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Large Dog in Apartment or Townhouse

My husband and I have always had German Shepherds! They were the only dog I ever wanted or became so bonded with! I loved training and having one with me at all times.. now we are older 45 and 56 and sold our home and moved into a townhome:( I really miss having a gsd but can’t have one here and it would not be fair to them.. I was looking at small dog breeds and just don’t have any clue on what one would be right. I only work on weekends and my husband is home on weekends so they would never be alone, I do prefer a medium to longer haired dog but other than that not sure what kind I could actually love the personality of and was wondering if you may have any suggestions?

– Rebecca M. (St Louis Mo)

Hi Rebecca,

Quite some time ago I had a conversation with a woman with a similar question but because we were face to face I could ask a few questions. She felt that because she was moving into an apartment she would have to give up her German Shepherd. Not because she wanted to but because she had been told by many that it would be unfair to have a large dog to have to live in an apartment.

I’m not sure if you’re thoughts with regard to your transition from single family dwelling to townhouse is the basis for you thinking you shouldn’t get another German Shepherd. If so, here’s what I told the other woman. I asked her how big she thought I was and if I was maybe considerably larger than a German Shepherd. Of course I am and at the time I too lived in an apartment. I asked her if she thought that my living in an apartment was unfair. Obviously not but of course somewhere along the way in life someone taught me how to behave, whether I’m in a public or a private setting.

I don’t believe walks or yards exercise German Shepherds. Running, trotting that’s exercise. Have to leave the house for that whether it’s a mansion or a bachelor apartment. Although you could tread mill train.

In my opinion, it’s not the size of the accommodation, it’s good breeding, good socialization, good training and the lifestyle of the owner from the perspective of mental and physical stimulation they can provide a dog, that impacts a dog’s quality of life. In my experience craziness in a dog or a person has never been related to the size of it’s accommodation. It’s the aforementioned.

If you’re heart is in the breed and you’re willing to do your research before you get a dog – so you don’t get a physically and mentally unstable German Shepherd – and if you commit to properly imprinting the dog during critical socialization to the normal sounds, sights, smells etc of townhouse living lifestyle (all before 12 weeks of age) and – you train for real obedience and not tricks this currently popular but silly ‘All Positive/Purely Positive/Force-Free’ treat, treat, treat training – you’ll be fine.

Before you get a dog, any dog, German Shepherd or otherwise, read my books on Socialize Your Puppy for Everything and The Beautiful Balance – Dog Training with Nature’s Template and as I say, you’ll be fine.

I am like you, a hard core, that’s where my heart is, German Shepherd lover. My first working shepherd many years ago, Bo lived with me in a bachelor apartment. We were both in the best physical shape of our lives. Because, due to genetics and early imprinting and training he was so well behaved, he was also beloved by all in the neighbourhood and likely more missed when we moved than I was.

Hope that helps. If not, and you still want some breed suggestions, write back with a few more details as to why you don’t think the German Shepherd breed isn’t a good fit as it will help me point you in the right direction.


John Wade

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