Are German Shepherds Aggressive Dogs? (Explained)

There has been a lot of debate on whether German shepherds are aggressive. Many people think that they have the potential to be, but others argue that this is not true. This blog post will explore both sides of the argument and determine if German Shepherds can be aggressive or not.

Is German Shepherd Dog Naturally Aggressive?

The German Shepherd breed is known for their aggressive temperament and tendencies toward dominance. In fact, The American Animal Hospital Association has identified German Shepherds as one of the “dangerous dog breeds” in the US. Studies demonstrate that this dog breed is an extremely aggressive dog, as proven by many documented attacks on people.

are german shepherds aggressive

This trait is rooted in its DNA. German Shepherds are naturally protective over their family and territory. When they sense danger, their instinct tells them to attack the threat or escape from it as far as possible. This explains why some German Shepherds can be aggressive towards strangers or other dogs.

Why are German Shepherds aggressive?

Here are some more reasons why German Shepherds can be prone to aggressive behavior:

1. Inherited Traits

Today’s modern dogs are largely descended from wolves, which are naturally aggressive. In the wild, wolves can be extremely hostile to any other creature that threatens them and their territory. Although dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years, their instincts still remain and can kick in when they feel threatened. German Shepherds are no exception to this rule!

2. Inexperienced Owners

Aggressive German Shepherds can only be managed by experienced dog owners who have had experience handling a German Shepherd before or are knowledgeable about working with them in general. Any dog owner who does not have proper knowledge of how to handle this aggressive breed would not be able to control their behavior and might end up getting hurt in the process.

This is why first-time owners should learn everything they need to know about German Shepherds before taking one home, such as how to train their new German shepherd and how to identify the early signs of aggression so measures can be taken before it gets out of hand.

3. Lack of Socialization

A German shepherd puppy should be socialized as early as possible. Not only do they need to be exposed to different types of people and environments, but they also must have the chance to interact with other animals so that they will develop a better understanding of how to react when around unfamiliar things or beings.

German Shepherds who have not been socialized with other animals and humans at a young age have a higher chance of becoming aggressive. The lack of proper socialization will make them feel threatened and unconfident when encountering new people or animals.

Even though German Shepherds are naturally afraid of strangers, they should never show fear to a stranger who approaches them. This is an early warning sign that your dog has a lack of socialization.

4. Lack of Exercise

German Shepherds need a high level of exercise to stay fit and healthy. They are very active dogs that need plenty of space to run around and play. Without proper exercise, German Shepherds can become aggressive because they have pent-up energy inside them that needs a good outlet.

Many experts recommend that you exercise German Shepherds for at least two hours a day. You should also vary the type of exercise to ensure that your dog does not get bored and find something to do on their own.

You can take your dog for a long walk or jog, play Frisbee with him, run around in the field next to your home – anything that gives him the chance to run and jump without feeling restrained will do just fine!

5. Lack of Training

Training can really make a difference when it comes to making your German Shepherd less aggressive. Through proper training, you can teach your German Shepherd what is acceptable behavior and what is not so that they will be more likely to behave in a good manner.

Your dog will also learn how to respond to their instincts without resorting to violence towards others. Proper training should start as early as possible, ideally when your German Shepherd is still a puppy, so that you can establish yourself as the leader of the pack. You should always remain calm and assertive when reprimanding your dog.

6. Past Abuse

If your German Shepherd has experienced past abuse, they might become aggressive as a way to protect themselves and try to regain control over their life. It takes quite some time to heal from past trauma, but there are experts out there who can help you get through it together.

If you choose to adopt, you should ask the shelter staff about the history of your dog. They will know if they have been abused in the past and can advise you on how to handle such a situation.

7. Pain or Illness

Just like when humans get sick or experience pain, your dog will also be more sensitive when they are feeling unwell. Pain and illness can cause your dog to behave aggressively just to warn you about their condition or circumstances.

If your German Shepherd starts behaving in a more aggressive manner, then you should take them to the veterinarian for a check-up. The vet will examine the dog and determine what is causing the behavior change so that appropriate action can be taken.

8. Encouraged Behavior

You may have inadvertently encouraged the aggressive behavior of your German Shepherd. It’s possible that you have unknowingly rewarded them whenever they exhibit aggressive behavior towards others.

For example, if your dog barks aggressively at strangers to let them know not to come closer, but you allow the barking and praise your dog for it, then this is considered a reward for their aggression.

Are German Shepherds Dangerous Dogs?

For the most part, German Shepherds are very loyal and loving companions. They make excellent watchdogs because of their size and strength. Most often, the reason why a minority of German Shepherds exhibit dangerous behaviors is because of mistreatment by the owner.

If you have a German Shepherd, the first thing to understand is that they are very protective by nature. If you tell your dog that someone is not to be trusted, they will defend you accordingly. For this reason, it is imperative that owners take responsibility for how they raise their pets.

