Can German Shepherds Kill? (a Human, Fox, Deer, Snake, And More)!


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Many animal lovers and pet owners adore the German Shepherd for its loveable yet robust nature. They are popular for their skill and wit, but some people believe that this dog breed can be dangerous in some cases. So, can German Shepherds kill?

German Shepherds can kill if they have the motive for it, and their inherent agility, speed, strength, and intelligence support this capacity. However, their genetic nature suits guarding, herding, assistive, and protective purposes, making them less likely to kill intentionally. 

In this article, we’ll explore different scenarios and answer your desire to know whether German Shepherds can kill, whether that be another human, other dogs, or various animals.

While the breed’s traits can give insight into many of the below scenarios, every dog is unique and would handle confrontations differently. Training from a young age dramatically influences their aggression, behavior, and where they will draw the line.

An aggressive German Shepherd showing his teeth. Can German Shepherds Kill?

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Stick around to find out about the German Shepherd’s capacity for fighting and killing in various contexts and situations. 

Could a German Shepherd Kill a Human?

Deaths from dog attacks are pretty rare, but they can happen. In a 27 year period between 1979-2005, there was an average of 19 human fatalities by dogs in the US. Some breeds are known to kill a human more than others, but does this include the German Shepherd?

A German Shepherd can kill a human and has been known to kill in some situations. They have a strong bite force of 238 PSI which can crush human bones and large sharp canines that can easily cut into human arteries. They also have quicker reflexes and superior fighting instincts to most humans.

More recent data from the 15-year period between 2005-2019 evidenced that dogs killed 521 Americans, an increased average of 34 a year. However, this could be due to the general increase in the canine population. Pit Bulls were responsible for 66% (346) of these deaths. Combined, Pit Bulls and Rottweilers caused 76% of the total fatalities.

There is proof that owners of dangerous dogs are much more likely to be convicted of violent crimes, which could explain the Pit Bull’s disproportionate rate of fatal attacks.

The latest statistics from Dogsbite.org reveal 48 US deaths were caused by dogs in 2019. Of these, 2 were caused by the German Shepherd breed.

One case involved an 11-year old German Shepherd mix that killed an 8-month old child while her mother slept. She was found intoxicated at the scene and was subsequently charged with felony child abuse. The second case involved the death of an 88-year old female who was 6 German Shepherds mauled.

Given the variety of circumstances surrounding various attacks, research into lethal encounters between canines and humans has proved extremely controversial.

There are many likely factors involved in fatal dog attacks, such as the dogs’ size, number, and nutritional status; the dogs’ previous violent interactions with people; the victim’s age, size, health, and behavior; and the lack of other humans in the area.

Some working German Shepherds are trained in aggression, such as police, protection, and military dogs. As a former police officer, I’ve witnessed dogs trained to attack on many occasions, showing their hostility. Let’s just say I know which side of the law I’d rather be on! But ultimately, these clever dogs are trained to hold or subdue their target on command.

Read More: Are German Shepherds Stronger Than Humans?

Can a German Shepherd Kill a Fox?

I often see a fox in the woods at the back of the house. Well, most of the time, my German Shepherd will pick up the fox’s strong scent, and when I look over the fence, I will catch a glimpse of it scurrying away! But, although foxes are now common in urban areas, what would happen if a fox came face to face with a German Shepherd? Can German Shepherds kill a fox?

A German Shepherd can kill a fox due to its superior size and strong bite force. Foxes tend to be cautious of anything bigger than themselves. Although they hunt for meat, they scare easily and will not usually attack an adult German Shepherd – unless they were protecting their young.

There may be an odd occasion where a starving fox might encroach onto premises and try to steal a dog’s food, but in general, they will keep away. Foxes are smart, but German Shepherds are smarter and very protective of their territory and family!

They will not want to be insulted by a fox foraging for their food. It would only be natural animal instinct for a GSD to chase off a fox on his property or even kill it if the fox happened to attack first.

There have been a few reports in the media where a fox has entered a yard and attacked small puppies or dogs, but they are more likely to go for smaller animals, such as chickens or rabbits. Foxes out during the day are no cause for alarm, but you shouldn’t leave small pets out at night unprotected.

