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Are German Shepherds Stronger Than Humans?

Last Updated: January 4, 2024

As a lifelong enthusiast and researcher of canine capabilities, I’ve often encountered the intriguing question: “Are German Shepherds stronger than humans?”

This query isn’t just a matter of physical strength; it delves into the remarkable abilities and characteristics of one of the most popular dog breeds in the world.

German Shepherds are stronger than humans in terms of bite strength. A German Shepherd’s bite force exerts 238 psi compared to 150-200 psi of a human bite. As far as who would win a fight, it would depend on many variables, such as the strength of the human, amongst others. 

Many of you, like me, have probably marveled at the physical prowess and intelligence of German Shepherds. Whether it’s their impressive bite force, agility, or sensory perception, these dogs are often compared to humans regarding strength and capability.

However, this comparison can lead to misconceptions and unrealistic expectations about the breed’s abilities.

I aim to provide a nuanced and factual perspective, drawing from scientific research, canine behavior studies, and my experiences as an owner and retired Police Officer.

Let’s find out who really is the strongest, the German Shepherd or the human!

A German Shepherd showing it's strength by tugging

What is the Bite Force of a German Shepherd?

While German Shepherds are considered a large dog breed, their strength comes from their powerful bite – more accurately, their jaws.

The highly trainable nature, strength, and power of the GSD have contributed to many German Shepherds’ uses over their history. 

It can be challenging to describe and measure a dog’s overall strength accurately, but one thing that we can measure is bite force. The term “bite force” really means the level of pressure exerted by a dog’s bite. 

The bite force of a German Shepherd is 238 psi, which is strong enough to break bones.

Although this is a scientific estimate, it’s difficult to measure the exact bite force of dogs because they won’t bite as hard on every occasion, and they will bite harder when provoked.

You probably already know that your German Shepherd’s jaw is stronger than yours, but how exactly do we measure jaw strength in dogs, and why is their bite force stronger than humans?

German Shepherd Dog Training, Biting German Shepherd.

How is Bite Force Measured?

As mentioned, the standard measurement for the bite force of a dog is calculated according to pound-force per square inch (psi).

It is the pressure resulting from a force of one pound-force applied to one square inch. The more pressure exerted, the higher the psi will be. 

For German Shepherds, the bite force of 238 pounds per square inch is stronger than humans.

In contrast, according to National Geographic, humans have a bite force of between 150-200 pounds per square inch.

And the animal with the strongest bite force goes to the crocodile at a whopping 3,700 psi. Ouch!

Even though it’s pretty tricky to measure the bite force of dogs (as it’s impossible to get them to bite their hardest when you want them to, or they will bite harder when aggravated), scientists have experimented with various methods, including

  • A measuring device covered with flavored rawhide.
  • Sensors used to replace some of the dog’s teeth.
  • Anesthetizing dogs and electrically stimulating the jaw.

However, none of these methods were proven effective or accurate, and scientists decided the best way to measure bite force in dogs is by using their skull size and shape, body weight, and taking their oral health into account.

Do German Shepherds Have the Strongest Bite?

Scientists confirmed that dogs with the biggest heads and the widest jaws have the most powerful bite. I suppose that makes sense.

I don’t think many would argue that the German Shepherd has a pretty big head and wide jaws, but do they have the strongest bite?

German Shepherds do not have the strongest bite of all dog breeds. Although a bite force of 238 psi sounds like a lot, they rank the 12th breed having the strongest bite.

The dog breed with the strongest bite force is the Kangal Shepherd, which has a bite force of 743 psi.

A German shepherd bites a man by the hand.

The strongest bite force breeds include the Shepherd Dog Breeds, Mastiff, and Bull Dog. German Shepherds are among the top twenty dogs with the strongest bite force, but they are far from the strongest and are listed as 12th.

When we think about dogs who can bite firmly, we often think of breeds with jaw structures similar to German Shepherd’s. The jaw shape does influence the bite force, but it is not everything.

For instance, the short, smushed snout of the American Bulldog exerts a bite force of 305 psi, nearly 70 pounds more than a German Shepherd. 

The Kangal Shepherd Dog, the breed with the strongest bite force of 743 psi, has nearly five times the human bite force.

In comparison, the bite of a German Shepherd seems minor, but it still can cause significant damage in an attack, hence their use both in the police and military. 

So, how does the bite force of the domesticated dog compare to wild animals? Watch this video to see which animals have the strongest bite force…

German Shepherd vs. Human – Who Would Win a Fight?

A German Shepherd would win a fight against a human in a case of life or death. In general, dogs have faster reflexes and superior fighting instincts.

German Shepherds can crush human bones with their strong bite, and their large pointy canines can easily cut into human arteries. 

However, a case like this would depend on many variables: the human and the dogs’ strengths and weaknesses and the situation they both found themselves in.

For instance, if the man were a professional wrestler or MMA fighter, the odds may tip in his favor, and he may win the fight. The human must be mentally and physically strong to beat such a large dog as the GSD, especially if provoked.

Another variable to consider is whether the German Shepherd has been bred and trained as a show line dog or a working line dog. Many working-line German Shepherds are trained to work in law enforcement and the military.

The training of these dogs is intensive, which is needed to develop their endurance and strength. This is required for their survival in various threatening situations. They are trained to be aggressive and to use their bite as a means of attack.

Related: Can German Shepherds Kill?

This contrasts with show-line German Shepherds, who are bred for their appearance and structure to conform to show breed standards. They are usually calmer but can protect themselves when needed.

So, who do YOU think would win?

Let’s now take a look at the history, origin, traits, and training of German Shepherds to give us a better indication of whether German Shepherds are stronger than humans.

