Are German Shepherds Good Service Dogs?

German shepherd breed is perhaps the most famous dog breed in the world. It’s an obvious pet choice for a lot of people in the world, especially a grown man.

German shepherd breed originated in Germany. Back then, it was a herding dog, used for herding sheep and goats (that’s why it’s called a German shepherd). As time grew, the dog proved its worth in being a perfect companion for human beings. Hence, this was the reason why it became a pet.

Now, can a German shepherd become a service dog?

A service dog is a dog used by disabled people to perform the tasks that they can’t do. They have been in existence since the 1920s where they served disabled World War 1 veterans. Among the first service dogs were the German shepherd, Labrador retrievers, and golden retrievers. Thus, this answers the above question on whether if a German shepherd can become a service dog.

Characteristics of a service dog

Let’s take a look at the characteristics of a service dog below:

Obedience – This is the most important characteristic of them all. A service dog has to obey its master meaning; it should do whatever its owner tells it to do.

Observant and vigilante – A service dog needs to be very observant and vigilante. This is because disabled people have weaknesses such as blindness, cripple-ness, heart diseases, etc. and thus they can’t react or act fast enough in certain circumstances. For example, a psychiatric service dog can detect anxiety attacks from a patient suffering from PSTD.

IntelligenceA services dog needs to be smart all the time. It needs to be keen during learning so as it may master new skills.

Instinctive – This character is present in every dog. Thus, it’s an essential trait for a service dog to have sharp instincts.

How to train your German shepherd into a service dog

Training a German shepherd into performing specific skills is hard if, you have no familiarity. Thus, its best you take it to a professional training center and let them handle the rest. Alternatively, here are few tips on how to train your German shepherd in becoming a service dog:

1. Train privately

Training it privately it’s the best way of making it master its skills and environment. Mastering smaller areas is easier than mastering large areas since:

  • Easy for German shepherds to learn quickly
  • Easy to control it
  • Small places have little or no distractions

2. Train publicly

After the German shepherd masters the remote environment, train it into a more public outdoor environment. This will help it become familiar to the outdoor environment hence perfecting its skills.

3. Use common language

Service dogs respond to a certain form of language. Thus, when training your German shepherd use that common language to bring familiarity. Furthermore, the language will serve as a service dog identification for your dog.

4. Never, let your German shepherd take the lead until its ready

Only let your dog take the lead when it’s ready. Remember the dog will serve a disabled person and thus it’s best you let it take the lead on when it’s ready

5. Always, exhibit a positive attitude during the training

Know that dogs are affectionate creatures. Thus, it’s best when you are training your German shepherd dog to exhibit a positive attitude, to build a close bond between you and your dog.

Benefits of ownership training over program training

Training your German shepherd into a service dog is free. This helps you avoid the expenses of sending it into a training facility. The training cost for service dogs ranges from 7000 dollars – 30,000 dollars depending on the package and the training facility.

Also, ownership training gives you the liberty to customize your service dog training. An owner gets to decide on what skills does he or she want his or her dog to master unlike training facilities.

Lastly, ownership training strengthens the chemistry between the German shepherd and its owner. The service dog training allows an owner to interact with its dog for a period. Thus, the process furthers the relationship between them.

Benefits of program training over ownership training

Program training determines the readiness of your dog. In ownership training, owners only guess or determine the readiness of their German shepherd dogs by observing them. Thus, the method is too general and therefor can pass the wrong judgement when it comes to fitness.

Now, program training is a different issue. It contains professionals with expertise and experiences that are able to actually measure and determine the fitness of a dog in becoming a service dog.

On top of that, dogs trained in program training have a higher succession rate than ownership training. This is because the program trainers, train a dog into a service dog more professional than in ownership training, leading to a higher succession yield of a service dog.

Cost of a German shepherd service dog

In case you want to buy a German service dog, here is what you should know about their cost:

  • German shepherd service puppy costs from 2000 to 7000
  • Adult German shepherd may vary in price depending on the sellers. Their price ranges from 5000 dollars up to 30,000 dollars

In case you can’t afford one, you may try looking at some institutions like “Reds above the rest”. These organizations offer service dogs for free specifically to disabled people.

What types of service dogs can the German shepherd be?

The German shepherd dogs are skilled and keen creatures and therefore, can become:

  • Guide dogs
  • Hearing dogs
  • Psychiatric dogs

Thus, due to the acute sense of smell, vision, and senses, German shepherd serves best as the above service dogs


Most people may argue that training your German shepherd into a service dog is economical compared to sending him to a professional training service center and they are right. On the other side of the coin, a facility trained service dog is more effective than an owner trained.

Thus, it all goes down to budget, preference, and choice.

Was this post helpful?

Leave a Comment