German Shepherds are one of the most popular dog breeds worldwide. They’re protective, loyal, affectionate, intelligent, and easy to train. Male and female German Shepherds are similar in some aspects, but they also have quite a few differences that make them unique. So, do male or female German Shepherds make better pets?
Whether a male or female German Shepherd makes a better pet depends on your experience, lifestyle, and your purpose for the dog, such as a guard dog. Male pets are more dominating and slightly harder to train whereas females tend to be less aggressive and make a better first dog as they are calmer.
Throughout this article, you’ll also learn loads of other German Shepherd facts and advice, including the differences between male and female German Shepherds as pets, pros and cons of owning male and female GSDs, training tips, longevity, diet, illnesses, and tons more!
Let’s now explore whether male or female German Shepherds make better pets.
- Is a Male or Female German Shepherd a Good First Dog?
- Male German Shepherds vs. Female German Shepherds as Pets
- Pros of Male German Shepherds as Pets
- Cons of Male German Shepherds as Pets
- Pros of Female German Shepherds as Pets
- Cons of Female German Shepherds as Pets
- Are Male or Female German Shepherd’s Easier to Train?
- Are Male or Female German Shepherds More Protective
- Do Male or Female German Shepherds Live Longer?
- Are German Shepherds Good Family Dogs?
- Final Thoughts
Is a Male or Female German Shepherd a Good First Dog?
If you haven’t owned a German Shepherd before, then choosing a gender can be a difficult decision. Ultimately both sexes can be happy, healthy, and loving pets, as long as you have spent time socializing and training them. Female German Shepherds are generally recommended as better pets for first-time owners.
When I was choosing my German Shepherd from the litter, being a novice dog owner, I took the advice of my breeder. He recommended that I go with a female for the following reasons:
- I had never had a dog before and was therefore inexperienced
- Female German Shepherds tend to be less dominating
- Female German Shepherds are slightly easier to train
If you do your own research and speak to experienced breeders you will probably find that this opinion is reciprocated in the dog breeding world.
Male dogs will try to dominate you more as they wish to be “the leader of the pack.” Therefore you will need more confidence with a male dog as he may try to take advantage of your weakness. You will need to be very firm and show good leadership with a male German Shepherd.
German Shepherds are good first dogs as long as you do all the right things! As to whether male or female German Shepherds make better pets, it really does depend on whether you have any previous experience raising dogs in general, and what job you want the dog to do, for example, do you want a guard dog, protection dog, service dog, or just a companion pet?
Male German Shepherds tend to be more aggressive and territorial and are therefore used more as police dogs, however, you can still get a shy male or a territorial female and both sexes can turn out to be excellent police dogs! Remember that the most influential factors are how you raise them, treat them, and the environment that you provide for them.
With that being said, the average male German Shepherd differs somewhat from the average female. Below are five differences that you can analyze to determine whether a male or female German Shepherd will make a better pet for your first dog:
- Males are more aggressive than females, which means they’re more likely to be confrontational if they feel threatened. They also usually protect their owners or other people that they’re familiar with. Female GSD’s tend to be more reserved, though they’ll protect their young as well as their owners in many cases.
- Female German Shepherds as pets are more playful and are better at agility or sports, but male dogs prefer to have more space to run around in due to their bigger size. If you have a large yard, both genders will have a blast playing fetch or simply running around to release their energy. In any case, both sexes have high exercise needs and energy levels so it’s important to be aware of this and to ensure this fits around your lifestyle.
- Male German Shepherds are bigger than females when they’re fully grown. Just as with most other species of mammals, the male has broader shoulders, more muscle mass, and taller height. Male German Shepherds have a height range of 24-26 inches (60–65 cm) whereas females have a height range of 22-24 inches (55–60 cm). Males can weigh between 10 to 30 pounds (4.5kg – 13.5kg) more than their female counterparts.
- Since they’re bigger, male German Shepherds need more food than females. It’s not uncommon to see a male GSD eating three times per day, whereas a female could eat as little as once or twice. Of course, this all depends on the quality of food, weight, age, activity levels, and whether your dog has any underlying health conditions. You will need to take this into account when considering the costs of owning a German Shepherd.
- Female German Shepherds are much more welcoming pets than males. This natural instinct happens because they tend to be more nurturing, helpful, gentle, and sensitive. Male GSDs have more protective instincts, so they often don’t welcome strangers too quickly. Introducing friends and family should be done when the dog is a young puppy. Socialization is so important!
