Are German Shepherds Good With Kids? (Yes, We Think So)

German Shepherds are indeed family dogs and can be good with kids, but they require training and discipline from a young age.

German Shepherds are one of the most popular dog breeds for families with children. Their attractive appearance, intelligence, trainability and protective instincts make them seem like ideal family pets. But are German Shepherds really good with kids? Here we’ll explore the pros and cons of having a German Shepherd around young children.

Dog SpeciesGerman Shepherds At A Glance

Family: Canidae

Class: Mammalia

Length: 22 to 24 inches (Male) and 20 to 22 inches (Female)

Lifespan: Average of 10 years, can live up to 12 years

Weight: 65-75 pounds (Male) and 55-65 pounds (Female)

Energy Level: Average

Intelligence Level: Very High

The Inherent Nature of German Shepherds

Are German Shepherds Good With Kids? (Yes, We Think So)

German Shepherds, prized for their keen intelligence, unwavering loyalty, and astounding versatility, can comfortably slot into a host of roles – from police and military work to search-and-rescue missions and guide and assistance duties. The breed’s adaptable nature extends to family life, where German Shepherds often shine as loving, protective, and devoted pets.

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German Shepherds and Kids: The Good

Known for their protective demeanor, German Shepherds can be excellent companions for children. When correctly trained and socialized, they are known to be patient with kids, often happy to participate in games and activities. Ideally, you want to get a German Shepherd when it is still a puppy, and that way, you can train it to love and respect your kids before adulthood, when it then turns into their protector/big brother/big sister.

Their high energy level can match that of an active child, making them good companions in outdoor exploits, whether it’s playing in the backyard, taking a jog in the park, or going on family hikes.

German Shepherds and Kids: Points to Consider

While the breed can be caring and protective around children, there are still some important points to consider.

  1. Size and Strength: As a large breed, German Shepherds might unintentionally knock over small children during play. Supervision during their interactions, especially initially, can help prevent accidental bumps and falls.
  2. Education and Respect: Children should be taught how to respectfully interact with dogs to avoid any misunderstandings that could potentially lead to problems. Gentle handling and understanding the signs of discomfort in the dog can go a long way in fostering a respectful and loving relationship between the child and the German Shepherd.
  3. Training: German Shepherds are intelligent and trainable, but they require consistent and firm guidance. Training, both for behavior and socialization, must start early — ideally when they are still puppies. Ensuring your German Shepherd is well trained will make them safer around children, and can also teach the dog to navigate various interactions and situations.
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Training and Socialization: Key to a Harmonious Relationship

When discussing whether German Shepherds can indeed be good with kids, the critical role of training and socialization cannot be over-emphasized.

Socialization involves exposing your dog to a wide range of people, environments, and situations, helping your German Shepherd grow into a balanced, well-adjusted dog. Socialized dogs are generally more at ease in various situations and respond better to children.

Training, combining obedience and everyday manners, is equally vital. Teach your German Shepherd to be gentle and responsive to commands while also guiding your kids on the dos-and-dont’s of interacting with their furry friend.

Training Your German Shepherd

Training is an essential part of owning a German Shepherd. Owing to their high intelligence and eagerness to please, German Shepherds excel in training, but this training should start early. Here’s why training is crucial:

  • Behavioral Training: This helps inculcate good habits in the dog and prevent the formation of bad ones. Basic commands like “sit,” “stay,” “come,” can make your German Shepherd more manageable, especially when around children.
  • Boundaries: Training helps establish rules and boundaries, creating a well-behaved dog that understands what is and isn’t allowed. This comes in handy in multifaceted environments, such as families with young kids.
  • Communication: Training sessions also strengthen the line of communication between you and your German Shepherd. A dog that understands commands and responds correctly also understands its human better.

In addition, given the German Shepherd’s intelligence and trainability, you can consider advanced training and activities, including agility training, nose work, or advanced obedience. These activities stimulate your dog’s mind, reduce the potential for behavioral problems, and improve your mutual relationship.

