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Do German Shepherds Bite Their Owners? Temperament & Personality Traits

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By Nicole Cosgrove


Despite their large size and intimidating appearance, the German Shepherd is a loving canine companion that consistently ranks as one of the nation’s most favorite dog breeds. A loyal friend and devoted guardian, your German Shepherd will stay by your side, protect you to the end, and even die for you, but they will never “turn” on you. If you properly trained and socialized your German Shepherd from the get-go, they will never purposefully bite you unprovoked.

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Why Do Dogs Bite People?

Dogs are highly intelligent and intuitive creatures. They can pick up on and learn aggressive behavior from those in their immediate environment, including their owner, vet, and even their own mother. This behavior may result in biting.

Dogs will typically bite a person if:
  • They are scared or startled.
  • They are protecting a high-value item, such as a beloved toy or tasty treat.
  • They feel threatened or confused.
  • They are sick or injured.
  • They get excited, such as during playtime.

As you can see, fear, excitement, and pain are the main reasons why dogs bite. However, they don’t just go around arbitrarily biting everyone. A German Shepherd bite will only happen if there is a reason behind it.

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

Training and Socialization Are Critical

A properly trained and socialized German Shepherd will very rarely bite their owner or anybody else. While the breed is notorious for being “mouthy,” meaning they like to chew, German Shepherds are not aggressive dogs.

With that said, it is essential to train and socialize your dog from the start. Introducing your German Shepherd to as many new people and pooches from day one will ensure your dog remains confident and calm around strangers. You should also establish yourself as the “top dog” as soon as possible. German Shepherds that believe they are superior to their owners will take full advantage of them.

A highly intelligent breed, teaching a German Shepherd basic commands and complicated tricks are super easy. Consistent positive reinforcement training works best for this breed.

Keep in mind that dog training isn’t a one-and-done deal. Your German Shepherd will need ongoing training during the entirety of their life.

woman teaching german shepherd to keep paws on floor
Image Credit: marcin jucha, Shutterstock

Adopting an Abused German Shepherd

An abused or neglected dog may lash out against people and other animals in order to defend itself. If you choose to adopt a German Shepherd that has a documented history of abuse and/or neglect, it is critical that the dog has undergone complete rehabilitation and training sessions with a professional trainer.

Never adopt any type of dog without knowing its full history and any physical or behavioral issues they might have.

Signs to Watch Out For

German Shepherds may exhibit signs of aggression due to basic instincts or undesirable learned behavior. While aggression does not automatically mean the dog will bite, it could lead to biting. If your German Shepherd shows any of the following signs of aggression, it’s important to book an appointment with a licensed animal behaviorist and dog trainer immediately.

  • Continuous loud barking laced with growling
  • Growls when served food
  • Barks and growls at people and other dogs
german shepherd barking
Image Credit: PDPics, Pixabay

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A well-trained German Shepherd will rarely turn on or bite their owner. However, if the dog is scared or sick, they may bite to defend themself if provoked. A dog may also bite if they have a history of being abused or neglected.

In order to prevent biting, train and socialize your German Shepherd from the first moment you bring them home. Building a trusting and loving relationship will ensure your pet doesn’t bite you or anybody else.

Featured Image Credit: Hungry Snail, Shutterstock

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