Can a Raccoon Kill a German Shepherd? Raccoon Threats Analyzed

Categorized as Trivia and Q&A
A mischievous raccoon with a mischievous grin, perched atop a trash can, ready to raid its contents.

As a German Shepherd owner, you know your loyal companion would defend you to the ends of the earth. But how well can your four-legged friend defend himself against the critters that wander your neighborhood? Raccoons may look cute, but they can be vicious when provoked. You’ve probably wondered, can a raccoon kill a German Shepherd?

While an attack is unlikely, raccoons can certainly injure your dog under the right circumstances. By understanding raccoon behavior patterns, preventative measures, and what to do following an altercation, you can keep your German Shepherd safe.

Here’s a quick answer:

While an outright attack is unlikely to be fatal, raccoons can certainly inflict severe injuries on German Shepherds with their sharp claws and teeth. Raccoon bites also often transmit dangerous infections. So left untreated due to heavy bleeding or disease, raccoon encounters may indirectly cause the eventual death of pet dogs. Still, proper precautions minimize conflict.

Why Would a Raccoon Attack My German Shepherd?

Raccoons are opportunistic omnivores looking for an easy meal. They prefer to rummage through trash cans, raid bird feeders, and pluck fruits and veggies from gardens. However, if your German Shepherd blocks access to these resources, the bandit-masked animal may get aggressive.

Additionally, mother raccoons fiercely defend their young if your dog accidentally wanders near a hidden nest. Or if your German Shepherd corners the critter, it may lash out in self-defense. Provoked raccoons will huff, grunt, growl, and lunge at perceived threats.

And you can never rule out rabies. While rare, rabid raccoons act erratically aggressive toward pets and people. If you spot a raccoon active during the day, watch animals suspiciously, or see one struggling to walk or stand, notify animal control immediately.

My German Shepard Chased Off a Raccoon Last Night!

If your German Shepherd tree’d a raccoon or you heard a scuffle in the yard last night, thoroughly check your dog at dawn. Look for bites, scratches, limping, or odd behavior. Clean any wounds immediately with soap and water, then apply antibiotic ointment.

Schedule a veterinarian appointment to treat injuries, test for rabies if the skin broke, and update vaccines. Raccoon saliva and scratches commonly transmit bacterial and viral infections to pets and humans.

What Areas Do Raccoons Target When Attacking Dogs?

Raccoons instinctively attack eyes, ears, face, and belly. Facial wounds bleed heavily, frighten most canine opponents, and may cause permanent blindness. Raccoons then attempt to disembowel or slice open the abdomen.

While German Shepherds have thick fur and skin for protection, deep claw marks and crushing bites can be deadly. Prolonged, uncontrolled blood loss leads to hypotension, organ damage, and death.

It’s Rare But Possible for Raccoons to Kill Large Dogs

Given their small stature, raccoons rarely overpower giant breed dogs in a fair fight. However, if taken by surprise, cornered, outnumbered, or attacked by a rabid raccoon, even a powerful Shepherd may struggle defending himself.

Most concerning is the risk of infection and uncontrolled bleeding from bites afterward, which can be fatal. So while the attack itself may not kill your German Shepherd, the resulting wounds and transmitted diseases could over time without proper medical intervention.

Raccoon Versus German Shepherd Size Comparison

When evaluating the risk raccoons pose, it helps to visualize the size difference:

RaccoonGerman Shepherd
Height20-24 inches
Length16-28 inches
Weight8-25 lbs

Clearly, an average 50-pound Shepherd outweighs a 15-pound raccoon by quite a bit. However, those seeking food or defending babies throw caution to the wind. And pound-for-pound, raccoons are mighty wrestlers and scrappy fighters.

What If My German Shepherd Catches the Raccoon?

If your speedy Shepherd captures the hissing raccoon, the tables immediately turn. Raccoons instinctively attack vulnerable muzzles, eyes, ears, and bellies when trapped.

Given the opportunity, terrified raccoons deliver lightning-fast bites and scratches capable of doing serious damage. Separate the fighting animals as rapidly as possible while avoiding injury yourself.

As raccoons don’t tend to relax their bite quickly, carefully drown the animal with water from a safe distance until it releases its grip. Then, rush your German Shepherd to the emergency vet to treat any wounds inflicted. Both animals involved likely require medical assessment following an altercation.

