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How to Rescue a German Shepherd Dog

Sam Shephard is an experienced German Shepherd owner and has learned throughout the years how to optimize the breed's health and wellness.


German Shepherds are among the most famous pure-bred dogs, and many pet owners who want these dogs adopt them through a breeder. However, it’s entirely possible to rescue a German Shepherd from a local shelter or specialist rescue.

Many of these dogs end up available for adoption at any life stage—from puppies to senior dogs. For prospective owners who want to avoid the expensive adoption fees a breeder charges, or who would simply prefer to take in a dog who needs a home, rescuing a German Shepherd can be a great option.

How Do German Shepherds End Up in Shelters?

German Shepherd puppies are some of the cutest puppies in the world. Some families fall in love with a fluffy, little teddy bear and don’t think forward to the challenges of owning an adult dog. These are medium to large-sized dogs, typically weighing between 60 and 90 pounds when full-grown. They tend to have a long puppy stage, staying energetic through their first two or three years, which can mean a lot of work and energy for their owners as well.

Throughout their whole lives, these dogs need a lot of attention and exercise. Some people find owning a German Shepherd to be too much work. Like other dogs, they can also fall victim to their owners’ illnesses, divorces, or career changes. This means that plenty of healthy, friendly dogs end up in rescues and shelters.

The Benefits of Rescuing Over Adopting

Everyone loves puppies, but there are a number of benefits to adopting an adult dog over a young puppy. One of the biggest is that you don’t have to go through the early, work-intensive stages of training a puppy. An adult dog will already be toilet trained and will be more likely to have additional training.

When you adopt a puppy, you’ll wait to see their personality as they grow up. When you adopt an adult dog, you can get a sense of their personality and behavior after they’ve already developed. Adult dogs are calmer and can have an easier time getting along with young children.

If you’re adopting through a reputable rescue, they’ll have carefully screened each dog for behavior and health issues. This means you should know in advance whether your dog will get along with children, other dogs, or cats, as well as whether they have any health issues. Through a rescue, you can make an informed choice about what kind of dog will fit best into your home.

Tips for Rescuing a German Shepherd

As with any dog, a rescued German Shepherd will need time to adjust to being a part of your family. As particularly intelligent dogs, they need a strong leader. This means you’ll need to start training them and be consistent from day one. If you do not set clear boundaries and expectations, your German Shepherd may want to be the pack leader of your family.

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You should also keep in mind that these dogs are highly social pack animals. They will want to be around you all the time; this is not a pet you can leave outside or home alone all day long. Before you go to rescue a German Shepherd, make sure that you have planned time and space in your life for a devoted dog companion.


What to Expect When You Bring a Rescue Home

Many German Shepherds have been through traumatic circumstances before arriving in a shelter or foster home. If they have been in a shelter for a long time, they’ve been among a lot of other dogs and may not have received much individual attention. They may still feel stressed, so they’ll need some time to adjust. But they’ll also be overjoyed to be part of a family again and receive individualized love.

A rescue dog will love you and bond with you quickly. Especially if you are rescuing a young dog, be prepared for lots of energy—you’ll want to plan multiple rounds of exercise each day. You should also prepare for lots of shedding! Make sure you’re equipped with a good vacuum cleaner and a lint roller.

Where to Find Dogs Available for Adoption

If you’re looking for a German Shepherd specifically, you can look for specialized rescues or a general animal rescue. On general adoption sites like Petfinder, you can filter your search to look specifically for this breed of dog. Alternatively, you can look for specialist German Shepherd rescues in your area. These groups look for this breed and mixes who are in kill shelters or abandoned by their owners.

A benefit to going through a specialist rescue is that they have expert knowledge about the breed and can help you choose a dog who will be a good fit for your home.

I hope I've made the case for rescuing a German Shepherd. Take care of your new friend and give him all the love he deserves.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2019 Sam Shepards


Fred roberts on July 22, 2020:

I have just had my lab put down and my six year old German shep is missing him I live near Exeter where is the nearest g s rescue center please

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