Are German Shepherds Aggressive? (Myth or Reality)

are german shepherds aggressive

Although German Shepherds stand out for their loyalty and faithfulness, making them the top choice when selecting a guard dog, all dogs are renowned for these qualities.

Courage, Intelligence, agility, bravery, and loyalty are hallmarks of an epic dog, and German Shepherd claims to be one.

But one of its traits that is highly frowned upon when adopting them is in question is its alleged aggressiveness.

So, are German shepherds aggressive? Let’s ponder this and understand whether it’s true or just a myth.

Are German Shepherds Aggressive?

The answer is not as simple as it seems. First, let’s look closely at mere aggression.

What’s aggression? According to the Animal Humane Society, a dog’s aggression is the chance of harm to humans or other dogs involving snarling, snapping, growling, lunging, barking, or biting.

There are certain types of dog aggression, inducing leash aggression, social aggression, pain-induced aggression, resource-guarding aggression, frustration-aggression, etc

Now, let’s look at the factors that affect German Shepherd’s aggression.

Territorial Behaviour

a german shepherd attacking other dog

Zoologists call it Territorial Behavior, which means an adult dog has the trait of a wild animal to protect its territory. Other animals with such traits include lions, big cats, hyenas, and most dog breeds.

So it shouldn’t surprise you if a German Shepherd is found barking and biting when another dog or human enters what he considers his territory. Like the one who lives with farmers to protect their livestock.

Protective Instinct

A german sheprd standing beside a security personnel

All dogs have protective nature, and so do German shepherds.

German shepherds are the top dogs liked by police for being an extremely intelligent breed, one of the most powerful dogs, and having the ability to solve mysteries in complex investigations.

If he feels that his territory is being invaded in any form, you must be ready for his aggressive outburst.

Also, when they’re made responsible for guarding property, livestock, and others, they are the best guard dog around, and for this reason, they are so aggressive that they don’t limit their duty to barking just.

Instead, they fight to the death even to protect the properties. So, their protective nature may make them more aggressive than many dogs.


In case of fear, German shepherds aren’t the exception. All canines behave widely when they feel danger.

A rigid tail with slow movement on both sides means it feels threatened by whoever is in front.

So next time you hear a German shepherd barking at you with a slowly wagging tail, you should abruptly understand it’s out of fear.

So you need to act in a way purportedly as not threatening to him. If you’re walking on his territory and he starts following and barking at you, you must stay calm with your arms close to your body.


A German shepherd who’s depressed will behave aggressively. The unusual howling or whining are the clear signs of aggression.

It’s pertinent to note that the dogs’ separation anxiety differs from the depression or anxiety that causes aggression.

Other symptoms of depression in dogs include the loss of interest in the activities it used to show earlier, change in sleeping and/or eating habits, etc

German Shepherd’s Job Nature Make Them A Bit Aggressive Sometimes

Usually, the role we see German shepherds in is tough, requiring them to be vigilant and react immediately when they see intruders.

Let’s talk a bit about the roles they are usually seen in.

Herding Duty

German shepherds are considered the best dog breed to walk around with the herd of sheep, goats, and other livestock to defend themselves against wild animals like wolves, coyotes, and others.

As Working Dogs

Four canadian police officer posing along with their K9 partners (police dogs)

For dogs to be recruited by the police, it requires much intelligence, speed, and courage, which no other breed than German Shepherds possess.

In fact, in World War I and II, German shepherds were successfully used by the US and German militaries. The reason is their agility, high endurance level, love for mental stimulation, rapid response, and intelligence.

In fact, this 200 old breed’s popularity hasn’t diminished despite other working dogs doing the same duties, like the Belgian Malinois.

And if you study the latter as well, the same question will appear on the discussion forums – why are these dogs so aggressive?

Crowd Control

Another tough and terrifying purpose they’re used for is crowds control, which requires an unusual show of offense and barking.

Following the US police dogs suit, the Dubai police have also been witnessed in recent years using German Shepherds to control huge crowds at Metro stations.

Narcotics Detection

a german shephrd detecting narcotics

This is another area where German shepherds are preferred over other dogs.

Digging deep into this job, the dogs must sniff the narcotics in the passengers’ luggage after getting hard training.

When they identify any, they need to be aggressive to rule out any doubt about the non-presence of the banned items – called the Aggressive Alert because the customs staff need to know immediately what’s hidden and where.

German Shepherds Aggressive Dog Or Non-Aggresive: What Do Researches Say?

VetCompass is a centralized software that automatically harvests clinical records of vet practices in a central database.

According to research called VetCompass Programme conducted at Royal Veterinary College (RVC), disorders and demographic changes in germans herds were revealed, which were very helpful in understanding the German shepherd’s behavior.

The most relevant provision of the above research was the revelation of the disorders in German Shepherds, which include aggression (4.76%), overweight/obesity (5.18%), diarrhea (5.24%), osteoarthritis (5.54%), ear infection (7.89%)

Another point in this research was the degree of aggression between male and female German shepherds.

