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Are German Shepherds Dangerous?

 Reviewed 10 March 2019 share-a-picture Or go to discussion?join-the-discussion dogphoto

==> "German Shepherd Dogs are dangerous!"
or "German Shepherds and Children is no good!"
or "The German Shepherd Dog should be classified as a dangerous breed!"

Dog attacks! We've heard it all. So, how true is it?

Or, are GSDs dangerous when we have small kids? A baby? A cat? Other dogs?

aggressive dog?Pictures of German Shepherds (or often, GSD lookalikes/crosses) with bare teeth make many people fear the German Shepherd Dog. Not only robbers and gangsters, but also the average citizen.

But if we leave appearance and yellow-press media coverage aside, how dangerous are GSDs really? And how dangerous is your German Shepherd in your situation?

In this Periodical:

  • Dog Attack Statistics
  • Dog Attacks by Breed
  • How Common are German Shepherd Attacks?
  • What is the Typical Outcome of a Dog Attack?
  • Is the German Shepherd Dog Predisposed to Violence?
  • How Can We Prevent that Our GSD Harms Someone for No Good Reason?

Dog Bite Statistics

Many people look at dog bite statistics and draw their conclusions, without understanding the underlying concepts (eg base population, sample, frequency distribution, etc).

This is a problem that's relevant to all of us because among those people are also law enforcement officers that look into individual dog attacks in the same way - like maybe that of your dog at some point?!

scared dogLife experience and common sense tell us that, as dog owners, we can easily become the focus (and treasure chest!) of litigious fellow citizens. To avoid this, we must know the content of this and the next MYGERMANSHEPHERD PERIODICAL.

So, let's first look at dog attack statistics or dog bite statistics:

  • If we believe that any serious dog attack finds its way into media reports, then media reports are the best sample.
  • If we believe that any serious dog attack finds its way into police reports, then police reports are the best sample.
  • If we believe that any serious dog attack finds its way into medical reports, then medical reports are the best sample.

My point is: It all depends on where the dogs live that are involved in attacks.

If the dog lives say in a remote location in a state in the USA or in a province in Canada, or in a territory in Australia, or in rural India or in any other remote location, then the dog owner (and the dog) may get away with the attack - without it being reported anywhere!

In some regions of any nation in the world (other than densely populated ones like say England), both police and media may not get involved, even if there was a serious dog attack. Only the local doctor may get involved.

So, when subsequently we only look at media reports as the statistical source for dog attacks, then simply because we don't have access to police and medical reports, okay?

Also note that dog attack here means mauling, maiming or death of a human being, whether child or adult - since only such serious dog attacks consistently find their way into media reports.

The most recent statistic about dog attacks by breed we found for the USA and Canada - obviously, because the largest population of registered dogs by far lives on the North American continent.

(In India certainly live more dogs but in the vast rural areas these are unregistered dogs, which somewhat prevents reliable statistics.)

Dog Attacks by Breed

Notes of Warning before you see the ranking!

This most recent North American statistic was compiled by the editor of Animal People, Merritt Clifton, from press accounts between 1982 to 2011. Almost 30 years, this is a good representative time frame.

GSD leapingHowever, the first key mistake they make with their statistic is that they compare all historical dog attacks with the relative dog populations in the most recent year (in this case 2011) - although the relative dog populations have significantly changed over time.

For example, at the peak of German Shepherd Dog popularity in the USA in the mid-1990s, reportedly 16% of the entire US and Canadian dog population were German Shepherds and German Shepherd mixes: ca. 9 million!

While in 2012 apparently 'only' just over 3.5 million German Shepherds lived in the USA (4.6% of total dog population - which by the way shows that during a mere 17 years the USA saw an increase in dog population of at least 22 million!!).

German Shepherd mixes and an estimated 500,000 GSDs in Canada aside, this is a BIG difference.

The second key mistake of Clifton's statistic is that they put all dog attacks in relation to counted classified ads that listed dogs for sale on websites during June 2011. This way they get a GSD population of just 1.4%, although the known GSD population is rather 4.6% for the USA (based on AKC registered dogs, see above).

I am sure that the number of classified ads per breed is NOT representative of the number of dogs of that breed (desirable dogs are typically sold and purchased through other means). On the other hand, it may well be the case that likewise the number of registered dogs per breed is NOT representative of the number of dogs of that breed.

Finally, Animal People's report doesn't actually present the data the way it should be presented: dog attacks standardized per percent of the breed's population - or in their case, per counted unique classified ads.