Can a German Shepherd Kill a Rottweiler? 

German Shepherds are incredibly protective over their loved ones, and they may push themselves to the limit to defend their caregivers. The degree to which they fight and harm the Rottweiler will depend on the situation’s context and the fight’s motive. So, can a German Shepherd kill a Rottweiler? 

A German Shepherd may kill a Rottweiler as a last resort if it is the only way to defend its loved ones. But, trained dogs usually draw the line before death is imminent, and a German Shepherd would suffer severe injuries due to the Rottweiler’s powerful bite.

Even though Rottweilers exhibit more aggression to strangers and German Shepherds are typically aloof with strangers than aggressive, German Shepherds still pack a punch. GSDs are generally friendly towards other dogs unless they are defending their family or territory.  

Still, when comparing physical attributes, German Shepherds are more agile and faster than Rottweilers. But Rottweilers have a powerful force behind their bite, which would leave a German Shepherd severely injured. A Rottweiler’s bite force measures 328 PSI compared to the German Shepherd’s bite force of 238 PSI. So, depending on the training and traits of each unique dog, a GSD may not survive either.

While it is technically possible for a German Shepherd to kill a Rottweiler, the odds of this happening are rather slim. They are loveable and empathetic, and their temperament would likely prevent them from intentionally killing another dog. German Shepherds may draw the line after the Rottweiler has been defeated or has sustained injuries making it incapable of continuing the fight or endangering loved ones. 

Who Will Win in a Fight Between a Rottweiler and a German Shepherd?

Can a German Shepherd Kill a Deer? 

German Shepherds were initially bred for herding, guarding livestock, and protecting others from wild animals such as wolves and coyotes. They were not bred for hunting but commonly accompanied and assisted hunters on trips. So, can a German Shepherd kill a deer? 

German Shepherds typically cannot kill a mature deer, and deer may kill dogs in some situations, such as an aggressive buck or a defensive doe caring for her young. But if a GSD is trained in hunting from a young age, its speed, agility, strength, and wit can allow it to kill a baby deer.

Still, whether or not a German Shepherd could kill a deer will depend on the unique dog. Most are not adept with hunting, but many display prey and hunter’s instincts from a very young age, making some potentially suitable for hunting dogs. Training that involves luring and tracking can encourage hunting skills. 

The breed has inherent traits which make them great hunting companions, such as their obedience, soft mouths suitable for carrying prey to their owners, and their sharp hearing skills suitable for noting movement. These traits are directly in line with their original breeding purposes, making them more likely to act as pointer dogs, retrievers, flushers, and assistants than hunting and killing the deer themselves. 

It’s always recommended to work as a team if your German Shepherd is a trained hunter, as letting them hunt solo is dangerous for them, regardless of their wit and skill. Contrary to popular belief, this docile and graceful creature can be incredibly dangerous.

Although deer commonly flee at the sight of a predator, some cases can be fatal for dogs. Aggressive bucks and defensive doe caring for their young may attack and kill a German Shepherd. 

Can a German Shepherd Kill a Snake?

Although German Shepherds are less likely to attack and intentionally kill larger animals or dogs, there is a gray area concerning smaller animals and reptiles. Still, facing a snake may be harmless or deadly for a dog, depending on the snake. So, can a German Shepherd kill a snake?

German Shepherds can kill a snake if it’s seen as a threat to loved ones, especially if the dog has strong hunting instincts. Occasionally, they may unintentionally kill a snake by playing with them. However, they generally leave harmless and small snakes alone or inform owners of their presence.

How a German Shepherd would handle a snake’s encounter will strongly depend on training, the snake, and its context. Since they pride themselves on their ability to protect and guard their owners, the dog’s behavior will rely on the best way to ensure their safety in such cases. 

German Shepherds generally do not kill snakes unless they feel there is a solid reason for it. Owners who have harmless garden snakes have noted that their dogs become curious by sniffing and watching them but generally leave them alone once no threat is detected. 

Some dogs choose to note the snake’s location and inform their owner of its presence, after which the owner would take action accordingly. Even a few are freaked out by snakes and run away from them, while many German Shepherds may unintentionally kill a small snake while playing with it.

