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Many people fall in love with one of the world’s top dog breeds – the German Shepherd Dog.
But which is better…
A male or female German Shepherd?
Today, you’ll learn the ups and downs of choosing a male or female German Shepherd and get answers to your top questions.
So, which should you choose…
A male or female German Shepherd?
The answer might surprise you!
Male vs. Female German Shepherds
There are advantages and disadvantages to owning a female or male German Shepherd.
But a quick overview of male vs. female German Shepherds will give you an easy comparison.
Larger in Size
Better with Children
Easier to Train
More Possessive of People
More Possessive of Property
More Protective of People
More Protective of Property
Good with Other Dogs
Better as a First Dog
Male vs Female German Shepherd Dog Traits
Alsatian Male and Female Dogs
German Shepherds are also referred to as Alsatians in parts of Europe and in Great Britain. The breed is named after a region in Europe where the GSDs were originally bred (source).
Later, the name was changed back to the German Shepherd Dog after World War II was over and it was more acceptable to use the dog’s country of origin – Germany. Although the name Alsation Dog is rarely heard, it is more popular in Europe and the United Kingdom vs. the United States.
Regardless of their name, they are one of the most popular dog breeds in both America and Great Britain.
Female vs. Male Temperament
Generally, female GSDs are sweeter and friendlier companions to have around a family. They tend to have a gentle disposition compared to male GSDs.
Male GSDs are more territorial in nature. They mark their territory by urination and this can annoy some owners.
They are also more likely to have stronger personalities and a proud sense of character.
Female German Shepherd dogs are gentle when compared to males. They are more gentle and friendlier towards their family.
The female GSD tends to have a higher tolerance for strangers and other people, in general.
They can, however, turn more protective when they have a litter of their puppies around.
German Shepherd Personality Differences
With their family, the German Shepherd Dog is silly, playful and lively. This breed is known to stick closely to their person, which can turn into possessiveness if not corrected early.
Having different family members use positive training and taking turns working with your dog can help prevent this issue.
Are Male or Female GSD’s More Protective?
Both males and females are known to bark to alert their family of people or other dogs in their yards or along the street. Some owners find this makes them an excellent watchdog, but other people, like your neighbors, might not appreciate the barking.
Males tend to become more dominant and aggressive, which can increase their protectiveness for their family. They are better suited for protection roles and families without children.
But a female German Shepherd will still bark and alert you of strangers and intruders on the property. A prominent dog psychology researcher even named the German Shepherd as the second breed most likely dog to bark as a watchdog (source).
With the male GSD’s larger size they appear more intimidating to those outside the home. So, this can be seen as a more protective feature of male German Shepherds.
Both sexes have an intimidating bark and are athletic, large dogs – a protective feature that usually scares outsiders.
Male vs. Female Size Comparison
While there are exceptions to every rule, the male German Shepherd is generally larger than the female German Shepherd.
Males also tend to have larger muscles, while females tend to have sleeker muscles. Both males and females should have an athletic form and should not be overweight.
A male has a height of 24 to 26 inches at the withers (shoulder area), while females are about 22 to 24 inches tall at the withers.
The male can weigh up to 95 pounds, while the female typically is lower – anywhere from 75 to 85 pounds.
Males may exhibit more protectiveness due to their muscular build and larger size.
Are Male or Female GSD’s Less Aggressive?
Research shows that males German Shepherds are more aggressive than female German Shepherds.
This means that a family should consider choosing a female for a companion over a male. Males tend to perform better for roles in protection and guarding and could do well in a home without children and the proper training.
German Shepherds with Children
The GSD is a large breed dog. And both males and females are powerful dogs with lots of energy… including jumping.
These traits could make them harder to handle around small kids or children. Generally, female GSDs interact better with children due to their maternal, less dominant nature.
And male GSDs tend to be larger, more muscular, and may become too powerful for smaller children. Their large personalities and behavior may push around the kids and they are more aggressive in nature.
Females are a better match for a family with children.
Children and Training
Even children can learn to control this breed with the right guidance from their parents.
While some parents of young children are afraid of choosing the GSD breed due to their size, the main concern comes from properly training the dog and the children to live together.
Early training of both parties has the greatest chance of a strong bond between the pair.
And parents should not only train the dog themselves but show the children how to train their German Shepherd.
Supervision with Children
Supervision of your child’s interaction with the dog is paramount to a successful relationship. Younger children might see their playfulness, such as ear tugging or tail pulling, as cute or funny.
But, it’s far from appropriate and could cause trouble.
Kids must learn to respect the breed, and parents must show their children how to do this in a positive manner.
German Shepherds may seem reserved or aloof at first. But, they have a funny sweet side when comfortable with their family and are truly lifelong companions.
Possessiveness in Male and Female German Shepherds
Both sexes of the breed can become possessive, but males tend to show this behavior more easily.
Possessiveness can be seen with:
Guarding an area/home/property
Since females tend to become less possessive than the male counterparts they are more suitable for homes with children.
Having different family members train your dog can cut down on overall possessiveness.
Both male and female dogs prefer to have company with their people. They may develop anxiety when left alone or not given the proper attention for long periods of time.
Their personality can become demanding for attention, so when you choose a German Shepherd, know they want your undivided attention and will suffer without it.
Male German Shepherds tend to pick one person with whom they bond the strongest. This can lead to possessiveness or overprotection of this individual.
While females are better with all family members and enjoy their “pack.” If you are a single person without kids, a male GSD may be better for you.
Training Differences in Male and Female German Shepherds
German Shepherds are one of the smartest dog breeds to own.
