By John Michael Ricci, October 21, 2014
Estimated Reading Time = 4 min, 4 sec
Full disclosure, German Shepherds are the greatest dogs that have ever existed, exist, or will ever exist. All other dogs follow German Shepherds in any other order anyone cares to place them, although minor exceptions do exist. I will include Belgian Shepherds! And possibly even the shorter haired Dutch Shepherd, but that would begin to stretch things for me. Belgian Shepherds are gorgeous, almost identical to their German cousins and I would consider one for my next dog. In any event, you may find my review biased towards German Shepherds… (Although I loved my Aunt and Uncle’s Greyhounds and Norwegian Elkhounds and if German Shepherds are not the right dog for you, I’d look at these breeds). There are only a few dog breeds I would recommend against, but I won’t name them because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings and I do love dogs. However, someone will have to pay me a lot of money to own the three breeds I am thinking of!My love for German Shepherds began at an early age, around six or seven when I started watching “Hogan’s Heroes” believe it or not. These dogs and their role immediately fascinated me. I thought they were striking, simply beautiful – what a dog should look like compared to all the other dogs I had seen up to that point. The idea that they were “guard dogs” intrigued me, at that age I wasn’t sure how, but I knew that they must have had some type of skill or intelligence other dogs didn’t have.
We never had dogs in our household; my father did not like them. To this day, I question the character of anyone who dislikes dogs – not wanting to own one is one thing, not liking man’s best friend, to me, is borderline disturbing.So, it wasn’t until I graduated from college that me and my long-time girlfriend bought a beautiful all white, pure-bread, German Shepherd puppy from a pet store at a local mall south of Boston. All white with the exception of his nose, which was black, and the pads on his feet, also black. He was the cutest little fur-ball either one of us had ever seen, and “no” simply was not an option. It was 1987 and although I was not thrilled about the pet store or the hefty sum they wanted, we could not resist. We named our male six-month old German Shepherd puppy Beowulf, Beo (pronounced “Bay-yo”) shortly after we returned to the two-family home my girlfriend’s father had recently bought for her.
About a month after we bought Beo, he became ill. Extremely ill. My fears about this particular pet store (the kind you no longer see for the most part) came true. Luckily, I had used American Express to purchase our puppy and I was able to place it all into a dispute. The good news is that we were able to get all of our money refunded through the American Express dispute process.
Since Boston had one of the best veterinary hospitals in the world, we were able to save Beo (I cannot remember what from) and after a two week stay in their ICU (and approximately 1500 of 1987 dollars from a recent college grad, thank you very much!) we got him back, happy and healthy. For a good long time, as far as I know… you see, I cannot be sure because a few years later my long-term girlfriend broke up with me (out of the blue!) and she kept Beo as I went off to law school. It was all very sad.
Can you count all the lessons here? I can! Nonetheless, I did the right thing – by Beo and by my ex-girlfriend. Beo was a great dog and if you are going to own a dog, you’ve got to be prepared to go all out and do anything necessary to take care of it.
With German Shepherds in particular, be prepared for an active, high-energy dog. They need a lot of attention and a lot of exercise. These dogs are loyal, highly intelligent, and protective… so you need to be careful with them. Each individual dog is different, some are more protective than others are, so if yours is aggressive please keep it leashed and do not let it bite anyone! Alternatively, have a lawyer hired before you go out in public, and set aside a large sum of money to pay-off winner(s) of lawsuit(s).German Shepherds bark, so if barking is annoying to you, you might not like the idea of owning one. They’ll bark at people coming to your door, people walking down your street, people walking past your car… basically anyone or anything that concerns them. Once you say it’s okay, they will generally calm down. Again, individual dogs differ. If left outside in a kennel, some German Shepherds will bark non-stop, as Beo did, so what about neighbors? Hmmm.
If you get a German Shepherd at a young age, under a year – but even better around seven to nine months, you’ll have a puppy that will grow into your family, whatever that happens to be. You can have chickens, kittens, cats, dogs, puppies, children, babies, horses, elephants, and giraffes (as far as I know), virtually anything, and this beautiful puppy will mature into a dog that will love and protect all of you for many years. He or she will be incredibly gentle with even the most fragile little baby – I have seen this myself. (I’m assuming a VERY protective parent that is overseeing this VERY carefully and only allowing the puppy to sniff the little gal or guy for a few seconds at a time over a period of months – as the two grow – and nothing more than this!) Moreover, at all times use your brains! German Shepherds are dogs, right? Occasionally, dogs (like people) go haywire… their brains malfunction and they do something uncharacteristic of their breed or even of their individual nature. So a German Shepherd puppy or dog should NEVER be left alone with a baby, infant, toddler… need I go on? Do I really need to write this!
I owned two German Shepherds. One was white, the other had traditional coloring. They were both wonderful family members. I highly recommend this breed. If you plan to get one, please know what you are getting into. They are awesome; they will give you and yours SO much. However, they have needs too – like any other pet. Their health, physical and emotional, must be of primary concern at all times. German Shepherds are very smart dogs; they know when they are being cared for and like most dogs (maybe a bit more so) they know if they are loved and being loved. In the end, you will always get much more than they ask for.
Use the Internet, do your homework, and best of luck…