First bred in 1899 shortly after an effort was made to standardize breeds, German Shepherds are, without a doubt, one of the most majestic and gorgeous dog breeds in existence. While shepherd dogs look as cuddly as a teddy bear with their beautiful fur and brown eyes, their muscular stature gives them a quiet strength. Those characteristics, combined with their amazing personality, are why they grabbed the # 2 spot on the American Kennel Club’s list of 2020 Most Popular Dog Breeds. They were beat out of the # 1 spot only by the affable Labrador Retriever.
However, being a parent to your own Rin Tin Tin is a massive commitment that you shouldn’t take lightly. If you live in Chicago, IL, and are thinking about acquiring one of these big guys for you and your family, here is how you can adopt your own German Shepherd.
Why Adopt a German Shepherd?
Some of the more than 200 dog breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club are more common than others, and the German Shepherd is one of the most popular. That aspect is not surprising as German Shepherds were first bred to be both capable working dogs and devoted family pets. Police departments and militaries choose German Shepherds because of their keen intelligence, fearlessness, trainability and remarkable physical capabilities. Families choose the breed because they know that a German Shepherd will love them dearly and keep them safe.
However, Chicago residents that are thinking of buying or adopting a German Shepherd should bear in mind that doing so involves taking on a significant amount of responsibility. While German Shepherds may seem quite content to sleep or lie around the house for hours on end, they need their daily exercise to maintain optimum health. Dogs that do not get taken on walks or for exercise tend to become hyperactive or destructive, and this is especially true of active breeds like German Shepherds that were bred to work as well as play.
Adopting is not without its risks – many times you simply can’t determine the true health of the dog, or assess its temperament, without help of a professional dog behaviorist, breeder or trainer.
COVID-19 Causes Surge in Dog Adoptions
Dog breeders and adoption centers in Chicago and around the country have reported a spike in adoptions and purchases in recent months as the nation copes with the COVID-19 pandemic. This spike has raised concerns among animal rights advocacy groups worried about how these dogs will fare in the long term. When the television show “Game of Thrones” aired in 2011, there was a similar surge in Husky adoptions. Many of the people who adopted Huskies did not understand what they were getting into, which is why many of them wound up being surrendered to shelters or abandoned.
If remaining in place has you climbing the walls and you think bringing a dog into your home will make things better, you should understand that you will be signing up for a 10 to 15-year commitment. While a German Shepherd will fill your home with love and protect you with its life, adopting or buying one will change many parts of your day-to-day routine. Dogs need exercise and discipline as well as affection, and you may want to think twice about getting one if you are not able to care for it in the right way.
Adopting a German Shepherd from a Center Can Be Risky
People looking to add a dog to their life can either contact a breeder or visit an adoption center or shelter. While going this route does offer a far less expensive path to dog ownership, doing it is not without its risks. Some of the most common problems pet owners run into with shelter dogs include:
• Behavioral issues: Some people give up their dogs because they are moving into a rental home that does not allow them or they want to take no chances with a new baby. Others bring their pets to shelters because of aggressiveness or destructive behavior. A good shelter dog can be a loyal and loving member of the family for years to come, but a bad one can damage your home or even pose a threat to your safety.
• Health problems: Veterinarian bills can mount quickly when our furry friends get sick, and it is not uncommon for dog owners to surrender their pets because they cannot afford to provide them with the care they need. If you do decide to adopt a German Shepherd from a center or shelter, you should visit a vet for a thorough check-up as soon as possible.
• Trauma: Some shelter dogs suffer from a canine form of PTSD caused by prolonged abuse or neglect. Providing a loving forever home to such a dog can be extremely fulfilling, but getting past an abused dog’s anxiety and fear of people can take months or even years.
The Dog Adoption Process
Most German Shepherd owners fondly remember the day they picked up their dogs, and they tend to forget about all of the hoops they had to jump through during the adoption process. The steps taken by breeders, shelters or adoption centers can seem intrusive or overly zealous at first, but they are needed to match dogs with suitable owners and ensure that pets are placed in loving homes. If you decide to buy or adopt a German Shepherd, this is what you can expect.
• Initial application or questionnaire: The first step in the dog adoption process is filling out an application or answering a list of questions. You can expect to be asked about your home, schedule, the ages of your children and whether or not you have other pets.
• Interview: Once you have filled out the paperwork to get the process started, the breeder or a shelter representative will interview you. This interview serves to ensure that the breed you have chosen will thrive in its new environment and ensure that you understand what owning and caring for a dog involves.
• Home visit: Many breeders and shelters will not place a dog until they have visited the house or apartment where it will live. This visit serves two primary purposes. A home visit can prevent dogs from being placed in dangerous situations, and it also allows breeders or shelter representatives to give helpful advice. Common suggestions include fencing in back yards and moving tempting items out of reach.
• Adoption fee: Most shelters and adoption centers charge a small fee. The money raised is usually used to provide care and medical treatment. The cost may be higher if the adoption center has spayed or neutered the dog.
• Follow-up visit: You may get a second visit after your adopted dog has settled in. This visit is structured to address any adjustment problems and make sure that your dog is happy in its new home.
Dog Adoption Centers in the Chicago Area
If you’re still keen to adopt a German Shepherd we’ve detailed some of the bigger dog rescue centers in the Chicago area in a handy list below. If you know of any other dog rescue or adoption centers in the area then please reach out and let me know, and I’ll include them on the list below:
Chicago Canine Rescue
5272 N Elston Ave,
Chicago, IL 60630
Chicago Canine Rescue website
1997 N Clybourn Ave,
Chicago, IL 60614
PAWS Chicago website
One Tail at a Time
2144 N Wood St,
Chicago, IL 60614
One Tail at a Time website
1214 W Monroe St,
Chicago, IL 60607
Alive Rescue website
Lake Shore Animal Shelter
PO Box 40,
Park Ridge IL 60068
Lake Shore Animal Shelter website
The Benefits of Adopting from Professional German Shepherd Breeders
Visiting and adopting from a professional German Shepherd breeder with years of experience can avoid the pitfalls of visiting an adoption center. However, some breeders are more professional than others. Regis Regal has been named a Breeder of Merit by the American Kennel Club and has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. Our dogs are bred to become affectionate household pets and staunch family protectors, as well as service and therapy dogs. We keep a comprehensive history of bloodlines to ensure that our German Shepherds do not develop any of the health problems active breeds have become known for. That’s how we’re able to include full lifetime guarantees on our puppies health, plus the first year of their vaccines within the prices of our puppies – as well as a comprehensive training program. We like to go the extra mile when it comes to delivering the perfect German Shepherd puppy, in every sense!