Social Question

Aster's avatar

Are male German Shepherds dangerous to visitors?

Asked by Aster (18381points) March 2nd, 2014

I ask because many years ago my father in law bent down to pet a male GS and he bit his lip. Now my daughter has a male GS that even she was afraid of when she put on a raincoat and umbrella and the dog approached her slowly with ears up. My daughter got down on the ground and said “it’s me; it’s just me.” And yes; he was neutered. Thoughts?

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28 Answers

Kropotkin's avatar

German Shepherds that are dangerous to visitors are dangerous to visitors.

Aster's avatar

Oh, thanks. So I’ll just drive over there and roll the dice. If it doesn’t work out maybe I can fluther from my hospital bed.

OpryLeigh's avatar

It mostly depends on how the dog is raised. I know some wonderfully natured male GSDs so I wouldn’t ever say that, as a breed, they are dangerous.

Kropotkin's avatar

@Aster Well, what are you expecting? You can’t generalise the psychological profile of an entire category of dogs. I’ve as yet never had a bad experience with male German Shepherds—they’ve all been rather gentle dogs in my limited interactions.

Are there German Shepherds that are aggressive and won’t tolerate being petted by a stranger? No doubt about it!

There is also the possibility that a German Shepherd, or any other breed for that matter, may interpret a stranger’s approach as an aggressive move, and then react accordingly—even in an otherwise non-aggressive dog.

Aster's avatar

@Kropotkin I like your answer. What am I expecting? I am leaning towards him being friendly since my daughter will be welcoming to me. That is my expectation for what that’s worth.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Most German Shepherds I’ve interacted with have been giant babies, but yeah, they can and will get aggressive if they perceive a threat or aggression from someone/something else.

gailcalled's avatar

You are talking about a specific male shepherd, belonging to your daughter?

Of course you just don’t drive over there and roll the dice. You are being facious, I assume?

Your daughter is the one to talk to about how and when and where to approach the dog. She is the responsible party. Do you really think that you will end up in a hospital bed? Forget woolly expectations; deal with the reality.This is a problem with a solution.

ccrow's avatar

Mine wasn’t.

Aster's avatar

Yes. I was talking about driving over there @gailcalled. And because of this post “Are there German Shepherds that are aggressive and won’t tolerate being petted by a stranger? No doubt about it!

There is also the possibility that a German Shepherd, or any other breed for that matter, may interpret a stranger’s approach as an aggressive move, and then react accordingly—even in an otherwise non-aggressive dog” I concluded that it could be a risky thing to do. I call that rolling the dice.

GloPro's avatar

My parents had a GSD when I was born. He began guarding me, and he got so protective eventually he wasn’t even comfortable with my parents being around me. He scared them, and they had to get rid of him.

gailcalled's avatar

edit; facetious.

cazzie's avatar

We had the nicest male German Shepard when I was a small child. He was awesome. Any dog can turn aggressive if they are not trained properly or if they have some neurological disorder from being over-bred. In New Zealand, Rottweilers were so over bred, many of them would go blind when they were over 5 years old. My dad was a great dog trainer and spent loads of time with him.

Kropotkin's avatar

@Aster There are a couple of things that may be of concern. Firstly, the idea of the dog suddenly not recognising your daughter just because she put on a raincoat and umbrella—doesn’t make much sense to me. Dogs typically know who you are by scent.

Your daughter appeared to interpret her dog’s posture as potentially aggressive or dominating— but perked up ears are not necessarily a sign of either. Your daughter also appeased the dog by seemingly adopting a submissive position—that’s not good.

Good luck not getting mauled. Fingers crossed.

gailcalled's avatar

Owners of aggressive dogs have an obligation to be aware, to instruct any visitor how to approach the dog and to work with a trainer to retrain the dog’s aggressive behavior.

My sister had one (of her three) fear-aggressive dog, a large one. She always removed the dog from the entry and public area whenever anyone arrived, including me.

Until the dog got very old, i had to be careful to not make eye contact with her, when she was finallly allowed into the public area. My sister was always vigilant.

Your daughter needs to count on more than luck to keep you from being mauled.

