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One of those breeds that is loved by everyone. GSD's are loyal , protective guardians who love their families. They are pretty good with kids although maybe not so good around smallies due to their large size but that really depends on the dog.
Your GSD will require a decent amount of exercise, they are not a dog for the couch potato, they have a strong work ethic and enjoy having a job, they are used in police forces and armies all over the world because of this. As pets they excel at Shunzhund and Agility, it's well worth looking locally for a club to train with, your dog will get great enjoyment and stimulation out of it and many owners end up enjoying it too.
They have a pretty thick coat that will require brushing out on a regular basis to get rid of dirt and debris. They are now common in three colons, white, black and sable and black which of course is the most common.
In recent times the show circles have begun breeding the GSD for a "sloped back", you can google pictures of this. The sloped back appearance might be desirable in the show ring but it very detrimental to the GSD's overall breed health. Hip dysplasia is rife within dogs bred for showing, a painful disease in which the dogs hips come away from the joints. Hip dysplasia is expensive to treat as the dog will be on supplements and pain medications, surgery is also a possibility. Within working lines the sloped back is not considered desirable, for this reason hip dysplasia is not as large an issue. Regardless of whether you buy a puppy from a show line breeder or a working line breeder I would not buying one without seeing the dam and sire hip scored, it is too much of a risk to take.
I first had my German Shepherd as a 5 month old puppy 8 years ago and i don't know what i would do without her. She is loveable, loyal, intelligent, i could go on forever.
Whatever some people say about this breed, you have got to have one. I'm very lucky to have my Cassie, she nearly didn't make it when she was born. She was the last of 11 pups to be born and the runt of the litter. In fact the breeder had to borrow a baby incubator from the local hospital, in order for her to survive! From then on she has been spoiled rotten, but is well behaved and knows what is right and wrong.
German Shepherds are well known for their intelligence and are obviously used as working dogs in the police force and as assistance dogs. But they make fantastic pets, they love people, but you have to be aware of other dogs, mine does not do socialising very well with other dogs, but gets on brilliantly with our other dog.
Unfortunately, German Shepherds and some other breeds, are known for having health problems, such as hip dysplayia, mine in fact does have this and was diagnosed 4 years ago. But she copes amazingly on her medication and still runs and plays around out in the garden and loves her walks. In order to keep her dysplaysia under control, i take her occaisionally to have hydrotherapy, which works wonders for her and she thoroughly enjoys it.
I never new she had this, both her parents were hip scored before they were mated and both were free, but unfortunately for Cassie, this must have been in the genes somewhere from past generations. Her one brother has it too.
German Shepherds are known for their barks, so if you want a quiet dog, who won't bark at everyone they see, then don't go for a Shepherd. I have to say, they do their job well as a guard dog and you can't tell them to be quiet everytime.
Their coats can be high maintenance, so be prepared for regular grooming, especially around the hock area and underneath. The best grooming method i use, is a rake, comb and slicker brush, sometimes a grooming glove if she has loose hair on her back. You will be surprised how much hair you get out each time!!
Cassie is a Sable colour, but other types are black and tan, black and also white. I think personally, you get more character from either a sable or black and tan, those appealing eyes show up much better when they give you that look!!
My advise, if you have room and plenty of time, get a German Shepherd
Last year my family and I took care of a three year old German Shepherd for a family friend and we had a great time. It was actually sad when he had to leave us after a week, but it was clear that he is very loyal to his true family. He seemed delighted to see them which was wonderful. Despite its unwarranted fearsome reputation this is most definitely an amazing breed of dog. Problems only occur if the dog is allowed to become the pack leader and/ or it is not exercised sufficiently. Additionally it is advisable to socialise these dogs when they are puppies, but that is the same with all breeds of dog as far as I am aware.
This dog called Barney was well trained and fitted well into our family life. At that time we had no other dogs so there was no problem on that front. However, we had previously had a West Highland Terrier and most of our friends have dogs so we knew a fair bit about what to do with Barney.
A Bit About Barney
Barney was three years old when he came to us.
He had no health problems.
He was well trained and obedient.
He weighed about 30kg and was about 20 inches tall the owners reliably informed me.
He needed to be exercised for two hours a day.
The Breed in general
German Shepherd's live usually till about 13 years old.
They can suffer from a wide range of health problems which include: hip and elbow dysplasia and blood disorders amongst some others.
They do shed hair and should not be washed too often as there hair contains nutrients in it. They should however be combed regularly.
