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Great Dane vs. German Shepherd – Who Would Win a Fight?

Last Updated: December 10, 2023

If you found your Great Dane fighting with a German Shepherd, you would certainly call the fight. After all, dog fights are illegal in most countries, including the United States. But the two strong and confident fighters don’t know that, and if you didn’t show up, the two dogs would probably battle it out. So, who would win in the battle, Great Dane vs. German Shepherd?

A fight between a Great Dane and a German Shepherd will likely end without a winner because both have a bite force of 238psi. However, the Great Dane’s larger body can give him an advantage over the German Shepherd. If the GSD is a K9 or portrays extreme aggression, the Great Dane may have to cede. 

Curious to know how a fight between two dogs with the same bite force can end with a winner? The rest of the article will tell you how. I’ll give you the factors that determine who between a Great Dane and a German Shepherd would win in a hypothetical fight. 

Let’s anticipate the details with a summary table.

Great Dane vs. German Shepherd Who Would Win?

German Shepherd vs. Great Dane – Who Would Win?

Winning FactorWho Wins?
Bite ForceNone. Both have a bite force of 238psi.
Body SizeThe Great Dane is bigger and has a winning advantage.
Today’s Breeding PurposeNone. Today, both breeds are mainly family dogs with no hunting or herding experience.
K9 TrainingThe German Shepherd is more likely to have police training and would have an advantage if that were the case.
Temperament/AggressionDepends. The dog that’s most aggressive at the time of the fight. It could be any of them.
Great Dane vs. German Shepherd – who would win?

As you can anticipate, the hypothetical fight between a German Shepherd and a Great Dane is likely to end without a winner.

But let’s find out if that is really the case in the details.

Bite Force

If you’ve watched two dogs fight, you know that bite is a dog’s primary weapon on the battlefield. To decide which dog has the upper hand in a fight, one would need to know who has the strongest bite force.

A dog’s bite force is the amount of pressure it exacts on the jaw muscles when biting down on something (or someone). People measure dog bite force in PSI (pounds per square inch) or Newtons (N).

If that makes you wonder, “How is dog bite force measured?” This video by the National Geographic will give you an idea:

The pressure from a dog’s bite force depends on several factors:

  • Jaw bone size.
  • The strength of the jaw muscles. 
  • The shape and size of the head (brachycephalic [short-headed], mesaticephalic [middle-headed], or dolichocephalic [long-headed]).

From this, you would rightly guess that bigger dogs have a stronger bite force than smaller ones. You should also know that brachycephalic dogs have the strongest bite.

Both the Great Dane and the German Shepherd have a bite force of 238psi, and both breeds are dolichocephalic dogs. Those similarities give them an equal footing in a fight, right?

If we stop here, we can easily conclude that a Great Dane and a German Shepherd will bite each other equally, and the fight will end without a winner.

But what about the Great Dane’s larger body? And what other factors could give any of the dogs an upper hand?

Keep reading to find the answers.

Body Size

Everyone knows that the Great Dane is a giant dog. But not everyone may know that the smallest Great Dane is at least 2″ inches taller than the largest German Shepherd, and the biggest GSD is at least 20lb (9kg) smaller than the smallest Great Dane.

If that sounds confusing, here are the figures to show that all Great Danes stand taller and bigger than the biggest German Shepherd.

Great Dane Vs German Shepherd Size Comparison
Great DaneGerman Shepherd
Height28-32 inches(71-81cm)22-26 inches(56-66cm)
Length35.5-43 inches90-109cm)36-42.5 inches(91-108 cm)

If you just concluded that the Great Dane will overpower the German Shepherd because it has a bigger body, you could be right. 

Research has proven that a dog’s body weight can increase bite force. But being overweight does not count here.

It’s also true that the taller Great Dane has the advantage of biting down on the German Shepherd while firmly grounded on his feet. The German Shepherd will need an extra effort to propel his body and make a bite on the Great Dane unless he targets the legs. 

So, it seems that the Great Dane’s larger size could help him win a battle with the German Shepherd. 

But the war is not won yet. Other aspects can still change the outcome of our query, “Great Dane vs. German Shepherd who would win,” including the breeding purpose.