What Are Common Aggressive Behaviors in German Shepherds?

The following are some of the most common aggressive behaviors exhibited by German Shepherds. Keep in mind that it is very important to understand the reason behind the behavior so you can find an appropriate solution.

  • Your dog barks at strangers and other people.
  • They when someone comes up to them too quickly.
  • They will snap at strangers and other people who come into the house without permission from you.
  • Your dog is possessive of food, toys, property, or resources they feel belong to them.
  • They are overly protective of their owner when they are walking with them in public.
  • Your dog attempts to take control over the situation by barking and taking charge when there is a group getting together at home.
  • The dog tries to dominate other people, animals, or children
  • They will attempt to intimidate you into giving them what they want by growling and snarling at you.
  • Your dog plays too aggressively with others without respect for their limits or boundaries.

At What Age Do German Shepherds Become Aggressive?

According to many experts, aggression in German Shepherds usually appears when the dog is about 6 months of age. At twelve months, most puppies are considered full-grown, and you will begin to see their personalities come out more and more often.

If your German Shepherd is showing signs of aggressive behavior, then it is important that you manage them properly from the very beginning.

How Can I Get My Dog To Stop Being Aggressive?

Unfortunately, there are no magical solutions out there that can help you get rid of a bad habit overnight. But with perseverance and the right methods, you can control the behavior and get your dog to be calmer.

1. Identify The Trigger

The first thing you have to do is understand why the behavior appears and then take action accordingly.

You may need a professional trainer, but that depends on how serious the problem is with your German Shepherd. If you are unsure whether or not to seek professional help for your German Shepherd, you should always err on the side of caution and get help from a professional.

2. Eliminate The Trigger

If you understand the reason behind your dog’s behavior, you can begin to work on eliminating that particular trigger. For example, if they become aggressive when they hear the doorbell, you can teach them not to bark by using positive reinforcement training.

How to Train Your German Shepherd Using Positive Reinforcement Training

Training your German Shepherd using positive reinforcement training is actually very easy. The basic idea behind this method is that you want to reward your dog for a job well done rather than punishing them when they do something wrong.

Here is the step-by-step instruction on how to get started.

  1. Get your dog’s attention by giving them a treat when they do something good. This is important because you need them to associate doing the right thing with getting a reward from you.
  2. Say “No” in an authoritative tone of voice when they start to misbehave in any way, such as barking or growling excessively toward another person or animal.
  3. Give them a treat when they stop the behavior that you want them to stop.
  4. Repeat this process consistently each and every day until your dog learns not to bark or growl aggressively at people, animals, or other dogs.

3. Avoid Reinforcing Bad Behavior

The most important thing to remember is that your dog is smart, and they are learning from you. So, if you do not want them to bark or growl in a certain situation, then avoid reinforcing the behavior by giving them attention when they start barking or growling. Of course, this may take some time for you to learn something new because you may be used to giving your dog lots of attention when they bark or growl. So, you must also learn how to ignore this behavior when it occurs.

4. Confine Them in a Safe Area

In the case of an overly aggressive German shepherd, a good solution is to put them in a separate safe area whenever someone comes over to visit. For example, you can set up an invisible fence in your backyard where the dog cannot escape from and keep them there until they cool down.

You can also use a kennel for training purposes if you want to teach them how to be calmer. Of course, it is important that you do not use the kennel as a punishment tool, even though they are ideal for confining your dog in areas where they cannot get into trouble and learn how to behave properly.

5. Socialize Them

An adult German Shepherd lacking proper socialization skills can still be socialized, but it may take a little extra work. I would recommend getting help from a professional dog trainer or behaviorist. A good dog trainer can help you create a customized training plan that you need to work with your dog on socialization.

6. Check with Your Vet for Any Health Issues

German Shepherds going through chronic pain can sometimes develop aggressive behaviors, which could be the case with your dog.

Your veterinarian can help you rule out any medical issues that may be causing your German Shepherd to behave aggressively. They will be able to test his blood for disease or check for physical signs of pain when they examine them.

Once you know, you can then begin working on a long-term solution, such as changing their diet or giving them medication that could help reduce their pain and inflammation.

7. Make Sure Your German Shepherd Gets an Adequate Amount of Exercise

Aggressive behavior is very common in German Shepherds that are not getting enough exercise. To avoid this problem, make sure your dog gets a good amount of exercise and physical activity every day to help release their pent-up energy. They should have some time during the day where they can run off-leash or chase a ball.

Related Questions

1. Are German shepherds aggressive to humans?

German Shepherds are bred to be protective of their owners, and they do not usually get along well with strangers. This does not mean that a German Shepherd is aggressive towards humans; however, it means that the dog can be very wary around strangers.

Also read: Are German Shepherds Good with Other Dogs?