Male vs. Female German Shepherd: Which Should You Get?


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So, you’re in the market for a German Shepherd, but how do you decide whether to get a male or female? Both are similar in some aspects, but they also have quite a few differences that also make them unique. So, should you get a male or female German Shepherd?

When deciding whether to get a male or female German Shepherd, consider what you want the dog for and your experience. If you’ve never had a dog before, opt for a female as they’re easier to handle. However, if you’re looking for a guard dog, choose a male as they tend to be more dominating and aggressive.

Throughout this article, you’ll learn the main differences between male and female German Shepherds, other than the obvious, and I’ll help you decide which sex to get. We’ll go over some of the things you need to know, including each genders’

  • Temperament
  • Trainability
  • Friendliness
  • Protectiveness
  • Guarding instinct
  • Aggression
  • Size, health, and lifespan
Should I Get a Male or Female German Shepherd? A Male and Female German Shepherd Lying Down Next to Each Other.

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Let’s dive into the world of male and female German Shepherds so you can decide on which to choose!

Are Male or Female German Shepherds Better?

I often get asked whether there are personality differences between males and females? In short, the answer is yes! But how do you decide which one is better?

To determine whether a male or female German Shepherd is better depends on your purpose for the dog, knowledge, experience, and lifestyle, such as whether you have children or other pets. Although there are some personality differences, either sex can make a great pet as long as you socialize and train them well.

An important factor to consider, as mentioned above, is your experience as a dog owner. Although German Shepherds are good first dogs, females are generally recommended as better pets if you have never owned a dog before.

But why is this?

Female German Shepherd Temperament

When I was choosing my puppy from the litter, I took my breeder’s advice as a novice dog owner. He recommended that I go with a female for the following reasons:

  • I had never had a dog before and was, therefore, inexperienced
  • Females tend to be less dominating
  • Females are slightly easier to train
  • Females are smaller and easier to handle

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 German Shepherd Temperament

Male German Shepherds 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. In a nutshell, they can be bossy!

Males 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 to determine whether you should get a male or female German Shepherd, particularly if you are a first-time owner:

  • Males are more aggressive than females.
  • Females are more affectionate and welcoming than males.
  • Males are more dominating than females.
  • Males are bigger and stronger than females.
  • Since they’re bigger, males need more food and space than females.

So let’s now delve deeper and look at some specific questions you may have when deciding whether to get a male or female German Shepherd…

Are Male or Female German Shepherds Easier to Train?

One of the first considerations that most new dog owners think about when choosing a puppy is how easy it will be to train them. Potty training, crate training, and obedience training are all part of owning a dog. Although the German Shepherd breed is known for being smart – when it comes down to the sexes, who has the advantage?

Male German Shepherds are slightly harder to train than their female counterparts. Although both are pretty smart, female German Shepherds tend to be easier to train than males as they mature faster. It is this early maturity that gives them this advantage.

It’s no secret that German Shepherds are a top choice as police dogs, guide dogs, military dogs, search and rescue dogs, and service dogs. One of the reasons for this is their awesome intelligence. They have a fantastic ability to follow instructions, and they love to please, whether you want them to be a working dog or a loving, faithful companion.

Check Out this Awesome Video of Extreme Trained and Disciplined German Shepherds…

Nonetheless, the GSD is a highly trainable breed, no matter what their sex.

However, there are definitely a few things to consider before choosing either a male or a female GDS as a pet. As mentioned in the previous section, males like to dominate and can be more stubborn. This trait can also make them harder to train, especially if you haven’t started until they’re a few months old or you’ve adopted an older dog.

Female dogs 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, females excel in this area.

Whether you’re teaching your doggo how to sit and stay or 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 males also prefer to impress their owners just as much.

Related: How to Train an 8 Week Old German Shepherd.

Are Male or Female German Shepherds More Affectionate?

If you have young children and other pets, you may be wondering about the friendliness of the dog you choose. So, are male or female German Shepherds more affectionate?

Female German Shepherds are more affectionate, friendly, and welcoming pets than males. This instinct occurs because females tend to be more nurturing, gentle, compassionate, and sensitive. Males have stronger defensive instincts, and they are less likely to welcome outsiders.

Introducing friends and family should be done when the dog is a young puppy. Socialization is so important!

Are Male or Female German Shepherds More Protective?