We have done this mathematical transformation for them, and the result is:

Rank Dog Breed # of Attacks per percent of dogs (based on # of ads)
1 Rottweiler 1603
2 Wolf Hybrid 840
3 Pitbull Terrier 597
4 Bull Mastiff 380
5 Akita 163
6 Boxer 120
7 Chow 77
8 Labrador 64
9 German Shepherd 63
10 Great Dane 44
11 Malamute 43
12 Mastiff 42
13 English Bulldog 40
14 Brittany Spaniel 40
15 Husky 33
16 Sharpei 25
17 Doberman 21
18 Malinois 14
19 Saint Bernard 11
20 Golden Retriever 7

Note that Animal People's report comprises many more breeds, but for the other breeds the data in the report is insufficient to consider them in the above ranking.

If there were a reliable source for breed-specific population data, we could certainly improve on the accuracy of the ranking above. But for the moment, the data found on sites like Statistic Brain (based on AKC figures = registered dogs) is insufficient, and clearly wrong.

So for now, the above ranking (based on numbers of classified ads) may give us the most unbiased insight into 'dangerous dog breeds'.

How Common are German Shepherd Attacks?

GSD chasingPersonally, with my breed knowledge, the above ranking held a few surprises for me, eg:

Without the report from Animal People, I wouldn't have expected that the Boxer is more often involved in serious dog attacks that kill or maim a human being than the German Shepherd!

Almost twice as often. That's a big surprise for me.

Over the long period of almost 30 years, for the whole of USA and Canada, only 89 attacks could be attributed to German Shepherds - which is a mere 3 attacks per year on the entire North American continent!!

If you want to count German Shepherd mixes as well, including the (dangerous!) GSD-Husky mix and the (not so dangerous) GSD-Labrador mix, then the figure increases to 143 attacks - which is a mere 5 attacks per year on the entire North American continent!

Of course, every dog attack that results in maiming or death of a child or adult is one too much, no question!

Nonetheless, considering that there are 351 million people on the North American continent (close to 35 million in Canada and 316 million in the USA), even 5 serious attacks a year of German Shepherds and all German Shepherd mixes(!) is infinitesimal, isn't it?

Hitler with GSDParticularly, once we consider how many people launch serious attacks on other people in any given year (incl. death too, yes!), and when we consider that at least 5 of these criminals will have a GSD, and thus they may very well transfer their inhumane character onto their dog, no?


"Dogs are only as bad as their owners" is a popular phrase for a reason! - It is not reported whether Hitler's GSD Blondi was as bad and nuts as her owner...

So really, 3 serious attacks a year by GSDs for the entire North American continent (or 5 when GSD mixes are included) is a very small number I dare say without any bias towards the GSD!

Further breakdown:

  • 69% of these GSD attacks were towards a child, 31% towards an adult
  • As anticipated, for GSD-Husky mixes this relation is much worse: 83% were towards a child!
  • Of the 89 attacks during those almost 30 years, 12 resulted in death (18%) and 54 in maiming (82%)
  • Again, for GSD-Husky mixes this relation is much worse: 40% resulted in death!

You may wonder why I know that a GSD-Husky mix is dangerous?

The German Shepherd and its Relatives showed you that the Husky is one of the ur-dogs - with a gene pool closest to wolves.

GSDIt was v. Stephanitz himself (the alleged GSD breed founder) who warned German Shepherd breeders already over 100 years ago (remarkable: long before gene analysis was known!!):

Do NOT reintroduce the gene pool of the wolf by breeding a German Shepherd with a wolf. This could prove fatal.

See v. Stephanitz' book (for you the English translation): The German Shepherd Dog in Word and Picture (Note: Do not even consider to get the fake versions that are available much cheaper, their content is imaginary and wrong)

Now what really counts:

Practically all dog breeds were involved in serious dog attacks that resulted in death or maiming of the human victim.

Yes, including the tiny Chihuahua! Chihuahua

However: The 89 attacks that involved a German Shepherd must of course be seen in relation to the total German Shepherd dog population - which was during that period at least 4.6% (not 1.4% as Animal People's statistic purports based on classified ad countings).

Had GSDs been involved in serious dog attacks proportionately often, then GSDs would have been involved in a serious attack 160 times (not 'just' 89 times) during the nearly 30-years timespan.

Admittedly, this 'proportionately often' would be misleading:

In 1,970 (or 56%) of all attacks a Pitbull Terrier was involved, and in 481 (or 13.7%) of all attacks a Rottweiler was involved. These two breeds disturb all proportions, because both dog breeds are fairly common and are often involved in attacks on a human being.

