German Shepherd Head Tilts, What Do They Mean?

German Shepherd Head Tilts, What Do They Mean?

German shepherds are very beautiful dogs that are also very expressive.  One behavior that is adorable to watch them do is a head tilt.  It’ truly one of the cutest things they do and we bet you find them as irresistible to watch as we do.

Many German shepherds start tilting their head as a young puppy. Even before their fuzzy ears are up, they will rock their little heads back and forth in the most amusing way.  As their ears grow, their head tilts just keep getting more adorable.

As grown dogs, their head tilts are still super entertaining but they become even more expressive.  As they tilt their head, they will often sport many different facial expressions that makes them look as though they are thinking hard or asking a question.

As a German shepherd owner, you may have learned some of the things that will trigger your shepherd to tilt their head and be able to anticipate when the tilt is coming. You might even be able to trigger them to do it for you. Often a certain sound, such as a particular voice you speak in, a noise, or even when they are concentrating on something will cause them to tilt their head.

These head tilts make great photo opportunities that are perfect for sharing on Instagram but they are also much more.  Have you ever wondered why German shepherds tilt their head more than some other breeds?

It is believed that German shepherds tilt their head to capture and decipher more sound.  If you’ve spent any time around dogs, you know they have outstanding hearing capabilities and can hear much better than people in many ways.

They Tilt Their Head to Pin Point Sound

German shepherds were built for hearing and their ears are in the perfect upright position to maximize the reception of sound. When they hear something interesting or that they can’t decipher, they will tilt their head to capture the sound to pin point what it is and where it is coming from.

As herding and working dogs, it’s important to them to know what is going on around them and be able to protect and alert the flock. It’s in their nature to be alert and aware of the sounds and situations that are taking place around them.

To give you an idea how a German shepherd hears sound, according to Stanley Coren, Ph.D in the book, How Dogs Think, “The truth of the matter is that, for some sounds, a dog’s hearing is really hundreds of times better than ours, whereas for other sounds, dogs and humans have sound sensitivities that are very much the same.”

It’s common for people to rely on German shepherds to alert and protect them from the things they can’t hear at all or can’t hear very well.  For example, dogs can easily distinguish the sounds that are approaching their home long before their owner has any idea that they’re there.

What Sounds Can They Hear?

They can hear some things better because they can hear some sounds that human can’t. Sounds as high as 47,000 to 65,000 Hertz are too high-pitched for people, who can’t hear higher than 20,000 Hertz.

Dogs can also detect softer sounds than people can. The loudness or intensity of a sound is measured in decibels and some sounds too quiet for people to hear. Those sounds are given a negative decibel rating.

According to Stanley Coren, “dogs can hear sounds between -5 dB and -15 dB on average,” which are not loud enough for human ears but no trouble for them at all.

This explains why sometimes a German shepherd will tilt their head for no apparent reason.  But they will also tilt their head at sounds people can hear, too.  This is because when dogs hear a sound, they will move their ears to capture the noise, which is also something people can’t do.

At times, German shepherds may also tilt their head for reasons other than capturing sound. Often, they will tilt if they have a medical problem, such as a stroke, ear infection, or dirt or debris in their ear.  So, if you see them tiling their head at odd times or walking with their head tilted, you should check with your vet.

Some owners believe that German shepherds will also tilt their head for other reasons other than capturing sound. These may include:

  • Paying attention to their owner
  • Looking past their muzzle
  • When they are trying to decipher meaning
  • Trying to communicate

The next time your German shepherd tilts its head, you know that it’s most likely capturing a sound and trying to decipher what it means and where it’s coming from and looking totally adorable and amusing while doing it.

We hope you enjoy this article, please feel free to pass it along to your friends.

You may also like: 17 Adorable Photos Of German Shepherds Showing Off Their "Head-Tilting" Skills

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