6 Best Shepherd Dogs for Families

Shepherd dogs have long been recognized for their exceptional loyalty, intelligence, and protective nature, making them excellent companions for families seeking a loving and reliable pet. This article aims to explore different types of shepherd dogs as family pets, providing valuable insights into their characteristics, lifespans, training and socialization needs, prices, and exercise requirements, as well as important factors to consider when choosing a shepherd dog for your family.

A Collage of the Best Shepherd Dogs for Families

Whether you are considering welcoming a shepherd dog into your home or are simply curious about these remarkable breeds, this article will serve as a comprehensive guide to help you make an informed decision and create a harmonious bond with your four-legged family member.

Benefits of having a shepherd dog as a family pet

Shepherd dogs have long been a popular choice for families seeking a loyal and protective companion. These dogs are known for their intelligence, versatility, and ability to form strong bonds with their human family members.

Owning a shepherd dog can bring numerous benefits to your family life. These dogs are not only highly trainable but also thrive on work and exercise, making them the perfect fit for active households. With their natural instincts as herding dogs, they tend to be watchful and protective, ensuring your family's safety. Furthermore, their affectionate nature means they will become a cherished part of the family, offering endless cuddles and companionship.

Characteristics and Traits of Shepherd Dogs

Shepherd dogs typically exhibit certain common characteristics such as agility, stamina, and a strong drive to work. They have well-proportioned bodies, often muscular and athletic, which enables them to excel in various physical tasks. Additionally, their alert and intelligent expressions give them an air of authority and focus.

When it comes to the temperament and behavior of shepherd dogs, they are known for their loyal and protective nature towards their families. They are often friendly and gentle with children, making them excellent playmates. However, their herding background can sometimes result in a tendency to try to control or herd family members, so early socialization and training are essential.

One of the most notable traits of shepherd dogs is their exceptional intelligence and trainability. Their ability to learn quickly and comprehend complex tasks makes them highly sought after for various roles, including search and rescue, therapy work, and sports such as agility competitions. With consistent positive reinforcement training methods, shepherd dogs can become well-behaved and obedient family pets.

Top Shepherd Dog Breeds for Families

1. German Shepherd

  • Monthly cost: $100 to $300 a month
  • Minimum daily exercise: 2 hours
  • Coat length: 2 inches or longer
A German Shepherd and a toddler

The German Shepherd is widely renowned as one of the best shepherd dogs for families and an excellent choice for first-time dog owners due to its intelligence, loyalty, and protective nature. With a lifespan of around 9–13 years, this breed requires dedicated attention and care. German Shepherds are known for their versatility, excelling in various roles such as police work, search and rescue missions, and even therapy or assistance dogs. They have a strong drive to please their owners but need consistent training and socialization from an early age.

When it comes to purchasing a German Shepherd puppy, the average price can vary depending on factors such as lineage and breeder reputation. In the United States, they typically range from $500 to $2,500 while in the United Kingdom, it is usually £800 to £2,000. As a potential owner, you should carefully research reputable breeders who prioritize the health and temperament of their German Shepherd puppies.

Watch this video of a loyal German Shepherd named Baron who loves helping his family with the household chores and playing with and protecting their son Alexander.

2. Australian Shepherd

  • Monthly cost: About $130 per month
  • Minimum daily exercise: 1 to 2 hours
  • Coat length: Medium-length coat
A man and his wife cuddling their Australian Shepherd

The Australian Shepherd, commonly known as the 'Aussies', ranks among the best shepherd dogs for families due to its intelligence, loyalty, and versatility. With a lifespan of around 12-15 years, this breed proves to be a long-term companion. Although prices may vary depending on various factors such as pedigree and location, an average cost estimation can be given.

In the United States, Aussies typically range from $800 to $1,200 for pet-quality puppies. However, if you seek a show-quality dog or one with champion pedigrees, prices can exceed $2,500. Similarly, in the United Kingdom, the price is approximately £850-£1,200 for a healthy puppy.

However, it's worth noting that these figures can fluctuate due to demand and availability. Overall, investing in an Australian Shepherd ensures not only a loving and protective family member but also a versatile working dog capable of excelling in various activities such as herding or agility competitions.

3. Border Collie

  • Monthly cost: $100 to $250 a month
  • Minimum daily exercise: 90 minutes
  • Coat length: 1 to 3 inches long
A Border Collie sitting beside a kid

The Border Collie is an excellent choice as a shepherd dog for families due to its intelligence, agility, and loyalty. With a lifespan of around 12-15 years, this breed can provide long-term companionship and reliable help in herding livestock. Their natural herding instinct makes them ideal for families with children, as they are eager to protect and guide their loved ones.