German Shepherd seeing through a hole

German Shepherd Dog Breed Profile

Although German Shepherds are the fourth most popular dog breed in the United States, the breed has only been around for about 120 years.

This popular breed has become a family favorite, helpful for the military and police, and used in search and rescue and service dogs.

The so-called father of the German Shepherd breed was Max von Stephanitz, a German cavalry officer who first started breeding German Shepherds in 1899.

While attending a dog show, he saw a dog he was immediately attracted to due to its obedience, intelligence, beauty, and strength. He purchased the dog, believed to be a one-quarter wolf.

This dog (whom he named Horand von Grafrath) became known as the first German Shepherd. Max von Stephanitz was particularly fond of the dog’s wolf-like appearance.

Instead of breeding primarily for aesthetics and looks, von Stephanitz focused on breeding these intelligent dogs for herding sheep and protecting livestock. He believed they should be working dogs.

Famous German Shepherd Dogs

The first Seeing Eye Dog was a female German Shepherd called Buddy. She was at the start of the movement for using service dogs that began in the late 1920s.

The Seeing Eye organization was founded in 1929, and German Shepherds were some of the first dogs to guide the blind. 

Strongheart, a former police dog in Germany, was brought to the United States in the 1920s, and he starred in many movies of the time. His presence in popular films led to the German Shepherd breed becoming more common in the United States. 

Possibly the most famous German Shepherd was Rin Tin Tin. During World War I, an American soldier, Lee Duncan, found a dog kennel almost destroyed close to a battlefield. He rescued Rin Tin Tin, then a puppy, and brought him home to the United States. 

Lee Duncan kept Rin Tin Tin, nicknamed him Rinty, and trained him to perform in silent movies. Rin Tin Tin became a national figure beloved by Americans, and his death led to national mourning. 

Rin Tin Tin
Image credit: Wikipedia

Owning a German Shepherd Dog

Although German Shepherds have a strong bite, they can also be excellent companions.

As with any animal, it’s essential to consider if the German Shepherd breed is the right fit for you. They can be loyal, sweet dogs with proper training and socialization.

German Shepherds are also good first dogs as long as you can devote the time they need. In fact, my German Shepherd, “Willow,” is my first ever dog.

They are easy to train, good with other people, good watchdogs, and have minimal health issues compared to other breeds.

However, here are some essential things to think about:

  • They need lots of daily exercise.
  • They require a ton of grooming.
  • Can be aggressive towards other dogs if not socialized.
  • Can become clingy.
  • May not be suited to apartment living.
  • They prefer to be inside dogs.

Traits of German Shepherd Dogs

German Shepherds are large dogs. They range from about 50 to 90 pounds, although they can be bigger. They usually stand about 22 to 26 inches tall. Females typically weigh less and are shorter than male German Shepherds.

They can seem rather skinny in the first couple of years, but they eventually fill out and grow more athletic and muscular.

German Shepherds are highly trainable, intelligent, protective, and energetic. Due to their athleticism and intelligence, they are commonly used as police dogs.

The breed is also extremely loyal and devoted to its owners, and due to this, they can sometimes suffer from separation anxiety when left alone.

Though large, the dogs are particularly fond and protective of children, especially if they have grown up with them. 

German Shepherds are not usually fond of strangers, but they are typically not aggressive toward them if trained correctly. Because they are protective, families often use them as guard dogs.

Training of German Shepherds

Big trained German Shepherd biting the shoulder of a man in a protection suit. Are German Shepherds Stronger Than Humans?
German Shepherd in training – biting the shoulder of a man wearing a protective suit.

German Shepherds can become aggressive if they are not adequately trained and socialized. Basic obedience training should begin when you bring a German Shepherd home, usually around 8 – 10 weeks of age. 

It is essential to train the dogs on and off a leash to establish discipline and respect.

German Shepherds like having a job to do, and they require lots of mental stimulation, so they usually enjoy training. 

Some people train German Shepherds to be aggressive towards strangers. While it is okay to want your German Shepherd to be protective in some ways, you must be careful that the dog does not turn aggressive or feel threatened, leading to the dog biting. 

Most dogs will not attack anyone without being provoked or trained to do so. Although German Shepherds are ranked high on lists of aggressive dog breeds, they typically only bite if they are untrained or are ordered to attack by an owner. 

Do you want to learn how to train a GSD the right way? Check out this article, How to Train a German Shepherd.


Starting from around three to four weeks old, German Shepherd puppies can socialize around people while still with the breeder.

When you bring your pup home, it’s best to teach behaviors from a young age so that bad habits do not take hold. Proper socialization of a German Shepherd will help you have a loyal, safe dog who protects you without being overly aggressive.

If you are not sure how to socialize or train a dog, you may decide to work with a professional trainer. Be sure to observe how the trainer teaches the dog to ensure the training is not based on aggressive behaviors. 

Final Thoughts

When considering whether German Shepherds are stronger than humans, you only need to look at these facts:

  • GSDs are stronger than humans in terms of bite strength.
  • A German Shepherd’s bite force is strong enough to break human bones.
  • Dogs have quicker reflexes and superior fighting instincts than humans.
  • GSDs are trained as police dogs due to their strength and bravery.
Sharon Waddington
Sharon Waddington is the founder of World of Dogz. With over 30 years of experience working with dogs, this former Police Officer has seen it all. But it’s her trusty German Shepherd, Willow, who steals the show as the inspiration behind this website. As Sharon’s constant companion Willow has played a pivotal role in shaping her passion for dogs. Recently, Sharon has become deeply passionate about the plight of rescue dogs and is an active advocate for dog rescue, striving to make a difference in the lives of dogs in need.

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