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German Shepherd vs. Labrador: Who Would Win a Fight?

Last Updated: December 10, 2023

It would be a pity to see two dogs from America’s most popular breeds fight. Luckily, this is a hypothetical fight to underline the breeds’ physical and personality qualities. So, if you own one of these dogs and are curious about our quandary, German Shepherd vs. Labrador – who would win? Here’s the anticipated answer.

A German Shepherd has a better chance of winning a fight with a Labrador because of his stronger bite force and quicker disposition to attack when stimulated. Besides, the German Shepherd’s height could reinforce his weight to deliver a fiercer fight, giving him an edge over the Labrador.

To understand how I came to this conclusion, the rest of the article explores the Labrador and German Shepherd scores in bite force, body size, breeding, and temperament. But let’s start with some Labrador vs. German Shepherd facts that will help us deliver the verdict later.

Let’s get to it!

German Shepherd vs Labrador Who Would Win

German Shepherd vs. Labrador: Some Introductory Facts

About 65 million households in the US own a dog. That’s according to the latest pet owners survey. If you go to these households, you are more likely to find a Labrador Retriever than the other 197 breeds registered by the AKC. You are also more likely to find a German Shepherd more often than other 195 AKC breeds.

In a simpler version, Americans love Labradors and German Shepherds, and this is pretty much replicated worldwide. The first is currently the 2nd most popular dog in the US, and the second is the 4th most popular dog. Both are friendly and loyal family dogs.

But a few other breed comparisons will interest you. Some of them will help us later to pass a verdict on who would win a fight if the German Shepherd and Labrador went head to head.

German ShepherdLabrador Retriever
Super trainable: Smart and likes to please.Super trainable: Smart. Will do anything for food.
Bred to herd: Alert, hardworking, loyal, protective, athletic, energetic, agile and well-muscled.Bred as a bird dog: Energetic, hardworking, agile and quick, resilient, loyal, and even-tempered.
Excellent score for family life: Affectionate with family, loves kids, but can be aloof with other dogs.Perfect score for family life: Affectionate with family and tolerant with kids and other dogs.
High energy and resistance level.High energy and resistance level.
German Shepherd vs. Labrador comparison

As you can guess, the GSD and Labrador have some characteristics in common and others that distinguish them. 

But how do these and other traits of the German Shepherd and Labrador help them win a fight? That’s what I’m about to tell you.

German Shepherd vs. Labrador Who Would Win a Fight?

In every fight, the strongest takes home the medal. But strong can be relative, especially in a dog fight. So, is the German Shepherd’s strength enough to win a fight against a Labrador?

The German Shepherd is slightly stronger than the Labrador in both size and bite force and is likely to win in a fight. However, the Labrador possesses a few qualities that would help him put up good resistance.  

To clarify, I’ll discuss the factors that shape the verdict on a hypothetical German Shepherd vs. Labrador battle, starting with the most important one.

Jaw Muscle Strength and Bite Force

The first thing to determine if a German Shepherd can win a fight against a Labrador is the strength of his muscles and the resulting bite.

Dogs plant their teeth into each other’s flesh when they fight, and that’s usually their primary weapon. The bite of one dog on the other can be strong enough to tear the flesh and cause injury. If a dog has multiple injuries, he will be more vulnerable to the attacker.

The German Shepherd has stronger jaw muscles and a more powerful bite force than the Labrador. While the German Shepherd can deliver a 238psi bite force, the strongest a Labrador will go is 230psi.

German Shepherd Sitting in the woods.

Although the margin in the bite force of the two dogs is small, the GSD is still more powerful in bite than the Labrador. That could give him a winning advantage. 

Besides, the bred-in-Germany dog has other strengths that could give him an edge over the Labrador. Among those is a slightly larger body size.

Body Size and Sex

Body size in dogs often varies with sex, with male dogs usually growing larger than female dogs.

A dog’s body size will define how one canine imposes itself over the other. This is especially true among dogs that are slow to bite. These dogs mainly use the body in their fighting style to overpower the opponent or pave the way for one winning bite.

If prioritizing the use of the body was the defining factor in a battle between a German Shepherd and a Labrador, the outcome could go either way. 

Female Labradors have a higher minimum weight than female German Shepherds, but both grow to the same maximum weight. Male Labradors and German Shepherds have the same minimum weight, but the largest male GSD can grow bigger in weight than the heaviest male Labrador.

These facts make it hard to say who is really the bigger dog between the two breeds. 

