Debunking 7 Common Myths About German Shepherds


The German Shepherd is a very popular dog breed. In fact, according to the American Kennel Club and its latest popularity list, they rank 4th in the USA [1].

And, how it usually goes with everything that is widely popular, various myths have surrounded German Shepherds over the years… some closer to the truth and others not at all. 

These myths are often silly, but they can also harm the dog’s reputation and even impact its adoption rates. Well, it’s time to shine a light on this remarkable breed and debunk once and for all the most common myths surrounding German Shepherds. Let’s get to it: 

#1 German Shepherds Are Dangerous

kind and agressive german shepherd meme
Source: Pinterest

This couldn’t be further from the truth if the German Shepherd is properly trained and socialized. German Shepherds are very intelligent and loyal pups that can be easily trained to be very safe and friendly around people and other dogs. 

However, as with any dog breed, it is very important for GSD owners and other people who encounter these dogs to understand and respect the dog’s limits, likes, dislikes, and temperament. 

Any dog can be potentially dangerous and aggressive if it is mistreated, abused, not properly trained, or put in a situation where he/she feels threatened or frightened. 

In most cases, German Shepherds are wonderful dogs that are not dangerous at all, and they love nothing more than spending their time with their loving family.

#2 German Shepherds Have Poor Health

sick german shepherd lying on the table at the vet clinic

Another very common myth about German Shepherds is that they have very bad health. To be completely honest, they do have some health issues, but they are not significantly higher than any other dog breed out there. 

With proper breeding and health screenings, many of the health issues that are associated with German Shepherds can be prevented. The biggest concern for this breed is a condition called hip dysplasia. 

According to the AKC, German Shepherds have a life expectancy of 7 to 10 years, but with a lot of care and love, they can live a long and healthy life of up to 13 years

Related: 5 Secrets To Extending Your German Shepherd’s Life

#3 German Shepherds Are Always Serious

serious german shepherd dog lyign on the grass
Source: Instagram

German Shepherds are often seen as very serious dogs because of their nature of being working dogs. 

Sure, when they are working or performing highly important tasks, they do have a serious and fierce demeanor, but off duty, they can easily switch off, relax, and be their normal goofy selves.

Of course, the temperament of the dog will highly depend on his personality and upbringing, but you should not worry about a GSD being overly serious. 

Like any other dog, they can be very playful, goofy, fun, and affectionate. 

#4 German Shepherds Are Overprotective

german shepherd dog sitting in the kitchen near his owner
Source: Pinterest

This one can be a little bit tricky. 

German Shepherds are known to have a natural protective instinct, which is why they make excellent guard dogs, and they sometimes can be a bit overprotective of their family. 

But, usually these dogs are very smart to know when it is time to be all serious and alert and when they can relax and enjoy their time simply being a dog. I must mention that overprotectiveness can be easily prevented with proper training and early socialization. 

If you teach your dog how to behave, and how to distinguish between actual threats and situations where protection is not needed, you shouldn’t have problems with your German Shepherd puppy.  

#5 German Shepherds Are Only Good For Police Or Military Work

german shepherd dog in police car leaning on the window
Source: Pinterest

I have always associated German Shepherds with police and military work because, well… they are the dogs most commonly used for such roles due to their high intelligence, loyalty, trainability, and protective nature. 

And, while there is no doubt that they make the best police dogs out there, it shouldn’t be forgotten that German Shepherds are highly versatile dogs that can perform all kinds of tasks. 

They can easily be excellent therapy, service, or sport dogs, and excellent and versatile companions for people of all ages and lifestyles. 

#6 German Shepherds Don’t Get Along With Other Dogs

two german shepherd dogs in nature
Source: Instagram

Whether a German Shepherd dog gets along with other dogs or not highly depends on his individual personality, training, and socialization. 

But, most German Shepherds get along pretty well with other dogs of all ages and breeds. Some GSDs can be more social than others, but in general, they should get along well with other dogs. 

Related: The Prime List Of The Best Companion Dogs For A German Shepherd

Their level of social skills will depend on early exposure to different dogs and animals, a.k.a., socialization, proper training, and learning appropriate behavior. 

If you raise your puppy well, he or she will learn to live harmoniously and happily with other dogs. 

#7 German Shepherds Are Not Good Family Pets

little girl playing with german shepherd dog lying on porch

The biggest misconception of all is that German Shepherds are not good family pets. Here, I can attest that this statement is 100% NOT true

German Shepherds can easily be excellent family pets, great companions, and family protectors. They also love kids, and they can make great playmates and be very playful, affectionate, and goofy. 

One thing is for sure… they will be loyal to your family no matter what. 

GSDs are also very versatile when it comes to various activities. Hiking, walking, swimming, running, or lounging around the house… whatever you decide, your furry companion will be next to you. 

Read also: If You’re This Person, You Shouldn’t Get A German Shepherd

Wrapping It Up

When you’re a popular breed such as the German Shepherd, it’s almost impossible not to be surrounded by numerous myths and misconceptions. 

While some myths can sometimes be partially true, it is important to understand that not all German Shepherds are the same.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to look beyond the breed and consider the individual personality of the dog and his upbringing, which plays an enormous role in any dog’s life. Don’t judge a book by its cover and don’t judge a dog by its breed or myths. 

Until next time, dog lovers.

Read next: 15 Popular Questions About German Shepherds


[1] Haid, M. (2023). The Most Popular Dog Breeds of 2022. American Kennel Club.