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5 Reasons Why German Shepherds Are Good With Kids

German Shepherds are the epitome of canine beauty and intelligence, and you want one as a family pet. But having young children, you need to know whether they are kid-friendly.

German Shepherds are good with kids and make excellent family dogs as long as they have been socialized and trained well. They love being around kids and enjoy playing with them. They are highly protective of children as a guardian breed and will be forever loyal to them.

Creating a child-friendly environment requires one to do two things: adopt a kid-friendly dog like the German Shepherd and teach the child and the dog to get along. In this article, you’ll learn:

  • What makes a German Shepherd child-friendly.
  • How to ensure your kids act appropriately in a way that is safe for them and your dog.
Two children petting a GSD. Are German Shepherds Good With Kids?

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Let’s dive into all the reasons why German Shepherds are good with kids.

Are German Shepherds Good With Kids?

Here are 5 reasons why German Shepherds are good with kids and why you can trust your GSD around children:

  • German Shepherds are protective and loyal.
  • German Shepherds are friendly.
  • GSDs are high-energy and love to play.
  • GSDs are intelligent and fun to train.
  • German Shepherds are affectionate.

1. German Shepherds Are Protective and Loyal

German Shepherds were initially bred to be herding dogs in the late 1800s. But unlike the Border Collie and some other shepherd breeds, they also excelled at protecting the sheep from stray dogs, wolves, and other predators. Their size, strength, and stamina, combined with a strong bite force, meant that they could easily safeguard their flocks.

Although rarely used as shepherd dogs nowadays but preferred in other working roles such as police and military, their protective and loyal traits remain. German Shepherds are self-confident, brave, intelligent, and devoted and are very protective of their loved ones, including the children in the family. German Shepherds are good family dogs.

They will naturally protect kids from strangers and intruders and are the ideal guard dog. However, it’s essential to use caution around other children due to these strong protective instincts.

I find it fascinating that the German Shepherds’ herding instinct remains so strong. Some dogs will even “herd” kids and keep them in check – such is their instinctual drive to move animals around. If your GSD possesses very strong herding instincts, you’ll need to channel their energy into mentally stimulating games, exercises, and training.

You can read more about the protectiveness of the GSD in this article, Are German Shepherds Protective?

Are German Shepherds Kid Friendly? A young girl hugging and petting her GSD.

2. German Shepherds Are Friendly

German Shepherds are among the most child-friendly dogs. Their friendliness makes them perfect companion pets, and they are well-suited to homes with babies and children.

However, early socialization and training are essential for the German Shepherd breed. This means exposing your pup to countless different situations from a young age. Socialization should start as soon as you get your new German Shepherd, usually when they’re around 8-weeks old.

Introduce your GSD to many other people, including young children and teenagers. They should also be exposed to other dogs, pets, noises, cars, bicycles, motorbikes, etc. This prevents them from becoming anxious in a new environment as they’ll know what to expect and will not show aggression through fear.

Related: Are German Shepherds Good With Babies? A Parent’s Guide

A properly trained and socialized German Shepherd loves to be around kids and enjoys playing with them. He will quickly bond with them and form an unbreakable friendship. To learn more about the GSD’s friendliness towards kids, other dogs, cats, and strangers, head over to this article, Are German Shepherds Friendly?

3. German Shepherds Are High Energy And Love To Play

German Shepherds are high-energy, keen, and alert. The intensity of their energy levels is second to only the Belgian Malinois among guardian breeds, especially the working line German Shepherds. They make great playmates for active children with whom they’ve grown up.

Due to their strength, energy levels, rough play, and strong prey drive, it’s wise to be cautious when introducing an adult German Shepherd to children until they’ve become familiar with them. If you already have kids, it’s best to get a puppy and start the socialization and training straight away.

I advise choosing a show-line German Shepherd as they have a lesser working drive and a slightly friendlier temperament than some working lines bred for border patrol, such as the Czech Shepherd.

My German Shepherd is from the show lines, but I had no intention of entering her into shows when I bought her. I chose her for her temperament, looks, and lineage, knowing that she’d have more patience around children.

A German Shepherd needs at least two hours of daily exercise plus brain training and stimulation. Due to their breeding purpose, they love having a job to do and desire to please their owners, including the kids. They enjoy fun games like fetch, Frisbee, hide ‘n’ seek, agility, and “find it.”

Learn More About GSDs and Kids In This Video…

GERMAN SHEPHERD WITH CHILDREN AND PETS

4. GSDs are Intelligent and Fun to Train

German Shepherds are highly intelligent and trainable. Their high IQ is why they’re used in working roles today, such as assistance dogs, search and rescue, police, and military. They are the third most intelligent dog breed and can comprehend a new command after only five repetitions and observe the first command 95% of the time.

