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Male vs. Female German Shepherd? Which One is Right for You?

Last Updated: December 31, 2023

Are you considering bringing a German Shepherd into your life but find yourself at a crossroads, pondering whether a male or female would be the perfect fit for your home?

This age-old debate among dog enthusiasts and prospective pet owners alike is more than just a matter of personal preference. It delves into the heart of what makes these magnificent dogs unique.

When choosing between a male or female German Shepherd, consider your purpose and experience. First-time dog owners may prefer a female for their manageable nature. Conversely, if seeking a guard dog, a male’s dominant and protective traits might be more suitable.

In this guide, we’ll explore the distinctive traits, temperaments, and care requirements of both male and female German Shepherds.

Whether you’re a seasoned dog owner or a first-time pet parent, our insights will guide you in making the right decision that aligns with your lifestyle, environment, and heart.

Let’s embark on this journey to discover which German Shepherd – male or female – is the right choice for you!

A Male and Female German Shepherd Lying Down Next to Each Other.

Should You Get a Male or Female German Shepherd?

Many people ask me if male and female German Shepherds differ in personality, and the answer is “yes!”

Choosing the right gender depends on your purpose, experience, lifestyle, and whether you have children or other pets. Both can be excellent pets with proper socialization and training.

For first-time dog owners, I recommend a female as they are generally more manageable.

Here’s a table outlining the key pros and cons of male versus female German Shepherds:

AspectMale German ShepherdFemale German Shepherd
Size and StrengthLarger and more muscular, potentially more intimidatingSmaller and less muscular, often perceived as more manageable
TemperamentOften more dominant and territorial, can be more assertiveTypically more reserved and may be easier to train, often more protective of family
Training and SocializationMay require more consistent and firm training, can be more headstrongGenerally more adaptable and quicker to learn, easier to socialize
Health and LifespanProne to certain health issues, slightly shorter lifespan on averageGenerally healthier with a slightly longer lifespan
Suitability for FamiliesCan be great with children but may require careful introduction and trainingOften more patient and gentle with children, making them ideal for family settings
Guarding and Protective InstinctsStrong protective instincts, excellent guard dogsProtective but may be less prone to aggression, more likely to be cautious
Maintenance and GroomingLarger size means more grooming and higher food consumptionSmaller size leads to slightly less grooming and food needs
Compatibility with Other PetsCan be socialized but may show dominance, especially with other malesOften more tolerant of other pets, but individual temperament varies
Differences between male vs. female German Shepherds
Black German Shepherd Lied In Grass

Female German Shepherd Temperament

When choosing my puppy from the litter, as a novice dog owner, I took my breeder’s advice. 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 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 exploit your weakness.

You must 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 used more as police dogs. However, you can still get a shy male or a territorial female, and both sexes can still 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.

That 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.

Here’s a quick illustration comparing both genders to help you decide better and faster:

Male vs. Female GSD Infographic
Male vs. Female GSD

You can also check out our video below…

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

Training Differences

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.

Nonetheless, the GSD is a highly trainable breed, regardless of 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 furry friend 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 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.

Female German Shepherd in the bath

Who is 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!

Which Gender is 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 bond intensely 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 and their owners in most cases.

I can certainly vouch for this, as Willow is highly protective of me. The other day, she 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 protection or guard 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, and protective.

They’re also bigger and stronger than females and will show aggression if confronted or threatened. Male dogs also 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 a desire to impress, females will also obey strict commands to protect their families.

Who Wins the Aggression Battle?

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 a protection dog.

Male 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 others and potential intruders! This training style only causes aggression towards everyone, not just bad people.

Exploring Size Variations

When contemplating a German Shepherd’s 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 and 30 lbs (4.5kg – 13.5kg) more than females.

A male German shepherd and a female German shepherd lying side-by-side,

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 in my girl’s case, as she weighs around 40 kg 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 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 running around to release their energy.

Since they’re bigger, male dogs generally 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 consider this when weighing the costs of owning a German Shepherd.

Exploring Lifespan Differences

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 stress joints.
  • 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.
  • Keep up-to-date with vaccinations and other treatments. Ensure you visit your vet annually for your dog’s vaccinations to help prevent disease and keep on top of regular flea treatment and deworming medication.

Final Thoughts

Deciding between a male or female German Shepherd? Think of it as choosing a dance partner! Males are like bold, strong tango dancers, great for protection but needing a firm lead.

Females? They’re more like graceful waltzers, smaller and more adaptable, perfect for the family dance floor. Whichever you choose, you’re in for a lifetime of loyal companionship and love. Just pick the paw that fits your life’s rhythm best!

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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