You can check the size figures of the German Shepherd and Labrador below to see what I am talking about.

LabradorGerman Shepherd

Male 65-80lb (29-36kg)65-90lb (29-41kg)
Female55-70lb (25-32kg)50-70lb (23-32kg)

Male22.5″-24.5″ (57.15-62.23cm)24″-26″ (61-66cm)
Female21.5″-23.5″ (54.61-59.69cm)22″-24″ (56-61cm)
Lab vs. GSD Size

As you notice, the German Shepherd also has a height advantage over the Labrador. That could make up for any weight deficits and help the GSD take home the win.

Besides, another aspect of a German Shepherd’s weight could secure him the win. It’s the body weight and bite force correlation.

Experts list body size among the factors that determine the strength of a dog’s bite. Bigger dogs have stronger jaw muscles and so a more powerful bite.

Going by all we have said about a dog’s weight, height, and bite force so far, the German Shepherd does appear to have the upper hand in a fight with the Labrador. 

And the German Shepherd’s better chances of winning don’t end here. The dog’s breeding and temperament could still make him the ace.

Labrador Retriever

Breeding Purpose and Temperament

You might wonder why I put breeding purpose and temperament together. You will find out why as we move on.

Although Labradors and GSDs are both excellent family dogs, they still possess great skills in their original breeding roles.

The German Shepherd is originally a herding dog. So, his breeders made sure he was agile, alert, hardworking, and could let off an aspect of aggression to control and protect the herd when needed.

The Labrador was bred as a bird dog, accompanying his masters to retrieve waterfowl and safely deliver the game without a scratch. For that mission, the dog had to be alert, resilient, an agile runner and swimmer, and with a tactical bite to keep the game intact.

Both dogs seem to show these skills and temperamental qualities in their relations with people and other dogs and animals. For example:

  • Both love their families to bits. But, while the Labrador shows the same love to fellow dogs, the German Shepherd can be aloof and aggressive towards other dogs.
  • The GSD can easily show aggression and bite when triggered. The Labrador tends to use the game retrieval tactic and takes time before deciding to bite. This explains why the Labrador is often top on the list of best family dogs.

Despite the Labrador’s hesitance to bite, the breed appears alongside the German Shepherd in dog bite incidents across the US cities. 

But there’s probably an explanation for that.

Remember our focus on the breeds’ popularity at the beginning. Here’s where it serves. 

Take a case example where, in one region, there are 200 Labradors, 150 German Shepherds, and 2 Dogo Argentinos. If 5 dog bites are reported in that region, who is likely to appear more frequently? 


Labradors and German Shepherds, even though the less popular Dogo Argentino is a more aggressive dog.

So, back to our query, in a fight between a German Shepherd and a Labrador, the first will get worked up faster and probably be quick to attack and bite. The Labrador may be slower in aggression and biting. But as our example proves, he will make his attack when prompted.

Nonetheless, put together with the larger size and a stronger bite force, the German Shepherd’s prompt reaction to aggression and biting increases his winning cards against the Labrador.

Final Thoughts

The almost equal size of the German Shepherd and the Labrador can make anyone think a fight between the two will end in a truce. Often, however, there’s more weight under the GSD’s coat than the Labrador’s. The first also has a height advantage.

Most significantly, the German Shepherd has a slightly stronger bite force than the Labrador and can reinforce it with a quicker tendency to aggression and attack to win the fight. 

And there’s a final hypothetical wish to determine who would win, German Shepherd or Labrador? I hope the friendly and super-composed Labrador walks away before the fight can start.


Is a German Shepherd Stronger than a Labrador?

The largest male German Shepherd can be 10lb weightier and 1.5″ taller than the largest male Labrador. That makes the German Shepherd stronger than the Labrador. Besides, the GSD is also stronger in bite force, with a record 238psi against the Labrador’s 230psi.

Who is More Aggressive – Labrador or German Shepherd?

A German Shepherd is more aggressive than a Labrador, thanks to their different breeding purposes and temperaments. Although both are affectionate, protective of their family, and great with kids, the Lab has more love for other dogs. Besides, the GSD is more cautious with strangers than the friend-of-all Labrador and would make a better guard dog.

Joice Njeru
Joice Njeru is an avid pet lover, professional author, and skilled researcher with a heart for pets. A former university lecturer of 14 years but now turned freelance writer, Joice has created hundreds of articles on dog behavior, training, care, and pet health. She is an expert in everything pets and hopes to educate and inspire other pet lovers through her writing.

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