Puppy or Rescued Adult?
Both puppies and rescued adult dogs have their joys as well as their challenges. Depending on what qualities you are looking for in your new shepherd and what kinds of challenges you are prepared to handle, either a puppy or an adult German shepherd might be suitable for you.
Puppy Pros and Cons
Puppies are cute and cuddly, and their antics are a source of constant amusement. German shepherd puppies, with their fuzzy coats and expressive eyes, are perhaps one of the most irresistible breeds of puppies in the world. Besides these obvious advantages, getting a shepherd as a puppy gives an owner the opportunity to greatly influence the dog's development. The puppy owner has the opportunity to shape and mold the German shepherd into a model canine companion.
On the flip side, young puppies require nearly constant care and attention. Like all dogs, they must be housetrained, but they do a large amount of chewing and they have tons of energy. There's also that “adolescent” period that puppy owners will have to contend with, during which the “full-size shepherd with a teenager's attitude” will challenge any owner on a daily basis.
A puppy is never a known entity. You can improve your chances by purchasing a well-bred puppy from a reputable breeder; even then, however, no one can ever absolutely guarantee how a particular puppy's temperament will develop.
Raising a German shepherd from a puppy into a well-balanced adult is a time-consuming task that requires diligence, dedication, patience, and a substantial amount of money (including first-year veterinary care, training classes, increasing collar and crate sizes as the puppy grows, toys, etc.). Selecting and raising a puppy, however, is a very rewarding experience and a great deal of fun.
One of the greatest benefits of adopting an adult dog is that you know exactly what you are getting. There's no guesswork. You know precisely how tall the dog will be, how much she'll weigh, what her coat type is, what her activity level is, and how well she'll fit into your life. You'll know if she is housetrained (rescues often are) or if you'll need to work on that area — and adults learn much faster than puppies.
Most importantly, you'll be able to discern the adult dog's temperament. Granted, an adult dog can be carrying some “baggage,” such as certain phobias, lack of training, or social issues. However, if you're working with an excellent breed rescue or shelter, the dog will already have been temperament tested and evaluated. You'll know if the dog is sociable, likes children, and is able to get along with other dogs and pets.
Do adult dogs bond as well as puppies?
Actually, many people who have experienced both raising a puppy and adopting a rescued adult dog say that the rescued adult bonds very deeply with her new owner. These dogs seem to know when they've gotten a second chance at life.
There is one warning associated with adopting an adult German shepherd: You must work with a qualified German shepherd rescue or a shelter that has extensive placement services. As a breed, German shepherds do not kennel well, and as a result, it is not until the shepherd has been removed from the noisy environment of the shelter that the dog's true temperament will be revealed. This evaluation should always be determined by an experienced professional.