Aster's avatar

I’m not going now. I fear being mauled and wish to keep my eyes, nose and arms. If it makes any difference he is less than six months old.

cazzie's avatar

I’ve been watching a poodle-mix enormous un-neutered dog. When he shows signs of aggression, we punish him. Roles must be established. Your daughters dog is just a puppy. He has to be taught. If you are afraid of dogs, stay away. Your daughter has to find people she can socialise the dog around who aren’t afraid and know how to act around him so that he learns his place.

syz's avatar

That’s a sweeping generalization. However, you can draw some limited conclusions if you look at what the breed was designed for (originally herding, and then personal protection and guard work).

It’s my personal opinion that anyone who owns a large breed dog and who does seek out professional dog training classes is a fool. I have 30 years of experience working with dogs and I still take my dogs to classes.

Darth_Algar's avatar


Are you only basing your apprehension on the dog approaching your daughter once with its ears up (which, by itself, means nothing)?

syz's avatar

Well, great, I missed my editing window. “anyone who owns a large breed dog and who does not seek out professional dog training classes is a fool.

Kropotkin's avatar

If it were me, I’d be more excited about meeting the puppy than the daughter. I love German Shepherds!

JLeslie's avatar

German Shephards are often listed in the top ten of dangerous dogs. It depends whose list you are looking at. I consider them to be dangerous, I know two people who were attacked and they were not antagonizing the dog. One, possibly, the particular costume antagonized the dog. It was a young girl walking in the neighborhood for Halloween among many trick or treaters. A German Shephard launched out of its owner’s house, basically tackled the girl and mauled her arm badly. A man tried to pull the dog off, but couldn’t. I never thought about it in regards to whether the dog is male or female. What’s the difference? When you see a German Shephard do you have the time to decide what sex it is?

longgone's avatar

It makes a whole lot of difference that this dog is less than six months old. He is inexperienced. It’s perfectly normal for puppies to be wary of their humans looking different. Raincoats, umbrellas, hats, beards…those are all pretty weird in a young dog’s world. Ears up are not a sign of aggression, on their own.

What’s worrying is that your sister is afraid of her own dog. She should find a professional to help.

If that’s the whole story, I’d visit with no worries.

livelaughlove21's avatar

Some German Sheperds are aggressive, some are not. Same with any other breed. No one here could possibly tell you if this specific dog is aggressive or not.

kritiper's avatar

Mine wasn’t. He was protective, but given the proper training, they can be no problem! Just make sure that the dog understands that YOU are the leader of the pack, not him! (Or her.)

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Aster Your first sentence says a lot. “Bent down to pet”. Never come down on any dog. And it’s not just German Shepherds. Any dog can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. I had a hell of a go around with a Golden Retriever of all breeds. He was determined to show me he was boss and I wasn’t going to allow that. I won but it was close.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Depends on the dog. My GS is awesome with everyone, but she wouldn’t hesitate to take someone out if they threatened us.

What was the story @Adirondackwannabe?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Dutchess_III My brother had about a year old Golden, 93pounds at the time.. I went into his pen, and he came after me. I stood my ground and we fought for at least ten minutes or so. He bit the crap out of my arms, but I eventually won and he quit. I had my doubts at times. Syz identified it as territorial aggression. He wanted to be boss. That broke him of that habit, I guess it can be dangerous if he decides to expand his territory. My arms were completely black and blue from my wrists to my elbows. But if I let him win it might have been more dangerous to smaller kids or anyone else that went into his pen.

Buttonstc's avatar

I think the biggest danger here is your daughters total inexperience with dogs. As others have pointed out ears up is not particularly a sign of aggression as much as alertness.

She really needs to learn about body language cues (both hers and the dog).

Syz recommended classes and I heartily agree. In addition to that there are several really excellent authors of books about training dogs and understanding them.

One is Brian Kilcommons. Another is the Monks of New Skete who breed and train German Shepherds as a profession. Their dogs are highly sought after and there’s a long waiting list for one.

They also are available for training both on their premises or yours. They had a brief series of programs showing their methods on Animal Planet and it was really interesting. Unfortunately it only ran for one season but might be available on Netflix.

I’ll find a few links and edit them in. Both Brian and the Monks really know their stuff.

If you don’t want to have to worry about rolling the dice, get your daughter a few of these books or DVDs. The dog is still a puppy but if he grows into adulthood with no training you could all have a serious problem on your hands.

Years ago I had a GS and I shudder to think what would have happened after he was full size had I not trained him.

They are wonderful dogs and very loyal and protective but they MUST know who is boss. Otherwise you could have a neurotic and potentially dangerous large dog.

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