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German Shepherd Biting

 Reviewed 26 February 2019 share-a-picture Or go to discussion?join-the-discussion dogphoto

German Shepherd biting is a sensitive topic:

Herding dogs normally don't bite, but only perform the guiding nip to get members of the herd "back in order".

Today, that's all accepted Pack members, for example the family.

"Normally" don't bite, because the exception is: when a perceived predator approaches the herd. Or today: nears a Pack member.


Meaning: If your German Shepherd Dog actually bites someone you don't want to get bitten:

  • your friend?
  • your neighbor?
  • your child?
  • yourself?

...then something in the dog's upbringing went fundamentally WRONG.

And what went wrong has now resulted in a biting dog. A dog that EITHER:

And so yes, subject to upbringing and training it does happen that German Shepherd biting or more generally any other dog biting happens and becomes an issue at some point in the dog's life.

As you saw above, this becomes more likely if your dog missed out on comprehensive socialization: the German Shepherd has been bred to be highly reactive to unknown stimuli!

pt-rt-grWhat you haven't socialized with, is unknown to the dog.

That's why right from the smallest puppy I do so much systematic socialization as you may have seen in the Puppy Development Guide - Puppy 101 f and/or in My New Puppy Diary, right?

Comprehensive socialization is vital for the German Shepherd, and necessary for all other dogs.


For the difference between

  • dog biting and dog nipping
  • the difference between controlled biting and uncontrolled biting
  • causes of dog biting
  • and what to do if your dog bites

see Dog Biting: Because all of that is the same regardless which dog you have.

Conversely, dog biting problems are not the same: Because a biting German Shepherd is way more dangerous than say a biting French Bulldog. Right?


German Shepherd puppies nip more than other dogs bite.

Phew, what a dictum! You'll have to read that again to fully comprehend: German Shepherd puppies nip more than other dogs bite.


  • While a puppy, the GSD typically nips a lot more than most other puppies - unless you immediately curb that like I did in My New Puppy Diary.
  • But once an adult dog, other dogs are a LOT more prone to dog biting than the German Shepherd Dog.

Clear now?

Then we have to wonder: Why is this?

Again it's because the GSD is a herding dog by nature, and herding dogs are genetically wired to

  1. be very stress-tolerant
  2. nip and nudge strays back to the herd
  3. not bite anyone because that would injure the herd that the GSD knows (s)he is meant to guard

In other words: To manage to get German Shepherd biting, you have to get a lot WRONG first.

For example:

  • Locking a GSD in a kennel: they can't stand that at all: they are herding dogs!
  • Chaining a GSD: they can't stand that at all: they are herding dogs!
  • Depriving a GSD of social interactions: they can't stand that at all: they are herding dogs!
  • Missing out on comprehensive socialization as a puppy.
  • Annoying an adult GSD with needless Obedience Training: GSDs seem to find Obedience Training ridiculous because they've been bred to successfully manage an entire herd of livestock all alone, and yet along there comes a towering human who cannot do this, but who desires to command every step the GSD is making... rolleyes
  • Hitting or otherwise punishing a GSD who was just trying so hard to accept you as Pack leader. - Ask yourself: Could you accept someone behaving so badly?

The more of any of this a German Shepherd experiences, the likelier that we'll be facing German Shepherd biting at some point.

Oh, I almost forgot: What if you don't want a biting German Shepherd?

Then just don't do any of the above. wink



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