A German Shepherd Dog’s Companion

When looking for a buddy for a larger dog, consider a breed that can handle rough play.


Q. We are looking for a small breed to be a buddy for our 2-year-old German Shepherd Dog. We have a large, fully fenced backyard that Gracie has the full run of. We also have a fairly large in-ground pool that she has full access to, but Gracie does not use at all. I mention the pool because I would not want a small dog that could not survive an unexpected slip into the pool. We were thinking Dachshund or Beagle, but have pretty much crossed them off the list due to digging and barking qualities. Do you have any other suggestions or breeder options in the Southern California area?

My wife does not care for Scotties. I know I’m making this difficult, sorry.

A. I wouldn’t automatically scratch Beagles and Dachshunds off the list as potential barkers and diggers. These are traits that vary from dog to dog, and you’ll have to teach your new dog what is and isn’t acceptable behavior in and around your home.

Terriers – including the Scottie – are natural diggers and can be barkers too.

You might want to consider a Welsh Corgi or a Sheltie. They can be barky, but they are Herding breeds, as your German Shepherd Dog is, and are sturdy enough to play with your Shepherd and hold their own.

Dogs have to be taught to swim, so I would stay away from English and French Bulldogs, Basset Hounds, and breeds that aren’t built to be natural water dogs. I also think the tinier Toy breeds like Yorkies and Maltese could get injured in the course of rough play with Gracie, so look for a more rugged, solid dog.


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sohcahtoa   toronto, Michigan

9/12/2012 8:40:35 AM

Our female GSD just turned 3. We had wanted to get a friend for her for a long time, as she loves other dogs. We had to be very selective, because while she loves them, she is a big, powerful dog who plays in a growly, "trash-talking", sometimes rough way. She was allowed to play with my IL's Shelties until the ILs became uncomfortable, preferring a quieter, more polite manner of

Two weeks ago we got a male Australian Cattle Dog (Blue Heeler)/Border Collie cross. After a few minor scuffles, the GSD and the heeler cross are good friends. Heelers are tough dogs but not overly large.

I suggest that if you are already used to a GSD's need for obedience training and socialisation, that a heeler's deep need for those same things would not be a huge burden to you. The two breeds speak the same language. Juat make sure to keep playtime short and supervised for the first few weeks at least. Good luck!

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