The Ultimate German Shepherd Puppy Ownership Guide

15 minute read By Lucy Hughes
Reviewed by: Pawrade Team
May 27, 2023

German Shepherd mom with her 2 puppies

“My German Shepherd is smarter than your honor role student”
“Dogs and beer - some things are better German”

“This home protected by the Good Lord and a German Shepherd”

You may have seen silly bumper stickers, welcome mats, and tee shirts displayed by proud German Shepherd owners that make you chuckle, but the truth is, Americans have a love affair with this noble breed – and it will quickly become clear as to why they are so beloved. 

The German Shepherd dog breed, also known as the acronym GSD, is a dog breed that stands out for its remarkable versatility, intelligence, and loyalty. The German Shepherd breed originated in Germany during the late 19th century. Captain Max von Stephanitz, a German cavalry officer, is credited with creating a versatile working dog with intelligence, agility, and loyalty. By selectively breeding herding dogs from the region, the German Shepherd emerged as a distinctive and highly capable breed.

Today, German Shepherds are lauded for their heroic efforts in the military and members of K-9 units for law enforcement agencies. They also enjoy status as one of the top dogs for families and companionship. From their majestic appearance to their unbeatable intelligence, these paw-some pups have won the hearts of dog lovers all around the globe.

We'll dig into their tales of bravery, sniff out their incredible scent detection skills, and reveal just how delightful this steadfast and hard-working dog breed can be. We'll also dive into the lighter side of life with German Shepherd puppies for sale. From their goofy antics to their heart-melting puppy eyes and epic cuddle sessions, we'll capture those German Shepherd moments that make our hearts sing. 

Find out what it’s like to own German Shepherd puppies for sale with our ultimate German Shepherd puppy ownership guide. 

Susan Orlean of the New Yorker on the original Rin Tin Tin

How Popular are German Shepherds?

German Shepherds have captured the hearts of Americans in so many ways, but a few of them stand out for being exceptional examples of the breed. 

Famous film & TV stars

Two of the most popular canine silent movie stars of the 1920s were Strongheart and Rin Tin Tin. In fact, they are among the only three canines to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (the other being Lassie).

Both of these famous German Shepherds came from unfortunate circumstances only to rise to fame. Strongheart was an impressive German Shepherd trained as a police dog, but his owner was unfortunately not able to care for him after his owner fell into poverty. A friend brought him to the United States, where he quickly became a star in several silent films. 

An American soldier rescued Rin Tin Tin from a World War 1 battlefield and trained him, ultimately resulting in massive success on the silver screen. Rin Tin Tin then became responsible for a succession of German Shepherds of the same bloodline acting in films, TV shows, and comic books, increased the popularity of German Shepherds as family dogs, and boosted military awareness of canines in service. You can still find direct descendants of Rin Tin Tin today.

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Team Orient Express with Orient and Bill Irwin. Photo by Eddie Lough. 

Guiding journeys

German Shepherds also enjoy setting records. Buddy the German Shepherd was trained and utilized as the first guide dog for the blind in 1928, and they have continued to assist their owners today. 

The first blind person to complete the Appalachian Trail, Bill Irwin, did so in 1990 with the help of his German Shepherd guide dog, Orient. Together, they were called “the Orient Express.” The Appalachian Trail runs from Georgia to Maine and is a grueling eight-and-a-half-month, 2,146-mile, continuous hike – intimidating even for a seeing person! Irwin and Orient experienced several perilous situations, but they were victorious as they walked the last few steps on Mount Katahdin in Maine after an amazing journey that had never been accomplished before. 

Military and law enforcement heroes

The Department of Defense reports there are 1,600 working military dogs that can be found all over the world wherever US soldiers go, and several of these four-legged fighters help keep America safe and secure. It’s always a somber moment when you hear or read of German Shepherds sacrificing their lives in the line of duty to protect and serve their nation. The Officer Down Memorial Page honors hundreds of K-9 working companions who have died in the line of duty, and several of them remembered are German Shepherds. 