Much more often than other popular dogs: Clearly not 56% of all dogs are Pitbull Terriers, and not 13.7% of all dogs are Rottweilers! - Based on Animal People's ad counting, 3.3% were Pitbull Terrier, and 0.3% were Rottweiler. Yet their figures are misleading, see above.

Final warning

Again, this shows that the base population in Animal People's report is not right: According to the AKC, in 2012, the Rottweiler got rank 9 of the most popular dog breeds in the USA!

If we take an estimated 2 million Rotties (that's 2.5% of all dogs in the USA), then in the above ranking the Rottweiler drops to 192 attacks per percent of dogs, ending up between the Bull Mastiff and the Akita (arguably a more sensible position for the Rottweiler).

Similarly, if we take an estimated 2.5 million boxers (they ranked place 7 of the most popular dog breeds in the USA in 2012), then in the above ranking the boxer drops to 15 attacks per percent of dogs, ending up between the Doberman and the Malinois (again, arguably a more sensible position for the Boxer).

Finally, if we take an estimated 4.5 million Labradors (they ranked place 1 of the most popular dog breeds in the USA in 2012, just before the German Shepherd!), then in the above ranking the Labrador drops to 8 attacks per percent of dogs, ending up between the Saint Bernard and the Golden Retriever (again, arguably a more sensible position for the Labrador Retriever).

And suddenly the revised ranking based on estimated breed populations as per above makes much more sense:

Rank Dog Breed # of Attacks per percent of dogs (based on estimated breed populations)
1 Wolf Hybrid 840
2 Pitbull Terrier 597
3 Bull Mastiff 380
4 Rottweiler 192
5 Akita 163
6 Chow 77
7 Great Dane 44
8 Malamute 43
9 Mastiff 42
10 English Bulldog 40
11 Brittany Spaniel 40
12 Husky 33
13 Sharpei 25
14 Doberman 21
15 German Shepherd 19
16 Boxer 15
17 Malinois 14
18 Saint Bernard 11
19 Labrador 8
20 Golden Retriever 7

Note that some positions would still change if we knew accurate breed populations.

What is the Typical Outcome of a Dog Attack?

Critical to understand further is, dog attack does not equal dog attack:

  • If a Pitbull Terrier attacks an adult or a child, the outcome is typically devastating (if not deadly), because the Pitbull has an inbred bite persistence unlike any other dog, plus a strong bite force too (16% of the victims were killed).
  • If a Rottweiler attacks an adult or a child, the outcome is typically devastating to outright deadly, because the Rottweiler has almost the most powerful bite force (22.5% of the victims were killed). - Similarly with a Mastiff: 23.5% were killed.
  • As expected, Wolf Hybrids killed even more of their victims: 28.4%

Dog attackNow you may wonder: And for a German Shepherd?

Although 18% of the victims died, according to Animal People's report (remember, it's based on media reports), none of the victims died from bite injuries: They didn't have any serious bite injury!

Instead, the victims died for fairly unrelated reasons (like stroke, or an invidious fall at a moment of panic or during a powerful greeting!), or for unknown reasons in cases where other dog breeds were involved as well, particularly at least one Pitbull or Labrador.

This may be surprising, right?

However, Merritt Clifton offers an explanation in the report that many of us may have expected, and others may be able to relate to it from experience with their own dog, or from knowing that the GSD is a herding breed:

German Shepherds have three different kinds of 'bite':

  • The guiding nip, which is gentle and does not break the skin. This is how the GSD (based on its genetical heritage) directs a lamb (or small person like a child!) towards the right path - simply because frequent nudging would hurt the dog's nose.
  • The grab-and-drag, to pull a puppy or lamb or child away from danger. This is when the lamb (or person!) appears rather unable than unwilling to follow the dog's lead - like in an emergency situation (as perceived by the GSD).
  • The reactive bite, usually in defense of territory or a person the dog is inclined to guard. The reactive bite usually comes only after much growling, barking, and other signals intended to avert a conflict. When it does come, it is typically accompanied by a frontal leap for the wrist or throat (unless the GSD is protection-trained).

This is why - if anything serious happens at all - a German Shepherd victim typically suffers rather self-inflicted injuries than any dangerous bite injuries.

