Why Are There SO MANY German Shepherds in Shelters?

German Shepherds are loyal and courageous, so why are there so many German Shepherds in shelters?

German Shepherds can be headstrong and hard to handle. They were bred as working dogs and to be fierce protectors, which can lead to dominance or aggression issues without training.

Read on to learn more about why there are so many German Shepherds in shelters and what can be done to help them.

Why Are There So Many German Shepherds in Shelters?

German Shepherds are intelligent and headstrong companions.
Though fiercely loyal and intelligent, German Shepherds require persistent training to make obedient companions.

German Shepherds and German Shepherd mixes are among the most popular dog breeds in the United States.

They are loyal, intelligent, and are some of the best family protection dogs.

However, they also require a lot of exercise and training, which can be daunting for some pet owners.

As a result, many German Shepherds end up in shelters or rescue organizations.

Here are some reasons why:

  • Personality traits. German Shepherds are bred for specific traits (such as aggression) that make them difficult to handle without training.
  • Large size. People get German Shepherds as puppies without realizing how big they will get.
  • Financial and health. German Shepherds can be expensive to care for and are prone to health issues like hip dysplasia and epilepsy.
  • High-maintenance. They require a lot of exercise and training, and if their needs are not met, they can become bored and destructive.

With proper care and training, German Shepherds can make excellent companions.

Read our related article where we look at the Brindle German Shepherd and its unique coat and traits!

Adopting a German Shepherd

Adopting a German Shepherd can be a challenging, but rewarding, experience.
You’ll have to go through a series of adoption regulations before you’re approved to adopt a German Shepherd.

If you’re considering adopting a German Shepherd, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Make Sure Your Lifestyle Fits

It’s essential to do your research before adopting any dog, especially a German Shepherd.

They need owners who can provide them with mental and physical stimulation.

Without enough exercise and attention, German Shepherds can become bored and destructive.

Read More: How Does the Dog Adoption Process Work? Learn the steps to take to adopt a dog!

Can You Handle Their Personality?

German Shepherds are strong-willed dogs, so owners should be firm and consistent with training.

German Shepherds are also incredibly loyal and loving dogs and can make great companions for active people or families.

That said, if you’re a first-time dog owner or aren’t looking for a high-maintenance breed, you may want to reconsider adopting a German Shepherd.

Read More: Do Animal Shelters Give Vaccinations? Local shelters sometimes offer free and low-cost services. Learn more!

Find a Shelter or German Shepherd Rescue

If you think you can provide a forever home for a German Shepherd, your next step is to find a reputable shelter or rescue group with adoptable German Shepherds.

Once you have found a few potential candidates, meet them and see which dog fits your family best.

Remember that adopting an adult dog may be easier than a puppy, as puppies require more time and energy to train.

No matter what age you adopt, be prepared to commit to giving your new dog the love, attention, and exercise they need to thrive.

Read More: Can Shelter Dogs Be Service Dogs? German Shepherds are among the best adopted breeds for service! Learn more.

How to Care for German Shepherds

German Shepherds thrive in an environment that requires mental and physical activity.
Make sure your German Shepherd is getting plenty of mental and physical stimulation. These are highly active dogs that thrive in structured, intense training environments.

Here are some tips to care for your German Shepherd:

  • German Shepherds need plenty of exercise. A daily walk or run is essential and they will also appreciate access to a yard where they can run and play.
  • German Shepherds need training. They are intelligent dogs and can quickly learn commands but can become unruly without training.
  • German Shepherds need mental stimulation. They get bored quickly, so it’s essential to provide them with toys and puzzles that will keep their minds active.
  • German Shepherds need plenty of attention. They thrive on human companionship and should not be left alone for long periods.

Watch this video to see what it takes to own a German Shepherd and make them a part of your family:

Read More: How Do Non Profit Animal Shelters Make Money? See how shelters get and use money to help animals in need.


Even though they are loyal and protective and make great family pets, German Shepherds are some of the most common dogs in animal shelters.

This is because they require a lot of training and exercise, which many new pet owners may not be prepared for.

If you are considering getting a German Shepherd, research and learn what it takes to care for this breed before committing.

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Jesse Hopping, CCDT

Jesse is a natural-born dog-lover certified dog trainer (CCDT), dog foster, and former volunteer at Richmond SPCA and surrounding dog shelters for over 10 years. Her pack includes a Bernedoodle and 3 Boston Terriers. She’s sipping caramel coffee and watching her pack play in the sun when she’s not writing blogs. Jesse has her Certified Dog Trainer designation from CATCH Canine Trainers Academy since 2018 and and majored in English from the University of Virginia.

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