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Are German Shepherds Aggressive? Are They Dangerous?

Genevieve Dugal

By Genevieve Dugal

german shepherd barking

The German Shepherd is a well-known breed. But, do you really know this magnificent canine? This dog can have, unfortunately, a bad reputation, as it is used as an attack and police dog. But despite the prejudices, this dog breed has great qualities to be a family dog, a dog sports teammate, and a magnificent protector.

German Shepherds are no more aggressive or dangerous than any other breed. Read on while we debunk some popular myths about this widely-loved dog breed.

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German Shepherd Overview

The German Shepherd is a dog whose breed was created for its ability to work, so it will have a high level of energy. On the other hand, it is important to channel that energy to prevent the dog from having behavioral problems. The breed is recognized for its willingness to learn and its desire to work. The German Shepherd is curious, which makes it an excellent watchdog and a suitable candidate for participating in rescue operations.

The personality of the German Shepherd differs from that of other breeds: he is courageous without being hostile, he is both self-assured and reserved, he is very intelligent, and he is loyal to his owner. Although he doesn’t easily get attached to strangers, he shouldn’t be shy and hide behind his owner.

Unfortunately, some shy and nervous dogs may have a tendency to bite or attack, but this is often due to fear and the fact that they have not been socialized properly. They may also want to protect their family and territory too much, especially if this trait was developed in excess during their training.

silver german shepherd lying on grass
Image Credit: J. Romanova, Shutterstock

What Is the Temperament of the German Shepherd?

The German Shepherd is an intelligent, loyal, playful, and easy-to-train dog. It is suitable for practically everyone and it can perform any function, from companion dog to guard dog, defense, rescue, etc.

Very protective, the German Shepherd gets along well with children and other pets that have been raised with him. However, true to his instinct as a guard dog, he tends to be wary of strangers. Thus, socialization and firm training at an early age are required.

Above all, the German Shepherd loves to please his owner by “working” at his side. Always ready to learn and move, he will love practicing a stimulating activity with his owner, like agility or obedience lessons, walks, ball games, etc. This energetic dog enjoys the great outdoors and exercise. He will be miserable and depressed if left on his own all day.

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3 Lingering Myths About the German Shepherd

german shepherd barking close up
Image Credit: Christel SAGNIEZ, Pixabay

1. He is an aggressive breed.

There is no dog more aggressive than another. While he may have a reluctance towards strangers, proper socialization of your puppy and education based on positive reinforcement should help a lot!

2. He is a hypocritical dog.

The notion of revenge, harm, or the intention to harm is not present in dogs. If your Shepherd is growling or impatient, he is afraid or uncomfortable in a situation. Dogs prefer to avoid conflict and will avoid facing you. Learn to recognize the signs of anxiety and learn dog language. Give your pooch some space, and it will go at its own pace.

3. He is a dominant dog.

No dog is “dominant”. Although the word is often used to describe behavior between dogs or towards humans, this theory is obsolete. Other terms are more appropriate to explain the behaviors of our canine companions.

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Are German Shepherds Aggressive Towards Humans?

german shepherd on training
Image Credit:Pawan Kumar, Pixabay

German Shepherds are not naturally inclined to be aggressive towards humans. Moreover, it is important to point out that a dog is not born aggressive regardless of the breed. So-called “dangerous” dogs become so for different reasons. But be aware that a dog will always be aggressive for one (or more) reasons and that in many cases, it is human failures or repeated recklessness that causes a dog to find aggression as the only escape route.

That said, the bite of a German Shepherd can indeed have more dramatic consequences than that of a Chihuahua. This is why the German Shepherd owner must be ready to invest lots of time in the education of his dog. A guard dog by nature, a poorly educated German Shepherd, will quickly become painful for his owner, his family, and those around him because he will tend to be suspicious, even aggressive. Fortunately, the German Shepherd learns quickly due to his high intelligence. However, its owner must devote the necessary time to his education and training in order to have a balanced, calm, and confident dog.

Are German Shepherds Aggressive Towards Other Dogs?

Pembroke welsh corgi puppy and german shepherd_Rita_Kocmarjova_shutterstock
Image Credit: Rita_Kochmarjova, Shutterstock

A poorly socialized German Shepherd puppy may indeed be aggressive or even dangerous towards other dogs. It is, therefore, your responsibility to firmly educate your pet from an early age. Puppies that are poorly socialized are likely to be aggressive towards others.

An outburst of aggression from an adult German Shepherd can be catastrophic to humans and other animals. It is for this reason that mental and physical stimulation is paramount in this breed of dog.

The German Shepherd can develop a splendid bond with his pack members, humans and animals, if he is educated with firmness, patience, and compassion.

How To Train Your German Shepherd Puppy

The education and training of your pup must begin at an early age. As he is a brilliant dog, he will learn quickly, thanks to constant and precise education on the rules he needs to follow.

It is essential not to use brutality because beneath its sometimes impressive and dissuasive appearance hides a great sensitivity. Avoid traditional dog training methods, choke or spade collars, and punishments in your dog’s education. Your dog will benefit more from a relationship based on trust.

Although dogs can be educated at all ages, including adulthood, adopting a puppy gives you the ability to limit behavioral issues unique to that breed of dogs, such as possessiveness or fear.

The first step in training will be to introduce the puppy to socialization. It is a gradual process in which the dog is presented with all the external stimuli to which he will be exposed in adulthood:

  • Adults
  • Children
  • Cars
  • Bikes
  • Other dogs
  • Cats and other small animals

You will have to make sure that the first contact is positive and pleasant for him. This will help avoid the fear and stress generated by this type of encounter. He will also become much more sociable. This is one of the most critical steps in dog training.

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Bottom Line

The German Shepherd is a loyal and docile dog, which has long enjoyed worldwide success. He possesses a rare combination of intelligence, agility, strength, and courage. He just doesn’t deserve the bad reputation of being an aggressive dog that sticks to his skin. This magnificent breed is a very versatile dog, which can be a rescue dog, a service dog, a guard dog, and a wonderful pet all at the same time!

Featured Image Credit: PDPics, Pixabay

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