However, the few dogs who have inherent hunter’s instincts or are trained in hunting from a young age may choose small snakes and reptiles for target practice. They can chase snakes around, track them, and kill them within seconds once they get their paws on them. If it’s noticed that the snake is a threat or is plotting against their humans by hiding under cars ready to strike, the dog may kill it as soon as possible.

Can a German Shepherd Kill a Doberman?

I’ve already answered that a German Shepherd could kill a Rottweiler in the right circumstances. But there’s another strong and muscular breed, the Doberman Pinscher, that also originated in Germany. How would these two breeds fare in a fight or flight situation? Can a German Shepherd kill a Doberman?

It would be difficult to say whether a German Shepherd could kill a Doberman as both are strong muscular breeds that can be aggressive in certain situations, especially when defending themselves. Although the GSD has a slightly stronger bite force of 238 PSI than the Doberman’s 229, it could go either way.

I’m certainly not approving of any sort of dog fighting; in fact, just the opposite. Anyone that breeds dogs for fighting has something seriously wrong with them as it is barbaric and definitely not a sport.

However, I feel either breed would be the victor in an acute stress response. If a German Shepherd were trained in aggression and apprehension, such as police, military, or protection, then I’m sure he’d put a damn good fight. He also has the advantage of his thick double coat to protect against the Doberman’s bite.

However, the Doberman is sleek, athletic, and packed with power. Along with his high intelligence, this breed is no softy, and that is why they are often used as guard dogs. We’ve all seen movies with the drug lord’s mansion being protected by a few Dobermans!

So, what’s the bottom line?

The winner of a fight between a German Shepherd and a Doberman would come down to the individual dog, not the breed’s traits in general.

Can a German Shepherd Kill a Wolf?

If you live in an area populated with wolves, sometimes you may notice they come quite near to your yard. Wolves usually hunt in packs, but occasionally they will hunt alone. So, if a hungry lone wolf came close to your property to hunt or your dog was out alone and encountered a wolf, you may be wondering who would win a fight. Can a German Shepherd kill a wolf?

A German Shepherd can not kill a wolf. A hungry lone wolf separated from its pack can easily kill a GSD as they are considerably larger and have strong jaws with a much stronger bite force, and sharp teeth. When protecting itself, a large wolf can bite down with over 1,200 PSI compared to the GSDs 238 PSI.

Although there are many myths around dog bite force, it is not contested that the wolf has a strong bite force. Additionally, some wolf species are considerably larger, have powerful long legs and bodies built for stamina. They are intelligent and can run up to 40 mph during a hunting chase.

When hunting, wolves will use their sharp teeth to grab, wound, and kill their prey. Their strong, powerful physique allows them to kill sizeable hoofed prey such as elk, moose, deer, sheep, goats, etc., and they have been known to kill small cattle when they have strayed close to farming communities. They will, of course, also hunt smaller animals such as birds, hares, beavers, moles, etc.

I found this interesting thread from a popular German Shepherd forum, Wolf vs. Dog, What Will Happen? You can read first-hand experiences of people with their dogs and wolf encounters. Most will say that when they’ve faced a lone wolf while out in the wild with their dogs, the wolf is generally initially inquisitive but will usually go on its way, vanishing into the distance.

We also have to remember the history of the first German Shepherds who were bred to herd and protect sheep and other livestock from prey such as wolves and coyotes. They clearly did a pretty good job protecting the sheep from wolf attacks and alerting the farmer to imminent danger!

But wait, let me tell you something.

Although we should respect the wolf as a powerful predator, it seems a lone wolf would only hunt and kill a German Shepherd if it had become separated from its pack, was starved, and needed to survive.

To Learn More About Wolves – Check Out This Cool Video…

Related: Why Do German Shepherds Look Like Wolves? This is Why!

Final Thoughts

While the German Shepherd breed can kill, this is only carried out in scarce situations. They are people-oriented, loving, and obedient to their owners. They will do anything to protect them. Always make sure your dog is trained from a young age to channel their instincts and protect them from harmful situations. 

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Sharon Waddington

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

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