Do German Shepherds Forget Their Owners?

Do German Shepherds Forget Their Owners

With endless reasons for which Dogs are Considered as Humans’ best friends, their companionship remains the foremost. Regardless of how many years it has gone by, German Shepherds never likely forget their owners.

For that matter, German Shepherd or any dog breed, have long-term and associative memory that makes them remember most of their lives. Especially if an individual has had an extremely positive or negative impact on them, Shepherds will easily recall them even after years.

How does German Shepherd recognize their owner after a gap of years?

Here’s a look closer to how the German Shepherd’s brain works, ideally the memory zone. In this article, we will take a detailed look at how does a German Shepherd’s memory works. Do they remember their previous owners? What is the science behind it and does German Shepherds never forget their owners? How long does it take them to get used to their new owners?

Article Published on 24th November 2021 » Updated on 13th 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.

German Shepherd’s Memory Overview

The Memory span amongst dogs is quite strong. They normally have both short-term and long-term memory. With short-term memory, Shepherds likely will forget a lot of things they do in their daily life.

For example, the theft of a ball from kids in your society in the morning, but they will likely not even remember about the incident by evening.

That is why when you scold them for such incidents, later on, they behave unknown because the memory has actually gone past to them.

Certain things that do not have a greater impact on their life goes into the recycle bin of the dog’s memory. Whereas with long-term memory, German Shepherds can remember certain incidents associated with them or their owners for a lifetime.

It is similar to humans, though, in dogs, such memory is known as associative memory. Associative memory is the ability to remember things between both related and unrelated items.

For example, someone who once gave love to a dog, that dog will easily recall them after year, even with their mere smell or pat.

Similarly, long-term memory in dogs can also go with their negative experiences in life. Incidents when they were mistreated, food-deprived, or mentally harassed, dogs will remember them for a lifetime.

They may come out of trauma with help, but the memories will never erase from their mind.

Do German Shepherds’ turn’ on their owners?

German Shepherds who are well trained and loved enough never ‘Turn’ on their owners. They will stay by the owner’s side, protect them, and even die for them if required.

With age and time, there come a lot of changes in a dog’s personality; however, they never turn on their owners.

Considering how much their mental and physical health support, their way of affection may change a little but rarely will a dog unlove his human.

The Science Behind Dogs Remembering their owners

According to experts and studies, dogs can remember their owners in several ways.

It may either be your facial impression, your voice, your touch, or even your scent.

Through view (Dog’s eye):

Dogs have a really strong sense of sight that can recognize things even after years.

Unless your dog is old and has lost most of his sight, there are fewer chances he will not recognize after seeing you.

Through Smell:

While humans have 6 million olfactory receptors in their noses, dogs have 300 million of them.

With that, most of their memory reserves for remembering, recognizing, and distinguishing fragrances; they came close to in their whole life.

So, even if a dog finds its owner with covered eyes, it is because of the strong sense of smell.

Through Voice:

Dogs can hear sounds four times faster than humans due to their keen sense of hearing.

According to studies, GSD'S can recognize words and people's voices easily, par with humans (if not better). 

Through touch:

Dog’s memory works similarly to humans and at times even stronger.

A touch of love and a touch of harassment both are something dogs can remember even when years have passed.

How long does a dog remember a person?

Considering how much impact an individual has made in one dog’s life, they may remember them for a lifetime or not even the next minute.

German Shepherd or other dogs are not going to remember every individual they meet throughout their life. However, the ones who impacted them, both negatively and positively, dogs never forget them.

According to scientific studies, dogs store visual, olfactory, and auditory experiences for life in their memory. They may forget certain events; however, gestures remain fresh in their subconscious mind forever.

Can a German Shepherd identify you after months and years of separation?

Yes, with their episodic, semantic, and long-term memory, your German Shepherd will easily identify you after months and years of separation.

Depending upon your companionship, they may ignore you, shower love upon you, or get afraid of you. Though there are rare chances of failed remembrance.

Do German Shepherds remember their previous owners?

Yes, definitely. For example, Army personals at war often rehome their pets. However, you may have seen videos where even coming back from wars after years, dogs reunite with their previous owners quite emotionally.

Also, when dogs do not find the same amount of love at their new home, they often remember their former owner. If found ways, dogs even run back to their old owners and previous homes.

How long do German Shepherds take to get used to their new owners?

Getting used to the new owners depends entirely on the German Shepherd’s age. For example, under or up to 12 weeks, German Shepherd puppies can instantly bond at their new home.

They may carry blur memories of their previous home, which will possibly erase with time. For adult German Shepherds who are three months and more, the transition from one owner to another is not easy for them.

However, within a frame of 2 to 4 months, they will easily make their new place home and owners’ family. However, old German Shepherds, say five years or more, have it difficult when their owners change.

Especially if their former home was full of love and a healthy lifestyle, those memories would stay with them for their lifetime. Though to make a dog find a home in you all it takes is LOVE. With affection, care, and gentleness, even the most aggressive dog begins trusting and loving the owner.

Wrapping up…

German Shepherds are one of the most affectionate dogs for whom bond with their owners remains foremost. Also, when owners give their dogs all reasons to remember them (positive, of course), they by no means will ever forget them.

Even around or not, owners will always stay in the back of their memories.


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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