Indeed, based on the almost 30-years span of media reports, all GSD cases belonged to one of only two groups of incidents:

  • Upon the guiding nip or grab-and-drag, particularly children sometimes misread the dog's intention and pull away in panic, or
  • In case of mauling, maiming or death, the reactive bite was almost always clearly subject to a form of duress: the dog was deranged from being chained for long periods without human contact, was starving, was otherwise severely abused, was protecting puppies, or was among a pack of dogs of other breeds like the ones mentioned above.

We know why each of these situations of duress is bad for any dog, not only the GSD:

  • Our modern domesticated dogs are the result of thousands of years of targeted breeding with one goal - to make the dog crave to please us. Dogs, and particularly GSDs, need human contact to thrive!
  • The genetic prime quest of every dog still is to secure food!
  • The second-most important genetic quest is to belong to a Pack (our family) - the experience of abuse disturbs this quest and confuses the dog, and confused dogs are stressed dogs, and stress in dogs results in aggression!

The report makes it even more clear: "Hurting someone is almost never the dog's intent ... None of the German Shepherd attacks have involved predatory behavior".

Is the German Shepherd Dog Predisposed to Violence?

Do we need to discuss this after all of the above?

Obviously the original German Shepherd - that was bred for work and temperament, not appearance/looks/show! - is not predisposed to violence. Quite the opposite: The GSD is predisposed to avoid conflicts wherever deemed possible.

Show GSDBut any genetic predisposition of a dog (not only of the GSD) can of course be shaped by the human handler or owner (in the short term), and by the breeder (long-term). It really depends on how we treat and train our German Shepherd.

A dog that is being (or was earlier) abused will soon show the behavioral consequences of abuse: eg the partially unpredictable behavior of a traumatized dog.

With a GSD, this may take just a tad longer because genetically herding dogs like the German Shepherd are very patient - they are not just bred to be weatherproof but situation-proof too. Otherwise they couldn't handle dozens to hundreds of sheep or other lifestock!

They endure more and take longer before they react. German Shepherds are balanced dogs.

Among humans we would say: They have strong nerves. They don't falter easily. - That refers to the original German Shepherd, see above.

How Can We Prevent that Our GSD Harms Someone for No Good Reason?

For example:

  1. Systematic socialization during the four-weeks long development phase that I called Family Socialization in the Puppy Development Guide
  2. A calm and relaxed Feeding Routine incl. Gesture Eating
  3. Giving our dog quality food, instead of industrial kibble crap
  4. Providing our GSD with intense daily exercise - until (s)he is a senior dog
  5. Sharing lots of Together-time with our dog - indoors with puzzle games like say Hide-a-Squirrel and outdoors while say cycling
  6. Using our Behavior Training approach, not the medieval Obedience Training. Meaning, among countless other points, that we never use force, fear, or bribes in our dog training!
  7. Avoiding dog fights and aggressive dogs at great distance when we walk our dog
  8. Making sure that our dog does not leave the property when we are not watching
  9. Using our leash training secrets
  10. And dozens of inconspicuous tips, from using an Eat-Slow bowl to serving rather three meals a day than one or two, from When to use which reward type to providing a comfy resting place near us in every room to help our dog to relax!

You see, it all has a reason, it all makes sense - as already summarized in the Periodical in disguise Stop Farting.



  • In this Periodical we've put an end to another myth: Many people (incl. law enforcement officers!) believe that the German Shepherd Dog should be classified as a dangerous breed.
  • Using the most recent comprehensive dog bite statistics (dog attack deaths and maimings for USA and Canada) published by Animal People (but we qualified it) we found out that such claims are entirely unfounded.
  • Based on their report, German Shepherds are on position 9 of popular dangerous dog breeds, below other popular breeds like Rottweiler, Boxer, and Labrador!
  • After we replaced the base population used by Animal People (number of unique classified ads per breed) with more sensible breed population estimates, German Shepherds dropped further to position 15 of popular dangerous dog breeds.
  • This is because, in our view, it is plain common sense to put the number of human victims of dog attacks in relation to the number of dogs there are of a particular breed! (Say 5 attacks a year of a breed with 3.5 million dogs bear a different weight than 5 attacks a year of a breed with just 100,000 dogs, doh!)
  • Regardless of ranking in a 'dangerous dog breed league table': Over the last 30 years there were only 3 attacks a year on the entire North American continent(!) where a German Shepherd was considered guilty as per media reports.
  • Even when we include all GSD mixes, there were only 5 such attacks a year on the entire North American continent!
  • According to Animal People's report, none of the 12 victims (during almost 30 years) died from bite injuries. More so, none of the 89 victims in total had any serious bite injury!
  • Instead, the victims who died, died for fairly unrelated reasons or for unknown reasons in cases where other dog breeds were involved as well.
  • The report makes clear: "Hurting someone is almost never the dog's intent … None of the German Shepherd attacks have involved predatory behavior" - obviously not: As a herding dog, the (original) GSD does not have predatory behaviors.
  • Dog attack does not equal dog attack - The reason why GSD victims are so rare: Herding dogs like the German Shepherd have three different kinds of 'bite':
    • The guiding nip
    • The grab-and-drag
    • The reactive bite
  • All GSD victims were due to either of these two reasons:
    • Children misread the dog's instinctive intention (guiding nip or grab-and-drag) and pulled away in panic, or
    • In case of mauling, maiming or death, the reactive bite was almost always clearly subject to a form of duress
  • Therefore, the original German Shepherd Dog is not predisposed to violence, rather to avoid conflicts wherever possible.
  • There is no good reason why these GSD characteristics would be any different in say Asia, Australia, or Europe. In general, the above applies to German Shepherds all across the globe.
  • How to prevent that your GSD harms someone for no good reason: see the long list above.

