Thirteen is an unlucky number, but 13 is also the number of the items you must have if you own a German Shepherd.
Don’t worry – owning a GSD doesn’t bring bad luck. In fact, it brings so much joy!
German Shepherds are wonderful dogs, but they are a handful, and definitely not for everyone.
Before you bring a GSD puppy home, you should know what to expect, and what you’ll need as essentials for your dog.
These Are The Items You Must Have If You Own A German Shepherd
The following items are a part of a must-have list for every German Shepherd owner. I know… there are a lot of things for a list of basics, but you definitely need all this stuff.
1. Appropriate Collars
Collars aren’t just fashionable accessories for your dog. Collars are there to help you put a dog tag on your pup, and attach a leash. Otherwise, you won’t be able to walk your dog, and walking a GSD without a collar and a leash is not okay.
Keep in mind that GSDs can be long-haired dogs, and their mane can be quite thick. If you use narrow collars, they will chafe your dog’s skin and irritate it, not to mention cause hair loss.
Pick wide collars made of durable materials, supported with strong D-rings for tags and leash attachments. I have some pretty great choices here for your GSD.
If you’re not a big fan of collars, you can always try harnesses that go around your dog’s chest.
2. Strong Leashes
German Shepherds are strong. They’re definitely not a good fit for first-time owners. These dogs need lots of training, especially obedience lessons. If you don’t put your GSD through training, you’ll end up with a potentially dangerous dog because he will listen to no one but himself.
With a strong bite force of 238 PSI units, a GSD could break bones and cause terrible damage. That’s why you keep them on the leash when you’re going out. Always walk your dog on a leash when you’re not certain of the level of his training.
Since these are strong dogs, you will need strong leashes that will endure their pulling and day-to-day trips to the park.
3. A Bunch Of Different Toys
Did you know that German Shepherds are super intelligent beings? Of all the 200 dog breeds recognized by the AKC, German Shepherds are ranked as #3, which is incredible!
To own such an intelligent dog means you will need to make adjustments of your lifestyle, and devote quite a lot of time to your dog. But, that doesn’t only mean meeting his basic needs. A German Shepherd must be exercised daily, both mentally and physically.
This dog breed requires at least 2 hours a day of exercise. So, if you can’t commit to that, pick another breed. And no… GSDs are not hyper. They’re just… active and lively.
Besides the standard squeaky toys (those that don’t get chewed through that easily), you should invest in lots of fun puzzle games. The whole point of such games is to make your dog interested in figuring out a way to find that treat that has been hiding in the toy, smelling so good.
This way, your dog exercises his gray cells.
Let’s not forget the standard toy startup with tennis balls, frisbees, rope toys, etc. They’re huge helpers when it comes to keeping your dog fit and active.
4. A Big Crate
As big dogs, German Shepherds need their own space. A crate is a great solution, especially when you’re leaving the house.
Dogs don’t spend time in the crate because they’re punished for doing something wrong. The crate is their sanctuary – a place where they can relax and not be bothered. I know… it is see-through, and it has only bars, but imagine it’s their own room.
German Shepherds need a big crate so they have space to move and get comfortable. Don’t put them in a crate that is too small, or they’ll feel like they’re being punished.
Dog crates that are approximately 42 inches large are great for GSDs.
5. Good Grooming Tools
Every dog owner’s starter kit should include some good brushes. Yes, brushes… as in lots of them.
Now, I’m not saying you should buy every brush on the market. There are specific types according to different coat types. Dogs like German Shepherds will need a few of them to achieve a stunning, glossy coat, i.e., a slicker, a pin brush, and a detangler.
PupVine has already done a piece on the best GSD brushes. You should give it a thorough look and see if you’re okay with our recommendations.
What you must know is that living with a GSD means a lot of dead hair. Imagine how much a long-haired GSD sheds compared to a short-haired one! Yikes!
Okay, maybe I should add a stronger vacuum cleaner on the list, too…
6. High-quality Dog Shampoos
German Shepherds are big shedders. They always have some loose hair to get rid of. That’s why you should never bathe them too often. Frequent bathing will only bring more shedding. I recommend you check our guidelines on bathing a GSD.
German Shepherds need good-quality shampoos and conditioners that will make their coat nice and silky, so you can detangle them without much fuss later.
Always pick natural ingredients over chemicals. Avoid perfumes and colorings. Your dog doesn’t have to smell nice. It’s a dog, for crying out loud! Better watch your GSD’s skin, and make sure it’s not flaky or dry. Poor-quality shampoos can do terrible damage to your dog.
