Can a German Shepherd Kill a Coyote?

You are out in the woods hiking with your German Shepherd. Your dog suddenly pulls towards the shrubs and you almost trip over. As he starts barking, you know it’s not what he would have reacted with a squirrel or rabbit this time. As you lean in you notice it’s a coyote. While you are pretty certain your GSD will place between you and the coyote in case of an attack, it’s wise to stay safe and avoid confrontation. You’ve probably wondered: Can a German Shepherd kill a coyote?

With a larger body build and stronger bite force, an adult German Shepherd Dog can kill a coyote if it’s trained to do so. In circumstances where a coyote was deemed to be an intruder, a GSD will fight and defend his territory out of their guarding instinct.

Although attacks on people are rare, coyotes are becoming increasingly common in urban areas provided that they are wild animals. In this article, we will go through some quick facts about coyotes so you know whether or not your GSD can defend you against coyotes.

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German Shepherd vs coyote

In general, male German Shepherds are taller and heavier than coyotes, but not many females. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), the height of a German Shepherd can range from 22 to 26 inches at the shoulder and tip the scales from 50 to 90 pounds.

Given the body build of German Shepherds, they will undoubtedly be outrun by coyotes in a chase. However, the bite force of a GSD would be stronger than an averaged coyote – which can be similar to a medium-sized dog.

German ShepherdsCoyotes
Weight50-90 lbs.20-50 lbs.
Height22–26 inches20-24 inches 
Speed30 mph30-40 mph
Bite force238 psi150-200 psi

With up to 238 psi of bite force, it’s strong enough to break a bone and cause very serious physical injuries. In extreme cases, it could be fatal.

Therefore, your German Shepherd could probably be a threat to a coyote with its strength and bite force, if they face a one-to-one confrontation. 

You may also like: What is the Difference Between a German Shepherd and a Wolf?

Where do coyotes appear?

Coyotes can mostly be found in North America. They roam across the plains, forests, mountains, deserts, and even country parks. Coyotes will appear in both rural and urban spaces and they can act differently depending on the habitat.

Nowadays, it’s not uncommon for people to spot coyotes in their yard especially when there is livestock like chickens or goats – which could make delicious dinner for coyotes.

What time of the day and the year do coyotes appear?

Coyotes can come out during the day or the night. However, they are more likely to be active during dawn and dusk. Therefore, try to avoid these times of the day if you walk your dog.

Coyotes appear all year round. You will see them in every season- especially during spring-summer when they are most active feeding their cubs. 

Their mating season is usually around late winter to spring- this is when you will see more coyotes roaming about looking for partners.

What do coyotes eat?

This adaptable animal will eat almost anything. They can shift their diet based on local availability.

They can eat insects, snakes, fruit, grass, and carrion. And they can also hunt rabbits, rodents, fish, frogs, and even deer. 

Will coyotes attack humans?

Wild coyotes are naturally wary of humans will usually run and hide at the sight of a human (unless it feels threatened then it will attack). 

However, in urban areas, they have gotten used to living with humans they grow less and less fearful, and can become aggressive. 

That said, when coyotes band together to form packs, they can become quite dangerous, especially to children. Thankfully, these types of encounters are rare as they tend to be alone most of the time.

Will coyote attack dogs?

Coyotes usually attack animals (dogs included) that are smaller in size. Lapdogs like Chihuahua or Yorkie will be at higher risk of a coyote attack than a German Shepherd in real-life situations. 

As large dogs could be a problem for coyotes so they won’t attack unless they gang up in packs of more than three. 

Watch this video where a German shepherd saves a chihuahua from a coyote attack:

When will German Shepherds attack?

Like most dogs, fear is the most common reason for a German Shepherd to behave aggressively toward other animals or humans. Of course, every dog is different, even the same dog’s response could vary across different circumstances.

Unfortunately, fear often occurs through a lack of proper socialization, past negative experiences, physical abuse of previous owners, lack of obedience training.

In extreme cases, when a dog is faced with a life and death situation, such as a confrontation with a coyote, he will attack out of basic instinct. 

Will a German Shepherd attack a coyote?

For most German Shepherds, if not trained to attack, their bark will probably scare off a solitary coyote before it has a chance to approach your GSD. 

So it is very likely that it will flee with an encounter of any fully grown German Shepherd.

However, coyotes are cunning animals who have lived their lives in the wild, they know the strength of a GSD will be a threat. If they gang up in a pack of three or more, their hunting and luring skills may spark off a chasing game with your German Shepherd.

Watch this video where a GSD mixed takes down a coyote by biting it at the throat. (2:28)

Although this GSD mixed is not a purebred GSD, it is likely that he is exhibiting its basic instinct to attack the coyotes on spot. 

Again, every dog is different, even with the same breed. Just because one GSD can behave like that does not mean all GSD will do the same. Only you as an owner can have a close prediction of what your dog will react. 

Can a German Shepherd kill a coyote?

With a larger body build and a bite force of 238 psi, an adult German Shepherd Dog can kill a coyote by breaking its bones. In circumstances where a coyote was deemed to be an intruder, a GSD will fight and defend his territory out of their guarding instinct – no previous training is needed.

If you have the chance to browse through some of the 900+ comments below the previous video, this one has gained a lot of tractions so it caught my eye:

“My Dad had a 196 pound monster German Shepherd. God knows how he got so big. Maybe a King Shepherd I dunno. Getting to the point. We were all walking one day when we came across two Coyotes. They circled us and charged my Dog. My Dog grabbed one of them by the throat and slammed it so hard it’s spine broke and it died. Other one ran off!”

“Metallica fan!

Assuming it is a real story, you can be sure a large German Shepherd can surely take down a coyote with its strength.

Before we close, here’s a few tips to keep your furry friend safe, when walking your dog in a park: 

  • Never allow your dog off-leash.
  • Avoid walking along with abandoned properties or densely forested areas.
  • Walk your dog in areas on park trails with other people.
  • Avoid walk during dust and dawn, stick mostly to daylight hours.
  • Always keep your dog in sight.

Final Thoughts

Coyotes generally do not pose danger to people or a large dog like a German Shepherd but can pose danger for children and small pets. 

Again, every dog is different, so this means that their reaction to coyotes can vary in different circumstances, even with the same dog. 

Further questions

What should I do if I see a coyote near my home or on my property?

  • Encourage the coyote to keep moving by shouting and gesturing aggressively.
  • There is probably a food source either in your yard or your neighbor’s yard.

How to stop a coyote from coming into your yard?

  • Avoid feeding your pets outdoors.
  • Store garbage, recycling, and organics properly.
  • Remove dense brush and weeds to minimize hiding spots.


Will my German Shepherd protect me without training?

German Shepherds are known to be one of the most loyal and protective dog breeds. They consider their owners to be part of their pack and thus will instinctively protect them in case of any threats. 

Protecting is their natural behavior, not a learned skill. Therefore, rest assured your German Shepherd will be protective of you and your family without training.

This invaluable quality could be the reason why German Shepherds are so popular all over the world.

When will my German Shepherd start being protective of me?

Your GSD will start to behavior change sometime between 6-12 months of age. They may growl or bark when they see someone from a distance.