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  35 Page Comments, ZERO SPAM: the spam spam-free oasis on the web grin Add one


    My German shepherd is 11.5 years old. He has been involved in 2 bite incidents. One was with a person who rented from us and she raised a pole over her head when the dogs came around the corner. The GS nipped her in the buttock. She went to the emergency department for a tetanus shot and thus got a police report. The last incident one year ago involved a ADT security sales person getting the wrong house and letting himself into our front yard gate. You can clearly see a dog door from where he let himself in. Our dogs came out and he got bitten. The GS would have viewed the man as a threat breaking into our home space. Now there are 2 police reports on our GS and the police said with the first incident that the person over dramatized a scratch and with the second the police said clearly the man was where he wasn't suppose to be effectively trespassing. Now because of these 2 situations we are declined from home owners insurance. Is there any insurance which will provide liability insurance after a dog has bitten in these circumstances?


    I'm being denied my service dog, because he's a GSD. I have trained him from a pup, and he is a wonderful dog. Very obedient, loving, and fun. I live in the college dorms, and I have his papers. I have my doctors note and my therapist recommendation that I have this dog as my emotional support animal. so I am now in the process of getting him recognized as a service dog by the state of South Dakota. And although I am doing all I can to have my ducks in a row, I'm still being denied my dog for my PTSD/ Depression. I need some help. so if you have anything that will help me then I would greatly appreciate it.


      April, I would assume that the denial comes down to the specific college dorm you live in, AND/OR a lack of education of the responsible officer (such that (s)he assumes that a GSD may be "dangerous" to fellow students).

      In case of the first, we can't do anything (many people incl. officers are stubborn to the power of 4...). In case of the latter, you may want to refer your responsible officer to educational material like the one on this very page?


    I'm so glad I come across you!

    I'm actually in the U.K.

    Thank you. This is very informative. I adopted a GSD who was already 9 months old. Very reactive, was poorly socialised and was abused.
    I love your force, fear and bribe free training. He is my first GSD. I love the breed. I love his intelligence and affections. He is a working progress, but is slowly getting better with his reactivity.


      Thanks so much for these rare words, and WELCOME!

      As abused dog he will need a lot of
      - patience (to get over any trauma)
      - affection (to realize that not all people are equal)
      - consistency in owner behavior (signals reliability, which builds trust)
      - persistence (to accept you as Pack leader, not as Pack member/sheep/herd)
      - and more, that I can't think of at this hour...

      My adopted home was London (still is, but currently in Portugal), where are you based?


        Hi Tim,

        Thank you for your reply. I'm in South Northants.
        I agree completely with your point on healing an abused GSD. It's like adopting a child with a rotten childhood! It takes patience, love and compassion, and persevering but also knowing that you have to be the one in control. You are right on point about the behaviour training vs. the Medieval "Obedience Training". This blog is very refreshing and full of useful information.


    I love it.



    I am so glad I found this site. My cousin has a German Shepherd/ Lab mix who is 3 years old now. There has been numerous times when the dog has broke the skin on people and animals (friends and family) and so the dog has not been put down, but I fear for my cousin and the dog and everyone else and do not want the circumstance to occur again. All of the bites were during play; whether tossing a ball, people getting rowdy, playing with another dog etc; but also when people enter and hug or anything is picked up in front of him he jumps and opens his mouth like he is trying to nip at them. I do not believe he is a mean dog in any way because he does get along with some dogs and children and people but then other times he bites and they aren't sure why. He was forced away from his mother and litter extremely young and never learned to play with his siblings and I feel like this is a large part of the problem. Is there anything that can be done now to correct this? Please anything would help?

