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Are German Shepherds Good With Kids? Considerations & Safety Tips

Written by: Patricia Dickson

Last Updated on June 10, 2024 by Dogster Team

German Shepherd dog enjoying the lake adventures

Are German Shepherds Good With Kids? Considerations & Safety Tips

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REVIEWED & FACT-CHECKED BY

Dr. Luqman Javed

Veterinarian, DVM

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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German Shepherds have had a reputation as dogs that are not the best choice for a pet around children. Many people wonder if claims of such a reputation are true or a stereotype. Unfortunately, many statistical studies involving dog bites in children have cited German Shepherds as a high-risk breed, which means that they aren’t the best dogs to be kept alongside children. 

Let’s explore why this is the case in more detail.

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Are German Shepherds Good With Kids?

Unfortunately, the rumors you’ve probably heard about this breed aren’t fabrications. Several studies done in hospitals that examined dog bites in children have implicated German Shepherds as a high-risk breed.

One study 1 found that the risk involved with German Shepherds was up to five times higher than the risk with breeds that are well documented as friendly and docile, such as Labradors and Golden Retrievers.

Another similar study conducted in a children’s hospital 2 also implicated the German Shepherd as a high-incidence breed when it came to dog bites. Yet another smaller study involving 50 children who suffered from dog bites found similar results 3.

With the breed being implicated in these (and other) studies, it’s impossible to say that German Shepherds are good with kids. Though there are definitely dogs out there that would be great for kids, the statistical odds of a German Shepherd biting a child are considerably high, and we cannot proclaim that this breed is great for those with young children. Do keep in mind that though your German Shepherd might be great with your kids, they may not be so accepting of other kids and might try to “protect” your kids from them in less than desired ways (including potentially biting them).

It might be worth noting that bites might not be reported at times, and this phenomenon might be more likely with bites from smaller dogs than those from larger breeds. It’s also true that any dog can theoretically be provoked to the point where they respond with aggression. However, a German Shepherd has a considerable amount of strength and, for generations, has been bred as a guard dog and, therefore, is much more capable of inflicting considerable harm on a child if provoked.

german shepherd walking outdoor
Image Credit: Spike Summers, Pixabay

Are All German Shepherds Off The Table?

If you are insistent on getting a German Shepherd, it’s best to be patient and search for a trained German Shepherd to adopt. Ideally, this would be a dog that’s already trained and has a history of working or interacting with children without any incident reports of undesirable behavior.

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What Are the Signs that You Might Have an Issue with a German Shepherd?

Sadly, some dogs don’t get along with kids. Many of these issues are caused by a dog feeling uncomfortable, threatened, or startled by children. On an individual level, this is attributed to a dog’s personality and past experiences with children.

Here are some behaviors that may signify that a German Shepherd might not be suitable for children

Dangerous Signs To Watch For
  • Nipping or barking at children
  • Growling lightly when a child is around
  • Refusing to listen to commands given by a child
  • Circling a child in a continuous motion
  • Frequently trying to stop interactions with a child when approached

If you’ve noticed any of these signs in a German Shepherd you’ve adopted, you should prioritize your child’s safety by physically separating them from the dog at all times. In addition, you should seek professional help to assess the trainability and temperament of your dog.

German shepherd dog in obedience training on green grass
Image Credit: Helga Madajova, Shutterstock

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Conclusion

Many dog breeds are associated with stigmas or stereotypes. At times, they are not true. At other times, they warrant a closer examination. Many studies have implicated German Shepherds as risky around children and much more likely to bite children than other dog breeds.

Statistically speaking, a German Shepherd might not be a great fit for families with children, especially small children. However, you might be successful in many circumstances, but it is still best to seek the opinion and services of a dog trainer and your veterinarian prior to finalizing your choice of a dog breed.


Featured Image Credit: McCann Michelle, Shutterstock

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