If you’re using generic shampoo bought in your local supermarket for just a few bucks, there’s no wonder why your GSD is so itchy!
7. A Big & Comfy Bed
German Shepherds are large dogs, but you already know that. Weighing almost 100 pounds (sometimes over that) can only mean one thing: their bones are extra fragile, and they need good support to stay fit.
Feeding your dog premium dog food is the one way to achieve this, but buying him an orthopedic bed helps, too. German Shepherds and similar dog breeds must have a bed decent in size that fits them.
I recommend you check out beds with headrests because GSDs love monitoring their surroundings. Also, it would be ideal if the bed had memory foam and back support for your dog.
A well-rested dog is a happy dog. If you’re looking for bed recommendations for a German Shepherd, you should look them up here.
8. First-Aid Kit
A first-aid kit is something every dog owner should have around. While it’s hard to find already-prepared kits, you should consider building your own.
Make sure the kit has the number to your vet written down, the number for animal poison control, and similar organizations that could provide you help over the phone.
Also, bandages and any medications suitable for your dog’s condition are a must.
9. Food And Water Bowls, Obviously
Never, ever pick plastic bowls for your dog. They should either be ceramic or stainless steel, so there’s no chance of any bacteria development happening there. Plastic is horrible, and long term use leads to bacteria growth.
You don’t have to buy elevated bowls for your GSD unless he has been diagnosed with some condition that requires him to eat off elevated surfaces.
However, you should consider bowls with heavy bottoms to avoid mess and spillups, as well as slow feeders. These bowls have 3-D maze prints on the bottom, making your dog eat slower. This is a terrific choice for dogs prone to BLOAT like GSDs.
Such bowls will slow your dog down, and reduce the chance of him swallowing too much air.
10. Premium Dog Food And Storage Boxes
All dogs should eat the best food they can. Since German Shepherds are big and strong, they will need more energy to push them through the day. And, what gives them energy? High-quality dog food!
Most dog owners pick kibble as the most convenient choice for feeding their German Shepherds. Here, I have some pretty pawmazing picks of dog food fit for your GSD. Make sure your pup gets plenty of real animal proteins, as well as healthy fruits and veggies.
If you want to feed your dog kibble, you’ll need more than just dog food bags. I recommend you consider storage boxes that keep the kibble fresh and nutritious. They come in handy, especially if you’re buying big bags of food. Trust me… your GSD will eat a lot.
Speaking of premium dog food… if you really want to go all in, you should consider a raw diet for your German Shepherd – the most beneficial nutrition for such dogs.
Dog tags are okay, but what if they mysteriously get lost?
A GSD that’s an escape artist could easily crawl under your fence and lose his ID tag in the dirt. So, anyone who finds your dog won’t be able to know his name or to whom he belongs.
We should not look at dog tags as something fashionable and not so convenient.
You should microchip your dog!
Unfortunately, microchipping isn’t just for when your dog gets lost. These dogs end up stolen all the time, so don’t forget about that.
Microchipping is fairly cheap. Let your vet do it if the breeder didn’t do it earlier. In most cases, puppies will be sold already microchipped for your convenience.
12. Poop Bags
Let’s talk about the ugly stuff for a moment… poop.
All dogs poop – some more, some less. A big dog means a big load. If you’re a conscientious owner, then you’ll carry poop bags with you all the time. I’ve seen some pretty cool attachments that could go on your dog’s leash, so you never forget the bags.
As I said, GSDs are big, so don’t pick the smallest poop bags in the store. Oh, and make sure they’re durable so they don’t rip as you carry them to the trash can.
13. And, Of Course, Treats
Sometimes, a dog will avoid his food and pick treats instead because they’re so delicious.
German Shepherds are food-motivated, so when you’re training them, make sure you have treats around. But, don’t cross the recommended GSD feeding charts. The daily intake of treats shouldn’t go over 10%.
If you don’t want a fat German Shepherd, then you should watch what kind of treats you’re buying. Healthy snacks are a better option. And, if you want to do the best you can, pick fruits and veggies appropriate for your dog instead of store-bought treats!
As I said in the beginning, these are 13 basic items you must have if you own a German Shepherd.
Of course, the list could go on and on, but essentials are essentials. A German Shepherd shouldn’t live without a comfy bed, delicious food, and good brushes. Everything else you add on the list besides these 13 items is a lovely bonus.