German Shepherds are beautiful and intelligent dogs, famous for their workability and instinctive loyalty. A large breed with big personalities, they have natural herding and protective qualities that make them a challenge to handle. They are great as a human companion, but other dogs can become a potential issue. If you own another dog and you’re considering a German Shepherd, there are quite a few things you’ll have to keep in mind.
Can German Shepherds Get Along with Other Dogs?
Yes and no– it varies with each German Shepherd and depends on a lot of factors. They tend to be naturally dominant dogs that prefer the company of their owners. One German Shepherd may be same-sex dog aggressive, whereas another will have an extremely high prey drive for virtually anything smaller than 20lbs.
On the other hand, they’re also playful and can enjoy the company of other dogs if they’re socialized frequently. German Shepherds with anxiety may even benefit from a companion dog. In the end, it depends on these factors: the German Shepherd’s temperament, the other dog’s temperament, and proper socialization.
German Shepherd Temperament
When it comes to intellect and determination, few breeds can outperform German Shepherds. They’re incredibly smart and capable of many jobs, which is where many families run into problems. Because of their working dog mentality, even if they’re not from a working bloodline, most German Shepherds need something to do. If they’re bored, they will take it out on their environment.
Training a German Shepherd can be fairly easy, but they need a confident leader to follow to get to that point. They’re extremely obedient dogs and will learn a wide range of cues and tricks, especially with GSDs that are food-motivated. As long as you’re calm and confident, German Shepherds will pick up basic training with ease.
The most important part of German Shepherds’ temperaments is their ability to cope with other dogs, which means frequent socialization. An unsocialized German Shepherd will go crazy on the lead at the sight of another dog, which can escalate to multiple dangerous situations. While it may sound repetitious, we cannot recommend training your dog to be calm when meeting other dogs.
Why They Can Be Good with Other Dogs
German Shepherds can get along with other dogs, especially if they’re raised together. Dogs that grow up with each other are far more likely to get along, so that is an option for those looking into getting a German Shepherd and another dog. They will even bond with dogs they consider part of the “pack”, so it can be quite beneficial for them.
Energetic and playful at times, German Shepherds will easily tire out other dogs. They can cure boredom in other dogs, as long as they’re not being too rough or aggressive. German Shepherds can also bring comfort to other dogs, so they shouldn’t be ruled out as potential companions. Again, it all comes down to the individual German Shepherd, so it’s difficult to generalize and say for sure that they’re great or not great with other dogs.
Why They May Not Be Good with Other Dogs
German Shepherds have backgrounds in herding and guarding, so there’s a natural instinct to protect. They may show signs of jealousy or protectiveness of their owners around other dogs, even lashing out if some dogs get too close. That’s why frequent socialization is essential to help prevent aggressive tendencies, though some simply do not like other dogs.
They can have dog and animal aggression, especially with GSDs that have unpredictable temperaments. They can also be pushy and may not know their own strength while playing, which can turn into potential fights. Also, if the other dog is also dominant or territorial, a serious fight can easily ensue.
German Shepherds and Small Dogs
Small dogs are the biggest concern with German Shepherds, due to their small bodies and fragile bones. They can easily get hurt during rough play, especially if they fall from a couch or elevated place. Small dogs can also set off the high prey drives that most German Shepherds possess, so that is another concern. That being said, there are German Shepherds that can do quite well with small dogs, as long as they’re socialized often. Calmer or more obedient Shepherds will be less likely to injure a smaller dog but err on the cautious side when first introducing them.
German Shepherds and Medium Dogs
Medium dogs are a good choice for German Shepherds for a lot of reasons, but it comes down to socialization and temperament again. If the other dog is not comfortable or aggressive around other dogs, it will most likely set off the dominant and aggressive personality of the German Shepherd. Other dogs will calmer and friendlier demeanors are a much better option, mostly because they’re not as fragile as smaller dogs.
German Shepherds and Large/Giant Dogs
Large and Giant breeds are the least fragile, but some larger breeds also have dominant-type personalities. Big fights can easily break out, but they’re also the most durable when playing. German Shepherds can do fine with bigger dogs with the right introduction and socialization. As long as there are no obvious symptoms of aggression, German Shepherds can do fine with large and giant breeds.
Things to Consider with German Shepherds:
German Shepherds are rarely recommended for first-time dog owners, simply because they are a lot of work to handle. They are a working breed, even dogs that come from showing bloodlines. If you own another dog and you’re looking into getting a German Shepherd, make sure your current dog gets along with other dogs as well. We also recommend going to a well-known breeder of German Shepherds- their popularity means a lot of backyard breeding dogs with unstable temperaments. Lastly, if you’ve never handled a German Shepherd, a different breed may be a better choice if you already have a dog.
Featured Image Credit: Maria Ivanushkina, Shutterstock