On the subject of high-maintenance dogs, the German Shepherd might not be among the first breeds…
Dogs bring so much joy to our lives that it’s common to have more than one in a household. When you have a German Shepherd, it’s especially important to carefully select a suitable companion.
This article will dive into the best companion dog for German Shepherds and whether or not they really need a canine friend.
What Are The Best Companion Dogs For German Shepherds?
Breeds that are most compatible with German Shepherds include Labradors, Siberian Huskies, and Russell Terriers. Similar working dogs like Belgian Malinois and Border Collies might seem like the obvious choices. However, there are actually several reasons why these breeds are not the best companions for GSDs in all instances.
Factors GSD Owners Should Consider When Picking A Second Dog
It’s a big decision to welcome a new dog into your home. And, choosing the right dog can be quite complicated. If you choose carefully, however, you can foster a harmonious environment for you, your GSD, and your new dog.
Here are some of the most important considerations when choosing a second dog to be your German Shepherd’s companion:
Although your first instance might be to pair your German Shepherd with another big dog, smaller dogs can actually be good GSD companions as well.
What’s important is you consider your preference and how much space you can offer. Also, remember that their size is directly related to how much food they eat.
Puppies are easier to introduce to a first dog because they’re better able to adapt to the older dog’s ways.
If your GSD is still young, a playful and energetic puppy might be a good buddy for them. But if your GSD is older, they might prefer a calmer companion.
Consider your lifestyle and the routine you’ve settled into with your German Shepherd. Your second dog should be able to fit right in. Your schedule should also accommodate the care and training needs of your new dog.
Observe how your GSD relates with other dogs and try to identify the personalities they respond best to. Some German Shepherds prefer the company of playful and energetic dogs while others do best with calmer temperaments.
You’ll have more options if you have a well-behaved GSD that will follow your commands regardless of distractions. This will help you more easily and safely introduce even adult dogs with varied backgrounds and levels of training.
Good Companion Breeds For German Shepherds
Although individual dogs have unique personalities that will affect how well they relate with other dogs, certain breeds are typically more compatible with German Shepherds.
Choosing a good companion dog for your GSD isn’t all about size. In fact, there are suitable options in all sizes. Here are the best, large, medium, and small-sized breeds to get as a companion for your German Shepherd:
Top 3 Large Companion Breeds for German Shepherds
These dogs are typically between 22 and 27 inches tall and weigh anywhere from 60 to 90 pounds. Apart from their size, they have unique characteristics that make them compatible with German Shepherds.
1) German Shepherd
Another German Shepherd is the most obvious choice of companion for a German Shepherd. At least you’ll be sure that your new dog can keep up with the strength, energy, and drive of your first dog.
Additionally, you’ll already have the benefit of experience with their general traits and inclinations. The only things you’ll have to adjust for are individual personalities.
2) Labrador Retriever
As two of the world’s best-loved breeds, it’s not surprising that Labradors and German Shepherds often find themselves in the same home. But the real reason why these two are a good match is that Labradors have the strength and energy to keep up with GSDs.
More than that, they naturally relate well with other dogs and can quickly adjust their playstyles based on the other dog’s personality. So, it is often the Labrador that paves the way for a good relationship when paired with a GSD.
3) Irish Setter
Like the Labrador, the Irish Setter is innately good with other dogs, which makes the breed a good match for the typically wary GSD. They are also highly adaptable dogs that can easily keep up with the German Shepherd’s strength, energy, and agility.
Additionally, the Irish Setter’s friendlier and more outgoing nature can be a good way to balance out the GSD’s more aloof personality.
Top 3 Medium Companion Breeds for German Shepherds
These dogs stand at 14 to 25 inches and weigh between 30 and 70 pounds. Nevertheless, their temperament and drive make them suited for German Shepherds.
1) Siberian Husky
The Siberian Husky is a pack-worker and so is naturally used to being around other dogs.
They are generally friendly and able to adapt to the social styles of their companions. That, along with their strength and high energy levels, makes them excellent buddies for GSDs.
Additionally, Huskies are low-vigilance dogs that have goofy personalities. That enables them to help their GSD companions switch off from time to time.
Note that getting a German Shepherd and Siberian Husky together might result in plenty of mischief. Strong obedience training for both dogs will be essential.
Check out the similarities and differences between Siberian Huskies and German Shepherds.
2) Miniature American Shepherd
The Miniature American Shepherd is also a herder but one that comes in a much smaller frame. These dogs relate remarkably well with other dogs and they are an excellent match for the GSD’s intelligence and energy levels.
Furthermore, these are highly adaptable dogs that aren’t as defensive or protective as German Shepherds. So, the two are able to form a more harmonious relationship.
3) German Shorthaired Pointer
A German Shorthaired Pointer is an excellent companion for a German Shepherd because they have the same vigorous exercise requirements and mental stimulation needs.
Despite their smaller frame, they are brawny enough to keep up with the rough play that GSDs often get into.
Additionally, the German Shorthaired Pointer’s more sociable and friendly nature is a good balance to the German Shepherd’s more vigilant and cautious personality.
