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Do German Shepherds Get Along With Cats? Breed Temperament Explained

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By Nicole Cosgrove

German shepherd dog with two little kittens

Although the rivalry between dogs and cats is a tale as old as time, it is normal for dogs and cats to get along with early socialization. The trick is finding a dog breed that will either ignore the cat or love it naturally. If you like German Shepherds, you might be wondering if this big breed gets along with cats.

To put it bluntly, German Shepherds can get along with cats with proper training and early socialization, but do not depend on the German Shepherd’s loving nature to be enough to make these two animals get along. Instead, be proactive in socialization and temperament selection to find the right German Shepherd and cat.

Read on to learn more about how German Shepherds react to cats and learn tips about early socialization.

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Are German Shepherds Good With Cats?

In comparison to more aggressive breeds, German Shepherds are naturally good with cats. That being said, individual German Shepherds may act uneasy around cats or act out right aggressively.

In other words, it can be hard to predict if a German Shepherd will get along well with cats since individual personality is the biggest determiner. Because they are less aggressive than some breeds, you have better luck socializing German Shepherds.

Naturally, German Shepherds are loving, but they were originally bred as herding dogs. Their herding background means they have an instinct to chase, herd, and protect. Even if German Shepherds are not meaning to be aggressive, cats may often interpret their behavior as such.

Luckily, German Shepherds, especially when they are puppies, respond to training well. With early socialization, German Shepherds have a great chance of getting along with cats. Only through socialization efforts can you trust that a German Shepherd will get along with your furry feline friend.

German shepherd puppy with cute kitten sitting on green grass
Image Credit: Ermolaev Alexander, Shutterstock

About German Shepherds

If you want to introduce a German Shepherd to a cat, you need to know a lot about this breed of dog1. Let’s take a look at some important facts about German Shepherds that affect their relationship with cats.


As their name suggests, German Shepherds were originally used as herding dogs. It was their job to help keep herds together and defend them from predators. Even though German Shepherds were protecting the flock, they often nipped at sheep’s heels to keep them together.

Today, German Shepherds still retain this herding drive. When around cats, they can chase and even nip at their tail or heels. Although this behavior isn’t downright aggressive, it is alarming to cats. If your cat takes off, the German Shepherd is especially likely to behave in this way.

german shepherd dog lying on wooden table outdoors
Image Credit: lancegfx, Pixabay


German Shepherds are known for having one of the most lovable personalities. Today, this dog is considered one of the most popular breeds because it is intelligent, courageous, and responds very well to training.

Additionally, German Shepherds are known for being sensitive and lovable, which is why they make perfect guard dogs for families. They get along great with children, but they will protect if necessary. With the right owner, German Shepherds easily become one of the most socialized and lovable dogs.


In terms of trainability, German Shepherds are considered one of the best. They have a high desire to please their owners, and they are very intelligent, which makes it easier for them to pick up on commands. Especially in the first 3 months of their lives, German Shepherds have a great capacity for being trained.


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How to Get Your German Shepherd and Your Cat to Get Along

If you want your German Shepherd and cat to get along, you need to focus your attention on the German Shepherd by socializing it and training it accordingly. Because German Shepherds are intelligent and eager to please, training these dogs is not as difficult as it could be with other breeds.

The earlier you socialize your German Shepherd, the better. The best time to socialize your German Shepherd is during the first 3 months of its life. If the German Shepherd is socialized sooner rather than later, it is much more likely to be kind and gentle around cats.

german shepherd dog domestic shorthair cat on carpet smiling happy
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

Factors That Affect Socialization

To get the best result out of socialization training, there are some factors you need to consider. Age and temperament are the two most important.


The most important factor to think about when you are socializing with your German Shepherd is its age. The younger your German Shepherd is, the easier socialization will be. If you already have a cat in your home, it is best to get a German Shepherd puppy as opposed to an adult German Shepherd.

Start training your German Shepherd how to properly behave around cats as soon as possible. If your dog is still a puppy, it will likely take to the training quickly since it doesn’t yet have any bad experiences with cats.


Think about the temperament of both the dog and cat in question. If you know that your German Shepherd is aggressive around other animals, bringing it into the home will not be a good option for the cat. Similarly, cats that are very skittish and timid probably won’t feel at home around a dog, even if that German Shepherd behaves wonderfully.

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How to Introduce Your German Shepherd to Your Cat or Vice Versa

Whenever you first bring your German Shepherd home to your cat or a cat home to your German Shepherd, you need to carve out time to introduce them to one another in a controlled area.

Step 1. Training Is the Key

Begin by totally separating the animals until the German Shepherd is trained. If the German Shepherd is not yet trained, the meeting can go bad, even if the German Shepherd is not trying to act aggressively.

german shepherd training outdoor
Image Credit: marcin jucha, Shutterstock

Step 2. Let Them Identify the Other by Scent

During the first meeting, you simply want the two animals to get familiar with the other’s scent. Have two clean clothes and rub one along the back of each animal. Then, bring the cat cloth to the dog and the dog cloth to the cat. Allow them to discover the cloth on their own.

Pay attention to how the animals behave. Does either animal seem anxious or overly excited? This will give you a good clue about how the animals will respond to one another. Continue this process until both the cat and dog are calm around the cloth.

Step 3. Allow Them to See Each Other

Once the animals are comfortable around the scented cloths, allow the animals to see one another but not be in the same room. You can do this by putting one animal on the side of a glass door and the other animal on the other. Do this for a couple of days for 5 minutes at a time.

orange cat and german shepherd dog looking at each other while lying grass outdoors
Image Credit: Ines Nepo, Shutterstock

Step 4. Separate Them With a Pet Gate

After the animals get accustomed to seeing one another, you can bring them both inside, but still keep them separated with something like a pet gate. This ensures that both pets are safe, but they also have the opportunity to see and smell one another.

Step 5. Leash Meeting

Once you are ready, you can let the German Shepherd smell the cat while on a leash. As both you and your cat get more comfortable around the German Shepherd, you can select a longer leash and eventually take the dog off the leash completely. Take your time with this process and give both pets treats for good behavior.

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Final Thoughts

If you want to have both a dog and a cat, German Shepherds can be a good choice, but you need to take the time to slowly introduce the two animals to one another after extensive training. With early socialization, most German Shepherds get along great with cats.

Featured Image Credit to Rita_Kochmarjova, Shutterstock

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