Male German Shepherds vs. Female German Shepherds as Pets
Before you choose a German Shepherd to be a part of your family, you should analyze the numerous differences between males and females to see which one would make a better pet for you. Now that you’ve hopefully seen the ways that they differ from one another, it’s time to review the advantages and disadvantages of both of them.
Here are the pros and cons of male and female German Shepherds which will help you choose whether male or female German Shepherds make better pets:
Pros of Male German Shepherds as Pets
- Male GSDs are incredibly protective. If you want a dog that will keep you safe in the face of danger (such as an intruder or attacker), male German Shepherds are the way to go. They can be intimidating to look at and often looking like wolves, which could also deter potential attackers. That being said, if you don’t train them to be a guard dog, they won’t be one!
- If you want a dog that loves to exercise and play, then males GSDs are a good choice. They’re loaded with energy, and they’re always ready to go running through the fields with you or go on long hikes. People who live an active lifestyle would benefit from the liveliness of a male German Shepherd, although the female is not far behind where exercise requirements and energy levels are concerned!
- Males GSDs can be more destructive if not exercised properly or if they are left alone for too long. Females seem to tolerate it more, but you shouldn’t let it get to this as you should properly care for your GSD, no matter what their gender. Lack of exercise is the primary reason for destructive behavior in dogs.
- Male German Shepherds love to bond with one owner. Lone dog owners would love the affection and loyalty that they’re shown from male German Shepherds, so they’re perfect for such situations.
Cons of Male German Shepherds as Pets
- Due to their protective nature, male German shepherds can be a bit aggressive. Combined with their desire to bond with one person, they tend to be a bit stubborn and distant if they’re commanded by someone else. This can cause problems when they’re living with a family. Early socialization and training can help solve this.
- Male German Shepherds tend to have slightly shorter lifespans than females, however, both sexes can develop health problems such as digestion issues or hip dysplasia. Proper diet and exercise can help prevent such conditions.
- Due to their physical size and strength, you also need to be pretty strong to handle a large male GSD. If you are of petite or small build or not very strong, then a female German Shepherd may make a better for you.
Pros of Female German Shepherds as Pets
- If you want a gentle and more sensitive pet, then female German Shepherds are the better option. Males can be trained to be more relaxed and kind, but it comes naturally to a female GSD. Not only that, but they’re much better for families with small children since they want to protect and nurture them.
- Female German Shepherds as pets aren’t nearly as stubborn as males, which is why so many owners find that they’re easier to train and get along with. Where a male will want to do things his own way and be the “pack leader,” a female dog will do what they’re commanded much quicker as they love to please their owner.
- The small bone structure and less muscularity of female German Shepherds make them a better choice during times spent indoors, especially if you live in a small house. If you’re worried about constantly bumping into a large dog around the home, females are much more slender and won’t be in the way as much. That being said, German Shepherds are considered a medium to large breed and both sexes require quite a bit of space, so if you live in an apartment then a GSD may not be the dog for you.
- Spaying has not only been proven to reduce the risk of many female cancers such as breast and ovarian cancer. Female dogs that are spayed after their first heat cycle are 10 times less likely to get breast cancer than unspayed females. Spaying can also have positive effects on the dog’s behavior, such as less aggression.
Cons of Female German Shepherds as Pets
- If you’re considering buying a German Shepherd as a guard dog, then you’ll have much more luck with a male. Females are less confrontational and territorial, and they’re much more likely to cower away in the event of a disaster. However, they can be trained to be guard dogs, but this may be more challenging.
- Female German Shepherds go into heat a couple of times per year. During this process, they bleed heavily, calling for regular cleanups throughout the day. Unless you opt for surgery early on and have your dog spayed, you’ll have to deal with their natural cycle for many years to come. One consideration is that the procedure can be a bit pricey.
As you can see, both genders have pros and cons worth considering before you choose whether male or female German Shepherds make better pets. At the end of the day, German Shepherds are a wonderful breed of dog that can be a perfect addition to your family. Through proper socialization, training, high-quality food, exercise, and treatment, they continue to be one of the world’s favorite pets.
My 5 Favorite German Shepherd Products to Make Life Easier:
- Walk Your Dog With Love. I love this no-pull harness as there’s just no way your dog can pull. Easy to fit and inexpensive.
