German shepherds are known for their intelligence, loyalty, and playful nature. Many dog owners love to share funny stories about the antics of their German shepherd. But what is it that has people so intrigued with this breed? One thing that sets them apart from other breeds is the adorable way in which they tilt their heads to the side.
Why Does My German Shepherd Tilt Their Heads?
So what is the reason your German Shepherd tilts their head? They might do it to locate the source of a sound or figure something out, but sometimes it can be because they have ear infections or other medical issues that cause discomfort.
As the American Kennel Club explains, head tilting behavior is not a characteristic unique to German shepherds and is quite common in many different breeds. But this behavior is more noticeable in large dogs like GSD due to their larger, muscular head.
Let’s take a look at each common reason behind German Shepherd head tilts.
German Shepherd Head Tilt Video
Most Common Reasons Why German Shepherds Tilt Their Head
1. Locating Sounds
One common reason behind a German Shepherd’s head tilt is that they might be trying to figure out where certain sounds are coming from. Scientists have found that German Shepherds tend to have a wider range of hearing than humans or some dog breeds, so your German shepherd might be able to hear a squeak from across the room or even down the hallway.
How do they figure out the source of the sound? The German Shepherd’s ears perk up when they are trying to locate a sound. To improve their hearing, German shepherds will also tilt their heads to the side so that it is in line with where they think the sound is coming from. When their ears and head are moving in tandem, this is one way you can tell that your dog is focusing on something.
So don’t be surprised if you are outside playing with your dog, and the next thing you know, they are tilting their head towards something in the distance. It is just them trying to figure out what that odd sound is!
2. Trying to Understand What You’re Saying
Not only German Shepherds, but all dogs tilt their heads to the side to try and understand what their owners are saying. It’s been scientifically proven that dogs do understand specific words and commands. So if you say a command, but your German shepherd doesn’t understand because it is something that isn’t familiar to them, they will likely tilt their head in confusion.
3. Communicating with You
Tilting their heads can also be a way for dogs to communicate with you. Since dogs can’t talk with us in words, they will use body language. So when your dog tilts their head, it could be a way for them to ask if they can go outside, or maybe they are hungry and want you to fill up their water bowl. Sometimes it’s just a friendly way for them to say hi! So pay attention to your dog when they do this and see if there is something else they want or need.
4. Playful Tilting
If you ever find your German shepherd tilting their head when they’re looking at you in a playful manner, it’s easy to notice that they’re probably feeling affectionate towards you.
The reason for playful tilting is that the dog might be trying to elicit a response from you. If they see something on your face and make this gesture, then look back up at you briefly after, it’s because they want to play with you. Dogs will often tilt their heads this way at people when they are playing with them because it works!
Most dog owners will quickly respond to this gesture because it’s so endearing and cute. Once they notice their head tilt is working, it won’t be long before they start to do this gesture over and over again.
5. Trying to See Better
Dogs will also tilt their heads when they are trying to get a better look at something that caught their attention.
So if you notice your dog is tilting their head in the direction of another animal or object, it’s because they want to check them out! Just like us, they are curious to see if something is a threat or not.
6. Head Tilting Due to Medical Issue
Tilting their head to the side repeatedly can indicate that your dog is in pain, or there might be some other underlying medical reason for them to make this gesture, such as ear infections or damaged nerves.
If you notice that your dog tilts their head more than usual, it’s a good idea to take them to your vet so that they can investigate why this is happening.
Here are some other symptoms to watch out for if you think something might be wrong:
- Unexplained scratching
- Licking or pawing at the head region
- Loss of balance
- Involuntary urination or defecation
Some Common Medical Conditions That Could Cause Head Tilting
There are many conditions that can cause head tilting or the feeling of ear pain. If your dog shows any signs of discomfort, such as restlessness, then it could be a sign of an inner ear infection. This will generally cause your dog’s ears to have a foul odor and an overall feeling of pain. They might tilt their head to the side because it’s too painful for them to keep them upright.
One of the most common causes of this medical condition is ear mite infestations. Ear mites are tiny, microscopic bugs that live in your dog’s ear canal and feed on their blood. They can cause an intense itching sensation, which will make your dog tilt their head to the side in discomfort. They can also produce wax and irritation so that your dog’s ears may appear reddish or inflamed.
If you suspect your dog has ear mites, do not try to treat them yourself by cleaning their ears! Instead of helping the situation and rinsing out the bugs, you will just make it worse by forcing them further into the ear canal. It’s best to visit a vet so that they can give your dog proper medication.
Diseases Causing Vestibular Disease or Brain Damage
Another reason why your dog might tilt their head is that they are having difficulty processing an external stimulus. If this is the case, then it’s usually due to some form of brain damage or a disease such as vestibular disease.
Vestibular disease can affect any breed of dog and is commonly seen in old dogs. If your dog suffers from a vestibular disease or some other type of brain damage, they might walk around in circles and lose coordination. It will also cause your dog to have a hard time concentrating, so they might tilt their head repeatedly in confusion as they try to figure out where they are going.
When You Should Be Worried
In most cases, you should not be concerned if your dog tilts their head. It might indicate that they are trying to understand something, or they simply want you to pet them more! However, if you notice that your dog is tilting their head frequently and they have any of the above symptoms, then there might be an underlying problem that needs attention. Any time your dog shows unusual behaviors and/or exhibits pain, it is important to have them checked out by a vet.
Hopefully, this blog post shed some light on the “Why Do German Shepherds Tilt Their Heads” topic for you. Next time you see your dog tilting their head, try to determine why they are doing it and what it might mean.
Here are some of my favorite German Shepherd supplies
Thank you for reading this article. I hope you found it helpful and useful as you raise and train your German Shepherd.
Here are some of my favorite reviews for German Shepherd supplies that I personally use and recommend. If you do decide to purchase them, please remember that I’ll earn a small commission which helps me maintain this website.
- Dog Food for German Shepherds: All of the different dog food brands out there can be confusing, and it’s hard to know which one is best for your GSD. Here is my recommendation for the best dog food for German Shepherds.
- Collar: A lot of people think that all dog collars are created equal, but this just isn’t true. If you have a German Shepherd, you need a special collar that is designed for their breed’s fur and neck size. Here I’ve reviewed some of the best collars for German Shepherds out there.
- Leash: A leash is a must-have for any German Shepherd owner. With a good leash, you can give your dog the freedom they need while keeping them safe and under control. Here are my top picks for the best leashes for German Shepherds.
- Harness: If you’re thinking about getting a German Shepherd, or you’ve just brought home your new pup, it’s important to know how to harness them correctly. A harness that is improperly fitted or used can cause serious injury to your dog. Read my review of the best harnesses for German Shepherds here.
- Dog Bowl: A lot of people think that all dog bowls are pretty much the same, but this simply isn’t true. Different bowls serve different purposes, and the bowl that you need will depend on a number of factors. See my recommendation for the best dog bowl for German Shepherds here.
- Dog Crate: You want to buy a dog crate for your German Shepherd, but you’re not sure which one is the best. There are a ton of different factors to consider when choosing a crate. Here’s my review of the best dog crates for German Shepherds and what you should know before buying one.
- Dog House: It can be tough to find the best dog house for German Shepherds. Agitate: Not only do you have to worry about finding a good-sized dog house, but you also need to make sure it’s well-insulated and weatherproof. Here’s the house I recommend for German Shepherds.