German Shepherd Temperament and Behavior

german shepherd puppiesAs one of the most popular dog breeds in the U.S., German Shepherds are known for their striking appearance, intelligence and loyalty to their owner. There are many different breed lines of German Shepherds, resulting in some that are highly energetic and happy and others that are more mellow and shy. While temperament and behavior traits are genetic, they are also greatly shaped by how German Shepherd puppies are raised. When searching for German Shepherd puppies, make sure to do your research and ask a lot of questions of the breeder. If you are able to earn the respect of your German Shepherd through proper training and socialization, you’ll wind up with one of the most compatible dogs imaginable.

German Shepherd Temperament and Behavior

common german shepherd behavior problemsCompared to other purebred dogs, German Shepherd temperament and behavior is kind of all over the place. Due to multiple breed lines, you’ll find German Shepherds who are serious, standoffish working dogs and others who are goofy, smiley and playful family dogs. Some are very high-energy while others are more laid-back. Ask the breeder and conduct interviews to be sure the temperament of the specific German Shepherd you’re interested in matches the kind of dog you want overall.

In general, German Shepherds are:

  • Obedient
  • Loyal
  • Curious
  • Confident
  • Alert
  • Intelligent
  • Watchful
  • Courageous

german shepherd behaviorAppearing fearless, focused and direct, German Shepherds are not the most approachable dogs and will not typically be the first to introduce themselves. Though not hostile, they merely wait to be approached and are probably the best breed at airing confidence and standing their ground. As such, they are commonly used for guarding and similar types of work including drug and bomb sniffing and search and rescue for military and police.

Common German Shepherd Behavior Problems

  • Protective

German Shepherds can be protective when meeting strangers. While not necessarily a bad thing (in fact, it could be considered a good thing!), you should be aware that it may take a few meetings for your German Shepherd to warm up to someone new. Also, frequent exposure to others (i.e. socialization) will help to shorten and lessen their period of suspicion.

  • Aggressive

Undying loyalty and intelligence comes with a cost: a propensity to be overtly aggressive. As with any temperament and behavior trait, it can be beneficial such as in the case of service dog work. Oftentimes their aggression can be eliminated or managed with proper training and socialization.

Common German Shepherd Health Issues & Ailments + Ways to Combat Them

german shepherd temperamentWhile most pure-breeds have inherent health issues, it can be argued German Shepherds are at risk for having some of the most. Though it’s not a guarantee your German Shepherd will exhibit most or any of these ailments in their lifetime, it’s important to be aware of the more serious or life-threatening ailments so that you can plan ahead. Properly caring for your German Shepherd dog could save you thousands of dollars in vet bills down the road. Click on the links to learn more about how to combat these common issues:

Diet and Exercise

A healthy diet combined with supplements is the best way to ward off common German Shepherd health issues and ensure their best temperament and behavior. Meat and whole food diet is best, both for their overall health and to avoid allergies. If you must go with commercial food, here’s how to choose good dog food.

Exercise is the next most valuable thing you can provide your German Shepherd. To stay physically fit and happy, they require daily exercise. Even more so than physical, German Shepherds require mental stimulation. Their intelligence is such that being mentally challenged is the most rewarding form of exercise for them. Your best bet is to combine the two--via agility training, hiking, herding, obedience work or similar activities.

German Shepherd temperament and behavior makes for some of the most obedient and loyal dogs in the world. With proper care, you too could be a proud owner of one of these majestic herders.


Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Information contained or made available through the ColoradoDog website is not intended to constitute or substitute for legal advice or veterinary advice.

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