Are German Shepherds Aggressive?

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One of the most common popular culture beliefs about German shepherds is that they are naturally aggressive. But is there any truth to this popular belief, or is it merely a misunderstanding of the breed? Read on to find out more about German shepherds and aggression.

german shepherd with his head tilted back showing its teeth

German shepherds are the descendants of German working dogs. Early on, the breeding intentions were to herd sheep and livestock. This breed was introduced around the end of the 19th century, and became popular during the 20th century. That was the time they made their debut in films and television.

Shepherd dogs are a medium to large sized breed. They are well known for their strength, intelligence, and their ability to work a wide variety of working jobs. Today, German shepherds are used for far more than herding; We use them as guide dogs, in search and rescue operations, as well as military and police operations.

Are German Shepherds Considered An Aggressive Breed?

German shepherds are not any more inherently aggressive than any other breed. Note that individual German shepherds may exhibit aggressive behavior; but this does not mean that the breed as a whole is an aggressive breed. Usually dogs portray the behavior their owners instill.

You must take account of history of the dog, how well it is trained, and considering the specific situation when talking about whether a dog is behaving aggressively.

For example, a shepherd who is not used to strangers may bark aggressively when a stranger knocks on their door. This behavior can be traced to a lack of proper training and socialization, as well as the breed’s inherent protective nature.

This does not mean that all German shepherds will feel aggressive if someone comes to the door, but that the individual dog, because it was not socialized enough, feels exceptionally aggressive towards strangers in their territory.


Will A German Shepherd Turn On Its Owner?

There is no reason that a German shepherd will “turn on” its owner any more than a dog from another breed.

Dogs who attack their owners typically do so because they lack training, have a history of abuse or are experiencing some other contextual issue (such as a medical condition causing extreme pain, or believing that their owner is under attack) that may cause them to act aggressively towards their pet parents.

This is true for all breeds, not only German shepherds.

Are German Shepherds Aggressive Towards Other Dogs?

GSDs are not naturally aggressive towards other dogs, at least not any more aggressive than any breed is towards other dogs. Those who have military and police training will definitely proceed with caution versus a bernedoodle who naturally loves strangers.

However, they need proper training and socializing in order to learn how to interact with other dogs. German shepherds who lack these skills may act out towards other dogs because they don’t know any better.

german shepherd puppy laying in the grass with a red ball

What Age Does A German Shepherd Become Aggressive?

Sources say that puppies may begin getting aggressive around 6 weeks old, but it’s best they are not separated from their mom until after that. 

Between 6 and 14 weeks old is a very vulnerable time for puppies and the best time period to combat aggression. 

Sometimes dogs may become more aggressive after they are spayed or neutered.


Are German Shepherds A Good Family Dog?

German shepherds can be a good family companion dog. However, anyone considering getting a German shepherd as a companion dog for their family needs to do extensive research on the breed. One of the most common reasons for aggressive dogs is when a dog owner does not meet their dog’s needs.

German shepherds are a high-energy, intelligent, protective breed that will require lots of training, socialization and work. This is especially true for family dogs, since we expect them to be calmer and more approachable.

For instance, a shepherd who was trained to be a guard dog will probably have a vastly different temperament than a one with minimal training and is constantly being cuddled by his family!

It is also vital that German shepherds, like dogs of any breed, are trained to avoid aggressive behavior from an early age. Aggressive behavior in puppies should be discouraged, while calm and friendly behavior should be encouraged.

Over time, training will allow them to learn the types of behaviors are acceptable and those that need to be avoided.

German shepherds also need lots of physical and mental energy outlets, as they are an intelligent breed that are designed to work. Dogs who don’t get enough mental and physical stimulation are prone to acting out. This may include excessive barking, chewing and other unwanted behaviors.

If you plan on getting a German shepherd as a family dog, make sure you can commit to the time, patience, and ability to raise and treat your GSD properly.

full grown male german shepherd laying in the grasss

Is A Boy Or Girl German Shepherd Better?

Both boy and girl German shepherds are mostly equal in terms of temperament and personality. However, there are a few key differences in their size and personality.

Male shepherds are often more dominant in personality and more territorial. Whereas females tend to be more protective of humans rather than their territory. Male German shepherds are larger, while females are slightly smaller and less bulky.

Are German Shepherds Aggressive With Kids?

German shepherds are not intentionally aggressive towards children. However, since they have a herding intuition, this sometimes come into play when children are around. German shepherds that aren’t properly trained may try to “herd” children by chasing or nipping at them if they run around the house.

Owners with children should train their German shepherd from an early age not to exhibit this type of behavior; more importantly, they should make sure that their children understand a German shepherd’s instinctive need to herd and chase and act accordingly in the home.

German shepherds may not be best in households with very young children. They do not understand why they can’t run around the house when the dog is present. Older children are more likely to listen when taught the best way to interact with a dog like a German shepherd.

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