Tips to Avoid Raccoon Encounters

Here are some ways to minimize contact between your German Shepherd and wandering raccoons:

  1. Accompany Your Dog OutsideAlways monitor your German Shepherd when he’s doing his business or playing in the backyard, especially at dawn and dusk when raccoons are most active. Keep him leashed if wildlife frequents your area.
  2. Remove Food SourcesPick ripe fruit promptly from trees and gardens. Store trash securely while awaiting pickup. Place pet food inside, as even small crumbs can draw curious raccoons to investigate.
  3. Install FencingSurround trash cans, gardens, and compost piles with wire fencing dug at least 12 inches underground. Electrified wires or mesh fences also deter climbing bandits. Close off access below decks and porches.
  4. Eliminate Shelter & WaterCap chimneys, seal openings to homes and outbuildings, and trim vegetation touching structures. Remove old woodpiles, brush piles, and decaying trees used for dens. Dump birdbath water and correct drainage issues.
  5. Use DeterrentsSprinkle coyote or fox urine granules around the perimeter of your yard. The strong predator scent warns raccoons to keep away.
  6. Add LightingInstall bright motion sensor security lights covering known raccoon pathways. As nocturnal animals strongly prefer darkness, consistent illumination drives bandits to easier hunting grounds.

What If My German Shepherd Gets Attacked By a Raccoon?

If disaster strikes and your German Shepherd gets ambushed by a hissing raccoon, quick action saves lives:

  1. Separate Them ASAP

Shout aggressively and make loud noises to startle the raccoon without endangering yourself. Spray water if possible. Use a long stick or snake tongs to pull the raccoon away once its jaws unclamp. Most importantly, do NOT grab your Shepherd’s hindquarters or tail!

  1. Muzzle & Restrain Your Dog

Immediately muzzle your German Shepherd to avoid defensive bites. Have someone help restrain and comfort the panicked dog. Check for injuries, bleeding, or odd behavior indicating shock.

  1. Seek Emergency Veterinary Care

Transport bite and scratch victims to emergency veterinary clinics immediately. Lingering raccoon bacteria causes nasty infections in pets. Verify your Shepherd’s rabies vaccine is active. Expect quarantine and months of antibiotics.

  1. Report Raccoon Encounters

Notify animal control regarding stray territorial raccoons. Especially if the attack was unprovoked, the animal could suffer from neurological issues like rabies. Capture, euthanize, and test problematic wildlife when possible to protect your neighborhood.

The Bottom Line

Raccoons can certainly injure and potentially kill German Shepherds under the right circumstances despite the size difference. However, tragedy is easily preventable by following sensible safeguards. Supervise outdoor pets, deter wildlife from approaching homes, and rush bite victims to the vet promptly.

With proper dog ownership precautions, curious raccoons and German Shepherds can coexist without harmful confrontation in suburban neighborhoods. Stay vigilant and don’t invite trouble!


1. Can a small raccoon actually kill a large German Shepherd?

It’s highly unlikely a small raccoon can directly kill a full-grown German Shepherd in a head-to-head fight. However, infected bites and scratches may lead to fatal infections or diseases if left untreated. So a raccoon attack could indirectly cause a Shepherd’s death.

2. What diseases can raccoons transmit to dogs?

Raccoons often carry bacterial infections like leptospirosis and salmonella. They may also suffer from viral diseases like rabies, canine distemper, and raccoon roundworm which can spread to dogs through contact. So it’s crucial to vaccinate your German Shepherd and promptly treat any bites.

3. How do I break up a raccoon vs German Shepherd fight?

Shout aggressively and spray water to startle combatants, but avoid directly touching animals as you may get bitten. Use a long stick to separate them once the raccoon unlocks its jaws, then restrain your panicked Shepherd by body and collar. Muzzle if needed before assessing wounds.

4. Should I worry about raccoons hurting my German Shepherd puppy?

Yes, young German Shepherd puppies are very vulnerable to raccoon attacks, infectious bites, and harassment. Never leave them unsupervised outdoors. Fence off areas around your home to prevent easy access by roaming wildlife looking for easy marks like unattended small pets and backyard poultry.

5. What home improvements deter raccoons from approaching my property?

The best protections are fencing, light deterrents, predator urine granules, removing food attractants and hiding trash cans. Seal off crawl spaces, cap chimneys, trim vegetation and correct drainage issues to deny bandits shelter. Consistent harassment prevents them settlement.

By Andrew Garf

Andrew Garf has loved dogs, especially German Shepherds, since he was 10 years old. Though he also loves burgers, training dogs is his real passion. That's why he created the website - to help dog owners learn how to properly train, care for, and bond with their German Shepherd dogs.