Why Are German Shepherds So Loyal + 3 Questions About Their Loyalty


Hey, Liam!

I’m Mike and I’m a new GSD owner. I picked this German Shepherd girl as my first dog because I heard so many great things about them… including their incredible sense of loyalty.

I was wondering… Could you please explain to me and all my fellow GSD lovers why German Shepherds are so loyal? Is it true that they’re the most loyal dog breed in the world?


I got this email a couple of days ago and it really amazed me how much people want to learn about German Shepherds. 

Sure, we all know that they’re super smart and loyal to their owners. But, why is that so?

What makes German Shepherds such loyal dogs?

If my GSDs could talk, I’m sure they’d explain it all to me. But, for now, I have to stick to my research and previous experience.

Let’s dig into the matter and find out!

So, Why Are German Shepherds So Loyal?

woman embracing her german shepherd dog sitting next to her by the lake

There’s no simple answer to this question. German Shepherds are loyal dogs because of many things, including their origin, character, way of upbringing, training, socialization, etc. But, it all comes down to one statement: loyalty is something that’s written in their DNA!

Back in 1899, when Max von Stephanitz first created German Shepherds, he focused on putting together several dog breeds, including wolves, to achieve the finest working breed. The GSD breed was polished to perfection in the next decades. |1| 

The popularity of the first specialized German dog breed increased after WWI. German soldiers were using these dogs for assistance during the war, and they proved to be excellent, hardworking, and loyal canine soldiers. 

Further decades established German Shepherds as one of the best working breeds, focused on assisting humans, providing protection, and incredible loyalty. 

Their service in police and military forces, besides serving as livestock herders and protectors, made GSDs the finest working breed.

But, a GSD would be nothing without its intelligence. Known as the third most intelligent dog breed in the world, German Shepherds are excellent judges of character. They know exactly who to trust and present their loyalty to. 

However, although German Shepherds have natural predispositions of being loyal, they still need a lot of training and socialization. Dominant and temperamental dogs like these need a firm hand to show them who’s the boss. |2|

When you nurture a dog in a friendly spirit, support its calm demeanor, and work on its social skills, you can get a fine specimen of the breed. 

Still, if you force their loyalty as their best trait and encourage it all the time, even when it’s not needed, unwanted consequences may happen, such as aggressive behavior. More on that down below. 

Are German Shepherds Loyal To Just One Person?

woman hugging her german shepherd dog on the road

Usually, German Shepherds tend to imprint themselves onto one person who spends the most time with them. It’s just their way of saying they prefer to hang out with that specific person. In most cases, it’s the dominant family member, and we all know that GSDs like dominance.

Since these dogs are absolute pack animals and they need a leader, letting them cling onto one person sounds like a good thing because that person becomes their alpha. This will significantly decrease their desire for dominance. 

Dogs like GSDs need someone to dominate and a firm hand to guide them.

It may seem like they’re loyal to just one family member, but that’s really not the truth. German Shepherds will always be loyal to the entire family if the family treats them with respect. They will protect all family members and show them their loyalty when needed.

So, don’t be afraid that your GSD will be loyal to you and you only. Introduce your family members to your dog, make them spend time with him, and teach them how to respect a dog, and they will pay you all back in immense loyalty! 

Does Extreme Loyalty Mean German Shepherds Would Be Good Family Dogs?

little boy leaning on his german shepherd dog in the park

Yes, it does! 

I feel the negative publicity that German Shepherds once had is slowly fading away. People are getting to know this breed as being one of the finest family dogs ever. And, German Shepherds have all the rights to be declared good family dogs!

Besides their extreme loyalty, German Shepherds are known for their huge tendencies to protect their people from any harm. They’re great guardians, and often, will fight intruders just to make sure their humans are safe. |3|

With proper training and good guidance, any German Shepherd can become a wonderful family dog, loyal to everyone, and ready to show love the way GSDs only show it; by putting their humans in first place. 

Can The GSD Loyalty Be A Reason For Something Negative?

woman cuddling her german shepherd dog standing beside her

Unfortunately, reinforcing overprotectiveness and extreme loyalty all the time can have negative results. 

It’s one thing to have a loyal and protective GSD, and it’s a whole other thing to have a loyal dog that tends to overreact any time someone approaches their humans.

Dogs must learn that not every newcomer is an enemy. It’s a bit harder for German Shepherds because of their natural tendency for acting protective. However, this is where obedience training steps in, and you, as a guide and your dog’s trainer. 

Overprotectiveness can result in territorial behavior, and territorial behavior could lead to aggression. Protective aggression means your GSD will react aggressively towards anyone who comes your way, even if it’s a small animal.

Encouraging such behavior means you’re nurturing aggression, and that’s something we’re trying to make extinct. 


|1| Edward Tenner. Constructing the German Shepherd Dog. 2017. DOI

|2| Emily Weiss. Selecting Shelter Dogs For Service Training. 2010. DOI

|3| Mychelle Klose. German Shepherds. 2012. DOI