What Does a German Shepherd Puppy Look Like? 

A German Shepherd puppy for sale has a distinctive appearance characterized by a strong, noble head, erect ears, and a confident expression. A German Shepherd puppy for sale’s ears can be floppy, but they will typically stand up alert on the tops of their heads as they grow older. 

German Shepherd puppies for sale grow to be medium to large-sized dogs, displaying a well-muscled and agile build. An adult German Shepherd will be anywhere from 50-90 pounds depending on the sex and stand as high as 26 inches. 

The coat of a German Shepherd is beautiful, but we may be a bit biased! They have a double coat consisting of a dense and weather-resistant outer coat which provides them with protection in various climates. These dogs can shed year-round and more heavily twice a year, so a great vacuum cleaner and copious lint rollers around are a must!

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Many people don't realize German Shepherd puppies can be solid white!


German Shepherds can come in a variety of colors, some of which are common while others are more rare. The American Kennel Club German Shepherd dog breed standard recognizes 11 colors and color combinations, including in order of standard code: 

  • Black 
  • Black & Cream
  • Black & Red
  • Black & Silver
  • Black & Tan
  • Gray 
  • Sable
  • White
  • Liver
  • Blue
  • Bicolor

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Are there different types of German Shepherd puppies?

When searching for “German Shepherd puppies for sale near me,” you may be surprised to find there are technically 5 types of German Shepherds, although all of them fall under the same dog breed of “German Shepherd” and share similar qualities. Here is a quick summary of the 5 types of German Shepherds:

West German Working Line German Shepherd: Hardworking and intelligent, this type of German Shepherd was primarily bred for sheep herding. They are quite smaller than other show lines, and are said to have a higher pain tolerance, higher energy levels, and stronger prey drive. These German Shepherds in particular need a job to do and need more commitment to meet their energy and mental stimulation needs. 

Eastern German DDR Working Line: “DDR” stands for Deutsche Democratic Republic. These dogs have lots of similarities with West German working line. They are agile and have a huge prey drive, so you have to train them early on. They can be docile, affectionate, and gentle with children. Their long sable coats show dark colors, and their big heads and wide shoulders are well-suited for physically challenging jobs and agility. There are very strict breeding standards to keep this line intact and separate.

Czeck Working Lines German Shepherds: Leaner and smaller than the first 2 types, the Check Working Lines German Shepherds are considered more agile and graceful. With their short, rough sable coats, powerful jaws, and smaller ears than other lines, a Czeck GSD does excellent work as part of search & rescue teams. While all German Shepherds are smart, we’ll just say this line is on the A/B honor roll rather than earning straight As. 

American Show Line German Shepherds: This type is the most recognizable and is what people picture when they think “German Shepherd.” They have distinguished physical characteristics due to mixing lines with a shorter muzzle, sloping gait, thicker underbellies, thinner heads, and long-haired coats. They are typically black and tan and more laid back with not as much energy as the other types, but they still need a lot of activity. This type excels at tracking and as family dogs.

European Showline German Shepherds: This type is considered the most good-looking of all 5 with their black and red fur with deep tan and light brown coats. These types of German Shepherds are great show dogs and have affectionate, protective temperaments. They are said to be the most chill of all the 5 types. 

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Activity Level and Exercise Needs of German Shepherd Puppies

GSD puppy owners must be up to the challenge of providing the high level of mental and physical stimulation and activity this breed absolutely requires. If they don’t have something to do or a positive outlet for their high energy, they will become destructive such as barking excessively or digging holes due to boredom, frustration, or separation anxiety. They must be exercised every single day regardless of if it’s 100+ degrees outside or in a blizzard! 

Training a German Shepherd Puppy For Sale

Because they are so intelligent and eager to learn, training a German Shepherd puppy for sale can be an amazing, rewarding experience that reaps many benefits. 

