Skip to main content

Pet Insurance policies are underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company.

German Shepherds: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Dive into our comprehensive German Shepherd guide to explore the breed's origin, temperament, and health. We've broken down the expected lifetime cost, insurance expenses, and even spilled some tea on their less glamorous traits.

german shepherd dancing in living room with owners


First up, the German Shepherd origin - and trust me, it's as fascinating as the breed itself. Born and bred in Germany (no surprises there, given the name), these dogs were initially brought to life by Captain Max von Stephanitz in the late 19th century.

Stephanitz, a former cavalry officer, dreamt of developing a dog breed that's perfect in terms of working capabilities - strength, intelligence, and discipline. With that mission in mind, he created the German Shepherd.

Ever since their debut, German Shepherds have been lauded worldwide, not just for their brawn and brains, but for their bravery as well. From assisting the police and military to helping the visually impaired, they've been there, done that, and done it exceptionally well.

German Shepherd Breed Guide

Similar breeds

If you're into the German Shepherd vibe, you might also like the Belgian Malinois and Dutch Shepherds. Both these breeds share a similar aesthetic and work-dog background with the German Shepherd.

They're also highly intelligent, active, and loyal, making them great options for those who enjoy the company of such versatile and engaging dogs.

Beware, that all three of these breeds may not be suited for first-time pet parents, pet parents with very little outdoor space, or pet parents who are looking for a low-maintenance, couch potato pup.


Time to explore the German Shepherd temperament - one of the many reasons this breed is so beloved. These dogs are confident - like, "I got this" confident. Their courage is pretty legendary too, so they're not the type to back down from a challenge.

German Shepherds are super smart, ranking among the most intelligent dog breeds. They enjoy having a job to do and engaging in tasks that stimulate their body and mind.

And the loyalty? German Shepherds are like your best friend who's got your back no matter what. They'll stick with you through thick and thin, making them amazing family pets.

Are German Shepherds hypoallergenic?

Now, let's talk about German Shepherds and allergies. We hate to break it to you, but these dogs are not hypoallergenic. They sport a lush double coat that they shed year-round, and during shedding seasons, expect it to be a fur fiesta.

So, if allergies are a thing for you, you might want to consider other breeds (or invest in a really good vacuum).

Looking for an allergy-friendly dog? We've got you covered with our guide to hypoallergenic breeds.

Illness/health concerns

While German Shepherds are generally healthy, they can be prone to certain health conditions. These include hip and elbow dysplasia, a genetic condition that affects the joints and can lead to arthritis.

They're also at risk for degenerative myelopathy, a neurological disease that affects their spinal cord, and various heart issues.

Regular vet check-ups are essential so any potential health problems can be caught early.

How big do German Shepherds get?

The average German Shepherd can be as tall as 26 inches, weighing between 50 and 90 pounds.

The adult size of a dog can be impacted by variables like age, gender, and activity, and it may be harder to estimate for dogs that are a mix of different breeds.

Life expectancy

With proper care, a healthy diet, and a whole lot of love, German Shepherds tend to live about 9-13 years.

One of the great things about this breed is that they stay active and playful for much of their lives, so even as they age, they still have that youthful spirit.

Expected lifetime cost

Welcoming a German Shepherd into your life is a financial commitment. For a pup from a reputable breeder, you can expect an initial outlay of $500 to $1,500. Adopting your dog from a shelter or rescue group will obviously be less expensive.

After that, the annual cost for essentials like food, regular vet check-ups, grooming, and pet insurance will be about $1,200 to $1,500.

Over the German Shepherd's lifetime, you're looking at a total cost of around $13,000 to $20,000. But remember, these are not just costs, but investments in a loyal and loving family member.

Estimated cost to insure

Pet insurance is an investment in your dog's health and your peace of mind. The cost to insure a German Shepherd can vary depending on factors like your location, your dog's age, and their overall health.

But as a ballpark figure, you can expect to pay between $30 to $50 per month for pet insurance.

The good, the bad, the ugly

German Shepherds are an incredible breed, but like every dog (and person for that matter), they have their quirks that might not always be as shiny and fun:

  1. Shedding: German Shepherds are notorious shedders, often referred to as "German Shedders." If having dog hair all over your clothes, furniture, and pretty much everything else is not your idea of a good time, you might want to consider another breed.

  2. High Energy Level: German Shepherds are work dogs, and they need a job to do. If they're not given an appropriate outlet for their energy, they can become bored, and boredom can lead to destructive behaviors.

  3. Need for Training and Socialization: Given their size, intelligence, and protective nature, German Shepherds need early, consistent training and socialization to make sure they grow up to be well-rounded dogs.

  4. Potential for Health Issues: German Shepherds are prone to some health problems, such as hip and elbow dysplasia, and degenerative myelopathy. Regular vet check-ups and health testing are crucial for this breed.

  5. Noise Sensitivity: German Shepherds can be sensitive to loud noises such as fireworks and thunderstorms. This sensitivity can lead to stress and anxiety.

  6. Size: German Shepherds are a large breed, and they can be quite strong. If you have a small living space or aren't prepared to handle a large dog, a German Shepherd might not be the right fit for you.

German Shepherds are a remarkable breed, but they aren't always all sunshine and rainbows. They are certainly not ideal for first-time pet parents with little time to socialize and exercise their pup.

With proper care and attention, the challenges of owning a German Shepherd can be managed and the rewards are innumerable. Remember, owning a pet is about understanding and accepting them with all their quirks and less glamorous traits. After all, nobody's perfect, right?

So you want a German Shepherd...

There you have it, a comprehensive, real-world guide to the German Shepherd. They're loyal, intelligent, active, and with the right care and training, they can be the best companion you could ask for.

Remember, it's not just about choosing a pet, it's about making a commitment to their happiness and well-being.

Pattern Blue

by you

Design your pet’s plan in less than 60 seconds!

medium sized cat illustration
medium sized cat illustration
Cat illustration
Cat illustration
Cat illustration
Your Pet's Type
Chat with an Expert