The first German Shepherd was founded in 1899 and was bred to herd and protect sheep. The modern dog continues its desire to protect due to this innate trait. But are males and females equally as protective?

Male German Shepherds are known to be more protective and territorial than females. Although both sexes will protect due to their genetic disposition, females tend to be more reserved and are more likely to approach guests, whereas males are more likely to doubt their intentions.

The strong dominance trait in males can become a problem if you don’t tame it. If you don’t introduce a male GSD to friends and family early on, you could experience problems, including many unwanted behaviors. Both genders will form an intense bond with their owner, which means they’ll protect you at all costs.

Even though females tend to be less protective, they’ll protect their young as well as their owners in most cases. I can certainly vouch for this, as Willow is highly protective of me! The other day, she certainly showed her protective traits when an unknown male opened the house’s side gate and entered the rear yard where she was lying. Let’s just say he didn’t hang around for long!

Ultimately, it all depends on how you bond and build a relationship with your dog. Both males and females can be highly protective! So this leads me to the next question…

Are Male or Female German Shepherds Better Guard Dogs?

If you are looking for a guard or protection dog, you will no doubt be wondering which sex will do a better job at guarding.

Male German Shepherds tend to be better guard dogs than females as they are more territorial, dominant, protective. They’re also bigger and stronger than females and will show aggression if confronted or threatened. Male dogs are also known to spray to mark their territory and ward off attackers.

However, you can still teach a female to be a protective guard or police dog. Due to their high intelligence and willingness to learn, a strong desire for a sense of purpose, and wanting to impress, females will also obey strict commands to protect their families.

Are Male or Female German Shepherds More Aggressive?

If you have young children and a family at home, you’ll want to know whether male or female German Shepherds are generally more aggressive. Or you may be considering the breed for a protection dog.

Males German Shepherds are more aggressive than females, which means they’re more likely to be confrontational if threatened. Testosterone, the primary male sex hormone, can cause aggressive behavior, and male dogs challenge and intimidate each other more than female dogs in dog vs. dog aggression.

However, don’t be too concerned as dog versus dog aggression is largely a ceremonious display intended to win social rankings.

Nonetheless, a study conducted by The Royal Veterinary College University of London revealed sex-specific genetic characteristics in German Shepherds. Researchers found males to be substantially more aggressive than females (6.75% versus 2.78%). Therefore, if you have a family with children, you may prefer a female dog, while male German Shepherd Dogs may be better suited to protection roles, as mentioned above.

German Shepherds are known to develop same-gender aggression so if you already have another dog, choose a dog of the opposite sex.

You should never train a German Shepherd to be aggressive. Sometimes owners want their pups to be ferocious beasts to intimidate other people and potential intruders! This style of training only causes aggression towards everyone, not just bad people.

Are Male or Female German Shepherds Bigger?

When contemplating a German Shepherd size, some things to consider are feeding costs, space requirements, and challenges around lifting the dog.

Male German Shepherds are bigger than females. Like most other mammals, males have broader shoulders, more muscle, and are taller. They have a height range of 24-26 inches (60–65 cm), whereas females are 22-24 inches (55–60 cm). Male dogs can weigh between 10 to 30 lbs (4.5kg – 13.5kg) more than females.

A male german shepherd and a female german shepherd lying side-by-side, Do Male or Female German Shepherds Make Better Pets?

The same study referred to above discovered that adult male German Shepherds (average 40.1 kg) were substantially heavier than adult females (average 34.8 kg). However, you can still get a large female as my girl’s case as she weighs around 40kg and is very tall.

If you want your dog to do agility or sports, a female may be a better choice due to its smaller size. Large male dogs prefer to have more space to run around due to their bigger frame. If you have a large yard, both genders will have a blast playing fetch or simply running around to release their energy.

Since they’re bigger, in general, male dogs will need more food than females. Of course, the amount of food required depends on the dog’s weight, age, and activity levels. You’ll need to take this into account when considering the costs of owning a German Shepherd.

Do Female German Shepherds Live Longer Than Males?

Female German Shepherds tend to live longer than males. This recent large study of over 12,000 dogs evidenced that females lived on average 1.4 years longer than males. During this study, the German Shepherd’s average longevity was 10.3 years, with females living for 11.1 years and males 9.7 years.

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.