    Thank you!


    I have seen gsds with babies and children and it was hilarious, and I could not stop myself from saying 'poor dog'!
    is a gsd dangerous? answer is now. He or she is being handled? how well is he socialized? and other genetical issues like is he a cross b/w any agressive or fighting breed or with a wolf?
    gsd is a working dog so it is meant to have energy stored in him, if kept locked or chained all the time he'll surely do someting bad. if trained to attack everything he might attack anything. protection dogs and police type dogs are not meant to be a pet always, so not getting that will surely result in an accident.
    I have experience with more than 15 dogs of different breeds and 6 gsds of different types of lines since I was a baby, and I can conclude that if you let your cute faced puppy or adult gsd on its own and unsocialized or locked all the time then your dog will be like a werewolf out on a full moon night (not an actual wolfman but quite dangerous). I know gsds that bit people by climbing and jumping over 6 feet tall walls only because they were not socialized.
    our first gsd was very calm and wise but one of neighbours abused him once and after that everytime he saw the man he just wanted to tear him apart. this shows how a peaceful dog can become so hostile.
    our current female at 11 mo is very energetic, look at her when she barks at strangers you might get a heart attack if you are the stranger (if only on a leash at home), but outside the house she does not do anything. she of course is very hard to handle b/c she loves to bite while playing, once our heads collided while I was trying to unchain her, another time she striked her paw and nails in my throat, she bit, clawed and bruised me many times while playing, but have never done any serious damage to me except the first two incidents which were clearly accidents and were bad timing. on the other hand she bit or clawed (dont know exactly b/c it was night and there was no light) my father at his head once which was luckily nothing more than a tiny cut. and she broke her one fang on her 1st day with us while pulling my pants and another time got his paw cut while another guy was cutting grass and she just jumped right onto his hand. again just a little bruise.
    i stated all of the above experience just to tell how important understanding and handling of a pup or dog is important. at the end I want to share another incident to prove that dogs are not just for harming kids, one of our small breed dog attacked a full grown fighter and agressive bull terrier and moved him to a side of street just to let another kid pass from the street, the other dog was surprised too and left (I too was astounded b/c every other time both of the dogs were together, our furry little cute looking dog was found in the bull terrier's jaw and people used to ran to save him... ) but this time he was nearly ready to get himself killed just b/c of a kid's happy home return. so have a gsd, enjoy but dont forget to keep an eye on him and socialize him too...
    this is my 1st comment and I hope to see it in the comments. good luck. and a very good website and information source about gsds in every aspect. good luck with your effort Mr. Tim. thank you.


      Because your post is so valuable, I reformatted your text for an hour to become legible (and to prevent that Google & Co see it as SPAM and downgrade this site!). To see yourself published often (here and elsewhere!) I would strongly recommend to stick to basic conventions of combining letters with punctuation. idea

      Love your hints on the importance of socialization! Re/ your current 11m old GSD, you mention "chaining" and "biting" and "clawing". So I thought you might appreciate my advice?
      11m is LATE to start with Bite Inhibition Training, do that urgently.
      And chaining? Do that never. Instead, fully House-Train your dog, to be able to give all your dogs safely free run of the house even while you are away. We do that too. Everyone on this site does (once they've fully house-trained their dog).


    Again, Thank you Tim for a very important info.. Stryker will be 14 months next week (acts like a teenager), He is a big baby right now, but I see his "protection" mode for us starting! He would never go after anyone and "attack", unless told to!!


    Great response to the question about the nipping at the dog park. I was not sure if my 17 month old was playing, but he seemed to. It's the reaction of other owners that makes me feel uneasy. It's nice to know he's herding and playing. I think this instinct is really strong in my Bruce. He's always been well socialized and does nip at his canine sister too. She will bark at him when she doesn't want to be bothered. He's like an annoying little brother to her.

