Without a doubt, this is the most common reason people want a puppy. A
sweet, small puppy just seems like the best choice for sweet, small
You know that cute Kodak commercial with the puppies climbing all over the
giggling little boy? Have you ever noticed how short it is? That’s
because they could only film for a few seconds before the welts rose, the
blood dripped, and the boy began to scream for his mother. Puppies have
needle-teeth that they happily sink into anyone who walks by. They also
have sharp nails that scratch when they jump up — and on the little one,
those front feet land right around his face.
Puppies leave “presents” that your toddler always seems to find before
you do. Puppies wake your children during the night. And a puppy doesn’t
know the difference between his stuffed toy and Emma’s Piglet that she
MUST have to fall asleep.
And suppose you get a puppy when little Billy is 2. In six months, Billy
will be about 1 inch taller and 3 pounds heavier. However, the 8 month old
puppy will now be as tall as Billy and outweigh him by 30 pounds. And
those baby teeth will have been replaced by big snappers that need to
Of course, puppies and small children do successfully co-habitate. But, in
our experience, your child will go through far less Neosporin and
Band-Aids with a calmer 2 + year old dog who is road-tested with children.
It’s better to get a puppy. With an older dog, you never know what
Seems to make sense, except the exact opposite is true. All puppies are
cute; all puppies love everyone. It’s not until a dog hits sexual
maturity that some innate behavioral problems start to surface. We can’t
estimate how many calls we’ve had from people who paid thousands of
dollars for a purebred puppy, who is now a year or two old and biting
people, attacking other dogs, or engaging in some oddball neurotic
behavior. Purebred is not the same as well-bred, and sometimes it feels
like the disreputable breeders grossly outnumber the responsible ones.
The truth is this: when we list a 4 month old puppy, we can only guess
what kind of adult she’ll make. When we list an 18 month old dog, we can
predict pretty accurately what kind of dog you’ll have forever.
If you train your dog right, he’ll stay in the yard without a fence.
Many people believe this, right up until the moment the dog is hit by a
car, eats poison in the neighbor’s garage, or is stolen. For this reason
Save Our Shepherds requires a physically fenced yard. No invisible
fencing will not do. We also encourage leash walks and a basic obedience
class to help with socialization with new people and new places.
Rescue dogs are
typically either strays (which means they have a history of wandering) or
owner-surrenders (which means they’re going to go look for their
ex-owner first chance they get). We just can’t risk it.
When I was growing up, we had a PERFECT German Shepherd.
No, you didn’t. Trust me, he was only perfect because you were 8 and
didn’t have to clean up after him and be responsible for him. I know you
believed he was perfect, but you also believed in Santa and honest
government then, too.
I had a perfect GSD named Max when I was growing up. He died in my
freshman year of college, and has since, in family lore, gone on to be
canonized. St. Max. Bow your head when you say it. Everyone in my family
seems to forget the time St. Max was hit by a car he was chasing. Or the
time he bit the kid biking by. Or how he used to sneak in and sleep on the
furniture when no one was home. Or the time he had diarrhea all over the
hardwood floors. Or how he used to eat the Christmas ornaments off the
bottom half of the tree.
Since I’ve been an adult, I’ve never had a perfect German
Shepherd–but every single one of them was perfect for me.
German Shepherds stop being puppies around a year old.
WRONG! I’m sorry. Try 3 or 4. Many shepherds don’t calm down and hit
their stride until they’re 5 or 6. And you know that wonderful mental
image you have of the stoic and noble shepherd sitting on the hill
surveying his domain? He’s 9.
I want a dog without dominance issues, so I want a female.
In the wacky world of GSDs, that’s just not true. For starters, it’s
impossible to make gender-based absolutes. But once you spend time around
GSDs, you’ll start to notice there are plenty of hyper, dominant females
out there. You’ll also notice lots of mellow, roll-with-the-punches
males (especially after they make that all-important trip to Dr. Nip and
It all depends on the individual dog, but don’t think for a minute that
a female is a sure ticket to a passive, submissive pooch.
White GSDs are mutants.
Well, if they are, more breeds should mutate. People who don’t like white shepherds are often, coincidentally, the
same people who have never spent any time around them. Many die-hard black and tan’ers have had their minds changed by the
fabulous whites that have come through our rescue.
My 8 month old German Shepherd is biting people. He’s not lunging or
growling, but he makes little nips on arms and legs. I can’t keep an
The secret here is to look at the last 4 letters in the breed name: herd.
German Shepherds herd. It’s what they do. And chances are, that’s all
he’s doing to your friends and family.
This is called mouthing. It’s what happens when those cute little puppy
bites go uncorrected. And if your dog’s doing it, he will continue to do
it–and do it harder and stronger–until you DO correct it.
Fortunately, it is relatively easy to fix in most dogs. There are lots of
tips on the internet (just search for “dog mouthing”) and your vet can
probably help as well. If the problem is really out of hand, you may need
to call in a trainer for a few sessions.
I’m unsure about getting a rescue dog, because I’m afraid he won’t
bond to me.
That sound you hear is all the people with rescued dogs falling over
laughing. Because the exact opposite is nearly always true–your rescue
dog will CLING to you.
Look at it from the dog’s perspective. He’s spent the bulk of the last
year on a 6 foot chain in someone’s back yard because he committed the
unconscionable sin of no longer being a puppy. At some point during the
day, someone may remember to bring him food and water. The only attention
he gets is when they yell at him for barking.
Finally, they take him for a car-ride–dumping him in a wooded area where
he can have a “fighting chance.” Despite everything, he waits there
for their return or tries to get back home. He finds water somewhere. He
raids trash cans and gets sick. If he’s extremely lucky, he survives
long enough for an animal lover to find him and bring him to the shelter.
Then he sits in the loud, scary shelter run, starting to lose faith that
his family will ever find him. The kennel people are nice, but he is one
of a hundred needy dogs they have to care for.
Finally, the shelter contacts us. And you take him home.
You not only bring him into your house, you give him his own bed and bowl,
and a crate where he feels safe. You speak quietly. When he messes on the
carpet, you don’t seem to mind–you just take him outside and then
clean it up. You feed him regularly AND give him toys and treats and
bones. He sleeps in your room. He may even have a big brother or sister to
play with. He gets kisses. And when he goes out in the car, he always
Your rescue dog’s biggest fear is that you will spontaneously combust.
He’s not going to let you out of his sight for one minute. People with
rescue dogs learn to function with a 70 pound shadow following them
That said, there are some dogs who just never learned to connect with
people, but that becomes apparent very quickly–long before we place him
I don’t want to have my rescue dog spayed or neutered because it’s not
natural/ she should be able to have a litter/I want my children to see the
miracle of birth/etc.
Save Our Shepherds' spay/neuter policy is not negotiable. If everyone prevented
irresponsible breeding, we’d be happily out of business. Do not humanize
your dog–no one’s asking you to neuter yourself. Your dog will be
healthier and more comfortable once she or he is shifted into
neutral–and will also be a much more pleasant companion.
Neutered male dogs roam less, mark less territory, and are generally less
aggressive. Spayed female dogs avoid the messy and annoying heat cycles,
and are not at risk for unwanted pregnancy. And both males and females are
less likely to get certain illnesses.
As for the miracle of birth, well, there’s another rite of passage
occurring to 20 million dogs a year in this country, 25% of them purebred.
It happens every day at your local animal shelter. But most parents are
not as eager for their children to see that: millions of dogs and cats killed
every year due to irresponsible owners' refusal to spay and neuter their