- Midwest Homes for Pets iCrate. A crate is a must-have product. This cool all-inclusive one has a ton of features and there’s nothing extra to buy.
- FURminator Undercoat deShedding Tool. This grooming tool is by far the best – it gets right through to the undercoat.
- KONG Classic Dog Toys. I love KONG toys as they’re super tough and made for your German Shepherd’s teeth!
- Big Barker Orthopedic Dog Bed. Scientifically proven to prevent and reduce joint pain in big dogs. The 10-year guarantee is also pretty cool.
My full list of recommendations can be found here.
Are Male or Female German Shepherd’s Easier to Train?
One of the first considerations that most new dog owners think about is how easy it will be to train them. Potty training, tricks, crate training, and obedience training are all part of owning a dog.
German Shepherds are a top choice as police dogs, guide dogs, military dogs, search and rescue dogs, and service dogs due to their intelligence, bravery, strength, and loyalty. They have a fantastic ability to follow instructions and they love to please you, whether you want them to be a working dog or a loving faithful companion.
Females German Shepherds tend to be easier to train than males as they mature faster. It is this early maturity that gives them this advantage.
Nonetheless, the GSD is a highly trainable breed, no matter what their sex. Check out this fun 2-minute video showing extreme trained and disciplined German Shepherds:
You will need to be persistent and thorough with training though and I highly recommend Zak George’s YouTube Channel to help you with this. I highly approve of Zak’s ethical training methods and he has millions of subscribers to his channel who obviously feel the same.
However, there are definitely a few things to note before you choose either a male or a female GDS as a pet. As mentioned in the previous section, male German Shepherds like to dominate and therefore can be more stubborn. This trait can also make them harder to train, especially if you haven’t started until they’re one or two years old!
The best time to train your German Shepherd is from 8 weeks old when they’re highly teachable. I have a full beginner’s guide to help you with this.
Female German Shepherds are people pleasers. They will do whatever they can to make their owners happy, which is another reason why they’re usually easier to train. Without the stubbornness of a male German Shepherd, females excel in this area.
Whether you’re teaching them how to sit or stay, or you want them to walk with you around town, females will be just that bit easier.
Some owners might argue that male German Shepherds aren’t so bad after all, and they wouldn’t be entirely wrong. Just because the average male can be stubborn, dominating, and territorial, it doesn’t mean that they all are!
Not only that, but many of them also prefer to impress their owners just as much, and as they prefer to bond with one person, they’re also much more likely to obey their commands.
Are Male or Female German Shepherds More Protective
Female German Shepherds are known to be shyer, while males are more protective and territorial. However, it’s important to note that females are more likely to approach guests and males are more likely to doubt their intentions.
If you don’t introduce a male German Shepherd to friends and family early on, you could experience problems.
This aggressive trait can become a problem if you don’t tame it. Male German Shepherds tend to connect with one of their owners, which means they’re going to protect them at all costs. Remember though, there are no guarantees with this as male German Shepherds (and all dog breeds) can be timid, scared, and non-protective as well.
On the other hand, you can still teach a female German Shepherd to be a protective guard dog or police dog. Due to their high intelligence and willingness to learn and impress, females will also obey strict commands to protect their families.
It all depends on how you bond and build a relationship with your dog. Both males and females can be protective or the opposite!
You should never train a German Shepherd to be aggressive. It’s far too often that owners want their pups to turn out to be ferocious beasts to intimidate other people and potential intruders. This style of training only causes aggression towards everyone, not just bad people.
Note: If you don’t train a German Shepherd to be protective, it is highly unlikely that they’ll attack intruders. Contrary to popular belief, they don’t have the instinct to be aggressive towards someone unwelcome. It’s impossible to expect a soft, relaxed, shy German Shepherd to suddenly become a hero in the event of an emergency.
Do Male or Female German Shepherds Live Longer?
Female German Shepherds tend to live slightly longer as documented in this recent study in the UK. During this study, the average longevity of the GSD overall was 10.3 years, with females living for 11.1 years and males 9.7 years.
Both male and female German Shepherds have a few health problems that they’re prone to developing. They can range from a minor case of diarrhea to life-threatening conditions such as bloat (GDV). which affects large dog breeds and in particular, deep-chested dogs such as the GSD.
It is well known that large breed dogs don’t live as long as smaller breeds. This study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information concluded that large dogs die young mainly because they age quickly.