They typically weigh 35-40 kg and reach 25-30 inches in height.
The owner told us that about two hours a day exercise is the perfect amount, but some people do seem to recommend even more exercise than this. I do think personally that two hours walk is probably minimum and that if an owner cannot commit to this then they should consider perhaps a different breed of dog.
I think this is a wonderful breed of dog as it is loyal and obedient. As a warning though this dog must understand it is not pack leader. It must be trained as it is a large dog which is capable of doing the terrible things that feature sporadically on the news. Naturally as a large dog Barney could intimidate people, which is why it was so important that his owners had trained him well. We knew however that because of his training and temperament we could get Barney back on the lead with one whistle.
This is an intelligent breed of dog. A German Shepherd would be much more at home in a house with a fair sized garden which will help the dog burn off energy and have fun in between walks.
Our family now has another West Highland Terrier - who is beautiful. If however we didn't have the West Highland Terrier I would most definitely not hesitate in getting a German Shepherd. They are probably my favourite breed of dog.
I have had my German Sheherd for 6 years now. I had never had a dog before and after a visit to a dog shelter I was shown a litter of pups .I was unsure about having a German Shepherd at forst, mainly because i think that they have a fearsome reputation. However I have been proven completely wrong.
My dog is on the large side and weighs over 40kg and is very tall, however he is the most gentle, loving dog you could ever wish for.
German shepherds were bred for herding, they are very intelligent and are extremely loyal.
Exercise and stimulation is an absolute must for this breed.
Being brought up in the right enviroment is also the one major contributing factor to your animals behaviour.
I have 2 children, one who is 14 and a 5 year old who is constantly wanting to play with 'Harley' our dog. He is very gentle and tolerant of our children and when he has had enough he simply goes to his bed.
Playing tug o war is something that should not really be played with this breed as they can see it as a way of determining who is boss.
Nearly everything i can say about this breed is positive, but as with most things in life there are a few negatives or points that need to be noted.
Pure bred German shepherds do tend to have problems with their back legs when they are older due to their sloped backs.
You also have to be very careful that you do not overfeed them, because their stomachs are quite high in their bodies and can 'flip upsidedown' which can kill them.
Their coats are easy to look after, they do not need to be bathed very often as their fur is layered and has essential nutrients in it. As long as they are brushed regularly their coats are pretty self cleaning.
All in all if you have time and love, you couldnt go wrong with a German shepherd.They make lovely family pets and given the right guidance are very obedient and loving.I would never change my dog.
I love German Shepherds,a nd hope I can be excused for writing this short review on a product I dont currently own. I am only writing after having learned this is one of 2 breeds most likely to end its life in a council dog shelter. Horrible thought for such a wonderful animal. So if you are considering one of these dogs, please research thoroughly and make sure you can provide for this dogs needs for a lifetime before buying. And if you dont absolutely have to ahve a pup, why not consider some of the wonderful German Shepherds in pounds and rescue?
The German Shepherd dog, Alsatian or GSD for short, is a large sized dog that originated in Germany as sheep herding dogs.
Because of there intelligence strength and abilities in obedience training they are used all over the world as police dogs.
Due to there loyal and protective nature they are a very popular breed.
The German shepherd dog is a large breed dog in between 55 and 65 cm tall weighing between 25 and 40 kg. They have a domed head and a long, strong square muzzle. The ears are large and stand erect though sometimes pulled back during movement.
German shepherds come in a variety of colors the main two being tan/black and red/black. Though other colors include sable, all black and all white.
They have a double coat the smooth outer coat which sheds all year round and a thick fleecy undercoat. The coat comes in a medium and long variations.
The German shepherd dog originated from Germany in 1889 when Von Stephanitz named this dog as Deutscher Schäferhund (German shepherd dog) after buying a dog which had been produced from many generations of selective breeding trying to create the perfect dog to herd and protect sheep.
The UK kennel club accepted the breed in 1919 and 54 dogs were registered, by 1926 this had risen to over 8000.
The breed gained popularity after world war 1 where returning soldiers spoke highly of the breed.
There was a decline in the popularity around world war 2 when people were very anti German.
Originally called Deutscher Schäferhund by Von Stephanitz the direct translation was used for dog registry, though later officially renamed by the UK kennel club to the Alsatian wolf dog to remove the obvious German connection. 'Wolf dog' was eventually dropped and Alsatian remained the official name for decades.
