Jeff S
Lv 6
Jeff S asked in PetsDogs · 1 decade ago

Questions about adopting a German Shepherd?

I am considering taking a German Shepherd from someone we know from church but have a few questions.

All I really know at the moment is that the she is about 3 years old, fixed, house broken and knows a few basic commands. I need to meet her before making any decisions, we just lost our Great Dane three weeks ago to cancer (she was the best dog I've ever owned).

The family that has her took her from someone that couldn't keep her so as far as I know they don't know if this dog comes from good breeding. I'm told she is a really good dog and if we took her and for whatever reason couldn't keep her, they would want her back (we have a cat). Of coarse if we take her we will take her to our vet for a check up.

O.K., now the questions:

We live outside Phoenix AZ, we don't keep our house as cool as many people do - Shepherds have such thick coats, will she be o.k. in a house kept at 82 to 85 degrees?


How do Shepherds handle being in the sun? Could she go for daytime walks in AZ summer heat? I had to walk our Dane only at night in the summer, she did not like nor could handle being out in the sun for long.

Is there any way to tell if a Shepherd could have hip or knee problems – or any other genetic health problems this breed can get? What should we be looking for?

If you can help me with any part of this question, or have any suggestions on adopting an adult dog, I would be grateful –

Thanks in advance.

Update 2:

The people that have this dog now say that she gets along with other dogs (they have two other dogs).

They also have two children who seemed pretty bummed when we started talking about coming over and possibly taking 'Rosie'. So I'm guessing she isn't people aggressive However, I was told that this shepherd doesn't get along with other female shepherds - could that be a sign of dog aggression?

Update 3:

My wife spoke with the woman that currently has the dog right now in more detail earlier this evening - we are going over to meet her tommarrow night.

Update 4:

We brought the girl home - she is a really good girl! So far she seems to have taken to us pretty well - our cat hates for now but that is a question for the cat section.

She is a little smaller than I imagined her to be, maybe she is a mix (?) but having a Dane, most dogs do look small to me. I'm guessing around 20" - 21" at her shoulders and about 50 lbs +/-.

The people we got from took her from have to dig up her shot records so when we get them this Sunday, I'll set up an appointment with are vet just for a check up and find out her actual ht. and wt. - and see if he thinks she is a full breed or not - doesn't matter to us, we just want a good, healthy dog.

14 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    As you say, you need to MEET the; also to take her for a solo walk on-lead, and to talk to her current keeper's kids about how she behaves.

    ● Aggression: aggression is not a problem unless you already have a in the household. You are aware of it when walking her and (after she is yours and knows your phrasing of commands), before you reach the distance at which she become reactive to other bitches, you remind her (with a Sit or a turn) that you are giving her commands that she is to obey - the turn deliberately widens the gap between her and the other, on the basis that avoidance is better than cure. It is to be expected that she is happy with dogs but not with bit.ches, unless she is accepts being a low-caste gamma - none of my 3 uppity-betas do!

    The cat may or may not be a problem - make the introductions slow and with the GSD ON-LEAD!!!! It might help if you have rubbed your hand-oils into the cat's coat just beforehand, so that it smells like something of yours. Be prepared to have to make a choice between pooch and cat as a household member, but most of the GSDs in my e-group submit to all sorts of cat-imposed indignities.

    ● Climate/Coat:

    Dogs don't perspire through their skin. Their coat is their first defence, insulating them against heat & cold & damp. But they MUST have access to water in order to keep their nasal passages & tongue moist, as those surfaces are where their cooling perspiration happens.

    Arizona wouldn't suit me - I am a temperate-coast lover - but if you are comfortable in a particular spot, a dog will tolerate it. Just don't expect the pooch to walk on surfaces too hot for your bare feet, and don't expect it to survive in direct sunlight when you need to be in the shade. And remember that their perspiration area is much smaller than yours. Although their breathing creates a breeze across their mucus membranes, external air circulation (a breeze or an electric fan) helps. I suspect that a paddling pool in which the dog can cool its feet (maybe lie in, to cool its belly as well) would be important in summer, but if your Great Dane was comfy without it so will be your GSD.

    At anything close to or above 80°F I expect to be in the shade with a fan cooling my ankles, or in the cool water. And by 85° I don't expect to be living there!

    ● Joint Problems:

    Unless they are so severe that the pooch limps, or cries with pain when changing between standing & lying, you should not be LOOKING FOR anything. My first proved that all the visual techniques for attempting to detect HD are useless, only xrays will do the trick. But unless you intend to do some high impact training with her (eg, agility, or S&R) or suspect that she does have elbow dysplasia or hip dysplasia, save your cash - you're not going to breed from her, and you don't know her ancestry so her results won't help the people using her close relatives in their programmes.

    A correctly angulated-behind GSD should never have patella or anterior cruciate ligament problems, but it is sadly true that nowadays excessive knee angulation is the fashion among KC-type show-is-all GSDs, which does put extra strain on the knee ligaments and the heel-&-hock ligaments - however, again don't worry about it unless she shows symptoms (limping, obvious pain when getting up or getting down), just remember that aerial-catching (of, eg., frisbees or balls) puts the most strain on the knees when the dog lands hind-feet first, so those "fliers" should not be used.