  9. supportive

    I was very surprised to see the Labrador in the top ten! I was not surprised to see the Boxer but I was surprised that he was high up on the chart.
    You have to always watch your dog! Just by watching I know that my dog is apprehensive about young children. My children are grown, and there are no little ones in my home and so she is not used to them. We have a little girl next door to me who always asks to pet the dog. I used to say yes, but she goes to pet her and then pulls her hand away and acts afraid. This made my dog unsure, and unreliable because she did not know what to expect. I no longer let this little girl near my dog. She is great with the older kids at the school bus, but I watch her very carefully and keep the interaction short. Just long enough to let her know that the children are fun to be around. And I just never let her around the smaller kids. I also do not let strangers pet her, and if we are passing strangers on the street I just make her walk drama, no play...just walk nicely by. I dont know if this is right or wrong, but I see no reason for strangers to pet my dog. I also NEVER go to dog parks. If there ever is a dog fight, the loser gets pounced on by all of them. Sometimes the winner too. I think its just too dangerous. She has a couple of dog friends to play with and thats enough!
    Once again, a very enlightening periodical.
    Thanks Tim,


      "I see no reason for strangers to pet my dog."
      I agree! If the dog allows it, fine. But if just the person wants it, no!
      Any person: stranger, child, family member, whoever.
      As a child I hated it when some adults felt they had to put their sticky fingers on me everywhere, so I understand why most dogs are very uneasy with that too.
      "Only do onto dogs what you would appreciate yourself", yes!


    Interesting information, knowing a few good GSD it is my experience that breeding and good socialization leads to a safe dog. I have a 19 month old female who is still showing no signs of protection...she loves everyone canine, human or otherwise. I was hoping for her to "watch my back" but it may not ever happen.


      You would have been very surprised when it DOES happen one day: when you are under "attack" (from the dog's viewpoint). - Now that I told you, you will be less surprised. wink

      The best dogs are those who can't harm a fly - except when it is really needed! She will be there, no worries.


    This is a subject that needs to be discussed more so people who don't live with a GSD every day can know what they are really like. So they know that "GSD" doesn't stand for "Greatly Sinister & Dangerous".

    I will admit, before I got my Fifty, I was one of the people who had heard of the breeds "reputation" and was extremely hesitant to even want to get to know the breed. Then, my boy came along. He's a rescue and he needed a good home. I have a good friend who loves GSD's and got a quick education on the breed. Now, I can look back on how I thought before and I'm so ashamed of myself.

    In some ways, I think people see the police and military dogs on television and think "wow, those dogs must be born acting like that!". They don't stop and think of the months and months and thousands of dollars that go into training those dogs to behave the way they do and do what they do. I think not realizing that does a little bit of a disservice to the breed.

    I have a cat that is much more vicious than my Fifty. He tells Fifty what he can and can't do and the dog minds him. It's crazy the relationship those two have. One minute you can find them both curled up together on the couch and the next the cat will be running the dog off, for whatever reason.

    I was incredibly surprised at some of the breeds on the list here. I owned Saint Bernard's for nearly 20 years and I was surprised to see them on the list. I know their size can make them intimidating and a 150-200lb dog can easily knock a child, or even adult over without trying that hard. All of my Saints were incredibly sweet and gentle. Same with Lab's, Dobes and Goldens. I've had my fair share of those and never experienced any problems. I did have a Chow a few years back and she was extremely aggressive. I broke up more than a few fights between her and the Golden/Saint mix I currently have.

    I firmly believe any dog breed can be turned into a vicious, unmanageable brute. I also believe that with love, understanding and the right person working with it, a dog can be saved from that kind of life. I remember reading about former fighting dogs that were rescued and are now trusted family pets and even service animals.

    Education, education, education is the only way that these "danger breeds" will ever be able to get out from under the bad reputation that they are, most often, so unfairly given. Articles like this from people who know the breed back to front and side to side and have credibility in their words is an amazing way to start that education.

    Thanks for the great article, Tim! 🙂


      Totally agree Jennifer, I guess the statistics' danger of the large-breed dogs isn't due to being vicious, just heavy. Like you say, they knock someone over (and out) without any intention. And the dogs that end up in the statistics for really being vicious were made that way, through wrong nurture (training, socialization, treatment). Like you say. Interesting is also to listen to Ian Dunbar on this topic, he too stresses the point that - from the day a puppy is born - everything is down to nurture. Done right, a GSD, Pitbull, Presa etc can only lick you to death. smile
      (yes, or knock someone over)


    Very informative the way you laid this all out and put it in proper perspective. As with so many other issues, most people believe and repeat what they hear instead of considering a the facts. Thank you!


