Are German Shepherds aggressive?

Are German Shepherds aggressive

Are German Shepherds aggressive towards humans?

Even if you own a couch puppy, you really never know about their temperament and aggression. There could be a time they want to love one person and, at times, rip another apart. Obviously, because they are animals, canines, and hunters by nature, estimating their aggression is quite tricky.

Especially, German Shepherd owners often get confused between their affectionate and aggressive behavior. German Shepherds as a breed are known for their affectionate and loyal behavior. And on the other hand, they are known for their confident and courageous temperament. To the question of whether German Shepherds are aggressive or not? There isn’t a clear answer.

It is quite simple; if you treat them with love, they will shower you with affection. But when treated adversely, they can prove even aggressive than you can think of.

In this article, we will take a detailed look at various reasons why your German Shepherd dog may be aggressive towards you and other dogs. Although they are not born aggressive, however, due to several reasons, they may turn aggressive and violent. You will also learn what triggers your GD dog and how you can control their aggressive behavior.

Article Published on 26th December 2021 » Updated on 15th January 2022

aditi chef editorWritten By Sergey Uhanov Certified Veterinarian.
Sergey Uhanov is a certified veterinarian for dogs over 10 years, breeding 3 dogs. He loves dogs and has his own pet clinic in Israel. He likes to help other people with their dogs by sharing his experience and knowledge.

Are German Shepherds aggressive towards their owners?

German Shepherds are often touted for their strong and courageous behavior. This trait of their makes them good guard dogs and police dogs. Also, due to their huge size and powerful masculinity, they naturally turn to portray as aggressive.

However, German Shepherds do not behave aggressively and violently towards their owners. For the humans they love, they are quite dedicated and loyal companions. Once they have developed a trusting relationship with their owners, chances are less that they will ever behave aggressively.

Though if felt threatened, Shepherds can potentially harm their owners in one or multiple ways.

Aggressive Behaviours in German Shepherd – The Root of this behavior

Are German shepherds naturally aggressive? German Shepherds are known as aggressive dog breeds. But do you know where does this thought comes from?

German Shepherds were never naturally aggressive. However, this behavior in them comes from their parents, owners, or other humans and animals around them.

If you have recently brought home an adult German Shepherd who is behaving aggressively, it reflects about their life experience. Chances are,

  • They didn’t receive loving treatment from their previous owners.
  • They lived in a violent and loud household.
  • They aren’t trained rightfully.
  • They were kept hostile for long.
  • They didn’t receive their fair share of social exposure, which makes them behave inappropriately amongst people.
  • They are in some kind of pain or suffering from an underlying medical condition.

Aggressive German Shepherds can result in biting or marching over unknowns and even their owners. Thus, if owning one such, it is vital to look after them soon and quickly until it is too late to act.

What Age Does a German Shepherd Become Aggressive?

The escalation of aggressiveness in German Shepherds happens commonly during six months to 3 years. It is when their hormones fluctuate, and their sexual maturity comes to life.

While some aggression is part of their body changes, inappropriate socialization and lack of guidance and training can worsen it. Experts suggest deterring aggressive behavior in German Shepherds in their puppyhood is easier than correcting it during their adulthood.

It goes similarly to humans. Some habits which are better learned during childhood take a hard time learning during adulthood.

What Are Your Dog’s Triggers?

Dogs are predators, and thus with triggers, they behave adversely. Like us humans, they are unfamiliar with controlling their emotions under different circumstances. All they know is to react, but not how.

According to experienced behavior professionals, here are the most common triggers for a dog’s aggression.

Mishandling. Maybe you do not realize, but you are handling them wrongly during their bathing session. During any kind of grooming session, it is important to behave as gently as you can. Several dogs also behave aggressively during their medical session, be it for their grooming or any kind of health examination.

Invasion in their territory. For dogs, their territory is everything, and guarding them is very crucial. Especially from other animals, they will guard it at all and every cost. In cases of invasion, they will show aggression.

Same-sex or type-specific aggression. Dogs, mainly German Shepherds, aren’t the friendliest with other dogs. This is one of the reasons that, seeing others from their clan, Shepherds start showing aggression. Most specifically, the situation arises when there are type-specific or same-sex dogs in front.

Frustration. It is one of the common causes of aggression in dogs. The things they cannot control or get through causes stress resulting in frustration.

Lack of Socialization. Individuals who keep their dogs confined to a four-walled setup are investing in their aggressive behavior. No one in the world is meant to survive in close spaces, and they deserve their fair share of outdoor exposure. When kept inside for long, away from other individuals, dogs develop aggression. This mainly happens with the dogs who live in apartments, single human family or are less exposed to the outdoor world.

Lack of exercise. When your dog isn’t getting enough share of exercise, he will try to bring out the energy in different ways. And one of the common ways includes aggression. Shepherds are the most active breed, and their natural built requires plenty of exercise and playtime for them.

Overprotective behavior. There can be instances when your German Shepherd is loving towards you but aggressive towards others. This is simply because they are overprotective towards you, and they, as a result, will take anyone coming near to you as a threat.

How to control aggressive behavior in German Shepherds?

Aggression in German Shepherds is undesirable and dangerous behavior. If not controlled in time, it can prove harmful for individuals and things around the dog.

Here are a few tips aggressive dog owners can try. Following them will help you control and stop the danger of such behavior.

Note: If you own a German Shepherd who behaves aggressively around everyone except you, firstly keep them at a distance. Until and unless you help them overcome this behavior, socializing them isn’t healthy for others.

  • Identify your dog’s behavioral triggers and train them for the same.
  • While you are training the dog, avoid people and the environment that stresses the dog.
  • No matter whatever the situation gets, never show anger or aggression towards the dog.
  • For the times your dog turns aggressive, give him a cold shoulder. Especially if his aggression is one of his attention-seeking behavior, turn away from it.
  • Encourage your dog to stay calm and relaxed and even reward them for the same.
  • If your German Shepherd outbursts his energy through aggression, simply increase their exercise duration. Add 15 more minutes to their daily walk and play some engaging games with them.
  • Ensure proper mental stimulation.
  • If your dog has started showing aggressive behavior recently, make sure he isn’t going through any physical pain. It is advisable to take them to a Vet immediately.
  • If training at home does not help, seek professional help. At times, training a dog is not a cup of tea for everyone, and instead, professional help becomes a must.

Wrapping up

An aggressive German Shepherd has the power to rip someone apart into multiple pieces. Mind it; they are very powerful dogs with whom humans or domestic animals cannot easily fight. However, for reaching this stage of aggression, your Shepherd must have been through a difficult time.

Here we insist it again and strong; German Shepherds aren’t born aggressive. If you own one, you, someone else, or a particular environment has surely invested into their behavior.


Sergey Uhanov, a certified veterinarian, has authored all of the content here. With over 20 years of experience in dog care and breeding three dogs of his own, he has a deep passion for these furry friends. Sergey owns a pet clinic in Israel where he provides care and treatment to dogs. He enjoys sharing his expertise and knowledge to assist others in caring for their dogs.

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