A well-trained German shepherd gets along well with other pets, including cats. However, due to the strong prey instinct of the German shepherd, it is important to socialize the breed with household pets at an early age. This, along with training, ensures that the German shepherd will not be a threat to pets or stray animals.

German shepherds are widely considered to be one of the most intelligent breeds of dog. Its courage, loyalty and confidence make it a good fit for either family life or service work. German shepherds are known to be very protective of their families and are fully capable of being guard dogs. The German shepherd's upright ears, long snout and bushy tail are reminiscent of the wolf's, indicating a relatively recent removal from its wild ancestor. Male German shepherds can reach 26 inches at the shoulder and weigh up to 85 pounds. The breed overall is physically strong and athletic, requiring daily exercise such as a long walk or playing Frisbee. If a German shepherd does not have sufficient exercise, it is liable to misbehave. This problem can be compounded if the owner is not perceived as dominant or assertive enough. If not bred from acceptable stock, this breed is susceptible to dysplasia, digestive problems and splenic tumors, among other maladies.