Are German Shepherds Stronger Than Humans?


German Shepherds are famous for their use as police dogs due to their intelligence, loyalty, bravery, and strength. You will probably have seen in movies how a German Shepherd can chase a suspect running away when they suddenly leap into the air and latch onto the arm of the criminal with their teeth, bringing them to the ground. But how strong are they compared to humans?

German Shepherds are stronger than humans in terms of bite strength. A German Shepherd’s bite exerts 238 psi (pound per square inch) compared to between 150-200 psi of a human bite. As to who would win a fight, this would depend on many variables, such as the strength of the human, amongst others. 

While German Shepherds are considered to be a large dog breed, their strength comes from their bite – more accurately, from their jaws. The highly trainable nature of the GSD and their strength have contributed to many of the uses German Shepherds have had over their history. 

This article will explore the following:

Furthermore, we will look at the history, origin, traits, socialization, and training of the German Shepherd Dog, and more.

What is the Bite Force of a German Shepherd?

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

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

How is Bite Force Measured?

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 is 238 pounds per square inch. This strength is enough to break human bones. In contrast, according to National Geographic, humans have a bite force of between 150-200 pounds per square inch.

Even though it’s quite difficult 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 provoked), 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

None of these methods were proved 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 into account their oral health.

Do German Shepherds Have the Strongest Bite Force?

A German shepherd bites a man by the hand. Do German Shepherds Have the Strongest Bite Force?

Scientists confirmed that dog breeds that have the biggest heads and the widest jaws also have the most powerful bite. I suppose that makes sense.

Although 238 psi sounds like a lot, and that bite force can cause serious damage, the German Shepherd does not have the strongest bite of all dog breeds, although it is accepted they are considerably stronger than a human’s bite.

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

When we think about dogs who can bite strongly, we often think of breeds that have similar jaw structures to that of a German Shepherd. 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 dog breed with the strongest bite force is the Kangal Shepherd Dog, which has a bite force of 743 psi. These dogs have a bite force nearly 5 times the bite force of a human. In comparison, the bite of a German Shepherd seems minor, but it still can cause major 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? Check out this fascinating short video from “Viral Be” showing which 10 animals have the strongest bite force and how these compare to one of the strongest dogs:

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

So, are German Shepherds stronger than humans, and who would win a fight? A case like this would depend on many variables, such as the man and the dog, and the situation they both found themselves in.

If it were a case of life or death, then the average man would probably lose. In general, dogs have faster reflexes and superior fighting instincts. As we have learned above, German Shepherds also have a stronger bite and can crush human bones. Furthermore, their large pointy canines can easily cut into human arteries. 

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

Another variable to consider is whether the German Shepherd was bred and trained as a show line dog or as a working line dog. Many working line German Shepherds are specifically bred and 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 and they are trained to be aggressive and to use their bite as a means of attack.

This is in contrast to show line GSDs which 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:

History of German Shepherd Dogs

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

Although German Shepherds are the second most popular registered dogs 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, used in search and rescue, and as service dogs.

Origin of the German Shepherd Dog

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.

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

This dog (whom he named Horand von Grafrath) became known as the very first German Shepherd. It is said that 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 as he believed they should be utilized as working dogs.

Max von Stephanitz continued to breed German Shepherds and worked to incorporate the breed into the rapidly industrializing workforce of Germany. The police started to use German Shepherds, and so did other service workers. German Shepherds are intelligent, athletic, strong, and courageous, making them ideal 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 be trained for guiding 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. 

Owning a German Shepherd Dog

Although German Shepherds have a strong bite, they can also be excellent companions. As with any animal, it is important to consider if the German Shepherd breed is the right fit for you. With proper training and socialization, German Shepherds can be loyal, sweet dogs.

German Shepherds can also be a good first dog. as long as you can devote the time they need. In fact, my German Shepherd, “Willow,” was my first ever dog. They are easy to train, good with other people, good watchdogs, and have minimal health issues compared to some other breeds.

However, here are some important 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 fairly 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.

For a large breed, German Shepherds have a relatively long lifespan of between 11 and 13 years. In the first couple of years, they can seem rather skinny, but they eventually fill out and grow more athletic and muscular. If you wanted to find out whether German Shepherds are stronger than humans, I certainly wouldn’t be waiting until they are fully matured!

German Shepherds are highly trainable, intelligent, protective, and energetic. These traits can be both good and bad. 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. You don’t need to worry though, as you can learn how to stop separation anxiety in 10 easy steps here.

German Shepherds are not usually fond of strangers, but they will typically not be aggressive towards them as long as they are trained correctly. Because they are protective, especially males, they are often used by families as guard dogs.

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

Proper Training of German Shepherds

German Shepherds can become dangerous if they are not properly trained. Basic obedience training should begin when German Shepherds are brought home, around 8 – 10 weeks of age. 

It is important to train the dogs on and off a leash to establish discipline and respect. Since German Shepherds are rather large, they should be trained to not jump on people or the furniture! 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 have to be careful that the dog does not turn aggressive or feel threatened, which may lead 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. 

Socialization

Starting from around three to four weeks old, German Shepherd puppies can start to be socialized around people, whilst 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 make sure that the training is not based on any aggressive behaviors. 

With the right training, socialization, and attitude, German Shepherds can be wonderful companions, and their protective nature can be quite appealing. 

Final Thoughts

You have learned that in terms of bite strength, German Shepherds are stronger than humans. Although they are used in the police and military, many other breeds have a much stronger bite. However, the German Shepherd is preferred due to its intelligence, overall strength, bravery, loyalty, and versatility.

Here are a few takeaways from the article:

  • GSDs are stronger than humans in terms of bite strength.
  • Bite force is measured in PSI (pound-force per square inch).
  • A German Shepherd’s bite force can break human bones.
  • Dogs have quicker reflexes and better fighting instincts than humans.
  • GSDs are trained as police dogs due to their strength, bravery, loyalty, and intelligence.

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Sources:

Sharon Waddington

I am the owner of World of Dogz. I have a 5-year-old female German Shepherd named "Willow" and I've worked with dogs for almost 30 years. I love spending time with my dog and I enjoy sharing my knowledge and expertise of all things dogs on this site!

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