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7 German Shepherd Development Stages You Must Know About

7 German Shepherd Development Stages You Must Know About

Did you know that there are seven German Shepherd development stages?

Yes, seven of them!

Even some stages have sub-stages!

I bet you didn’t know a lot of things about what it’s like to grow up as a GSD puppy. Well, now you’ll learn every tiny bit.

So, What Are The Exact German Shepherd Development Stages?

Each German Shepherd will go through these seven development stages. From early puppyhood to golden senior years – check out what it’s like to grow up as a GSD!

Early Puppyhood

two german shepherd puppies in woman's hands

Welcome to the world, little one! Those tiny things moving around you are your little brothers and sisters. Your mommy is there, too. You don’t see her, but you definitely smell her. She’s warm, smells of delicious milk, and radiates love for all you little critters.

You’re a newborn German Shepherd puppy, and it will take some time for you to grow up and be strong just like your mommy. 

From the moment a German Shepherd puppy arrives, he will be in a neonatal stage. It usually lasts about three weeks. This is the period when pups will just eat and sleep. Their weight should double by the time they turn two weeks. 

The growth is rapid and quite noticeable, right according to proper GSD growth charts.

The early puppyhood stage can be divided into several parts. Once the puppies are able to see the world around them, walk, stand upright, and get their first teeth, the period will be over and new changes will occur.

The next biggest phase would be socialization. GSD puppies go through the phase of socialization that lasts up to 12 weeks of age. It is a significant period of time that prepares the pups for their future life around new people and animals.

During this period, the new puppy will begin to explore the world around him. Playing with his littermates is a must. This is how they build their social relationships and help prepare for the future. 

But, socialization isn’t the only thing that takes place during this stage. Puppies will also get weaned and start eating solid food. Also, this is the ideal period to start with basic training and potty training.

Many major things are happening around the new puppy. Will it get any easier?

Juvenile Stage

Puppies are much like children. They go through all kinds of stages, supported by behavior that drives us nuts. The juvenile stage a GSD puppy must go through is one of those stages. And, to answer that question from before, it doesn’t get easier… not right now.

The juvenile stage is a tricky one because your dog responds better to outer stimuli. At least his responses are much different than the ones when he was a puppy.

This stage occurs around the same time when other major changes happen to the new puppy. One of those changes is being adopted… as if it isn’t already too hard for our puppies!

Getting used to new people, smells, other animals, and a different lifestyle than the one he had before is difficult for a dog. Around this time, the puppy will get all his teeth, and we all know how difficult it is when a GSD is teething. Well, our house items know that!

Juvenile German Shepherds are playful pups that are eager to learn. Don’t get fooled by their hyper spirits. They’re still intelligent dogs that will amaze you with what they can do.

Teenage Stage

three german shepherd puppies sitting together on the ground

The moment they turn six months of age, German Shepherd puppies enter what it’s known as the teenage stage. Since GSDs are one of those breeds that don’t reach maturity around their first birthday, we still have a long way to go. 

Our GSD pups will need to go through three more stages (including this one) until they reach full maturity. This usually happens around their second birthday.

So, are dog teenage years as tough as ours? 

Well, it’s difficult, and changes vary from one dog to another. 

Some pups take the whole teenage stage quite easy, without any noticeable issues. Still, others may experience severe behavioral issues. I can go so far as to say that puppies begin to forget their basic training; for example, they experience potty training regression. 

What you should do is be there for your dog and guide him through these changes. Is he having trouble with the training? Slow down. Take your time and embrace the changes your dog is going through together.

There will be changes, and probably the biggest one would be reaching sexual maturity.

The First Transition Stage

The first transition stage is tightly connected to the teenage stage because it happens during the second half of the teenage stage.

Let’s recap! The teenage stage is from 6 to 24 months. Well, the first transition stage is from 14 to 18 months. This is the time when GSD puppies stop acting like puppies. They’re not so bouncy and playful anymore.

Instead, your new GSD puppy will act more as an adult. He won’t experience so many training issues, and his work skills will be right on track.

The Second Transition Stage

young german shepherd in the park

Right after the first transition stage, your puppy will enter the second transition stage. As you can conclude, this stage starts at the age of 18 months, and ends when the puppy is finally two.

The biggest tell-tale sign of this stage is the sexual maturity I mentioned earlier. This is the time to think about processes like spaying or neutering, depending on the gender of your dog. 

Adulthood Stage

Finally, your puppy is an adult now! The adulthood stage is the longest one, and it starts when your puppy turns two. The end of this stage is when your puppy turns 9 years of age.

Since German Shepherds are big dogs, they don’t have a large lifespan. You’ll be lucky enough to see them live up to 12 years. 

This is also the stage with little to no changes. Your GSD is now a calm dog, fully trained and obedient. All in all, he’s a delight to live with and a fierceful protector of your family.

Senior Stage

german shepherd standing in forest

Welcome to the golden years. 

Sadly, they aren’t as bright and shiny as our GSD buddies deserve. This is the stage when you have to be on the lookout for all kinds of health problems specific to German Shepherds.

Your dog is now much slower and needs more time to rest. You’ll notice that his exercise hours aren’t as strenuous as before. You should be extra careful not to exercise your senior GSD too much because his bones are now fragile, and he’s more prone to conditions like arthritis.

To Sum Up…

We’ve gone through the lifecycle… through all of the German Shepherd development stages together. I hope you gained good insight into what each stage brings, and how long it lasts.

See, there’s more than just puppies and adults. Even puppyhood has different stages!

If you’re not ready to face what each phase brings, maybe you’re not ready yet to be a GSD owner. Take your time because owning a dog is a lifetime commitment.