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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi! I currently have an almost 3 year old male chocolate English Labrador (neutered) and am looking to get a second dog. I was originally set on getting a German Shepherd because I've wanted one since I was a child and I want that intimidation factor when I have the dogs out by myself or am home alone. My lab just wags his tail at strangers. But I've been wondering if a shepherd is right for me. I keep seeing mixed information online about just how much exercise, and grooming they need. So I'm also considering just getting another Labrador. Either way will be getting a female dog.

Some places say they have twice the amount of energy of a lab (requiring hours of activity daily), some say less, and some say they are about the same. My lab currently is good with around at least 40-50 minutes of activity a day (typically half-an-hour walk when I get home from work, then play time in the evening an hour and a half after his dinner). On the weekends he typically gets two or three half-an-hour walks, plus play time as I am home all day.

I know with two dogs, both will get more activity as they will play together, I'm just wondering if a shepherd would require hours-long walks, then plus play time, to be calm.

As for grooming, I don't really have time to brush a dog more than once a week. That's how often I brush my lab. Do shepherds require more grooming than that? I'm looking for a short-coat, not long.

Also, how are shepherd puppies? When I brought my lab home he just settled in right away. He didn't really whine or scream when crated, wasn't afraid of the cat, and was pretty easy to train. He was destructive, but that's just typical puppy.

Thank you!

Edit: I forgot to mention, I also have anxiety and heard that shepherds aren't good for people with anxiety, cause it would make them see everyone as a threat? Is that true, or an over exaggeration?

Super Moderator
3,829 Posts
I think it's going to depend a lot on the lines you go with. To my understanding, there are working lines, which are going to be your more energetic GSDs, and there are show lines, which will probably be a bit more low-key. But yes, generally speaking GSDs are higher on the energy spectrum. We do have a few GSD owners on the forum who probably have more knowledge on the particulars, so perhaps they'll chime in. Another option is an adult GSD from a rescue or breeder rehome where their temperament and energy level are known.

GSDs are a double coated breed and shed a ton, but unless they get gunk or debris in their coats you can get away with brushing once a week.

GSDs are well known for being landsharks when they are puppies. They were originally bred as a herding dog, so they can have a higher prey drive or want to chase which may make some unsuitable for living with a cat, but there are plenty of GSDs who live with cats perfectly fine. You may want a find a breeder whose dogs currently reside with a cat or have at least been socialized with cats even before they come to you.

As for if GSDs will pick up on your anxiety, I think that's extremely dependent on the individual dog, regardless of breed. If you have a dog that that is already nervy and anxious to begin with, that might not be a great combination, but if you choose a dog from confident lines, your anxiety probably won't have a significant effect. There's a lot of differing opinions on the matter and lots of anecdotal evidence, but how greatly our own personal anxieties affect our dogs hasn't been subject to very much scientific research. There was one back in 2021 that I recall, but if I remember correctly it was only done with Shelties and Border Collies, which, you know, can be pretty high up there on the anxiety column to begin with 馃槀

12,596 Posts
Some random thoughts:

Don't count on two dogs burning off lot of energy by playing together. I had two high energy dogs who would mostly sleep unless I was throwing the ball for them or otherwise entertaining them.

So many personality traits are dependant on the individual dog, rather than the breed.

I would never get a second dog without an opportunity to introduce her to the first dog before making a committment. The consquences of having two dogs who don't get along are just too tragic to comprehend.

Conventional wisdom says that the chances of compatability are enhanced (though no guaranteed) if the dogs are opposite genders or contrasting ages or sizes.

2,695 Posts
I am a German Shepherd owner/trainer. The breed is really three breeds. German Show lines (formerly West German Show lines); American Show lines; Working lines which are usually any combination of West German, East German and Czech lines.. with most Czech lines originating from West German working lines.

I have had Show Lines. I had a good pet dog from show lines but a lot of that was due to me being very laid back and living alone.. I had a fairly quiet life (no other people!) and did a LOT of training with her. She did do all three phases of Schutzhund (tracking/obedience/protection) and we did get her Bh. She never went past that due to her lack of genetic confidence and too much "nerve." If she had lived with an anxious person she would have been a basket case. She was a nervy dog and not very confident. She did require more exercise than 40-50 minutes a day.

I won't ever get another Show Line dog as too much emphasis is placed on conformation for the show ring and temperament and working ability are often not emphasized in the show ring breeding world.

As far as working lines go you need a breeder that emphasizes stable, balanced temperament and who breeds confident dogs. These breeders are not common! Often breeders emphasize working ability but the dogs are very energetic with a LOT of drive and enough nerve to be flashy for sport or edgey in police work. The breeders who do produce solid, stable puppies charge $3k and up for dogs, even to pet homes. These puppies also tend to need a lot of exercise and they THRIVE on regular training. As a for instance I go to training 2x a week and I train regularly at home. Even then the dog needs MORE. After some intense obedience work today I got home and he was STILL wound up. I took him out and started teaching him to stalk the woodchuck. This took a lot of impulse control (woodchuck was unharmed). FINALLY he is tired. It is 8:30PM. He will be up with the sun tomorrow at 5AM and so will I!

This dog is 5 years old. He has a few titles in AKC and IGP. We train a lot. He is powerful in protection training but is friendly when I tell him it's ok. He is friends with my 2 cats. NONE of this was automatic.

I had another working line dog I titled all the way to IPO 3 and she won a tracking championship. She was also a very good dog but was a little sharp when she was younger. She also required a lot if training time and exercise time.

My advice if you want the right German Shepherd is to do your research. Expect to pay quite a bit and be prepared to be turned down based on your criteria or put on a waiting list that can stretch for awhile.

Good luck.

2 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you for your input!

I also asked this question on a German Shepherd form, and after taking in all the advice I've gotten, I've decided to get another Lab (non-field) for my second dog. They've all fit in well with my lifestyle so far, and it's hard to go wrong with a good Labrador in my experience.
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