Are German Shepherds Aggressive?

German Shepherds have a lot of loyal fans, and their ever-growing popularity led to them receiving a famous acronym — the GSD! They’re a favorite among many pet owners and are widely referred to as “guard dogs.” They are known for their exceptional strength and courage, which is why many people — including police departments around the country — choose German Shepherds as their service dogs.

German Shepherds, like any dog breed, can be aggressive. However, they are not naturally aggressive unless they are trained to be. That’s because German Shepherds are a strong fighting breed who do have the ability to become dominant over other dogs (it’s their job). In order to avoid unnecessary incidents and dogfights, get your fido neutered, adequately socialized, and an early training regime for it to turn out a well-rounded dog.

In this article, we will discuss in detail the risk factors responsible for the “aggression” in GSDs and how you, as a responsible pet owner, could help prevent any accidents.
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German Shepherds have been bred for centuries to be working dogs.


Are German Shepherds Aggressive? Debunking GSD’s Tainted Reputation

Let’s answer the question this way. Have you watched Ricky Gervais’s absolute stunner, “Afterlife,” or Will Smith’s “I am legend”? Many have, but how does it relate to the topic? It’s simple!

In the Afterlife, Brandy – a sweet and caring German Shepherd, is shown as a comfort dog for a grieving Ricky Gervais, and not once did it show any sign of aggression? Nor were there any scenes of it barking at other dogs. It’s because it was trained as a sweet and caring dog. In the right hands, it turned out as a docile and friendly dog, looking after its owner and comforting him in his time of need.

But, on the other hand, in “I am legend,” Abbey – a GSD, acts as Will Smith’s protector, best friend, and caretaker – fights off other dogs, animals, and monsters alike.

So it’s safe to say that a GSD, despite its intimidating appearance, is not aggressive but is mainly a protector. Obviously, any dog breed in the wrong hands can turn out aggressive, and it’s the same for our favorite German Shepherds. But proper socialization, training, and a friendly, stress-free environment can go a long way in keeping your pet’s behavior up to the mark.

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Your pet’s behavior can be greatly improved by proper socialization, training, and a friendly, stress-free environment.

GSD’s Behavior Depends on How They Are Raised

The German Shepherd has been bred for centuries to be a working dog. Its temperament depends on the way it is raised and how it is trained. If you have a GSD puppy, you must invest in its behavior from the very beginning because if not trained correctly, your dog may show aggressive traits.

Herding Duty

In the past, German Shepherds have found their means as herders and protectors of livestock. These days they might enjoy the comfort of the average American family, but this wasn’t the case a few years ago.

Their maneuverability and strong physique made them excellent candidates for protecting livestock against predators and other dogs. As a herder, their job is to showcase aggression towards unsightly things that might endanger livestock or humans alike. Whether it’s another dog or a human, they will lunge at you at first sight if they feel like you are a threat.

In this case, aggression is mainly because it’s performing a duty as a protector, and like every dog breed, you can expect that sort of behavior when your GSD has something to protect.

German Shepherds as Police Dogs

Police dogs can be trained to sniff drugs, bombs, and even people. German shepherds are among the most popular breeds for police work because of their intelligence, strength, and high energy level.

German shepherds are typically trained for either narcotics or explosives detection. They are also used for tracking missing persons or fugitives who have been on the run for a long time; their keen sense of smell helps them pick up on any slight trace left by someone trying to hide from authorities.

The best police dogs are those who love to work and enjoy interacting with people. German shepherds are known for their intelligence and trainability, which makes them good candidates for this type of job. This breed also has a strong prey drive that helps it perform well in search and rescue missions.

German Shepherds as Guard Dogs

German shepherds are often used as guard dogs, and for a good reason – these large, intelligent dogs are very protective of their owners. That can be a good thing if you live in an area where crime is common or have small children who need protection from strangers.

For your German shepherd to be an effective guardian dog, he needs to be well-trained in obedience and socialization. If you use him as a guard dog, he must know how to control his aggression and respond only when necessary.

The temperament of any individual dog varies greatly depending on how they were raised and what experiences they’ve had with people and other animals. Some German shepherds are friendly with everyone, while others may growl at strangers or even bite them if they feel threatened by them in any way.

Before you buy a puppy, it’s important you find out as much as possible about the history of its parents and grandparents so that you can better predict its future behavior.

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Different dogs have different temperaments depending on their upbringing and experiences with people and other animals.

Why Do German Shepherds Become Aggressive?

There are a number of reasons why a GSD could manifest aggression and lose control. But here we will discuss a handful of the most common causes and how to ensure your GSD stays docile.

Pent-up Energy

It is important to let your dog play and exercise on a regular basis. If your dog does not receive enough exercise and stimulation, it will be much more likely to act out in ways that are destructive or aggressive.

Give your German Shepherd plenty of exercise time every day, whether playing fetch or going for walks around the neighborhood. These activities will help him expend some of his pent-up energy and keep him from becoming aggressive when he gets home from work or school each day.

Sexual Maturity

Aggression can be a severe problem for German Shepherds, especially during the heat. While this aggression may seem normal for most dogs, it’s important to recognize that it’s not normal for your dog. Spaying or neutering your German Shepherd can resolve aggressive displays due to sexual maturity.

