Male vs Female German Shepherds: How to Choose?

Male vs Female German Shepherds: How to Choose?

How to choose between a male and a female German Shepherd? The answer to this question depends on what you’re looking for. Are you looking for a pet in a family with young children? Or do you want a guard dog to look after your livestock? 

When considering whether to get a male or female German Shepherd, your expectation from a dog and handling experience plays an integral part. If the GSD is your first dog or you have kids at home, females may be easier to handle. But if you’re looking for a guard dog or working dog, male GSDs are more suitable.

In this article, we’ll go over the main differences between male and female German Shepherds. And hopefully we’ll help you decide which sex to get based on what you need from a dog. Below are the considerations we’ll go over:

  • Temperament considerations
  • Training Considerations
  • Size Considerations
  • Feeding Considerations
  • Activity Considerations
  • Are male/female German Shepherds better with children?
  • Are male/female German Shepherds good with other pets or animals at home?
  • Female-specific considerations
  • De-sex considerations

Key takeaways

While both male and female German Shepherd are intelligent, obedient, and energetic, there are a few differences you may take into account:

Male German Shepherd Dogs

Male German Shepherds are larger and more masculine, they can make excellent guard dogs. They tend to have a more dominant and aggressive temperament. 

Male GSDs can also be territorial and are highly possessive of their owners. That said, they are more likely to incline towards one person in the household more than others. It is usually the owner who is training, feeding and spending quality time with the dog.

Female German Shepherd Dogs

Female German Shepherds are smaller and mature earlier than their male counterparts. This makes them much easier to handle and train. Female GSDs are less territorial and usually display equal amount of love for the entire family. They can make a perfect family pet and an in general good with children.

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Temperament Considerations

When it comes to temperament, male GSDs are more possessive and dominant, and females more affectionate and gentle.

With their dominance, male GSDs may see themselves as the leader of the pack if there’s no one disciplining them for rules and boundaries.

As his owner, you will need to be the alpha with a male dog as he may try to take advantage of your weakness. You will need to be assertive and give very clear directions on what your male GSD should and should not do.

Female GSDs, on the other hand, tend to be less territorial and possessive. In other words, they are people pleasers. They will do whatever they can to make their owners happy, which is another reason why they’re good to be in a family with children.

Your GSD’s temperament depends a lot on his/her socialization skills. Start at an early age, take your dog out for regular exercise, and introducing the breed to different people, pets, and sounds will do well in improving their socialization skills. 

Also read:

German Shepherd Temperament – Everything You Need to Know

Training Considerations

One thing we cannot be stressed enough is that you should always be training your German Shepherds early on, regardless of their sex. They are highly intelligent dogs and learn fast. If not properly trained or socalized, they can develop aggression and destructive behavior.

You should begin training your dog from a young age. Keep the training session shorts and involve tons of praise and treats. 

That said, there are few differences when it comes to the trainability of males vs females.

Males GSDs are, by nature, stubborn and dominant, they are much more difficult to train compared to female GSDs. 

Female GSDs are more sensitive in comparison to their male counterparts. This makes them easier to train.

So if you are getting a GSD as your first dog, a female will be more suitable for you when it comes to training.

If you are not a big fan of dog training and are only looking for a dog that watches TV with you after a long day of work, you should not be getting a German Shepherd at all.

Size Considerations

This is the more obvious one. While there are exceptions, the male German Shepherd is generally larger than the female German Shepherd. 

Males have bigger heads and larger muscles, while females tend to be smaller in general. Both males and females should have an athletic form that displays their “working” traits overall.

Height

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.

Weight

The male can weigh up to 95 pounds, while the female typically is lower – anywhere from 75 to 85 pounds. 

If the size is your concern or you have young children at home, it’s a no-brainer to choose a female over a male. 

Feeding Considerations

As male German Shepherds are comparatively larger than their female counterparts, they need to be fed a greater amount of food. It is recommended that feed your German Shepherds with high-protein and meat-based dog food, divided into two meals. 

The amount of food and nutrition your dog needs depends on its size, build and metabolism. When it comes to nutrition, dogs are like people and have different dietary needs.

Consider their larger size, you should expect the to feed a male GSD slightly more than a female GSD. Thus, the cost for feeding a male is overall higher.

Activity considerations

Both male and female German Shepherds are highly energetic and require several hours of vigorous exercise. GSD is not the breed for you if you enjoy watching TV all day and expect your dog to do so as well. GSDs are packed with energy and will indulge in destructive behavior if they are left home alone all day. 

If you enjoy an active lifestyle and look for an energetic companion that will accompany you for running, bike riding or hiking, then undoubtedly, this breed is your perfect choice.

Are male/female German Shepherds better with children?

Generally, female GSDs interact better with children due to their maternal, less dominant nature.

The GSD is a large breed dog. And both males and females are powerful dogs with lots of energy.

And male GSDs tend to be larger and more muscular by nature. They may become too powerful and knock down your kids easily if not well trained.

In genreal, female GSDs are easier to handle around small kids.

Are male/female German Shepherds good with other pets or animals at home?

German Shepherds are mostly fine with other dogs and cats in their own family if introduced to them at an early age.

So if you are adopting an adult GSD, you have to be very cautious. And may need if help from professional trainers or behaviorists if necessary.

However, both male and female German Shepherds can show strong chasing behavior (also known as high prey drive) towards small animals like cats and chickens. Again, proper training and early socialization can help to control this kind of behavior.

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Same-gender aggression

As female dogs naturally want to be the only dominant female of the pack, they can develop same-gender aggression.

That said, two female German Shepherds in the same home are more likely to show aggression toward each other than two males.

This aggression can be dangerous and may result in one of the dogs needing to be kept in separated rooms or rehomed.

If you’ve already had a female GSD at home, you might like to get a male for that matter, or vice versa. 

Female-specific considerations

A female GSD can begin her first heat cycle as young as 6 months old. This may vary anywhere between 6 months to 1 year.

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. 

She will generally be in heat for about 2-3 weeks, though this can differ from dog to dog. All males within a short and long distance can smell a female in heat. Owners must be cautious and secure their females to avoid any unnecessary mating and unwanted litters, especially if you have other male dogs at home.

Being in season (in heat) can make a female dog moody and temporarily change its behavior and personality. Owners need to be patient and maintain good hygiene with their female GSD.

De-sex considerations

Evidence has shown spaying or neutering may lower aggression and reduce the risk of cancer in your German Shepherd.

Some owners consider spaying their female GSD not only will prevent unwanted pregnancy but also would decrease some of the breed’s health issues,  including some forms of mammary tumors.

However, many studies over the last five years have shown that neutering and spaying may also have negative effects on your dog’s health.

For instance, neutering of female German Shepherd Dogs may associate joint disorders, cancers and urinary incontinence. (Source: Veterinary Medicine and Science Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.)

Talk to your vet regarding your options. Some vets suggest the de-sex operation to be done as early as 6 months. But some consider GSDs are not ready for it until they reach maturity at 2 years old for both males and females. 

Conclusion

At the end of the day, it all boils down to how does your German Shepherd fit into your need and your family’s need overall. If well trained and properly socialized from an early age, and continue to get physical and mental exercise, both male and female GSD will make excellent companions for you, your family, and your other pets.

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