercise for these dogs due to their susceptibility to hip and heart issues.

Daily Activity Requirements

German Shepherds require a minimum of 1-2 hours of exercise per day to maintain their physical health and mental well-being. This exercise should include a combination of physical activity and mental stimulation to keep them engaged and fulfilled.

Daily Walks and Hikes

Daily walks are essential for German Shepherds to maintain their physical health and mental stimulation. These walks provide an opportunity for them to explore their surroundings, interact with other dogs, and expend excess energy. Slow and steady hikes can also be beneficial, allowing them to enjoy nature and engage in more challenging terrain.

Play Activities

Engaging in play activities like fetch can provide German Shepherds with physical exercise and mental stimulation. However, it’s crucial to moderate these activities and avoid excessive jumping, especially for young or senior dogs. Other play options, such as tug-of-war or interactive toys, can also keep them entertained and engaged.

Purposeful Activities

Where German Shepherds truly thrive is with daily activities that give them a job to do. These dogs are highly intelligent and enjoy tasks that challenge their minds and bodies. Activities like scent work, herding, obedience training, and protection work are excellent ways to keep them active and working.


Swimming is an excellent joint-friendly exercise for German Shepherds. It provides a low-impact workout that is gentle on their joints while still offering a full-body workout. If your German Shepherd enjoys water, swimming can be a fun and refreshing activity to incorporate into their exercise routine.

How To Groom A German Shepherd

Grooming your German Shepherd is an important part of their care routine. It keeps their coat healthy, reduces shedding, and maintains their skin health. Here’s a simple guide to get you started:


Start with a pin brush or a slicker brush to remove loose hair and untangle any knots. Brush your dog at least two to three times a week, and daily during shedding season. This helps to reduce the amount of hair around your home and keeps their coat shiny.

Supplies for BrushingPurpose
Pin BrushDetangles and smooths fur
Undercoat RakeRemoves loose undercoat
De-shedding ToolMinimizes shedding


Bath time should be an enjoyable experience. Use a mild dog shampoo and bathe your German Shepherd every few months or when they get dirty. Over-bathing can strip the natural oils from their coat, so it’s best not to do it too often.

Ears and Nails

Regularly check your dog’s ears for dirt or signs of infection. Clean them with a vet-approved solution if necessary. Trim their nails every few weeks to prevent overgrowth and splitting, which can cause discomfort.

Teeth Cleaning

Brush your dog’s teeth several times a week with canine toothpaste to prevent tartar build-up and bad breath. Dental hygiene is critical for their overall health.

Professional Grooming

Occasionally, you might want to take your German Shepherd to a professional groomer for a thorough grooming session, especially if they’ve got a particularly thick coat or you’re preparing for a dog show.

Remember to always reward your German Shepherd with treats and praise throughout the grooming process to make it a positive experience for both of you!

German Shepherd Dog Costs

When you’re eyeing a German Shepherd puppy, it’s more than just the initial price tag you’re signing up for. You’ll want to consider the lifelong investment into your pup friend’s well-being. Here’s a breakdown to help you budget:

Initial Costs for a  German Shepherd Puppy

  • Purchase Price: $300 – $900 for a pet quality puppy from a decent breeder. If you’re going for show quality or a specific lineage, the cost can soar upwards to $3,000.
  • Initial Vet Visits/Vaccinations: about $100 – $300.
  • Spaying/Neutering: typically falls between $200 – $500.
  • Essentials: Like a crate, bed, toys, which can add up to $500.

Yearly Costs

  • Food: High-quality dog food is vital for your German Shepherd’s health, and this can set you back $200 – $500 a year.
  • Veterinary Checkups and Medications: Preventative healthcare averages $100 – $300 annually.
  • Pet Insurance: A safety net for unexpected health issues costs about $200 – $600 a year, but it can really save you when in a pinch.

Remember, having a German Shepherd isn’t just about the upfront or yearly expenses. You’ve got training, unexpected vet trips, and basic grooming to think about. 

Costs like these are super important to keep in mind, ’cause they ensure that your German Shepherd stays happy, healthy, and a vibrant part of your life.

Choosing and Finding a German Shepherd

When looking for a German Shepherd, consider whether to adopt from a rescue organization or buy from a reputable breeder. Both options require preparation and research to ensure a good fit for your family.

Adoption and Rescue

Opting to adopt a German Shepherd from a rescue can be a rewarding decision. You’re providing a home to a dog that needs one. 

To start, contact the American German Shepherd Rescue Association, an organization dedicated to finding homes for German Shepherds. By adopting, you’re more likely to find adult dogs, which can be beneficial if you want to skip the puppy stage.

Reputable Breeders

If you decide on a puppy, look for a reputable breeder. An ethical breeder will prioritize the health and temperament of their puppies. They often provide health clearances for the puppies’ parents. 

Contact the German Shepherd Club of America for a list of breeders committed to the breed’s standards. Visiting the kennel and meeting the breed’s parents can give you insight into your future puppy’s behavior and health.

Preparing for a German Shepherd

Before bringing a German Shepherd into your home, make sure your lifestyle suits the breed. These dogs are active and require space and regular exercise. Set up an area in your home with all the necessities, such as a comfortable bed, water and food bowls, and plenty of chew toys. It’s also essential to plan for their training and socialization needs to ensure they grow into well-behaved family members.

German Shepherd vs. Malinois: Which is Better?

When comparing German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois, it’s essential to consider their characteristics, temperament, and suitability for various roles, including family pets or working dogs. 

Before we delve into the differences, let’s be clear. When it comes to the average household, the German Shepherd is the better dog. Very few people are equipped  to deal with the very high demands of the Belgian Malinois.


German Shepherds are heavy, muscular dogs with a strong bark and bite force. They were initially bred for herding but are now employed in police and military roles worldwide due to their strength, intelligence, and obedience. 

Belgian Malinois, on the other hand, are light, agile, and incredibly fast. They were originally bred for herding but have become indispensable members of the military, known for their fearlessness and versatility.


German Shepherds are known for their calmer demeanor, making them more suitable for family-based situations. They can be protective but are generally gentle and reliable around children. 

Belgian Malinois, especially those from working lines, have high energy levels and require extensive mental and physical stimulation. They are fearless and driven, making them excellent for military and police work but less suitable for sedentary households.


German Shepherds excel as family pets, service dogs for the blind and deaf, and in police and protection roles. They are versatile and adaptable, capable of settling well into home environments after a lifetime of service. 

Belgian Malinois, particularly those from working lines, are highly trainable and excel in intense working environments. They are preferred in military and law enforcement for their agility and versatility but may be too energetic for inactive households.

Final Thoughts

When you’re considering bringing a German Shepherd Dog into your life, remember that they’re more than just loyal protectors. They’re creatures full of emotion and intelligence. They love to have a job to do and thrive on mental stimulation as well as physical exercise.

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe


Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.