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Socializing Your German Shepherd

Socialization means exposing your German Shepherd to a broad range of experiences – people, places, sounds, and other animals – ideally during their early developmental stage. This helps your German Shepherd grow into a dog that can interact well with different situations, making them more well-rounded and confident. This matters, especially when there are children in the family. Here are a few ways socialization contributes:

  • Reducing Fear and Anxiety: Socialization helps reduce fear and anxiety in dogs. A well-socialized dog will assess new situations with confidence rather than fear, making interactions – such as those with children – easier and smoother.
  • Preventing Aggression: A lack of socialization can lead to fear-based aggression, where the dog displays aggressive behavior mainly because it’s scared or confused. By exposing the dog to a variety of experiences, the likelihood of such behavior is significantly reduced.
  • Promoting Friendliness: Socialized dogs are generally friendlier and more comfortable with various interactions, be it with kids, adults, or other animals. This is essential when you want your German Shepherd to be part of a lively family environment.

German Shepherds and Kids: Pros and Cons

When deciding on the right breed for your family, it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons carefully. German Shepherds, with their unique set of characteristics, can provide a wonderful, enriching experience for children and families. On the flip side, there could be potential challenges as well. Let’s explore these in detail.

Pros of Having a German Shepherd with Kids

1. Protective Nature

One quality that sets German Shepherds apart is their protective nature. When properly socialized and trained, a German Shepherd will usually display intense loyalty and a desire to protect their family, which certainly includes kids.

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2. Companionship

German Shepherds are known for their companionable nature. They enjoy participating in family activities and can be great playmates for children, thanks to their active and playful disposition. This engaging nature can give your children a fun and loyal companion to grow up with.

3. Encourages Active Lifestyle

German Shepherds are energetic dogs that require regular exercise. Having them could encourage your kids to lead a more active lifestyle, promoting health and fitness from an early age.

4. Teach Them Responsibility

Having a German Shepherd in a home with kids could serve as an opportunity to teach responsibility to your children. They can be involved in feeding, grooming, and other care aspects, thereby learning essential life lessons.

Cons of Having a German Shepherd with Kids

Here’s a quick look at some possible challenges:

1. Size and Energy

German Shepherds are a large and highly energetic breed. While this makes for a great playmate, it can also pose an unintentional risk to small children if the dog gets overly excited, leading to knocks and bumps.

2. Time and Effort for Training and Socialization

German Shepherds require consistent and thorough training and socialization from an early age. This takes both time and effort, which can be a concern for busy families.

3. Potential for Dominance

If not adequately trained and socialized, German Shepherds could show dominating tendencies. It’s essential to train them to understand their place in the family hierarchy.

4. Allergies

Dog allergies are common in children, and German Shepherds, with their double coat, shed regularly. This could potentially trigger allergies in sensitive children.

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5. Intense Attachment

German Shepherds may form intense attachments to their family and could suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for long periods. For families who are away from home for extended periods, this could potentially lead to destructive behaviors in the dog.

The Verdict

Yes, German Shepherds can make great family dogs and companions for kids. When properly socialized and trained from a young age, their loyal and protective temperament makes them well-suited to households with children. Of course, all dogs will behave differently and it depends on the individual dog, but the breed generally does well with kids when owners take the time to introduce them properly, teach boundaries, and give them ongoing training and activity.

While German Shepherds may look intimidating to some due to their size, their love of pleasing owners and natural inclination to guard their humans can translate to forming strong, caring bonds with children.

Conclusion

So while German Shepherds can indeed be wonderful additions to families with children, it’s essential to understand the responsibility that comes with owning one. Balance the pros and cons according to your family’s situation and lifestyle before making a decision. Remember, having a dog like a German Shepherd in your family is not just about what the dog can bring to you, but equally, what you can provide for the dog.

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