are german shepherds dangerous

Are German Shepherds Dangerous? Important Considerations

Are German Shepherds dangerous?

Well, there’s no definite answer as it will vary from dog to dog. But a German Shepherd can most definitely be dangerous. 

It will depend primarily on how the dog was raised. For example, if a German Shepherd was trained to be aggressive, or raised abusively, then it will most probably grow to be dangerous. On the other hand, German Shepherds that grow up in calm environments will generally grow to be kind and loving. Note, however, that even well-raised GSDs can get aggressive and dangerous when they get overprotective of their loved ones.

Now, while that answer kind of makes German Shepherds look bad, it really just depends on how the dog is raised. So, there are ways to keep a German Shepherd from becoming dangerous.

In this article, we’ll look further into the German Shepherd’s aggressive tendencies, and what you can do about it.

German Shepherd Temperament

German Shepherds are commonly known for being intelligent, versatile, obedient, and very loyal dogs. These qualities have allowed them to excel as herding dogs, and even in complex roles such as service and police work. Because of these roles, German Shepherds are often viewed as tough, intimidating, and aggressive. But are they really?

Are German Shepherds Naturally Aggressive?

To answer this question, let’s look into the German Shepherd’s breed history.

German Shepherds were originally developed as working dogs for herding and guarding sheep. Meaning, they weren’t necessarily bred to be aggressive. Instead, they were bred to be protective.

So, no, while they can definitely exhibit aggressive behavior, German Shepherds aren’t naturally aggressive per se. When considering their nature, any aggressive behavior that they show will most likely be brought about by their instinct to protect.

In fact, despite their tough and intimidating appearance, German Shepherd owners will know just how sweet and loving these dogs can be. To their loved ones, at least.

What Can Cause Your German Shepherd To Be Aggressive

Experience Of Abuse

A study regarding the behavior of dogs adopted from animal shelters shows that abused dogs were more likely to exhibit behavioral problems like aggression, as compared to non-abused dogs. This is as abused dogs generally have a distrust and fear of humans, especially strangers. Thus, if a dog feels like it’s being cornered, it may find it necessary to fight back and will then act aggressively.

Protective Instincts

German Shepherds can possess aggressive tendencies due to their protective instincts. So, while not innately aggressive, their protective nature can cause them to be dangerous. For instance, when a German Shepherd grows to be overprotective, it may unnecessarily bark, growl at, or even bite other pets or people in the effort to protect its owner.

Medical Complications

Your German Shepherd may also get aggressive and dangerous simply because it is sick or hurting. Chronic pain and other medical conditions such as hypothyroidism, or even neurological conditions may induce aggression in your dog.

Nature Versus Nurture

As with humans, a German Shepherd’s behavior isn’t only determined by nature, but also by nurture. Meaning, a German Shepherd’s environment, and experiences will also factor into the development of its behavior. Thus, you can teach and prevent your dog from becoming aggressive and dangerous.

How To Prevent A German Shepherd From Being Dangerous

Treat Your Dog Kindly

Again, a German Shepherd raised in an abusive environment will have a high tendency to grow into a dangerous dog. So, you must treat your German Shepherd right. Avoid inflicting your dog any physical harm and avoid negative reinforcement in general. Doing so will help prevent any manifestation of aggressive behavior brought about by reasons other than your German Shepherds protective instincts. Always keep in mind that dangerous owners will raise dangerous dogs.

Training And Socialization

While treating your dog right will curb unnecessary aggression, you will still have to address the possible dangers brought about by a German Shepherd’s protective instincts through training and socialization.

Obedience Training

While it may not entirely solve your dog’s behavioral problems, obedience training will still certainly help. Think about it. If you can get your dog to follow commands, you will then have better overall control over your dog’s actions, including its dangerous tendencies.

That said ,if your German Shepherd is already exhibiting aggressive or dangerous behavior, then it will be rather difficult to train your dog by yourself. In such a case, it would probably be best to consult a professional trainer or behaviorist.


As with every dog, or even every pet, you would have to spend time socializing your German Shepherd.

Socialization is important as it will help your dog learn more about the world in general. When it comes to aggression and being dangerous, socialization will help your dog understand different situations and environments, effectively helping prevent your dog from being anxious about other people or pets.

Socialization is also a way to help your dog understand what constitutes aggression towards its owner. Again, German Shepherds are very protective, and without socialization, they may not understand the difference between a hug and a strike.

Keep Your German Shepherd Active

Another way to keep your German Shepherd from becoming dangerous is to keep it active and to tire it out. How so? Well, as the saying goes, a tired dog is a good dog, and that saying rings true, particularly when it comes to German Shepherds.

German Shepherds require a good amount of both physical and mental stimulation. The lack of both will cause a German Shepherd to exhibit behavioral problems, which on rare occasions, can include aggression.

So, if you want to prevent aggression and other behavioral issues, do your best to provide your German Shepherd with enough exercise and play. 

If you can, about an hour of walk coupled with around 15 minutes of play daily would generally suffice. But, if you have a busy lifestyle and you can’t provide that much time, do refer to this article, in which I discussed how you can keep your German Shepherd busy even when you’re away.

Are German Shepherds Dangerous?

To summarize. German Shepherds can be dangerous depending on factors, such as a history of abuse and the lack of training and socialization. That said, German Shepherds aren’t innately aggressive and dangerous, and aggression due to the aforementioned factors may be prevented and corrected.

The most important thing to remember is to treat your German Shepherd right and raise it well. Everything else will then follow suit.

Related Queries

Will A German Shepherd Attack Its Owner?

Yes, a German Shepherd can, in some instances, attack its owner. But it’s best to keep in mind that these instances don’t come about just because a German Shepherd thought it’d be nice to attack. German Shepherds are very loyal, and thus it’s highly probable that if a German Shepherd does attack its owner, that it was forced to do such an act. By force, I mean that the dog was either provoked or harmed, and thus, it found the necessity to protect itself.

Another case would have to do with their protective instincts as well as their tendency to be one-person dogs. Meaning, German Shepherds will tend to develop a special bond with one specific person and will have preferential treatment over that person. So, while a German Shepherd can technically have multiple owners, if it identifies an owner as being aggressive towards its favorite person, then it may decide to attack.

Do German Shepherds Attack Strangers?

If German Shepherds can attack its owner, then they can most definitely opt to attack strangers. The usual cause for such cases would be due to the dog’s protective instincts, which causes it to be overprotective. The underlying factor in these cases, however, would be the lack of socialization. Again, without socialization, German Shepherds, or any dog for that matter, would have a limited understanding of different situations and their environment. Thus, it may lead the dog to be anxious about other people, which could then cause aggression.

Are German Shepherds Good With Kids?

Yes, German Shepherds are generally good with kids. However, it isn’t impossible for a German Shepherd to harm kids. It all comes down to socialization. If a German Shepherd is properly socialized, then it will most definitely be good with kids, even to the point of becoming a kid’s playmate. That is, of course, considering the kid also knows how to interact and respect the German Shepherd as well.

What Age Does A German Shepherd Become Aggressive?

A German Shepherd may start becoming aggressive as early as six weeks of age. Thus it’s highly recommended that a German Shepherd puppy be socialized as early as possible to prevent the development of any aggressive behavior.

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