how much exercise does my german shepherd need

German Shepherds are perhaps one of the most elegant and sleek dog breeds. They’re powerful, but graceful, and strong, but soft at the same time. They’re herding dogs who like up to that name — they’re often paired with police, used for guard dogs, or to protect and herd livestock. 

They’re loyal, confident, affectionate, and fun loving — they’re everything a dog owner could want (if you’re experienced enough to train them). They’re popularity proves that too. German Shepherds are the second most popular dog breed in America, beaten only by the Labrador Retriever. We at Doggy Brace LOVE them. So many of us have them listed as our dream dog, it’s crazy. So for fellow German Shepherd fans out there, this one’s for you! 

Here’s a quick look at the breed: 

  • Height: 24-26 inches (male), 22-24 inches (female)
  • Weight: 65-90 pounds (male), 50-70 pounds (female)
  • Life Expectancy: 12-14 years

The German Shepherd’s Ancestry

The first German Shepherd is pretty different from the breed we have today. Back then, they were simply German herding dogs that had distinct and unique qualities depending on where you were in Germany. 

It wasn’t until Captain Max von Stephanitz, a German cavalry officer, and like-minded breeders came together in the late 1800s with one goal: create the perfect German herder. Together, they bred various dogs from the northern and central districts of Germany, which resulted in the ancestors of today’s German Shepherd. 

German Shepherd’s became popular in the United States in the early 1900s, thanks in part to the adventures of canine movie stars Rin-Tin-Tin and Strongheart

How Much Exercise Does My German Shepherd Need?

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to “how much exercise does my German Shepherd need?” German Shepherds require a lot of exercise and training, and how active they are highly depends on how trained they are and what job they’re supposed to be doing. 

Police dogs, for example, are highly specialized units and are being trained consistently to assist law enforcement. They’re stronger than the typical German Shepherd and for good reasons. 

Your German Shepherd at home won’t need the same level of exercise as those dogs. However, they will still need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay healthy. 

Physical Exercise 

Due to their herding origin, German Shepherds are highly active dogs. Of course, their exercise needs can vary based on a number of factors including their age, fitness level, general health, their food intake and more.

All of that said, all German Shepherds will usually need at least 90 minutes of exercise per day. This can be spread out across the day and can include all sorts of high energy activity, like walking, running and playing.

German Shepherds excel at all sorts of exercise and canine sports thanks to their working background. In addition to their daily walks, you could try:

Exercising Puppies

German Shepherd puppies are a different story! They’ll only need about 5 minutes of formal exercise for every month of their age. For example, a 4-month old puppy will only need about 20 minutes of playtime to keep them healthy. Once they hit about 12 months, they’ll be in a better physical condition to handle normal playtime. 

how much exercise does my german shepherd need

Mental Stimulation

German Shepherds are smart dogs. When they’re bored, that means they can develop bad habits as a way to cope. Keep their mind stimulated and your pup will be happy and content. Here are a few games to help. 

The Muffin Tin Game for Those in a Hurry

This is another great game for when you don’t have much time. Find a muffin tin that can fit a tennis ball into each hole. You’ll need to find one where the tennis ball doesn’t come out too easily or too hard. 

Once you’ve found one, place some strong-smelling treats into some of the muffin indents, before placing the tennis balls on top of every hole. This way sometimes your pup will remove the tennis ball to find there’s no treat, and become more motivated to remove the rest.

Then let your German Shepherd figure out how to get to the treats by removing the tennis balls.

Red Light, Green Light

This is an excellent training game for dogs who get over-excited when visitors come over. It teaches them restraint and when it’s okay to go forward. The best part? You can get your kids to play along too! It’s the exact same game that you might have played when you were younger. 

Before playing this game, your German Shepherd will need to know how to sit or lay down. This will be their “Red Light” command. 

Once your dog knows the command, take them outside. Get them to lay down, and then say “Ready…Set…GO!” on ‘go’ sprint a few paces forward, then stop and have them sit or lay down. It may take them a few seconds to follow through (this game is a little confusing to dogs at first), but they’ll get the hang of it quickly. 

As your dog begins to understand the game more and more, you can get faster. When they’re really good, you can say ‘Go’ again, the moment their belly hits the floor.

Enjoy playing with your German Shepherds, friends! Send us photos using #DoggyBrace on Instagram. We love to see your pups! 

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