My hubby & I share our life & home with two GSD's. Our male is 5 and our female is 2 1/2 years old. The male is very mellow, relaxed, loving, is awesome with youngsters, protective of "his" people and has a hate on for ravens. Our girl has attitude- has since the day she came home at 8 weeks old. She is a dog that needs a boss or she will happily take the role. She is a sweet little angel full of kisses, play & wanting belly rubs about 98% of the time. That other 2% is why we do our best to maintain training and add new techniques when we hear about them. We also try to expose her to new people, situations and experiences to eliminate the risk of her reacting badly due to fear of something she has not encountered before.
Shedding... oh yeah. Invest in a good quality brush and get puppy used to getting brushed as soon as it comes home. Regular brushing helps control how much hair gets shed on it's own. The routine of brushing can turn into a relaxing habit for both your & the dog. The Furminator is awesome. there are also some that do the job for alot less expense. Once grown, be prepared to drop about $100-$130 when you go to the groomer. If you are willing to clip nails yourself then you can save money and keep the nails maintained at a short length. I bought nailclippers at the vet office for around $30, which is about the same price as having someone else clip them.
Be prepared. Everyone seems to know someone who has/had/grew up with/loves/wants a German Shepard Dog (GSD). Lots of folks will want to pet your pooch and unfortunatly they usually ask with the question "does your dog bite"? It is a breed people seem to either love or fear. Your GSD will learn very quickly to 'read' you and will be much better off if you are able to remain calm in situations so that it does not sense that it is time to be tough and protect you.
I totally agree about being dedicated to your dogs. My hubby & I work full-time so we hired a pet sitter to visit during the day (potty break and play time). We have a good play after work as well. We have several laundry baskets full of a huge variety of dog toys (toys, squeakies, ropes, multitude of different chew toys/bones) which along with napping seems to keep them out of trouble during the day. They were kennel trained and earned their way to have run of the house before they were 2years old. Happy to say we never had chewing on furniture and only the rare incident of chewing a non-dog item.
Health... do not have a big play or exercise right after eating to help avoid bloat ( a gastric twist issue). Research your breeder if going that route, keep in mind there are usually some lovely shepard-X's at the SPCA that would love to prove what a great companion they would make for you. Given some issues I have seen, I personally would stay away from adopting an ex-show ring dog (higher risk of hip/joint issues)- however if you are not looking for the athletic abilities then they still have a lot of love to give.
Ask around. With the number of GSD's I have seen in this town, see if you can visit some of them. Kind of like arranging a play date! Then you can ask loads of questions and get a range of answers on everything from training, temperment, coat care, feeding, stories right down to how much can you expect to pick up in the yard/dog run
Think about the size of dog you are looking for. My girl is 70lbs, my boy is 90lbs and the dames/sires at the breeder they came from range from 70-130lbs.
Best wishes and congrats on thinking about adopting a new fur-baby!