Providing consistent training will strengthen your bond while raising an even-tempered, well-adjusted German Shepherd puppy ready to be a good boy or girl in society. Due to the trust between human and canine, a highly trained German Shepherd will never act on its own and will always listen to its owner's clear commands. Well-trained German Shepherds know when to attack and when to fall back, who is a friend and who is a foe. 

Additional training beyond puppy kindergarten, especially socialization and commands, is crucial when raising a German Shepherd puppy for sale. These dogs need lots of direction to keep them busy, so you need to have an idea of what you’d like your German Shepherd puppy to do before you begin training with basic commands to map out a successful training regimen. 

Around 6-12 months is when a German Shepherd enters its adolescent phase, and more territorial or bad behaviors can emerge during this time. Training is never a one-and-done experience for a German Shepherd puppy, as you need to continue training throughout its life. 

If you redirect a puppy from undesirable behavior with a command you want your puppy to do, be sure to immediately follow up with rewards and positive reinforcement with lots of praise. 

If a session doesn’t seem to be going well, you can always stop and try again in a bit. You must be consistent in your training, as spotty sessions here and there don’t truly reinforce desirable behavior.

You may feel confident in providing your German Shepherd puppy with basic puppy training commands, such as how to walk on a leash, sit, stay, come, down, and so forth. However, because this dog breed needs constant reinforcement and activity, you may look for a professional dog trainer to take your German Shepherd to the next level of canine abilities. 

Several people opt to train a German Shepherd using the German language. According to the Neuman K-9 Training Academy, some common German commands for German Shepherd training are: 

  • Sit - Sitz (zit-zen)
  • Down - Platz (plah-tz)
  • Stand - Steh (sh-tay)
  • Stay - Bleib (blibe)
  • Heel - Fuss (foos)
  • Come - Hier (heee-a)
  • Speak - Gib Laut (gib-lout)
  • Jump - Hopp (hup)
  • Fetch - Bring (bring)
  • Go Out - Voraus (for-owss)
  • Guard Alert - Pass Auf (pass-owf)
  • Search - Voran (for-on)
  • Track - Such (soo-kh)
  • Out/Let Go - Aus (owss)
  • No - Pfui or Nein
  • How German Shepherd Puppies For Sale Assist Humans

German Shepherd puppies for sale have long been renowned for their exceptional abilities as working dogs with jobs, and their contributions to the military, police, search and rescue, business owners, and assistance dogs are no exception. These intelligent and versatile canines play a crucial role in assisting humans in various ways.

Because German Shepherd puppie for sale are incredibly smart, they thrive when given tasks to do with clear expectations. Here are some ways to keep German Shepherds mentally stimulated while helping out humans along the way. 

Military & law enforcement dogs 

You may have seen news footage of canine heroes returning from war or of a K-9 unit receiving recognition for the important work they do. German Shepherds are excellent dogs to assist military and law enforcement in a variety of important ways. 

One of the primary tasks German Shepherds perform is explosive detection. Their remarkable sense of smell allows them to detect and locate hidden explosives, providing invaluable support in counterterrorism efforts and ensuring the safety of military personnel and civilians alike. These highly trained dogs are able to search large areas efficiently, including vehicles, buildings, and open spaces, significantly enhancing the effectiveness of security operations.

In addition to explosive detection, German Shepherds are utilized as specialized tracking dogs, capable of trailing individuals over various terrains and conditions. Whether it's locating enemy combatants or tracking down fugitives, these dogs demonstrate remarkable tracking skills, enabling soldiers and officers to apprehend targets effectively.

German Shepherds also serve as reliable sentries and patrol dogs. With their natural protective instincts and acute senses, they assist in perimeter security, detecting intruders, and alerting military personnel, law enforcement, and even business owners to potential threats. Their presence alone can act as a deterrent to those who wish to cause harm, providing an extra layer of security.

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Search & rescue operations

German Shepherds also excel in search and rescue missions. Their agility, endurance, and strong sense of smell enable them to locate missing persons in disaster areas or hostile environments. Whether it's searching for survivors after natural disasters or locating trapped soldiers in combat situations, these loyal and dedicated dogs work tirelessly to save lives.