In terms of price, a Border Collie can range from $800 to $1500 in the US or £700 to £1,500 in the UK depending on factors such as lineage, age, and location. Considering the high demand for these dogs coupled with their exceptional capabilities, investing in a well-bred Border Collie seems worthwhile.

However, it's worth noting that owning a Border Collie requires proper training, mental stimulation, and physical exercise to ensure their well-being and prevent behavioral issues stemming from boredom or under-stimulation.

4. Belgian Malinois

  • Monthly cost: $150 to $700 a month
  • Minimum daily exercise: 45 to 60 minutes
  • Coat length: Short, medium, long
A Belgian Malinois dog sitting beside a toddler

The Belgian Malinois is widely regarded as one of the best shepherd dogs for families due to its intelligence, loyalty, and strong protective instincts. With proper training and socialization, it excels in various roles such as a family companion, working dog, or even a search and rescue companion. This breed typically has a lifespan of 10-14 years and requires regular exercise and mental stimulation to thrive in a family environment.

In terms of cost, the price range for a Belgian Malinois can vary depending on various factors such as pedigree, breeder reputation, and location. On average, you can expect to pay around $1,000 to $2,500 (£800-£2000) for a purebred Belgian Malinois puppy from reputable breeders. However, it is important to note that investing in a well-bred and properly raised puppy from responsible breeders ensures good health and temperament traits essential for an excellent family pet.

5. Anatolian Shepherd

  • Monthly cost: $75-$200 a month
  • Minimum daily exercise: 1.5 to 2 hours
  • Coat length: Short and long
An Anatolian Shepherd dog sitting in a field

The Anatolian Shepherd is regarded as one of the best shepherd dogs for families due to its strong protective instincts, loyalty, and gentle nature towards children. Originating from Turkey, this breed has been traditionally used to guard livestock; hence, it possesses an innate ability to ensure the safety of its family members.

With an average lifespan of 10-13 years, the Anatolian Shepherd offers years of companionship for a family willing to invest time and effort in training and socialization. In terms of price, purchasing an Anatolian Shepherd puppy can cost between $1,000 and $2,500 (£800-£2,000), depending on factors such as breeder reputation and bloodline quality.

However, as a prospective owner, you should also consider additional expenses such as veterinary care, food, grooming supplies, and training sessions. The Anatolian Shepherd's remarkable qualities make it a worthwhile investment for those seeking a dependable protector who simultaneously thrives in a loving family environment.

6. Old English Sheepdog

  • Monthly cost: $60 to $100 per month
  • Minimum daily exercise: 2 hours
  • Coat length: Medium, long
A family with their 2 Old English Sheepdogs

The Old English Sheepdog is undoubtedly one of the best shepherd dogs for families due to its gentle and affectionate nature. With a lifespan of around 10 to 12 years, it forms strong bonds with its human family members, making it an excellent companion and protector. Originating from England, this breed possesses a playful disposition, and their patient temperament makes them great with children.

As intelligent working dogs, they require mental stimulation through training and physical exercise. In terms of price, the cost of an Old English Sheepdog can vary depending on factors such as breeder reputation and location.

On average, in the United States, these puppies can range between $1,500 and $3,000 or approximately £950 to £1,500 in the United Kingdom. However, it's important to prioritize finding a reputable breeder who focuses on health testing to ensure you are getting a healthy puppy that will thrive within your family setting.

Considerations for Choosing a Shepherd Dog as a Family Pet

Before bringing a shepherd dog into your family, assess your lifestyle and compatibility with this active breed. Are you able to provide the time and attention they need? Can you handle their exercise requirements? Consider whether your family is ready for the commitment of a shepherd dog.

Moreover, shepherd dogs are not suited for apartment living. They thrive in homes with a yard where they can run and play. Make sure you have enough space to accommodate their energy and exercise needs.

Furthermore, owning a shepherd dog comes with financial responsibilities. From regular vet visits to food and grooming supplies, it's important to budget and plan for the costs associated with their care. Additionally, consider potential expenses for training and any unforeseen medical issues that may arise.

Conclusion and Final Thoughts

In conclusion, shepherd dogs can be a wonderful addition to any family. With their intelligence, loyalty, and protective nature, they can provide a sense of security and companionship. However, it is essential to remember that owning a shepherd dog requires commitment and dedication. Proper training, socialization, exercise, and healthcare are crucial to ensure a happy and well-adjusted pet.

By understanding the characteristics and needs of shepherd dogs, you can make an informed decision and provide the best possible environment for your furry friend. So, whether you choose a German Shepherd, Australian Shepherd, or any other shepherd breed, with the right care, love, and attention, your shepherd dog can become a cherished member of your family for years to come.


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