Top 3 Small Companion Breeds For German Shepherds
These dogs are between 10 and 16 inches tall and weigh less than 30 pounds. But, they have the strength and energy to keep up with a German Shepherd.
1) Russell Terrier
Russell Terriers may be small but their huge personality and high energy levels make them a suitable companion for German Shepherds. These dogs are also hardy with a playfulness that can keep up with the GSD’s roughhousing.
Russell Terriers are also known to relate very well with other dogs. They help GSDs come out of their more serious shells but are a good match for their intelligence and drive. Additionally, these dogs can assert themselves again the bigger dog, if needed.
A German Shepherd-Jack Russell Mix may also be a good option.
Beagles are hounds, which means that they have the same working-dog sensibilities as the German Shepherd. And, they are generally friendly with other animals, so they’re often a good choice for a second dog.
These dogs have strong bodies and have the energy to match the GSD. Additionally, their inclination to play and explore is a good way to ease the German Shepherd’s strong drive for work and vigilance.
3) Cocker Spaniel
The Cocker Spaniel’s small yet majestic appearance makes them seem like unlikely good companions for a German Shepherd. However, they are actually sporting dogs with an abundance of energy. They are also strong-willed so they won’t be bullied by the bigger dog.
Although they can keep up in terms of intelligence, energy, and drive, Cocker Spaniels have a gentler nature that helps GSDs calm down and open up to other animals and people.
You may also want to consider a German Shepherd-Cocker Spaniel cross.
Breeds Not Compatible With German Shepherds
You might be surprised to know that some of the seemingly obvious choices for GSDs are actually not very good options. They can have mismatched energy levels or incompatible temperaments.
On the other hand, some are so similar that making them share a single household could cause problems.
Of course, there is no one size fits all for a suitable companion breed for every German Shepherd. There are many variables but the personality of each individual dog plays a huge role.
Here are some of the most popular breeds that many incorrectly assume are excellently suited as companions for German Shepherds:
1) Golden Retriever
Golden Retrievers are known as sweethearts, so it may be surprising to know that they are not among the best companions for German Shepherds. the problem likes in their lower energy and drive, which won’t allow them to keep up with the GSD.
Nevertheless, some owners say that these two breeds can balance each other out depending on the individual personalities of the dogs.
2) Belgian Malinois
The Belgian Malinois and the German Shepherd are so alike in many ways, and it is their similarities that make them incompatible.
Both dogs need plenty of socialization to get along with other dogs. Additionally, both breeds are naturally defensive and protective of their owners. So, some rivalry should be expected.
3) Australian Shepherd
As fellow herders, Australian Shepherds have the same energy and drive as German Shepherds, just in a smaller frame.
However, Aussies are much less adaptable to changes in their environment and are much less open to the presence of other dogs. It may be too difficult to keep these similarly high-drive and headstrong dogs in a single home.
The same is true for Border Collies.
Compare the traits of Australian Shepherds and German Shepherds.
Do German Shepherds Need Another Dog For Companionship?
GSDs weren’t bred to work in packs and they have served alongside humans for decades. So, they don’t necessarily need a fellow dog to live with.
They aren’t lonely or unfulfilled when they don’t have a canine companion. In fact, German Shepherds are more likely to prefer the company of their humans to other dogs.
Nevertheless, it’s also important to consider that having another canine as a companion will benefit your dog’s socialization and mental wellbeing in ways that you can’t provide as a human.
Best Age To Get A Companion Dog For A GSD
It’s possible to successfully integrate a new dog into your home no matter the age of your German Shepherd. However, the most ideal time to get a second dog is when your GSD is between 1 and 2 years old.
At this age, your German Shepherd has had enough time to bond with you and is more likely to be obedient to your commands when your second dog arrives. And, it’ll be easier to care for a new puppy when your GSD has already outgrown their puppyhood issues.
Older dogs might benefit from being around some young, playful energy but may become frustrated that they can’t physically keep up. They might also be too set in their ways and won’t tolerate the inevitable changes to their routine when a new dog is introduced to the home.
When Should You Avoid Getting A Companion Dog For Your GSD?
You might have very good intentions, but getting a buddy for your dog isn’t always a good idea. Here are some signs that it might be better to set aside the idea of getting another dog:
If your GSD has overprotective tendencies
It’s natural for German Shepherds to be protective of you. However, if they show signs of being overprotective or territorial, or if they have resource guarding issues, it might be best to avoid getting a second dog.
If your purpose is to correct behaviors
It’s never a good idea to get a dog in hopes that the presence of a new one could curb the bad behaviors or anxiety issues of the first one. Such a plan could backfire and you could end up with double the trouble.
If you can’t make a full commitment
Whether you intend to get a puppy or an adult, a new dog requires plenty of time and resources. Don’t get a new dog if you can’t commit the extra effort it takes to socialize, train, and care for them without compromising your relationship with your GSD.
Some breeds are better suited as companions for German Shepherds. However, compatibility will be dependent on individual dogs and their unique personalities.
How well you’ve trained and socialized your GSD will also play a huge role in successfully introducing a new dog to your family.