    ● Other genetic problems:

    If she's got to 3 okay, even epilepsy is unlikely, it usually starting at or just after 2 years old. So if she's fine now she should be fine until the geriatric problems (ankylosing spondylitis, cancer, degenerative myelitis, kidney or liver disease, spinal stenosis, whatever) kick in at some time between 10 and 15 years old. But pancreas insufficiencies can kick in at any time, depending on when she collects one of the pancreas-attacking viral/bacterial diseases.

    You should check through to research about anything that worries you.

    Now, I reckon that is worth deliveries from at least 3 appropriate couriers! (Hubba hubba!)

    Les P, owner of GSD_Friendly:

    "In GSDs" as of 1967

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  • 1 decade ago

    I do not have AC and my house is typically 89-91 degrees in the afternoon. My 2 GSDs are fine. As long as they have access to water and especially if there is a fan going, she will be perfectly comfortable.

    I would not walk the dog in the heat of the day. She would need water often, and unless you are walking next to a river, stream, lake or other source of accessable, SAFE to drink water that the dog can access whenever it needed to during the walk, you will not be able to keep her hydrated in the daytime's heat. I would walk her when the sun is lower, >7pm or so, or before 9am. The thing about a GSD is that they want to please so much, and they want to be with you so much, that they will happily go on that walk, even if they can be harmed by doing it.

    My other concern about walking in the daytime would be the surface. If they are being walked on concrete or asphalt, they can burn their feet. Rest your hand, palm down, on the surface you want to walk your dog on... if you cannot handle it for 10 seconds, your dog should not be asked to walk on it.

    As for *****-***** aggression... no - this does not necessarily mean that she is generally aggressive. It may mean that she is dominant. You may want to explore how she acts in these situations. Does she "mutter" under her breath and show her teeth at the other dog, but tries to avoid it? Or does she ignore the other dog until it crosses a line she set in her mind (tried to take a toy of hers, or moved to close to her, etc.)? Or does she see another GSD ***** and lauch at them with the goal of ridding the world of this impertinent upstart? Depending on the answer, I would judge it not to be a problem, all the way to a REAL issue. However, especially if the problem is limited to bitches of the GSD persuasion, and you are the sort to keep your dog on leash, under control or behind a fence at all times, it should not be a problem that cannot be managed while you work on her training.

    Hips and elbows can be a problem with the breed. But if she is healthy now and certain questions are answered truthfully, there is no reason to think that she had any real underlying issue. You can certainly ask the current owners if she ever limps after a long walk or game of fetch, if she has any trouble jumping up on the couch or bed (assuming she is allowed on these things) or into the car or truck. Problems jumping down need to be explored as well When your vet examines her, you can ask them to do some range of motion tests on all 4 legs to see if she has any sign of pain which may indicate a problem. If she does, then an x-ray may be indicated.

    She sounds like a nice dog, and you certainly could take her for a week or so, introduce her to the cat (cats that are already familiar with dogs are good at teaching dogs who are not familiar with cats the rules <g>), take her to the vet and see how she does.

    Good luck. It is hard losing a dog, or any pet. But I have found that a new pet can really help fill that void. Not replace, but help to heal.

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  • 1 decade ago

    I'm so sorry about your Great Dane. Wish we could keep those giants with us longer.

    The German Shepherd will need to be kept cool, just like your Dane. Walking in the sun on hot AZ days is too much for any dog. She may not handle heat that high, but you could take her for a weekend and find out.

    The biggest concern I would have is her temperament, frankly. GSDs can be dog-aggressive and people-aggressive if not well-socialized and trained. Find out why they can't keep her, because I'd put money on it being one or the other.

    Why don't you take her for a trial of a few days or a weekend? The only way to be sure about her hips is to have her xrayed by your vet. You could also talk to the veterinarian who has updated this dog's shots and ask him/her what they think about the dog's structure and soundness.

    Again, check out how she is around other dogs and people. I wouldn't expect her to be a Golden Retriever in a GSD suit, but so many of them have issues, I'd be careful to check that out first.

    Good luck.

    Source(s): shelter worker
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  • To see how bad a GSDs hips are you would have to have it sedated and hip scored (his x ray). HD is such a big problem in this breed, Even with HD you can still walk it but could not do extreme excursions obviously. Personally I would not walk the dog in the midday heat, they can suffer from heatstroke. Learly morning, later at night, when the temp is more moderate and the dog can actually run around and have fun and not crawl and pant its heart out.

    Bringing a dog of unknown backround into the family is always a challange but one that can be mastered.

    Let it find its own way, never leave it unsupervised with children, they all have to get used to each other and each others way and routines.

    Never leave it alone with the cat, thea have to get used to each other as well, and you don't know if the dog "likes" cats.

    Good luck.

