Why Adopt a Rescue?
Approximately 25% of the dogs at the local shelter are purebred. It's a myth that only "mutts" (or pit bulls) can be found in shelters--in 2012, at least 50 purebred German Shepherd Dogs arrived in the Baton Rouge shelter, many of them under a year old! Take a look at our list of adopted dogs for 2012 to see how many absolutely gorgeous dogs had the bad luck to end up at the shelter.
German Shepherd Dogs are one of the most common breeds in the shelter in Baton Rouge. The reason is simple: there are more purebred dogs being produced than there are homes for them. The reasons we hear when people surrender dogs often have to do with moving and not being able to take a dog, not having time for it, not being able to afford it, not knowing how to train it, and being too lazy to exercise it.
By adopting a rescue dog, you are making a compassionate commitment to save a life that would otherwise be euthanized. The shelter is trapped in a tragic numbers game: we have to adopt out as many animals as come in each day, or some animals have to be euthanized to make space for the new ones. Purebred dogs are euthanized here.
Rescued dogs are typically incredibly grateful to the people who give them new lives filled with love. They tend to bond very deeply and gaze at their people with thankful, loving eyes. They know how good their lives are in their new homes, compared to life on the streets or at the shelter, and they'll do anything to make their people happy. Moreover, most rescued dogs are already old enough to be past the most rambunctious, destructive, annoying behavior of puppies. Adopting a slightly older rescue avoids the most frustrating, troublesome phase in the dog's development.
We suspect that many of the purebred German Shepherd Dogs at the shelter likely came from local breeders who sold dogs to people who didn't understand the commitment required to care for this breed. We've seen dogs come through the shelter who exhibited exceptionally fine breeding -- including a few dogs that had the distinctive appearance of American and West German show lines. If you are patient, we can probably help you find the right match -- even if your heart is set on a particular color or gender or even a puppy. We see so many of these dogs at the shelter that we keep a list of approved adopters with "special requests" and contact those approved adopters when their dream dog arrives at the shelter -- just ask!
What about going to a breeder instead?
If you are considering purchasing a dog from a breeder, it is important that you educate yourself about how to recognize a responsible breeder -- one that is not contributing to the pet overpopulation problem in Louisiana by making a quick buck off these dogs. Ideally, a "good" breeder is one that is working carefully to improve the breed, and showing and trialing their dogs competitively to prove they are improving the breed. This typically means both the sire and dam should have earned competitive working or obedience titles, or show titles. They also carefully screen buyers and take back their dogs if a placement does not work out. Here are a few lists of things that may help distinguish good small-scale breeders from irresponsible "backyard breeders" and puppy mills.
- The Backyard Breeder vs. The Responsible Hobby Breeder
- Puppy mills and Backyard Breeders
- How Responsible Breeders Differ from Backyard Breeders and Pet Shops
- ASPCA Position Statement on Criteria for Responsible Breeding
The Big Question
We love this breed. We think it exemplifies everything that is wonderful about dogs. Breed fanciers refer to the breed as "GSD" for German Shepherd Dog, but it might as well be "God's Special Dogs," because they are. Every stereotype about them being loyal, devoted, and intelligent is often true. That said, they aren't for everyone.
- They are heavy shedders. Some people joke GSD stands for German Shedder Dog. They usually have thick undercoats that they blow out twice a year. While they need regular brushing all year, when their coat is being blown out, their need for brushing increases.
- As a large breed, they eat and poop a lot. That means it's extra work to keep a backyard tidy.
- Training: Training a German Shepherd Dog is not optional--it is essential. This is a working breed that needs to do a job, and basic obedience should be Job One for a German Shepherd Dog that is a family pet. If you don't create a job for your dog with obedience training, this breed is very likely to make up it's own "job"--and that could means destructive mischief. Obedience training can be fun and great way to bond with your dog. It does take time, though. If you don't have time to work with your dog, you should reconsider getting a German Shepherd Dog.
- Life Commitment: Many German Shepherd Dogs live to be 12-14 years old. Are you ready to commit to caring for one for its entire life?
- Exercise: Many German Shepherd Dogs are athletes, especially when young. They are not couch potatoes. They often need to go for long daily runs, not just walks. It is not enough to play with them in a yard for exercise. Are you ready to commit to going on 30 minute walks or runs daily?
- Cost: The cost of quality dog food, heartworm and flea preventative medicine, routine vet care, grooming, training, toys, and treats quickly add up. One website has calculated it to be between $1755-$2500 per year.
If you've read all of this and you still want to bring a German Shepherd Dog into your life to make it a beloved family member, it's likely the right breed for you.