In 1977 successful campaigns by dog enthusiasts convinced the kennel club to allow the breed to be once again be registered as German shepherd dog.
German shepherd dogs are self assured and very active, they are eager to learn and have a purpose.
They are very loyal dogs but can become over protective if not socialized from a young age. German shepherds are by nature very wary of strangers though once accepted they have a friend for life.
They are highly intelligent and obedient dogs who respond best to reward based training methods.
ME AND MY GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG.
Until recently i haven't had the pleasure of having a German shepherd in my family though i have been interested in them for a long time.
I am now the extremely proud owner of Maximus, or max for short a 13 week old German shepherd puppy.
We picked him up when he was just 8 weeks old and has lighted up all our lives since and hopefully will do for the next 10-14 years.
He's very intelligent and training him has been easy using rewards he can sit, down, paw, roll over and is 99% house trained already.
He is great with the kids and is starting to get an addiction to tennis and footballs.
We have been introducing to lots and lots of people from different age groups and taught all the children how to make him sit and give paw.
Now being able to go out for walks he's having a great time meeting new dog friends, he's wary at first but soon gets into playing run, chase.
We are experienced dog owners previously mainly boarder collies and Labrador retrievers. I would not recommend German shepherds to a first time dog owner as they are so intelligent and energetic.
They need 3-5 hours exercise per day and this can take up all of your free time and more. So before considering this breed there is a lot to consider not about what the dog can give to you as it will give you unconditional love and loyalty, but if you can deliver everything this breed of dog needs.
German Shepherd dogs (also known as Alsations or GSD for short) are a large breed dog with the adult weight weighing in around 35-40kg. They should have a straight back and confident stance. Unfortunately due to breeding to KC standards some GSD's have a very sloped back and are shaking at their back legs as they find it difficult to balance properly, but I wont get into what I think of the KC & their breeding standards right now!
GSD's come in a range of different coat colours and lengths, the 3 most common being black and tan, gold sable & white. Short coat, Med coat & Long coat.
They have a very protective nature, it is important to introduce them to lots of people of different ages from young so they get used to as many people as possible, as with any breed of dog. A young GSD should be introduced to as many different places, people and noises as possible by the age of 15months.
German Shepherds are extremely intelligent, hence why they are used as police dogs and in the armed forces. GSD's need a lot of training and mental & physical exercise to stimulate their mind and keep them from getting up to mischief around your home! Many people think a GSD needs to live in a massive house with huge garden, but in actual fact a GSD would be quite happy living in a city flat as long as it got the attention and exercise it needed daily.
A pet GSD needs to know the owner is pack leader, otherwise the dog will try and dominate the owner therefore leading to bad behaviour and people accusing the dog of being bad in general. When really it is the owners fault for getting a breed they haven't got enough time and patience for.
The GSD would be prepared to give his own life to save his owners, he will make you laugh, he will know how you are feeling and show you affection when you're feeling sad, he will help you learn new things about yourselfm and he will guard you and your house...
..but also needs a lot of time and effort, or else he may get restless and cause a little damamge to your house, he may get the reputation of being dangerous as he hasn't been socialised well enough, he may be uncontrolable because you haven't bothered to train him.
Not everyone is right for the German Shepherd, but the German Shepherd is right for everyone.
A German shepherd is all you could want in a dog. They look really intimidating, which is good because you know that no one will cause trouble when it is with you.
If you have owned one for as many years as I have, you will know that despite the intimidating looks, they are really a fun and loving dog. They are also one of the smartest and obedient dogs you can own, which is why they are favoured by the police and the army.
They are great with kids but they can sometimes be funny with younger children because they will think they are more important than them. Like my younger brother used to take food from the cupboards and the dog wouldn't let him because he thought he shouldn't be there but he's fine with it now, someone just had to put him in his place.
If you get this dog from a puppy you will soon know that they are mad. They will run around all day causing havoc, but what puppy doesn't, just like a child really.
They are so cute as a puppy and so playful. They will bite but it's not nasty, it's just their way of playing, you might not want to leave them in the house alone at that age because they will feel like they have been abandoned and will start to destroy things around the house.
There are only 2 small problems you could have with a German shepherd and they are their hips and their stomachs.
They are prone to having problems with their hips later on in life, they can start to give them problems when walking and that could be a cause for concern.
They also have small problems with their stomachs so you have to be careful what you feed them otherwise it will just go straight through them.
The only food we have ever been able to give our dog is Chappie because it is very good to a dog's digestive system.
