are german shepherds affectionate

Are German Shepherds Affectionate? What You Need To Know

Are German Shepherds affectionate?

Yes, German Shepherds are generally affectionate. However, the way they show affection varies from one GSD to another. Thus, at times it may seem that they’re cold or apathetic.

There’s more to your German Shepherd being affectionate than it just being cuddly. And so in this article, I’ll highlight what you need to know about your German Shepherd and affection. This includes how they show it and how you can get your German Shepherd to be affectionate in the case that it isn’t.

How Do German Shepherds Show Affection?

German Shepherds show affection in a variety of ways. Some are obvious, while others are very subtle. Some for example, show it physically like by cuddling or leaning on their owners while others merely engage in eye contact.

It all depends on the German Shepherd’s personality. So, if your dog doesn’t play with you or follow you around, don’t immediately think that it doesn’t love you, it might just be showing it in other ways.

Here are some of the ways your German Shepherd can show affection:

Tail Wags. Probably one of the most obvious signs of affection is tail wagging. If your GSD’s wagging its tail and all excited, that means it’s very much happy to see you.

Jumping. While it is sometimes annoying, and sometimes even scary to have a German Shepherd jumping on you, it is one way to know that your dog loves you.

Leaning. One other sign of affection is leaning. If your German Shepherd leans on you, it means that it trusts you and that it’s comfortable around you.

Following Or Staying Close. If your German Shepherd follows you around everywhere, then know that it considers you as part of the pack. It also shows that it’s comfortable around you and loves to be around your presence.

Licking. Licks are basically dog kisses. If your German Shepherd licks you, know that it is very much interested in you.

Playing. Dogs love to play as a way to bond. If your German Shepherd chooses you as its playmate, then you know it likes you.

Bringing You Objects. Another way dogs show love is by bringing you objects. If your German Shepherd brings you objects like a toy, that simply means that it’s thinking of you. If it brings you its food bowl, however, that’s a different story.

Rolling Over For Belly Rubs. Dogs have sensitive undersides. So, the very act of rolling over for belly rubs indicates that your dog is comfortable with you and ultimately trusts you.

Sleeping With Your Or In Vulnerable Positions. If your German Shepherd sleeps with you, or at least close to you, then that means it sees you as part of the pack. Also, if it sleeps in vulnerable positions, like exposing its belly, it means that your dog trusts you, and is comfortable with you.

Happy To See You. If your dog wags its tail, jumps on you, or runs around in excitement when it sees you, then know that it sees you as someone important.

Eye Contact. A study by Japanese researchers found that oxytocin levels in dogs increase when they make eye contact with their humans. Now, oxytocin is a hormone responsible for feelings of comfort. So, if your German Shepherd gazes into your eyes, that would mean it’s very much comfortable with you.

What If My German Shepherd Shows No Sign Of Affection?

It’s possible that your German Shepherd will not show any of the listed signs. If that’s the case your dog may be experiencing troubles that lead to the lack of affection towards you.

Now, as sad as that might sound, don’t worry just yet, for there are methods you can try to get your GSD to be more affectionate.

But before we discuss those methods, it’s best that we first understand the possible reasons on why your dog is cold or apathetic.

Why Is My German Shepherd Not Affectionate Or Less Affectionate Than Usual?


Some dogs just don’t enjoy physical closeness. Like with us humans, not all German Shepherds enjoy having their personal space invaded.


If you adopted your German Shepherd, one possible reason could be that it was treated improperly or even abused by its previous owners. Such traumatic experiences may have instilled it with trust issues or fear of humans.


Other than the fear caused by maltreatment or abuse, fear can also be caused by other reasons such as:

  • Fear of loud noises such as thunder, fireworks, or loud music.
  • Fear of other people, such as strangers and children, due to the lack of exposure and socialization.
  • Change in the environment, such as moving into a different house.

If you notice your German Shepherd trembling or exhibiting destructive behavior, it’s highly probable that it’s scared. So, try your best to investigate and address the cause.

Lack of Socialization

Lack of socialization may also cause a lack of affection. Your dog’s lack of previous interaction with humans may cause your dog not to be interested in you or any other person.


While it may seem that dogs get less affectionate as they age, they in fact don’t. Yes, they do tend to be less active and energetic around you, or they may not be as playful or as cuddly as before. But, it’s more so about being tired, rather than being less affectionate.


Similar to aging, sick dogs may not be inclined to be affectionate simply because they’re too sick to do so. Think about it. How often do you think of cuddling when you get the flu?


A variety of things could cause depression in dogs, such as illness, fear, or grief. But whatever the cause, the symptoms tend to be the same. Dogs are generally sad, lethargic, and withdrawn, thus also less affectionate.

How To Get A German Shepherd To Be More Affectionate

Now that you have a general idea of the causes,  let’s now discuss how you can teach your German Shepherd to be more affectionate.

Address The Cause

After finding out the cause, you’d, of course, have to address it. If it’s due to fear, then eliminate the stimulus. If it’s due to depression or illness, you would need to consult with a veterinarian.

Positive Reinforcement

A dog’s action is generally determined by what it finds to be rewarding. 

Such is why it’s essential in dog training to provide a reward after the dog successfully executes a command. Doing so will associate doing the command with a positive experience, and thus the dog would be inclined to execute it in the future.

The same principle could be applied to acts of affection. Reward your dog for doing affectionate acts, and they will surely grow to be loving towards you.

Avoid Punishment

On the flip side of things, it would be best to avoid any form of punishment as it may lead to behavioral issues and distrust.

If you intend to change your dog’s behavior, do so with positive reinforcement.


German Shepherds are active dogs and need regular exercise. If not sufficiently physically and mentally stimulated, they may exhibit behavioral issues, including lack of affection.

So, take your dog on walks, or play around with it. Not only will doing so satisfy their needs, but it’s also a great way to bond and build a relationship.

Let Your Dog Take Its Time

A dog may take its time to warm up to someone new. So, if you just recently got your German Shepherd, let it get to know you better at its own pace.

Be Affectionate As Well

Affection goes both ways. If you’re affectionate and loving to your dog, then it will be more inclined to be affectionate towards you. So shower your German Shepherd with love.

Are German Shepherds Affectionate?

Each German Shepherd is different and so they’ll have different attitudes and levels of affection. That said, they generally tend to be highly affectionate, especially to their loved ones. It’s true that sometimes it may not be obvious as they may not show it through hugs or kisses. But overall, they really are truly loving dogs.

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