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Four myths about the GSD breed

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1. GSDs are aggressive and dangerous. The German Shepherd Dog breed should never be overly aggressive or dangerous. However, if an individual dog has a poor genetic temperament or nerves it is possible that this dog may display dangerous behavior and be unsafe. Since the GSD is a working breed, they are supposed to be strong willed, have drive and a dominant temperament. Because of this, in the wrong hands or the wrong type of home they could also become difficult to handle and become out of control. In the right hands and with proper breeding and training, the German Shepherd Dog should be an extremely loyal, sound and devoted companion that will be a great part of your family.

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2. All GSDs have hip problems. GSDs are well known for hip problems and while there is some basis to the myth, most would be surprised to know that there are many other breeds that have a higher occurrence of hip dysplasia. According to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA), the HD can be found in roughly 20% of the breed. This number will be higher in poorly bred dogs that are not screened and certified free of HD before breeding and will also be lower in well bred dogs. While not all GSDs have hip problems it is a known problem in the breed and because of that all dogs should be OFA’d (or equivalent) before being bred. The same goes for elbows as elbow dysplasia is also an issue in the breed.

3. GSDs have sensitive stomachs. The breed overall does not and should not have sensitive stomachs. They should be a hardy breed that is easy to keep and should thrive with a decent quality food just as any other dog. One issue is that most GSDs that veterinarians see (and many GSDs that pet owners have) are from BYBer’s that do not have concerns over health when producing puppies. Another issue is that many people feed a poor quality food, use so many chemicals and unnatural things on their dogs that over time it simply hinders their immune system. But a GSD should not have a sensitive stomach or digestive issues more than any other dog or breed.

4. All GSDs will protect their owners. While most GSDs will bark and act protective, not all will truly protect their owners if push comes to shove. You will hear many owners say that they know their GSD will protect them because they have seen the dog bark, act protective or even show their teeth. However, the average person does not really know how to read a dog's behavior and can misread fear aggression for true protectiveness and courage. Characteristics such as courage and strong nerves are not automatically in a dog, he must be born with these traits. Traits such as this are hard to maintain in these dogs, which is why good breeders will work hard to test, evaluate and prove their dogs before breeding them.