Breeding Purpose

Although both Great Danes and German Shepherds have the same country origins, the Germans bred them for different roles.

Great Danes are originally hound dogs, bred to hunt large animals such as boars, bears, and deer. German created the Deutscher Schäferhund to herd.

It would be easy to think that a dog bred to hunt large prey is more ferocious than a herding dog whose work is to guide livestock. 

But we also know that today, both dogs are gentle giants who keep us company in the comfort of our homes, with no hunting or herding experience. That means they would have to rely on other factors to win a fight, not their original breeding purpose.

In fact, one factor could create a significant difference over who wins a fight between the German Shepherd and the Great Dane: Training.

K9 Training

The German Shepherd is one of the most common breeds used for police dogs. These dogs undergo rigorous training in roles such as tracking, searching, and criminal apprehension. 

“As a former Police Officer, I’ve worked alongside K9s, so I know just how unique and special their training is.” – Sharon (CEO & FOUNDER WORLDS OF DOGS)

The last role requires the K9 dog to bite the culprit and hold on until a human member of the special unit can apprehend the suspect. 

According to USA Today, medics and canine researchers liken a police dog bite to that of a shark, adding that it can tear through sheet metal. On flesh, the bite tears skin and muscles and leaves scars. Besides, it can cause fatal injuries.

Although they are considered good guard dogs because of their imposing size, Great Danes are not great candidates for the K9 role. 

So, in a hypothetical fight between a Great Dane and a K9 German Shepherd, rigorous police training would give the German Shepherd the upper hand to winning the medal.

Related: Can German Shepherds Kill?

Police German Shepherd


Dog temperament is a mental and physical disposition in dogs that manifests in the way a dog reacts to situations.

A core aspect of temperament that dog owners and trainers give special attention to is aggression

Although dog temperament has a breed and genetic element, it is shaped significantly by environmental factors, including training and socialization.

Dogs of different breeds may show varied tendencies to aggression in the same situation. In the same way, dogs of the same breed can show a varying disposition to aggression in the same situations depending on training and socialization.

Generally, the Great Dane is considered a calmer dog than the German Shepherd. The fact that German Shepherds appear more than Great Danes in dog bite statistics is enough proof.

But as we anticipated, a Great Dane could show a greater tendency to aggression if exposed to situations that make him violent. Similarly, a German Shepherd can appear calmer in the same situation if trained to respond in that manner.

While it’s obvious that two dogs in a fight will show some form of aggression as part of the defense, the more likely dog to win the fight is the most aggressive.

Research confirms that emotions have a determining role in the way dogs express themselves, including being aggressive and attacking their conspecifics. Besides, a dog bite is stronger if the dog is more aggressive when biting.

For us, though, that does not create a definite answer to our question, Great Dane vs. German Shepherd, who would win a fight? We can only conclude generally that the most aggressive dog has a better chance to win, and that could be any of the dogs.

Summing It Up!

Many of us like imagining that our dogs are stronger and more powerful than those of other breeds, and we fantasize about one breed having a winning advantage over the other.

So, in a fight between a Great Dane and a German Shepherd, who would win? The probable outcome is likely a win-win situation if we go by the bite force. A large Great Dane could overcome a smaller German Shepherd, and a K9 GSD might overpower a Great Dane.

The jury is still out!


Is A Great Dane Stronger than a German Shepherd?

Going by the body size, a Great Dane is stronger than a German Shepherd. This can give the first dog a winning advantage in a fight. However, both dogs have equal jaw muscle strength and a biting force of 238psi. That could mean a no-winner fight.

Which Dog Can Defeat German Shepherd?

Dogs with a stronger bite force than the 238psi bite force of the German Shepherd can easily defeat him in a fight. These dogs include the Kangal (743psi), the American Bandogge (730psi), the Cane Corso (700psi), and the Rottweiler (328psi), among many others. Apart from a stronger bite force, these dogs also grow bigger than the German Shepherd.

Is a Great Dane Powerful?

Great Danes are powerful dogs that grow to around 28-32 inches (71-81cm) in height and 110-175lb (50-79kg) in weight. The dog’s 238psi bite force is way above that of many other dog breeds, which makes the Great Dane more powerful than them.

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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