10 Reasons Why German Shepherds Are Great Family Dogs


You might have already fallen in love with the idea of getting a German Shepherd. After all, they are beautiful, intelligent, and loyal dogs.

But you may have or soon plan on having a family, so you still have one major question – are German Shepherds good family dogs?

My answer to you is an unequivocal yes, a German Shepherd is a great family pet, and will make a great new addition to your family.

So here are my top ten reasons why a German Sheperd is a great family dog.

1. They are great at giving affection

We love our GSDs, and it’s nice when they love us back. Who doesn’t like a cuddle before bedtime or a little nudge of the hand every now and then? 

I have experienced GSDs who love giving physical affection such as kisses on the face, or who want to put their head in your lap. They may also try to playfully climb on top of you (my GSD is the biggest lap dog most people have ever seen!).

You may also find yourself being stared at with those big eyes or deliberately bumped into as a sign of affection. They are quite fond of snuggling as well.

And, like humans, each GSD has its own special ways of showing affection. Those of you who already own one can surely think of a few one of a kind ways that your GSD shows its love for you and different members of your family.

2. They are great with children

You’re probably wondering whether such a big dog is a good choice when you have small children.

While of course their size compared to babies and very young children needs to be considered, so that they don’t accidentally do any harm, GSDs are actually an excellent breed to own when you have small kids. 

They have an excellent balance of playfulness and protectiveness when it comes to younger children. Children want to be loved, entertained and protected – and a GSD is perfect for this job.

When well socialized as a puppy, they have the patience and the temperament to be happy around kids of all ages. They genuinely enjoy the attention that they receive from children.

This means that as an adult you can let your GSD and kids entertain themselves. A GSD makes for a great babysitter. But this does not mean that you should leave your dog and child home alone!

And remember that proper training and socialization as a puppy is essential for a GSD if you want it to be the great family pet that we know and love. 

3. They will entertain your children for hours

So, how will your GSD play entertain your kids? For starters, treasure hunts are a great game that your kids can play with your GSD due to their excellent sense of smell and direction. Just try hiding a treat and then telling your GSD to find it. Trust me, it will – and quickly!

GSDs also like to play all kinds of games from fetch, to frisbee as well as being taught new tricks. 

GSDs need lots of exercise every day, and it takes a lot to tire one out. So a GSD will happily run around with your kids all day long, and in turn make your life a lot easier. Tired kids = rested parents!

And if you, like me, have a family that loves to be outdoors, a GSD makes for a great addition to the group. My family and I have enjoyed many a hike and plenty of camping trips while accompanied by our GSDs.

For the less active of you, this also means that they will help you stick to your New Year’s resolutions and give you motivation to get out and go on that run. I know from experience that they make great running partners – if you can keep up!

4. They are extremely agile

German Shepherds have demonstrated themselves to be one of the most agile breeds of dog. They excel in competition, and they also excel at the local park!

Many parks now have their own mini-agility courses set up for intelligent dogs who like a challenge. Training on an agility course with your family and your dog is a great way to spend a weekend afternoon.

Just conduct a search for dog agility training in your area, and you may be surprised at the results. During recent years, this has become more and more popular as a social activity.

However, a word of caution. Wait until your GSD is around 9 months to one year old before you undertake any agility training. It’s a good idea to hold off on putting any strain on their hips until their muscles are more fully developed.

Due to their long legs, they can usually run pretty fast in a straight line from a young age, but the agility required for sharp turns and bends is a little more challenging.

I’ve found that GSDs can be a little un-co-ordinated when young, but with age, training, and practice they can become very agile dogs. 

5. They are able to quickly learn some cool and fun tricks

I’ve personally taught one of my dogs how to “stand up,” “wave,” and “salute,” but GSDs are capable of learning much more. When you’re ready you can move on to more complex tricks like how to army crawl, or even grab you something from the refrigerator. Yes, they can actually learn to do that!

Or for something that requires a little less agility, and when you are too worn out to play anymore, you can always go for the “play dead” trick!

6. They are the 3rd most intelligent dog breed

So you know that German Shepherds are intelligent, but you might be wondering just how intelligent they are.

According to WebMD, German Shepherds are the third most intelligent dog breed. Their intelligence makes them highly trainable, and this makes the GSDs a top choice for use by the army, police and they are also ideally suited for service dog work.

Their intelligence gives them the ability to stand back and view a situation, understand whether there is a real threat and then act accordingly. Yes, I mean they do actually think before they react, the way a person does (or should!).

And they are also intelligent enough to actually be in touch with peoples’ emotions. So oftentimes they will actually bring calm to an otherwise unnerving situation, like bringing comfort to a crying child when even a parent’s best efforts fall short.

7. They are easy to train 

One of the reasons German Shepherds make such good family dogs is because they are so easily trainable.

They are excellent at remembering commands quickly and easily. And once a behavior is learned, they will follow commands the first time, every time. This is because GSDs love to please their owners.

They are in fact so easily trainable and eager to please, that even your kids can enjoy training your GSD. And the look on a child’s face when it teaches a dog a new trick is priceless. Of course, a little patience may be needed, but having your children teach your GSD tricks is an incredible bonding experience for both the dog and the child.

8. Your home will always be well protected

Due to their loyalty and protective nature, GSDs are excellent guard dogs that will keep your house and family safe. They are fiercely protective of their owners and property, and will not hesitate to put their own lives in danger to protect the ones they love. 

Even with no training, a GSD possesses a natural instinct to protect. Because GSDs were originally bred as herding dogs, their instinct is to protect the herd. And the herd is your family!

So you will sleep soundly knowing that you have a very capable and intimidating guardian looking over you, your family, and your home at all times.

9. They can handle change better than we can

GSDs are incredibly good at adapting and handling change. In fact, they are probably better at it than most humans. 

They can thrive in various conditions, from hot to cold climates, to being kept inside or outside, to living with a large family or a smaller family. A GSD will adapt.

So if your life calls for you to move house to an entirely new place, or if you plan on having a child or more children, not to worry. Your GSD will again adapt without issue. It will be happy to go where you go, and it will grow quite fond of any new additions to your family.

10. They make great road trip companions

While many dogs love riding in cars, in my personal experience, GSDs really, really, really love riding in cars.

One of my GSDs accompanied my family on many a road trip across the entire country. He never acted out and very easily merged with my family’s schedule. Our rest stops were his rest stops. Our feeding time was his feeding time. Our bedtime was his bedtime.

The only issue we ever ran across was finding a hotel for the night that accepted large dogs. So just plan ahead and make a phone call or two, and you should have accommodation for all sorted out rather easily.

And, based on my experiences, I can say without hesitation that a GSD makes for a better road trip companion than most people I know (no offense intended to my family of course!).


Hunter Reed

I've owned and trained German Shepherds and other large breed dogs for almost 20 years now. Over the years I've worked with veterinarians, K9 unit police officers, breeders, and dog enthusiasts. I firmly believe that there are no bad dogs, and I'm a strong advocate for responsible and ethical dog breeding. Read my story here.

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