Some of the health conditions found in German Shepherds include:
- Elbow and hip dysplasia
- Degenerative myelopathy
- Digestion issues
- Heart conditions
To prevent health problems in your German Shepherd, here are seven helpful suggestions:
- Feed them high-quality food. Never underestimate the importance of good nutrition. Limit poor quality treats that contain added ingredients like artificial preservatives, colorings, salt, and sugar.
- Provide constant clean water. Make sure you change their water every 2-3 hours so that it’s always fresh. You can also buy a dog water fountain such as the PetSafe Drinkwell from Amazon. I just love this one as it’s ideal for large dogs and you can customize the water flow to suit your pet.
- Make sure they get enough activity. Behavioral disorders and obesity can occur if they don’t exercise, and that includes both a mix of physical activity and mental stimulation.
- Give them attention. Neglect affects German Shepherds worse than other breeds because they develop such a strong bond with their owners. It’s a fine balance though as too much attention can make your dog too clingy.
- Provide the correct types of activity. Prevent them from climbing, jumping too often, and landing on hard surfaces, as these movements put stress on their joints which causes hip or elbow dysplasia which leads to painful osteoarthritis. You can provide supplements to promote joint health such as glucosamine and there’s quite a range to choose from on Amazon, but it’s best to check with your vet first.
- If you notice something wrong, call a vet immediately for advice. Don’t put off a cough, shortness of breath, persistent diarrhea, excessive whining, and other calls for help from your German Shepherd. You will quickly get to know your dog’s behavior.
- Provide a proper bed. This is especially important for German Shepherds to help keep their bones and joints healthy. A crate with a deep comfy mattress for extra support is ideal for your puppy, and then I recommend switching to an orthopedic dog bed which helps prevent and alleviate sore joints. However, many German Shepherds don’t outgrow their crates and so pet owners choose to have both. You can find my recommended dog bed here and my pick of the best crate pad here.
- Keep up-to-date with vaccinations and other treatments. Make sure you visit your vet annually for your German Shepherd’s vaccinations to help prevent disease. You can get a health check too at the same time. Keep on top of regular flea treatment and de-worming medication.
Are German Shepherds Good Family Dogs?
German Shepherds can mix and bond with families. There’s no reason to believe that German Shepherds aren’t good family dogs, but there are a few things to think about before you choose either a male or a female as your pet:
- Males are more dominant than females, so set a tone that every member of your family is their owner, not vice versa.
- Keep in mind that one of you will be the master in the eyes of the German Shepherd. This is usually the person who feeds, plays, and attends to their every need.
- German Shepherds are large dogs, and they can get a bit too rough at times. Set boundaries to prevent them from playing too hard, especially if you are of slight build.
- Introduce the dog to every member of your family as soon as possible. Regardless of if they’re male or female, it’s important to let them know who will be around the most during their lives.
- Don’t try to mix play and protection at the same time. If you’re teaching your dog to protect you, they might get confused.
Both males and females are fantastic family pets with good owners. They’re as loyal as it gets, and they’ll make you very happy. As long as you’re able to fulfill their physical and mental needs, you’ll be able to enjoy plenty of years with your new German Shepherd.
Regardless of whether you choose a male or female German Shepherd as your pet, you’ll be able to bond with them in no time and enjoy all the love that they’ll bring to you and your family.
While there are no guarantees on the temperament, size, or lifespan of the German Shepherd puppy that you choose, I hope I’ve given you some very useful pointers to help you decide whether a male or female German Shepherd will make a better pet for you.
Here are a few takeaways from the post:
- Male German Shepherds are more dominant, possessive, and territorial than females.
- It’s usually easier to train a female German Shepherd.
- Both genders can be guard dogs – if they’re trained correctly.
- German Shepherds make great family dogs, but males prefer to bond with one owner.
- Health conditions develop from a poor diet, genetics, neglect, and lack of exercise and care, for both sexes.
- Male German Shepherds are larger and stronger than females.
- Female German Shepherds usually live slightly longer.
Related Posts You May Like:
- American Animal Hospital Association: Study Reveals Sex-Specific Genetic Traits in German Shepherd Dogs
- MSD Veterinary Manual: Reducing the Risk of Cancer
- Zak George Dog Trainer: YouTube
- Canine Genetics and Epidemiology: Demography and Disorders of German Shepherd Dogs Under Primary Veterinary Care in the UK
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Why Large Dogs Die Young
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