Male vs. Female German Shepherds: What's The Difference?

Male vs. Female German Shepherds: What's The Difference?

Both male and female German shepherd dogs make fantastic active family pets.  They are great family guardians and companions.  Both are extremely smart and easy to train.  Both need lots of exercise, guidance, and socialization.

As with any breed, there are subtle differences between the sexes.  In German shepherds, these differences can vary greatly due to their breeding.  For example, a German working line shepherd is more active than the more low-key American show line dog.

For this reason, when choosing a German shepherd, it’s more important to understand the breeding, lineage, and pedigree of the dog than placing the major importance on the sex of the dog.

The German shepherd dog is considered a medium sized dog.  However, there are many breeders producing large or even giant shepherds.  Therefore, it’s possible to find a female shepherd that seemingly fits or exceeds the size standard of a male German shepherd. 

Therefore, it’s also important to research the breeder and pedigree of the dog if both size and temperament are important to you.  For the purposes of this article, we’re going to stick to the American Kennel Club breed standard for the physical characteristics of the dog.

Physical Appearance:

Male German shepherds are slightly larger than female German shepherds, with deeper chests.  They are typically heavier boned, more muscular, and have larger heads.

According to the breed standard, male German shepherds are 24-26” high and weigh 65-90 pounds.  Females are 22-24 inches high and weigh 50 to 70 pounds.

Male shepherds tend to have a more masculine look about them while female shepherds have narrower heads, narrower snouts, and are more feminine around the eyes.  One can usually guess which shepherd is the male or female simply by looking at them.


As with any breed, the upbringing of the dog plays a huge role in how a dog behaves.  Dogs that are raised in a secure, social environment act very different than dogs that lack leadership and affection.  German shepherds that lack training and guidance can suffer from behavior problems, no matter what sex they are.  How they are raised from puppyhood is crucial to their personality development.

In general, both sexes are typically confident, loyal, and athletic.  Both are smart and, as herding dogs, naturally alert and protective.  Both dogs can be aloof, however, their upbringing and socialization plays a huge role in how they greet strangers and new situations.

The males tend to be pushier, bolder and more aggressive than the females.  However, many German shepherd dog owners will tell you their female is moodier than their male.  Since females are naturally more maternal, they can also be more reactive than males.  Males tend to be more possessive.

Many German shepherd owners will also say that their males are more affectionate and goofy while their females are more reserved.  That is not to say that females are not as sweet, some just may not be as cuddly.  Both sexes are extremely curious about everything going on in their household.

Unspayed dogs may exhibit more extreme differences.  Unspayed females can be more moody than a male dog. However, an unaltered male can become more frustrated when a female is in heat. Both can be more inattentive to their family during these times.  An unaltered male will be more prone to marking and guarding his territory.  


German shepherds are a dominate breed and need training from a young age.  Both sexes are equally smart and will try to rule the house and outwit their owners if given the chance. Most owners will tell you that males tend to vie for dominance more often than females while the females are more laid back.

Both sexes bond strongly with their family.  The more maternal female shepherd tends to attach themselves to the entire family while the males can become more bonded to one person.  That is not to say the male will not be attached to other people in the family, it simply means they have a tendency to play favorites. 

All in all, although there are differences between both sexes, their breeding, rearing, and how well socialized they are is more important to their personality development than their sex. 

These traits are simply generalities and not hard and fast rules.  You can learn a lot about the future personality of a dog by understanding their lineage and providing a stable, loving home with lots of guidance and training.

A German shepherd dog that is well loved, well trained, and secure will return that love and respect in great measure-it does not matter if they are a male or female.

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