But don't let that put you off getting one of those dogs. You will not get anymore enjoyment or protection from another dog. This is a proper dog and not a pathetic excuse for a dog, like a yorkie which is just a rat.
Ive only own one GSD so far in my life and I can say its been an honor I can't put into words what it is about the breed that I love so much there just seems to be a connection. When my husband wanted to get a GSD to keep our lab company during the day I was a little nervous as they are large dogs and I knew I would be doing all the walking. Unfortuantley I didn't have a clue when we bought him about any health checks and what the main problems within the breed are and we bought him from a back yard breeder. His temprement with us is wonderful he really is the soppiest dog and is very well behaved waiting on his chair to be stroke when you get in from work and giving sloppy kisses on request. Hes also good a guarding the house giving a nice warning bark when needed but not too much to wind up the neighbours. Unfortunatley Zak was bit by another dog when he was small and we received so bad advice from a previous vet so hes not as good with strange dogs as I would like him to be but has improved greatly with training. They are very easy to train and pick thongs up very quickly. The main problems with the breed is the instability of some dogs in the back legs, my lad suffers with this and has always been very wobbly. I hope I always will have a shep in my life but will do better back ground checks on the breeder this time.
GSD's are classed as a large breed. They originated in Germany (if the name didnt give that away) in the late 1800's making them failry 'new' as far as breeding goes. They belong to the working dog group as they were originally bred for herding sheep. They are often favoured as Police dogs due to their strength, agility and high level of intelligence. They are extremely loyal and obediant makign them one of the most popular breeds registered.
My love of this breed started well...before I was even born really as my parents had a great big black and Tan GSD called Prince. Then I came along. Prince was an ex police dog and very very territorial and protetive. Unfortunately he had to be locked away beofre any one entered the property incase of unwanted accidents but behind closed doors this was the dog that the three year old me used as a motorbike! I hung off his ears, pulled his tail, stuck my fingers in his mouth...all sounding like someone should have called the RSPCA for the poor thing but honestly he didnt care and if he did he never grumbled. As a child I was terrified of the dark so when i was sent to bed I would call Prince and he would sit outside my bedroom door and not move a muscle till my parents came to bed! He was trained to obey hand commands and was the most loyal dog ever.
Unfortunately Prince had to be put to sleep when I was 8 but after him we had another GSD that we rescued and he was called Teddybear (not named by us might I add). Teddy was also a fantastic specimen of a GSD. Unlike Prince, Teddybear was a big Teddybear. The most he would do was bark and if he caught you you'd got licked to death probably. He loved and craved attention. He was loyal and loved to learn. He loved to play fetch and learn new tricks. He was perfect. Again another illness lead to yet another needle at the vets and Teddybear didnt come home!
After Teddy was Polo a White GSD. I was 16 when we got him! My Dad brought home this bundle of white fluff and we called him Polo because he looked like a Polar bear and Polo sort of sounded like Polar...go with me here...! This was my first expereince with a white GSD and I must say
they are fabulous. The white GSD's are slightly more timid than the Black and Tans (in my experience anyway). But they are not any less loyal. They as all GSD's are easy and a total delight to train.
The only down side with the White GSD's are their digestive system. They are far more sensitive than other GSD's but this is perhaps more to do with their breeding. (I do not really know much about breeding in any great detail. I am no breed expert so I will not try to give advice on this subject. I can only go by what I was told and my personal experience.) I can't say that the digestive issues casued us any great deal of bother but it did mean really studying up on different dog foods and having to spend slightly more money for a decent brand as the cheaper ones were full of additives and soya.
We breed Polo with a friends White GSD and had 8 beautiful Puppies one of which we were allowed to have instead of a stud fee. So i picked the pup. I picked the loudest whining one because he was cute and I called him Bear! Polo unfortunately was seriously let down by a terrible vet, who should have had his vet license stripped from him, and as a result of this utter neglect was sadly put to sleep at 5 years of age. Bear however is still going strong and will be seven on Christmas Eve.
I know I have digressed slightly here but I am hoping by sharing my experience with the breed you can get an insight in to what life is like with these gentle creatures. They are highly intelligent, extremely loyal and so, so very generously loving. They are superb animals whether they are Black and Tan, white, Black or Blue (the Blue Shepherds are stunning). They do not eat any more than any other larger breed dog but obviously they will eat more than a Dachsund :o) They generally do not have many health issues but can suffer terribly from Hip displaysia which is a disorder that occurs when the hip socket does not form properly. It can cause severe arthritis and lameness. It is quite common in GSD's as with other large breeds. It can bve treated but it depends on the severity of the disorder.