Both genders have a few health problems that they’re prone to developing. The most common causes of death in the above study were musculoskeletal disorders and the inability to stand.

Some of the health conditions include:

To prevent health problems in your German Shepherd and increase longevity, here are some helpful suggestions:

  • Feed 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.
  • Make sure your dog gets enough activity and the correct type. Behavioral disorders and obesity can occur due to insufficient exercise. Include a mix of both physical activity and mental stimulation. Prevent climbing, jumping too often, and landing on hard surfaces, as these movements put stress on joints. You can provide supplements to promote joint health, such as YuMOVE Hip and Joint Supplement from Amazon. These are tasty chews, contain Omega 3s, and have been proven to work in 60 days from independent studies.
  • Provide a suitable 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, so some pet owners choose to have both. You can find my recommended orthopedic dog beds here and my pick of the best crate and pad here.
  • Keep up-to-date with vaccinations and other treatments. Make sure you visit your vet annually for your dog’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.

Do Male or Female German Shepherds Make Better Pets? Time to Decide!

Before you finally decided which gender to be a part of your family, you should analyze the numerous differences to see which is the best fit for your circumstances. Let’s review the advantages and disadvantages of both…

Male German Shepherds

ProsCons
ProtectiveMore aggressive
DominantNeeds more exercise
TerritorialNeeds more space
Larger in sizeCosts more for food
Good guard dogShorter lifespan
Suits energetic owner Harder to train

Female German Shepherds

ProsCons
Better first dogLess guarding instinct
Good with childrenHeat cycle
More AffectionateLess aggressive
Easier to trainNot as good for some working roles
Live slightly longerNot as strong
Easier to handleNot as territorial

Advantages of Male German Shepherds

  • Male German Shepherds are incredibly protective. If you want a dog that will keep you safe in the face of danger (such as an intruder or attacker), males are the way to go. They can be intimidating and look 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 are a good choice. They’re loaded with energy, and they’re always ready to go running through the fields with you or play frisbee or fetch! If you have an active lifestyle, you will benefit from the liveliness of a male German Shepherd. However, the female is not far behind where exercise requirements and energy levels are concerned!
  • Males German Shepherds can be more destructive if not exercised properly or left alone for too long. Females appear to tolerate it more, but to avoid this, you should properly care for your dog, no matter what their gender. Lack of exercise is the primary reason for destructive behavior in dogs.

Disadvantages of Male German Shepherds

  • Due to their protective nature, male German Shepherds can sometimes be a little 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, but early socialization and training can help.
  • Males tend to have slightly shorter lifespans than females; however, both sexes can develop health problems. 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 German Shepherd. If you are of petite build or not very strong, then a female may be better for you.

Advantages of Female German Shepherds

  • If you want a gentle and more sensitive pet or your first dog, then female German Shepherds are the better option. Females are better for families with small children since they want to protect and nurture them.
  • The small bone structure and less muscularity of females make them a better choice if you live in a small house or apartment. That being said, both sexes require quite a bit of space. It can work if you live in an apartment but be aware that it requires a lot more effort. Check out my article Exactly How Much Space Do German Shepherds Need? for more helpful insight into this.
  • Females aren’t nearly as stubborn as males, which is why so many owners find they’re easier to train. A male will want to do things his own way and be the “pack leader.” A female dog will learn commands quicker.
  • Spaying has been proven to reduce the risk of mammary cancer in dogs. Should you decide to spay your female GSD, consult your vet first regarding the timing, particularly whether you should do it before or after the first heat cycle. 

Disadvantages of Female German Shepherds

  • If you’re considering buying a German Shepherd as a guard dog, then you’ll have better success with a male. Females are less confrontational and territorial. However, they can be trained to be guard dogs, but this may be more challenging.
  • Females 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 her natural cycle for many years to come. Another consideration is that the procedure can be a bit pricey.

Final Thoughts

Regardless of whether you choose a male or female German Shepherd as your pet, they are a wonderful breed of dog that can be a perfect addition to your family, and you’ll soon enjoy all the love and fun that they’ll bring.

  • 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 gender, it’s important to let them know who will be around the most.
  • 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.

While there are no guarantees on the temperament, size, or lifespan of the puppy you choose, I hope I’ve given you some helpful pointers to help you decide. Through proper socialization, training, high-quality food, exercise, and care, German Shepherds continue to be one of the world’s favorite pets.

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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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