According to this, males are more aggressive, with a 6.75% aggression rate compared to just 2.78% in females. This suggests female German shepherds are much better family dogs than males, who are the best guard dogs.

A German shepherd becomes aggressive when he or she reaches sexual maturity, and their hormones fluctuate.

Do German shepherds bite more than other breeds?

A German shepherd biting a man's arm

According to the statistics, dog bites over cases are 5 million in the United States annually, with children bearing the brunt of it, of which 1000 need to be hospitalized.

And even strange is that there aren’t wild but family pets who bite them.

A study published by the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology says in the ranking of the world’s most biting dogs, the German shepherd holds the 4th position.

Comparing the bite force of most dog bites, a typical German Shepherd is 238 psi(normal human bite force is 162 psi). This means 238 psi bite force of all shape canines can do some serious damage.

Things to do when you encounter German Shepherd’s aggression

A fierce dog attack is sometimes hard to defend from aggressive German shepherds, but still, there are ways you can save yourself as much of the dog’s aggression as you can.

  • Don’t move and stay calm

Dogs are excellent chasers, and the moment you try to flee gives them a sense of more danger, so they start following you, from which you cannot escape. So, remain calm, as your movement may make the situation worse. Try to stand sideways with your arms close to your body as less body is visible in this case, and try not to see in his eyes.

  • Use anything to protect yourself

Purse, book, file whatever you have in your hand use that to bring it forward so that it’s the object that he puts in his mouth and not your skin.

  • Move away slowly

Try to escape slowly and steadily to reach some crowded or safe place. However, if the situation worsens, try to beat him with anything, like a stone or whatever you have.

How Do We Prevent German Shepherds From Becoming Aggressive?

an aggresive german shepherd barking

The following can help you train your German shepherd so that it may grow up less aggressive

Socializing When They’re Young

Socializing starts early when he is just a German Shepherd puppy.

Try to adopt the habit of rewarding with the things he likes, like red tomatoes, cauliflower, etc., each act of obeying.

Second, try to desensitize him to the other dogs’ presence by frequently bringing him near other animals and asking him to be quiet if he barks.

Another important aspect of proper socialization is improving your personality as well. Your walk with your shoulders down and giggling unnecessarily make him learn that you’re not his commander.

So your gestures and body language should show up as a person in a dominant position. Teach him a calm demeanor and positive reinforcement.

Ensure you fulfill his basic needs of exercise, nutrition, removing his boredom, and consistent communication so that he may not feel separation anxiety.

Consult Dog Behaviorist

A dog behaviorist Cesar Milan giving proper training to a German shepherd

The famous US dog behaviorist, Cesar Millan, says it’s up to the German shepherd owner to make aggressive or non-aggressive dogs. If you don’t show your dominance, he’ll dominate you.

But if you feel you can’t handle yourself, you need to hire a dog behaviorist who is an expert in solving the German shepherd’s aggressiveness, among other issues like German Shepherd puppy training and adjusting to a new house.

If your dog’s aggression is due to some medical reason, the behavior can refer the same to a vet.

I medical reasons, one of the problems might be epilepsy because the chances are the breed isn’t the result of a responsible breeder who conducts health screening before breeding.

Try To Predict Its Aggression

A man oberving german shepherd behaviour

It’s a bit hard initially, but as you become used to the dog, you will know what triggers his aggression. So, you can avoid that thing by observing the dog’s body language to understand your dog’s aggression triggers. For example, walk past the street where another dog shows the same aggressive behavior; it’s better to use another way while walking.

The Bottom line

Having ranked 4th among the most aggressive dogs, it’s clear that a German shepherd’s aggression can’t be ruled out simply.

Another reason might be the type of duties it performs that require them to be aggressive. The breed is still the farmer’s first choice.

And when it comes to choosing a house dog, the female German shepherd is preferred over males. Males have more chances of becoming aggressive in sexual maturity.

So, like other dogs, German shepherds are not always aggressive; their environment makes them so, including the first dog owner’s treatment.

Are you a German Shepherd parent? If yes, share your experience in the comments section below.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is German Shepherd Breed Friendly? Are German shepherds naturally aggressive?

Yes, a German shepherd is a wonderful friend for families, especially children.

Are German Shepherds Aggressive To a dog owner? Will German shepherds Attack Their owners?

No, they never do so; their overprotective instinct sometimes creates problems for the pet family members. Instead, they make excellent family pets.

Are German Shepherds Good With Kids?

Yes, German shepherd dogs are playful; females are children’s wonderful friends. Only males, with poor training and being raised away from small children, sometimes don’t tolerate rough behavior.

Are German Shepherds Dangerous

Since Germans Shepherds are protected flocks, they sometimes become dangerous for strangers.

Are German Shepherds Aggressive To Small Dogs

German shepherds must be socialized properly to get used to other popular breeds, small and large dogs, or other canine companions.

Are German Shepherds Aggressive To Cats

Their behavior towards cats is the same as that of other dogs.

A well-socialized dog won’t be aggressive if expert dog trainers early train him to live as a family dog or forbear other pets. Otherwise, you’ll have difficulty keeping him away from your cat.

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