German Shepherds are one of the 10 most popular dog breeds in the U.S. for a reason – they are loyal, courageous and extremely intelligent.
More than just about any other breed, both male and female German Shepherds can take on tasks that improve people’s lives and make families happy.
So if you’re sure a German Shepherd is the right dog for you, you may be wondering which gender will be a fit for your family.
Both males and females can exhibit the best qualities of German Shepherds. They can be equally loving and devoted, and both can be tough, helpful and brave.
There are some traits specific to each gender that are fairly common. For example, males tend to be more territorial and dominant. They often mark their territory at every opportunity. They can be very independent and sometimes seem a bit standoffish. Females, on the other hand, are a bit more family oriented. They tend to protect their tribe and are often more affectionate. But females may be less patient than males when it comes to tolerating behavior like jumping or fur pulling from young children.
Male German Shepherds are usually a bit bigger than their female counterparts, and they reach maturity a bit slower. It’s generally easy to tell males and females apart, as females tend to look slightly more refined. When it comes to training, the male German Shepherd’s slower path to maturity and strong sense of independence will create some issues. While they can still be trained better than almost any other breed, it will take extra patience to train a male.
Sexual Maturity in a Male German Shepherd
Male German Shepherds who have not been neutered tend to be more dominant and high-spirited. Once they get to their ‘teenage’ stage of six months and beyond, they will attempt to dominate other dogs, and will often try to dominate you. You need to be prepared to be the leader in your household, because if you aren’t, a male German Shepherd will happily take the role from you.
When a male who is not neutered smells a female in heat, look out. They can misbehave wildly in an attempt to go meet their potential mate.
While neutering should be discussed with your veterinarian, if you do not plan to breed your male German Shepherd, it is probably a good idea to have him neutered while he is young. This has been proven to improve behavior and make training slightly easier. It should also make him less aggressive overall and less likely to roam.
Picking your German Shepherd
So is a male German Shepherd the best dog for your family? In a lot of ways, it comes down to the individual puppy or dog and your needs. Unless you have your heart set on a male or female, keep an open mind. German Shepherds are loyal dogs and, based on what you’re looking for, a puppy or adult rescue might be right for you. The same goes with either gender. Spend time with the dog you’re thinking of bringing home before making a final decision and try to get a feel for how she or he might fit in with your family.
The only big caveat to that is if you already have a dog in your house. In general, dogs of opposite sex pairings get along better than couples of the same sex.
When you’re ready to bring your new German Shepherd home, take a look at our long list of dog names for this breed.