They are highly intelligent and have a natural curiosity to learn new commands and behaviors.
German Shepherds are ready for you to train them daily and are easier to train compared to many other dog breeds.
Males can also become more dominant, especially as they mature, and may become difficult for you to train. While females tend to want to appease their owners more readily and are better suited to a new owner.
Training a German Shepherd
The most important and best way to train a German Shepherd is through positive training, which engates their minds and bodies.
Choose a positive training program that you find fun and will participate in almost daily.
For the best results use these tips:
Start training as a young puppy to develop the good habits you want.
Keep the training sessions short, especially for puppies.
Enroll in a training program that uses their mental ability to increase your bond
With plenty of training the right way, you may find your German Shepherd, both male and female, excels at sports, such as agility and rally obedience.
And, this breed is a true tracker with their excellent scenting abilities.
The best training for a German Shepherd is a program called Brain Training for Dogs. It’s fun and includes easy games to help obedience train your GSD.
Remember, the sky’s the limit when you choose to train a German Shepherd.
Are Female GSDs Used as Police and Military Dogs?
Female German Shepherds are used in police and military service, but they are generally outnumbered by male German Shepherds.
This is in part to selective breeding for certain traits, such as:
Size and build
As working dog breeders tend to choose these traits over others they may choose male dogs that fit this profile.
So, more male GSDs wind up in police and military dog units.
As mentioned previously, males dogs also make better working dogs in the protection service due to not only their larger size, but their protection and aggression drive.
These drives are highly sought after in the police fields for K-9 units.
Male German Shepherds are seen as more intimidating and male handlers may even want to choose a male working partner over a female as male dogs are seen as more tough and rugged.
Both male and female GSDs have a tough exterior that makes them suitable for military and police work.
How Often are Female GSDs “In Heat” During the Year?
Male service dogs may also get chosen more frequently because they don’t go into heat during the year. When a female goes into heat she is more distracted and less likely to listen to commands and become more moody.
Other male dogs would also make it impossible to have a female GSD around unless she was spayed.
Female German Shepherds are in heat generally twice a year, or about every 6 months. This schedule also coincides with the blowing of their coat.
She will generally be in heat for about 21 days, though this can differ from dog to dog. There is some bleeding that is noticeable, so many owners prefer to keep their female GSD secure in an easy to clean room with hard floors, away from the male dogs.
How Early Will a Female German Shepherd “Come Into Heat”?
A female GSD can begin her heat cycle as young as 6 months old. This may vary anywhere between 6 months to 1 year, depending on their individual genetics.
If a female German Shepherd hasn’t entered etrus around 1 year old it’s best to seek a vet’s professional advice to rule out any underlying health issues.
On average, she will come into her heat cycle every 6 months, though this could be as early as every 4 months for some females. Being in estrus, or in season (in heat) can make a female dog moody and temporarily change its behavior and personality.
This is normal, but owners should be aware of this difference in their female dogs.
Owners must secure and contain their females to avoid any unnecessary mating and unwanted litters. All males within a short and long distance can smell a female in heat, so due caution must be taken.
This breed is susceptible to a number of health concerns that you should consider before choosing a German Shepherd.
Only adopt or choose your dog from a respectable breeder that has completed the necessary testing for their health. The breeder should show you the vet’s paperwork, which you can verify, of both the parent’s health and the puppy’s health.
Some issues the German Shepherd is susceptible to include:
Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency
While some owners consider spaying or neutering their dogs to decrease some of the breed’s health issues, this should not be done until full maturity has been reached.
This is around 2 years for both males and females. Spaying or neutering before this time may cause your dog to grow smaller and have less muscle due to an early spay or neuter.
Female German Shepherd’s Health
On the other hand, speak to your vet regarding your options, as spaying your female dog lowers the risks of several diseases including some forms of cancers and mammary tumors.
Additionally, there is some evidence that spaying them has some positive effects on their behavior. Spaying or neutering may lower aggression, but other owners report no behavior differences.
Spaying will also help you to avoid unwanted litters and dealing with the bleeding that comes with a female German Shepherd when she is “in heat.” This can make living with a German Shepherd less stressful for your dog and you.
When choosing between a male or female German Shepherd, they both require the same level of attention and care.
But male German Shepherds have a tendency to have more behavior issues due to their higher aggression and possessiveness.
Both sexes need similar exercise, grooming, training, and health care.
Boredom and lack of mental and physical activity will result in an unhappy dog that shows their dissatisfaction through unwanted behaviors, such as:
Destroying furniture and clothing
Tearing up the house and yard
If you are away from the house the majority of the day this breed is not a good match. The GSD requires plenty of time and attention in a positive way.
They thrive on training and spending time with their family. Leaving them alone for long periods will cause anxiety and difficult behaviors.
Choosing a Male vs. Female German Shepherd: Which is Better?
Choosing between a male and female German Shepherd should not be done lightly.
They are a dog that must have space and your time for training, as well as given the right home environment.
On average, a female German Shepherd lives longer than a male by over a year, which might be a factor when deciding on a male or female. When choosing a male or female GSD consider:
Issues you might have lifting or moving a large breed
Aggression and protection levels
Whether you choose a female vs. male German Shepherd you must raise them the right way to have a companion for life.
Catherine Krasavin owns Shepherd Sense, a dog website aimed at German Shepherd owners and lovers. She has a Bachelor of Science degree, with Honors, and has been training dogs for over a decade. Catherine’s currently attending continuing education courses to keep up with the latest in animal science, as well as earning her diploma in dog training. She owns a plush coat German Shepherd who was awarded Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme Gold Award - the highest level of achievement.
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