The Science Behind German Shepherd Aggression
There are many opinions about whether or not German Shepherds are more aggressive than other breeds. But let’s look at what the science says on this topic.
The American Veterinary Medical Association ran a whole study on whether or not particular dog breeds were more likely to be aggressive than others.
They found that the highest prevalence of bites fell on a few breeds – namely the German Shepherd, Pit Bull, Rottweiler, Jack Russell Terrier, Chow Chows, and a few others. However, it is essential to realize that these breeds are also more common in the United States. When you have more German Shepherds out there than other breeds, you’re going to end up with more German Shepherd bites.
In Canada, most dog bites are attributes to Siberian Huskies and other sled dogs – likely because these are the most common breeds there.
Similarly, in Rome, Italy, Mastiffs were found to have the highest bite occurrence. However, they are also one of the most popular dogs in that area.
Furthermore, the popularity of different breeds coincided with bite reports. The more popular a breed was, the higher that bite statistic rose. Therefore, bite statistics don’t seem to actually tell us what breeds are more dangerous than others. It seems to be largely associated with the popularity of the breed, not their actual aggression levels.
Based on behavioral assessments, small breeds seem to be the most aggressive – not larger breeds like the German Shepherd. However, these bites are largely underreported because they do not usually require treatment.
Bites on children statistically come from small breed dogs, like Chihuahua and Lhasa Apsos. The statistical difference in bites reported between children and adults likely comes from the fact that children need treatment after a small breed bite, while adults do not.
The behavioral assessments for German Shepherds are mixed. This suggests that there is likely high variability within the breed. Some German Shepherds are much more likely to be aggressive than others, in other words.
Again, socialization and training play a large role in this. Adopting your dog from a qualified breeder is also important. After all, genetics do play a role as well.
Will German Shepherds Attack Their Owners?
There is no evidence that German Shepherds are more likely to bite their owner than any other breed. Like all dogs, German Shepherds will protect themselves if threatened. If an owner is too rough with a German Shepherd, they may try to defend themselves by biting.
This trait can be said for all breeds, though. No dog is going to submit to injury if they feel like they can defend themselves.
Again, we highly recommend socializing this breed at a young age. Most bites are caused by fear, including those directed at people. Unless you are purposefully scaring your dog by “over disciplining,” then the chance of a bite is extremely rare.
However, if they do bite you, it’s likely because you did something scary – whether or not that thing was actually scary to us. For instance, dogs are commonly afraid of umbrellas. That’s why they are used during temperament tests.
Socialization is essential to prevent your dog from becoming scared of things like umbrellas, which may cause them to “protect” themselves from the menace. If you happen to be the one holding the umbrella, this isn’t going to be very good for you.
At the same time, you should also familiarize yourself with proper dog training. German Shepherds need training, but it’s important that the training is backed by science. Positive reinforcement training works best, as there is a very small chance that the dog is going to react negatively to treats. You don’t want to teach your dog to be scared of you.
After all, dogs bite things they are scared of!
Dominance training has been disproven for dozens of years. Not even wolves display “dominance” behavior as most people think of it. It can also make your dog react negatively, causing your dog to bite.
It depends on what you mean by “aggressive.” These dogs are naturally territorial and protective. They were bred to protect herds of sheep and were then utilized for military and police work. Their protective instincts are still with them today, as they are commonly still used as guard and protection dogs.
Therefore, these dogs aren’t going to be as friendly with strangers as other breeds. They are not Labrador retrievers in the least!
However, that doesn’t necessarily make them aggressive either. They are very calm family dogs in most cases, especially if they are socialized from a young age.
They are not particularly more likely to bite than other breeds when properly socialized and trained. There is a lot of variation amongst German Shepherds, though. Some are more likely to bite than others. Much of this depends on the training, though genetics can play a role as well.
If you purchase a German Shepherd as a puppy, we highly recommend purchasing them from a quality breeder. These breeders are likely to pay more attention to their dogs’ temperaments. Breeders are not going to breed a dog if they are overly aggressive and untrainable. Backyard breeders and puppy mills typically don’t pay attention to these things!
He is an aggressive breed.
There is no dog more aggressive than another. While he may have a reluctance towards strangers, proper socialization of your puppy and education based on positive reinforcement should help a lot!