Are German Shepherds Aggressive? Guardian or Menace

German Shepherds are one of the most popular dog breeds in the world. They are known for their loyalty, smarts, and protective hearts. 

But you probably won’t feel comfortable raising a German Shepherd if you don’t know everything about it yet. And one of the subjects that worries people the most is this: Are German Shepherds aggressive? 

If you know the answer and the scenario, you can make a good choice and have a happy time raising a dog. 

Characteristics of German Shepherds

German Shepherds give people the strong impression that they are confident, strong, and loyal companions and working dogs that everyone respects and cherishes. 

Strong impression of confident, strong, and loyal companions
Strong impression of confident, strong, and loyal companions

Physical appearance

German Shepherds are among dogs that possess a striking appearance. They have a well-proportioned body and a large, athletic, muscular build. 

Along with their great figure, they have a noble and alert expression with intelligent, almond-shaped eyes that give the feeling they are full of attentiveness. The erect and pointed ears catch even the faintest sounds. 

They have bushy tails; these tails are held low when relaxed, raised high, and curved slightly upward when excited.

Temperament and Behavior

German Shepherds can handle tasks of search and rescue, military work
German Shepherds can handle tasks of search and rescue, military work

German Shepherds are intelligent and loyal. Their intelligence lies in the fact that they are able to be trained on advanced tasks. 

German Shepherds are famous for the label “police dogs”. These dogs handle tasks of search and rescue, military work, and as service animals, as with any human ability. 

As pets, they are excellent family dogs, since they have a protective nature and a strong bond with their owners.

Are German Shepherds Aggressive?

No, German Shepherds are not angry and aggressive dogs that are likely to attack you by accident. German Shepherds are, indeed, loyal and obedient.

German Shepherds are, indeed, loyal and obedient
German Shepherds are, indeed, loyal and obedient

Why do people say that German Shepherds are aggressive? 

You might be considering whether you shoul d rear a German Shepherd, and you wonder if they are an aggressive breed. There is a report about German Shepherds’ aggressive behavior: according to an Australian report from 1999, German Shepherds are the breed third most likely to attack a person in specific areas of Australia. 

But don’t be worried yet. You need to know that German Shepherds are among the most common dogs around the world. 

In 2020, German Shepherds ranked as the second most popular dog breed, according to the AKC’s registration statistics, along with Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Bulldogs. Together, they make up the four most popular dog breeds in America

German Shepherds ranked as the second most popular dog breed
German Shepherds ranked as the second most popular dog breed

So their numbers are huge; more individuals means more possibility of them biting people. So this is not the case, and you shouldn’t be scared of them.

Another reason you might think these dogs are aggressive is due to the fact they are police dogs. Indeed, they are police dogs not because they are aggressive and powerful but rather because they are intelligent, obedient, comprehensive, and focused. They can do what they were trained to do, to implement important tasks, and they can utilize their sense of smell to help humans. These are the reasons German Shepherds get chosen. 

German Shepherds in working roles such as police or military work have gone through careful selection, specialized training, and ongoing management to ensure their behavior remains stable and non-aggressive.

Understanding Aggression in German Shepherds

German Shepherds, like all dogs, can show aggression occasionally. This aggression is not a breed-specific trait but rather is caused by environmental factors. 

Here are some common types of aggression that have distinct underlying motivations for any German Shepherd: 

  • Resource protection: German Shepherds can show their hostility to other dogs or people who are trying to rob their valuable resources such as food, toys, or resting areas.
  • Lack of socialization: Some violent German Shepherds are usually the result of a lack of exposure to new environments, people, and other animals while they are young. After this, they may be wary of strangers and things they don’t know. 
  • Pain or medical conditions: If German Shepherds are friendly and lovable but suddenly become offended, they might have underlying pain or discomfort due to injuries, illness, or medical conditions. 
  • Provocation or threat to family: German Shepherds are known for their protective instincts, they will fiercely confront anyone  who puts a threat to their owners, loved ones, or their territory, with firm loyalty and resolve. 
  • Lack of energy outlet: These dogs are high-energy; they can resort to agitation once they don’t get enough exercise and mental stimulation. So they need regular walks and playtime to avoid boredom and keep them calm. If you fail to do this, you can have a dog that has been suppressed inside for a long time and then, explodes
Aggression is caused by environmental factors
Aggression is caused by environmental factors

Warning Signs of Aggression

Here are a few behavioral signs that signal an affinity for hostility that you should avoid whenever you see them: 

  • Growling or snarling: When they’re agitated, they’ll make audible vocalizations while baring their teeth.
  • Stiff body posture: They can have a tight rigid body posture, especially if they even have a high tail or upright hair on the back.
  • Direct staring or whale-eye: They may make their gaze intense, create lengthy eye contact, and show the whites of their eyes. 
  • Raised hackles: The hair on their back and neck stands on point, this indicates their heightened thrills. 


Whether you have a German Shepherd or are thinking of getting a puppy. You shouldn’t be overly anxious if you’re rearing a less-than-pleasant breed.

Unless you are so negligent as to not buy from a reputable source or to ensure that your German Shepherd receives the bare minimum of care, your dog will be OK. Simply love and appreciate him/her with all your heart, and you will be showered with equal devotion and entertainment from them.

Natalie Shin
Natalie Shin

Meet Natalie Shin, a devoted veterinarian, a passionate pet lover, and an invaluable contributor to Get Your Pet Certified.
She has been an invaluable part of our team at Get Your Pet Certified, fervently writing and sharing her knowledge and experiences.