I know that GSD's often get bad press and almost half of all dog bites that are treated in hospital are said to be from GSD's but when you take in to account the popularity of the breed this isn't really suprising considering and these allegations have been disputed time and time again. I think one of the main problem with the GSD is ill education! Families often pick dogs they like without thinking about whether the dog will suit their lives! GSD's are extremely active and need lots and lots of exercise so someone who works eight hours a day should not even consider getting one unless they make arrangements for the dog to be looked after during the day.
Again I know I seem to have rabbited on for ages about this breed but I truly do love this breed with a passion! They are very very close to my heart. When it becomes suitable for me to have a dog again I knwo exactly what breed I shall be looking for at the rescue centre!!!
I have had German sheperds all my life agong with one or two other breeds.
I love this breed they are so much fun and so intelligent great with children and other animals and make great gaurd dogs that can be trusted.
Our dog Roxy is seven years old and from a good breeder she is amazing and loves life. Alway know what the parent dogs history and look for good hip scores as this can be a problem with the breed. We have never had a nasty dog as it is how you treat them and bring them up.In the past we have had sheperds from english parent dogs and they have all been good natured but sometimes a little nervous, Roxys farther is from Germany and we were told by the breeder that this would make a difference and from our experience she was right as roxy ( a bitch ) is so alert and switched on and also fearless, this has makes her very good to train but harder work as she gets bored easily. The biggest thing for me with sheperds is that they are a people dog Roxy hates being left on her own dispite haveing two cats for company ( one of which adores her and sleeps on her back at times ) She really wants to be with people all the time so i would not recomend one as a leave at home while you go to work dog.
Certainly my best friend.
I must admit that when my wife said she wanted to get an Alsatian / GSD I was a bit apprehensive .... I'd never had one before (being a Jack Russell man myself) and was a bit wary of them ... 5 years down the line I can honestly say that our GSD has won me over.
We've had various breeds and aren't really biased to any one - in fact I like the notion of a mixed pack with a couple of big ones and some terriers ... which is just what we have at the moment.
Anyway, to the biggest one she's the smartest, most beautiful and most obedient dog I've ever had, a gentle giant with a very strong work ethic (her dad is German working line) ... we are on a farm and she was raised from a pup with one of our terriers whom she regards as her sister. Whatever the weather, the first dog out and the last in is the GSD. Whatever you are doing she'll be there watching and waiting to be asked to do something, her enthusiasm for play and life in general is infectious. Training her was very easy. Raised on the farm, she gets on well with animals of all shapes and sizes and wears a collar maybe twice a year. Taking on a big dog is a big responsibility though and if you've not got space don't take a GSD. She eats a lot too - about 10 times as much as my terriers, so you need to factor that in when considering a GSD. When buying a pup, check the parent's hip-scores as GSD's can be prone to hip problems.
Your house will swim in dog hair from your GSD and no amount of vaccuming will rid you of it, but its a small price to pay for the companionship of a GSD.
In terms of other animals, my GSD helped raise a litter of Jack Russel pups and lives alongside our JRTs and cats in one big happy family (usually a big furry pile that keeps me off the sofa).
Not a dog for a "dog beginner", but a great one for someone who knows dogs. If you don't think you are confident enough to be the alpha male/female of the pack with a big GSD, don't get one. If you can be its leader you'll have a true loyal friend and guardian who will never cease to amaze you with their intelligence and beauty.
In summary I'd say "Every dog you'll ever need" (well except for a couple of terriers to keep the rats in check !).
Before Sadie there was a lot less incessant whining. Before Sadie I got stared at less frequently whilst I was busy and rarely got a large head thumped onto my lap or woken with an affectionate headbutt and a lick. Before Sadie, there were no hours spent merely rolling a tennis ball from her to you. Before Sadie there was tons more room on the sofa, the bed, even the general floor space and household plants and ornamental garden grasses felt a lot safer. Without Sadie it would be quieter; I wouldn't have someone to turn to for an improntu cuddle and I wouldn't be quite so happy in the mornings if Sadie wasn't there to attempt to take me off my feet in an overzealous morning welcome.