    Hi Tim,

    Thank you for your tips on how to calm Bucho before his walk, it helps although we need more practice smile

    The problem I'm having now is with Bucho's aggresiveness. One day after a walk we were relaxing and I was giving him drink, when he spotted a kid across the street that was looking at what we were doing. and suddenly Bucho tensed up, and lunged towards the kids direction and barking like crazy as if he was going to attack the kid (approx 8y.o.). I don't know what Bucho sensed, but that kid was just standing there looking at us.
    Another thing that I notice is if he is inside the car (at the back) with the door open, if people approach the car he would bark aggressively to them as if to ward them off.
    Also, how do we introduce Bucho to our guests? He would bark at people coming to our house and jump up and down aggresively as if trying to attack them that we got scared and always put him on lease when people come visit out house.

    Would appreciate your help on this.

    Thank you so much,


      Decima, Bucho displays territorial aggression, and based on what you say, only that (at the moment). Nonetheless, you must address it immediately or, with GSDs, it will get MUCH worse.

      I don't know how old he is, but based on what you say I know he wasn't properly socialized as a puppy. This will now require some effort, sorry. Start to systematically socialize him, particularly with children of all ages. If you don't have the Puppy 101, make sure that you download Ian Dunbar's After you get your puppy for free (yes even if Bucho is an adult dog already). But the part with food rewards leave completely out. Instead, perform our renowned Feeding Routine, everyone in the family, every day, every meal, for now. Plus, perform the controlled play time and Bite Inhibition.

      If there is the slightest chance that you aren't his accepted Pack leader, any aggression issues are outright dangerous with a GSD - all the more if he is still growing up.

      Regarding his behavior towards guests, pl revisit this Periodical.


    Enjoyed your article. Have always found GSD's to be protective over children & puppy's. Sister works at vets, they will not take chow-chow's now because of their temprament. It depends on the dog & it's owners. Also, not understanding dog language/ignorance seems to be causing problems for people & the dogs. Some dogs do have mental problems though, it doesn't matter what kind of dog it is. It doesn't always show up until later; hence putting down dogs or finding other homes for them, but i would say this is one in a million or trillion. If you "understand" dogs language, your on your way to having a very, very good dog for you & your family.


    We have a nice king German shepard .... Today he bite my sons nose ,blood all over , they grow up together , now the dog must go ......, never thought it would be an issue.


      Oh, a King Shepherd? Why didn't you mention that when you got the Periodical including King Shepherds?
      I fully understand your decision! Son must have priority! Only sad that you couldn't prevent the bite. sad


    thank u for ur period advices, but realy this time u scared me when saying that german shepherd are dangerous specialy with children and thats what realy i notice lately his behaviour with my doughter 5 years old i thought all dogs like children??? AM REALY SCARED NOW ..


    I frequently take my GSD to a nearby dog park. Occasionally my dog will fixate on a particular dog, usually in the 30-50lb range and start to bite the dog on it's neck while running together. My GSD has never broke the skin of the other dog but it does look scary when it looks like he's trying to literally break the other's neck! I will take my GSD home if he persists with this behavior, but I wonder if my dog is following his herding instinct or is this outright aggression? My GSD does not bark or growl at the other dog when this occurs.


      There's nothing to worry about if it's like you say. They are playing. Dogs' play can sometimes look scary, dangerous, and aggressive to us humans, but even the other DOGS don't see it that way. Make the check: Is the other dog continuing to run around with your dog to play? Yes, so (s)he experiences your dog's behavior as play too. If the other dog stopped and turned away, only then your dog's behavior would be out of place.
      Yes, your dog is doing the "guiding nip" (see our Periodicals), but that's nothing to worry about either, it's what herding dogs do to keep their flock together.


    I have been reading your periodical for some time now although I live in Britain and do not have a pure bred GSD.

    I do have a GSD/husky cross who is now coming up to 2 years old - he is kind and great with children, but owners do have to take some precautions, I would NEVER leave any child unsupervised with a large dog,and as your excellant periodical has stressed large athletic dogs must have plenty of exercise for both body and brain, structured training with positive reinforcement, and in particular with this mix a high quality food, and responsible ownership in general...your periodical have been invaluable to me for information about of the above, and no dog should be judged by type "breed not deed " is the mantra over here.
    Thanks again

  19. newbie

    I really enjoyed this article and information. I have always owned GSD and only once have I had a bad experience with it. My dog was not a vicious dog by any means but simply because of the breed my insurance company dropped my coverage once they found out I owned a GSD. My dog had NEVER shown aggression toward anyone, had never been reported by anyone nor caused any problems to anyone. Simply because of the "breed" they were assuming she was dangerous, when in reality nothing could have been further from the truth. A really good topic, Thanks for sharing.


    Thank you I look forward to receiving your periodicals and you speak a lot of sense well done

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