Lack of Proper Socialization

German shepherds, like any other dog breed, can showcase aggression if it’s not been properly socialized. The best way to prevent this is to socialize your dog as soon as possible.

Socialization is exposing a young dog or puppy to a wide range of people, places, and things to help it become comfortable with all types of people, places, and things. It also helps them learn to interact with other dogs.

A lack of socialization can cause aggression problems in German Shepherds. A dog that has never met a child or another dog before will be much more aggressive than one that has been exposed to both before.

Lack of socialization may cause your German Shepherd to display aggressive behavior toward people or other dogs. Get him some training lessons from an obedience class to learn proper manners around people and other dogs!

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Due to their instinctual nature, German shepherd dogs make excellent guard dogs against intruders and outsiders.

Why Are GSDs Naturally Protective?

German shepherds have a very strong sense of protectiveness, which is why they are great guard dogs. They were bred as herding dogs and were widely known for keeping predators at bay due to their strong and muscular bodies.

This instinctual behavior has carried over into the breed’s personality today. Although German shepherds do not need to be trained to be protective, a lot of training can help them realize when they should act as protectors of their owners and family members.

The instinctual nature of the German shepherd dog makes them ideal for guarding against intruders or outsiders who may pose a threat to your home. They are often described as “growly” or “snappy” with strangers, but this is only because they feel threatened and protective by nature.

Are German Shepherds Aggressive Towards Humans?

The German Shepherd is a very protective breed and can be aggressive if he feels he must defend his owner or family members from any threat. However, this is not common with the German Shepherd breed and is more of an exception than a rule. This behavior is because these dogs were used for herding sheep and other animals in the past.

This trait can be passed on to our current generation of German Shepherds. Still, unless you train your dog well, this trait can turn into something called “resource guarding” which means that your dog will guard your belongings, such as food, toys, etc., against other animals or people who want these things from them (like stealing food when you’re not looking).

What Are the Different Types of Aggression in GSDs?

German Shepherds are caring, docile, and friendly dogs, but only if trained properly and socialized well. The tendency to be aggressive is found in every dog breed, and many forms exist. But here, we will discuss the most common ones found in our favorite GSDs and how to tackle the issue.

Territorial Aggression

Territorial aggression is considered a normal part of dog behavior and can be triggered by many factors, such as an unfamiliar person walking past their territory (hint: try doing this on a leash) or maybe even just someone who looks like they want to take something from them (like food). Territorial aggression can also be triggered by another dog wishing to challenge or intimidate your dog.

This type of aggression can cause serious health problems for dogs and humans if left untreated. Dogs that display territorial aggression often suffer from weight gain due to over-eating and stress because they feel threatened all the time. While dogs do not always show outward signs of being stressed out when they have territorial aggression issues, owners should still try to avoid placing themselves in dangerous situations with other animals or people outside their homes.

The problem with this type of aggression is that it can be very difficult to fix and may require a lot of training and patience. If you have a dog who displays territorial aggression toward other animals or people, there are some things you can do to help him learn to control his aggression:

  1. Teach your dog where his boundaries are so he knows not to cross them. That includes teaching him not to bark at strangers who enter your yard or house. You can also teach him not to growl when another dog approaches your property line.
  1. Be consistent with the rules in your house and yard so that your dog understands what’s expected of him (and you). Make sure you give him plenty of exercise and playtime outside of these areas so that he doesn’t associate these places with being scary or dangerous
  1. Don’t reward destructive behaviors by giving attention. It only creates a cycle to a more lousy routine and encouragement.

Frustration Aggression

Dogs are designed to be social creatures. They crave contact with other dogs and people; they love running around, jumping, playing fetch, and wrestling with their friends.

Dogs primarily manifest frustration-aggression when they aren’t getting the attention they deserve from their owners. When this happens, the dog becomes overstimulated and frustrated by its environment. That leads to barking, growling, and lunging at other dogs or people to express their emotions of frustration.

Predatory Aggression

The chase triggers the predatory response. Small animals are prey for large dogs, and if a small animal tries to escape from the dog, this instinct kicks in, and your dog will chase it down.

The best possible solution is to keep your dog away from hairy and furry pets if it has a high prey drive. A wolf hybrid is likely to hunt small pets at home due to its high prey drive.

Predatory behavior is a normal part of canine nature, but some people have a tendency to be too rough with their dog when it does this. A good way to avoid any aggression is by using positive reinforcement, such as treats or praise for good behavior rather than punishing for bad behavior.


It all comes down to the severity of the bite and who, if anybody, gets hurt. The most common thing German Shepherd dog owners have to worry about is their dog barking. German Shepherd dogs are natural guard dogs, so they will bark at strange people or animals approaching the home. And while it’s nice that they are protecting you and your loved ones, constant barking can be a problem.

So if your German Shepherd dog is a barker, be sure to have it trained right away. It’s also good to know that untrained German Shepherds do not necessarily make for aggressive pets. However, it is imperative you get your pet neutered at a young age as well as train it in a timely manner for the best results.

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