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  • 1 decade ago

    First off, it's real common for females to hate other females. They tolerate the male GSDs but not if the male GSD is wanting to breed and she says "nuh uh buddy." Females are fairly dominant over other animals and over people in pup stages.

    GSDs can take heat pretty good. Easily can take 82 to 85 degrees. No dog does awesome in direct sunlight, however for just a walk? They definitely could unless you're doing marathon runs in the intense AZ heat.

    My sis lives in NM so you might have to keep special consideration for her drying up. I know my sis has a huge supply of lotion and chapstick.

    And pretty much, a GSD can easily take anything you can take. But since they can't talk and even many humans are different--just take extra care and make sure she has plenty of water at all times and spends the day in shade/house unless you are walking.

    As in personality, an ideal shepherd will love to meet you even for the first time. Fear can lead to biting and literally ruin your life. Keep in mind, standing her ground and just watching you intentively is not necessarily fear but alertness. Not all good GSDs just hop up and are like "Hey!" But if they hide under the table, start to snarl (alerting barks are ok usually), run into another room? This can be dangerous. Scared shepherds are often times the killers. Also make a point to ask about jealousy. Normally, females do not get jealous of kids, but you really should ask.

    As in hips? Most GSDs can be tracked back several generations if in the US. A little harder to track back if the dog or recent parents were imports. (Any dog from Germany will be great. They have strict regulations about breeding) If your girl wasn't hip certified, maybe her parents? Maybe her grandparents etc? Go to to start your tracking. Once you get to imported ancestors (and they eventually will be of course) try They will list many many dogs all over the world.

    I tracked one of my several GSDs back over 30 years of parents. Point being, even if her parents arent hip certified--maybe all of her grandparents were. If so, she's good to go.

    Also look for certs like SchH 1, 2 or 3. 3 is best. Great certs for stable temperament. Would give you an idea on her trustability. By the way, AKC will not list SchH certs but gsdonline will. She may not have the certs but maybe her ancestors will.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    NO, to walking her in AZ summer heat. Walk her later at night, that's what I do!

    Put on a fur coat or a parka and walk around outside in the 103 degree heat for a reference point.

    She should be okay in the house with you even @ 83 degrees, make sure she has a lot of fresh water. I put frozen water bottles in the water pail for my crew.

    I lived in Texas and Georgia with higher humidity; I was breeding GSDs in Georgia - no heat related problems. I have two friends in Iraq that are Marine and Air Force K9 handlers. Their dogs handle the heat there though they have to really hydrate the animals and keep an eye on their skin for irritations.

    Source(s): Live in Wickenburg with 1 GSD, 1 Pit Bull, 1 AmStaff and 1 Pit Bull Beagle mix.
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  • 1 decade ago

    You would need to keep your house at about 75 degrees for a GSD.I could not stand a house kept at 85 degrees myself! Either that or have a fan just for the dog,and one of those beds that you fill with water to cool them.But the dog would be miserable at 85 degrees. You can help keep her cool by making sure that you brush out all of her undercoat ( I recommend the Furminator) Walk her only in the early morning and evening,and keep her out of the sun for any length of time. I just walked my GSD a few hours ago ( I am in Ohio) and it was about 78 degrees but humid,and she had a good drink when we came in.You would need to take a water source with you,as well as a spray bottle to mist her down with. But,no,the hot house would not be good,nor the hot outdoors for a GSD. You can tell if they have hip ,elbow or knee problems by having them X-rayed at the vet.

    Source(s): Have had dogs all my life,including two GSDs
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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    German Shepherd's are very intelligent, easy to train, powerful and elegant. Though not overly affectionate, shepherds are loyal and faithful. The German shepherd is a great companion dog, family member, assistance dog and guard dog. Due to their tolerant nature, German shepherds are excellent pets for children and are natural protectors.

    During the summer months, it is best to walk her before 7am and after 7pm; I suggest quick bathroom breaks in between.

    A dog's body temperature runs between 100-102 degrees and they will overheat.

    As far as health issues German Shepherd frequently suffer from Hip dysplasia, sensitive stomachs and skin.

    Aside of the shedding, I vote German Shepherds to be the best dogs.

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  • 1 decade ago

    She'll probably be hot. Imagine if you had to wear heavy winter clothes in a house that hot. Fans don't help dogs much because they don't have exposed skin for the air to contact. I'm not sure what would help. Do you have A/C you could run in just one room? That would keep her cool while still not using too much energy.

    Source(s): Currently fostering a black Lab who's hard to keep cool in the summer.
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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    shepards usually like laying in the sun but you'll need to start keeping your house around 75 which is not that cool but 80 is way to hot to be living in for a shepard.its ok to walk them daily in the sun my neighbor does every single days exept sundays to give him "relax days" but dont walk him around noon when the sun is high wait till around 5 or 6 or whenever theres no sun and the sky is light indigo color german shepards are the sweetest,smartest,loyalest dog ive ever met it would die before any thing happended to u y do u think they are police dogs they r wonderful get it

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