You've most likely established that Sadie is my alsation. She was kennel club registered when we first bought her - 'Kenzed Money Spinner' didn't quite roll off the tongue as well as 'Sadie' did so we stuck with that strangely enough. She was part of a litter of 6, all girls and she was the last one left. When they sold her to us for a mere £175, they said she was the biggest of the litter and in truth, she is bigger than most male German Sheperds we've encountered. In fact, she is huge! I have never known a friendler, softer and more gentle dog; and we've owned a fair few mainly in the league of cross-breeds and border collies. Sadie was our first alsation and she is incredibly intelligant and trustworthy, even with my young 2 year old nephew who, under supervision, will offer her a tennis ball and she will very gently take them from him. It is touching to see her actually opening her mouth slower, and closing it carefully over the ball so as not to touch his little hands.
The Pro's - if you can define them so easily!
With most dogs, you have that loyalty and unconditional trust; they will follow you through hell and back. They are big but gentle dogs, come in a number of variations - Sadie is a short haired tan and black alsation. Very intelligant and very loyal, they are social and loving animals and for the most part, aside from the one or two that rub her up the wrong way, I know mine to welcome and play with pretty much any other breed of dog. They respond well to training. They are a large and active dog - Sadie still has two walks a day although she can't really run any more - I see this as a pro because there's nothing like watching your own loveable oath bounding off after a ball or chasing tail with another friendly dog. It's also good for you!
The Con's - if there really are any that nature doesn't take out of your hands.
They tend to get bad hips which can be expensive to maintain. Sadie also has a poor stomach so she has to have JD Hills perscription dry food. She also eats chappie with two lots of medicated pellets for joint and pain control and seraquin in the evenings and a seperate morning medication. She costs well over £100 a month just to feed and medicate now that she's 10 years old. She is insured (a mistake we made previously by not insuring a dog which involved my parents using up their savings to pay for operations). Insure your dogs. You never know what will happen and vets rates are extortinate. Please never find yourself in the predicimant where you have to choose between your dog and the price of keeping them alive.
Life expectancy - of course being a thorough bred animal, she won't last as long. She's hit 10 and is still going strong with all her ailments but in theory she should have few years in her. Fingers crossed and hope for the most for her obviously, but it is a consideration. The last mixed breed we had lived till she was 21 years old - a ridiculously long time and she was completely bonkers and falling apart, but she had the capacity to live that long.
To summarise, I won't find another Sadie but I will have more german sheperds. They are a wonderful, loving and intelligant breed. Yes they can grow a little of the green-eyed monster and are known for being jealous/possessive creatures, but it is a quality you can master and share a wonderful period of your life with a beautiful, loyal and affectionate creature.
Hi I have 2 White German Shepherds and i have had not one problem with them, they are both bitches and are excellent at gaurding the house but are also very kind and loving dogs, i have had all the children in my close round my garden playing with them and never a cross word they bith really do love everyone, all breeds of dogs have there problems but just because they are white that should not put you off, i made sure when i bought my first dog that i found out all i could about her back ground and parantage and also the same when i was looking for a stud dog for my bitch, my second dog is from that litter and all of the pups now dogs are extremely loving, great with others dogs, children etc so i would say they are the best pet you could ever have. One thing my dogs do that is naughty is chase cats if they are not part of the family but they do come back as soon as they are called, they have never had a go at my own cats even when they do run,
Firstly, many people think German Shepherds are very aggressive and will bite. This will only be the case if they have been (or are being) mistreated or badly trained. In general they are loving, lovable, and extremely loyal dogs; perfect for the single type who lives on their own and sometimes needs a big ball of fluff to interact with! The only problem with this though, is that if you leave them for a while, they will become very anxious to see you when you next return, usually jumping up and being very boisterous.
Their abilities to be guard dogs are brilliant; they will bark at loud noises in the night (Yes, this is quite a down side as well) and will perk up almost instantly even if they've been asleep for hours beforehand. They will usually get on with everyone you want them to, as long as you appear to be friendly with the person in question.
However, because they are such big dogs, they require lots of walking (or very long walks), lots of food, and lots of care. They are also known for their arthritis in later years.
In this case though, I feel bigger is better. Just because of how much you get back from them, I mean, they're so loyal; it's hard to comprehend. They will never run away like a cat might. And even when they've done something wrong (this especially relates to my own German Shepherd), and you get a bit shouty, they'll still come back to you half an hour later to lick your knees (yes, this is very related to my dog!) and wag their tail at your feet.
Overall, if you want companionship and a good lot of exercise, this is the type of dog for you. If you want a fashion item that requires little attention, you might want to look elsewhere.