To put this into context, the German Shepherd has the IQ of a 2-year-old child, which might explain why they are good with kids as they can easily relate to them.

When training, the intelligence of the GSD, allows them to be extremely obliging, and they’ll gladly follow the lead of their favorite human, and that could be a child. This is why it is not uncommon to see a ten-year-old kid working their German Shepherd in designated breed clubs such as the SV in Europe (Society for German Shepherd Dogs).

You can teach a GSD several fun tricks and games that will amuse your kids for hours. I’m not saying you should treat your dog as a plaything for your children. However, the vitality and loyalty of the German Shepherd mean he will cherish fun playtimes just as much as your children.

The German Shepherd’s instinctive intelligence allows them to be good protectors, especially to the kids in the family. Add this innate trait to adoptive intelligence, which includes training, socialization, and carrying out tasks, makes the breed super smart.

To learn more about the GSDs intelligence, check out this article, Are German Shepherds Smart?

5. German Shepherds are Affectionate

German Shepherds are known to show genuine affection, love, and warmth to their family, especially the children whom they are particularly fond of. A German Shepherd will never harm his “flock” but fiercely protect them once he has had plenty of time to bond with his new family.

Some German Shepherds can even become too clingy, especially as the breed is susceptible to separation anxiety. However, not all dogs are the same as it depends on how well they were socialized as puppies. The development of social structure is paramount during the primary socialization period.

They will naturally follow the kids everywhere – even to the bathroom! GSDs will also show physical affection to children, such as laying across their lap or feet, putting their paws on them, or licking them. Most German Shepherds also enjoy a cuddle.

A GSD playing with 2 kids in the park. Are German Shepherds Kid Friendly?

Nurturing a Child-friendly Environment

Protecting your children while raising a German Shepherd is a two-step process. The first step is getting an inherently confident dog and providing it with a reasonably secure experience to nurture openness.

The second step is to get your kids and the German Shepherd to act right so that there are no clashes.

To ensure that your German Shepherd is safe to be around, you must expose him to kids while he is relatively young. As long as he grows up in an environment where having children around is the norm, he will not feel agitated or insecure in their presence.

You can then teach your children to act in ways that do not make your German Shepherd uneasy. Some of the best practices include:

  • Ensuring your children understand basic rules. Teach your kids to keep away from your GSD if he appears sick, anxious, or injured.
  • Never approach the GSD if he is growling. Teach your children to spot signs of aggression before your dog has an aggressive reaction. This will help them avoid an asocial episode. You can learn more about German Shepherd aggression here.
  • Do not poke or prod the German Shepherd. You might assume your children wouldn’t hurt your GSD, but young children do not understand when their actions hurt others. Educate your children on not poking or prodding your dog, even if this seems redundant.
  • Do not approach the GSD if he is eating. Some dogs will growl if humans get too close during mealtimes. This is known as resource guarding behavior and you should teach the kids to let the dog eat in peace. 
  • Do not throw toys at the GSD. Letting your children know that dogs can bite might make them too cautious and keep them from bonding with the dog. The best way to keep kids from hurting the GSD is to cultivate empathy among them. Articulate how much the dog loves them. 

When children start acting as their dog loves them, they subtly express their own love to the German Shepherd in the way they smile at him or behave around him. GSDs can sense emotions and are intelligent enough to pick up on this, making them love the kids even more. 

Are German Shepherds Child Friendly? A German Shepherd With a Young Girl

Teaching Children To Assume Authority

It’s a good idea to teach your children to assume authority over the German Shepherd. Here’s how you do that.

  • Get your child to distribute treats. One of the best ways to signal to a dog that your child has authority is to have your kid embody the role of a provider. This is important for all family dogs to internalize. Fortunately, German Shepherds are very quick to pick up on this. 
  • Teach your child how to give commands. Another great way to establish your child’s authority is to have him deliver simple commands and give the consequent treats.
  • Have your child walk ahead with you. When you’re walking your GSD, don’t be the only one walking ahead; have the kids walk ahead as well. This will signal dominance over the German Shepherd.
  • Supervise grooming sessions. A German Shepherd submits to the person he feels the safest around. That person can even be a child, and regular brushing sessions can promote the kind of bond that, with time, turns into compassionate submission from the dog’s end.

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Final Thoughts

German Shepherds are good with kids because they’re naturally protective, loyal, friendly, affectionate, intelligent, confident, and full of energy. They are smart enough to recognize children as important members of the family.

It is best to choose a puppy that can grow up having children around rather than adopting an adult German Shepherd, especially if you have a baby or very young children. Of course, always supervise your children when playing with the German Shepherd.

When kids are taught to respect a German Shepherd and the German Shepherd is taught to respect the kids, a well-trained dog is an excellent addition to any family with children.

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