Medical assistance, therapy & guide dogs

German Shepherds can use their noses to detect cancer and seizures due to subtle changes in the body. In fact, Amaury Martin of the Curie Institute and dog behavioralist Jacky Experton found in controlled studies conducted 6 months apart that German Shepherds detected breast cancer tumors on bandages in samples with 100% accuracy using a rewards-based training method. Because rural locations often lack access to healthcare, trained German Shepherds could be used to help detect cancer when doctors are not always available, also drastically cutting medical costs with expensive testing. 

A person’s brain activity surges right before a seizure, causing a person to sweat and a change in body chemistry. German Shepherds can use their powerful canine scent receptors to detect these initial signs of an impending seizure before it occurs and alert their human. 

The person about to experience a seizure then has time to take necessary actions, such as getting medication, resting in a safe location, or alerting someone. A German Shepherd can also wear a special backpack containing life-saving medical devices and medications. 

In addition to detecting medical events, a person can train a German Shepherd to assist around the house to assist people who have sight challenges. Some commands people can teach their German Shepherd puppy to perform are:

  • Turning on and off lights
  • Bringing in packages
  • Carrying various items 
  • Pushing laundry baskets, strollers, and shopping carts
  • Opening and closing doors and cabinets
  • Retrieving fallen objects on the floor
  • Cleaning and tidying (teach them to clean up their own toys!)
  • Learning fun dog tricks to impress your friends and cheer you up
  • Waking people up
  • Wearing a backpack
  • Keeping your kids on track with tasks like chores and homework
  • Hide and Seek with scent detection
  • How to work various puzzle games
  • Navigating humans going up and down stairs
  • Emotional support animal duties 

German Shepherds can literally save lives with their olfactory capabilities, which is pretty amazing! Humans rely on the natural abilities of German Shepherds to keep individuals, our cities, and our nation safe. 

Interesting Facts German Shepherd Puppy Owners Want You to Know

Their favorite notion is Velcro

Because they are so loyal, German Shepherds will stay directly by your side – even when you try to go to the bathroom. You’ll often find them following you around. Despite their size, they will still try to crawl up in your lap as a lap dog! 

They make great family guard dogs

With proper training and socialization, German Shepherd puppies for sale can coexist harmoniously with children, making them an excellent choice for families seeking a devoted and reliable guard dog. German Shepherds are particularly well-suited for households with children. While it is essential to train them to refrain from jumping on or accidentally knocking over small children, they generally display a remarkable affinity for kids. 

German Shepherds can be incredibly goofy

Despite their reputation for being serious and intelligent, German Shepherds have a silly and goofy side that often emerges in their playful behavior. From zooming around the yard with boundless energy to making funny faces and entertaining antics, they never fail to bring laughter and joy to their families.

Sometimes they get an unfair reputation 

We’ve all seen footage of lunging German Shepherds with bared teeth growling and attacking. German Shepherds may have an intimidating appearance, but their true nature is characterized by gentleness and affection. They are protective and will alert their owners to potential threats, but aggression is not their default mode. 

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Finding a Reputable German Shepherd Puppy Breeder at Pawrade

When searching the web for “German Shepherd puppies for sale near me,” you want to choose a breeder who is knowledgeable about the breed and cares about the health and temperament of the parents and puppies. Trustworthy breeders will breed German Shepherds to produce the best qualities of the breed and happy, healthy litters that function well in society with as few health problems as possible. 

At Pawrade, we partner with reputable German Shepherd puppy breeders to provide happy, healthy German Shepherd puppies for sale. We can’t wait to speak with you about your new furry friend! 


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Lucy Hughes

Lucy Hughes has been teaching and writing professionally for half her life. She has a passion for helping people choose a puppy and lead an exciting life with their new furry companion. She enjoys spending quality time with her family and her beloved Golden Retriever, Bowie.

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