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I am certain that German shepherd dog owners would never ask this question, seeing how loyal and loving the breed is with their families. Still, anybody who is curious will want to know can a German shepherd kill you.

At first glance, a highly energetic, medium-large dog breed with razor-sharp teeth sounds like a killing machine. However, the German shepherd has its wits about it, making it highly unlikely to try to kill you.

Still, the question is can a German shepherd kill you and not does it want to kill you. Today is the day we go through all the tools the breed has to make quick work of any human. Enter the GSD.

German Shepherds Are Lethal Weapons

german shepherd jumping over the fencegerman shepherd jumping over the fence

Professional fighters’ hands and legs are considered as weapons and if they attack another person, it is considered an attack with a lethal weapon. 

Now, German shepherds are even more deadly than that, and a dog that is given the command to attack or attacks a person out of its own volition is considered a dangerous weapon in the United States.

Although this information is enough to deduce that a German shepherd can kill you, knowing where the most danger comes from has its uses. God forbid you get attacked by a random GSD, you would want to know how to defend yourself.

The obvious advantage dogs have over us humans is the speed and agility. Running on all fours and lunging for the neck with a 42-teeth-strong jaw is a lethal combination. 

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The ninety-pound weight of a male German shepherd sounds like it is not much, compared to some large dog breeds that weigh well over a hundred pounds. However, the momentum that its muscular body generates will complement the 238 PSI bite force pretty well.

Let us not forget that GSDs have incredible work drive, with a proven track record as law enforcement and army dogs. That means a German shepherd will not give up easily if you hit it or try to wrestle.

With a brain great enough to pair its athleticism, the GSD will not blindly go for the throat. It will adapt to things the defender does and counter the moves. The natural aggression of the breed will feed the body to persevere.

How A German Shepherd Attacks A Target

German Shepherd attacks a person in special protective clothingGerman Shepherd attacks a person in special protective clothing

The body of the German shepherd dog is built to generate tremendous power and has stamina to participate in a long fight. With a strong neck, well-developed shoulders and muscular hind legs, a GSD’s jump and pulling power can take down attackers twice their size.

Having inherited many traits from their canine ancestors, the difference between wolves and German shepherd dogs is substantial, but not enough to hinder their combat skills.

A dog’s cunning and predatory instincts can easily fool us humans. A GSD can easily sneak up on you from behind or the side. Even though we have a height advantage due to biped anatomy, a bitten leg will hurt and weaken the ability to fight back.

With that being said, it is important to remember that highly intelligent breeds, such as the German shepherd, will be tactical about the attack. Coming at a human straight on is not wise, so multiple attacks focused on the extremities yield a much higher chance of success.

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We can see trained police German shepherds going for the arms or legs to incapacitate the target, but a dog that is not trained will probably have a primal approach to the whole thing.

An attack from behind can be fatal in a matter of seconds. Taking a person down is easier than you would think, and GSDs know that striking from a position of advantage involves the least amount of effort. 

Dogs Are Pack Animals When Push Comes To Shove

Like one dog was not bad enough, a pack of German shepherds will hunt its target just like wolves would. Depending on the size of the pack, the approach is quite simple – surround the target.

One dog will distract the target by constantly pressing the attack while the other dog(s) take turns biting the joints and flanks. The alpha dog usually stays in front of the “prey” and tries to get the closest possible to the vital organs to weaken it.

Finding yourself in this situation is difficult and there are few things one can do to put up a good defensive strategy. Luckily, there are not many GSD packs roaming around, so there is hope they never take over the world.

How Likely Are You To Get Killed Or Attacked By A German Shepherd?

Aggressive dog shows dangerous teethAggressive dog shows dangerous teeth

While dying at the teeth of a GSD is as probable as winning the lottery, getting attacked is more common. As with every offensive behavior in dogs, there are factors that influence it.

Our loyal family dogs and best friends to many people around the world are first and foremost social beings. Living by your side, or even being a stray among other dogs and around people, teaches them how to behave.

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Being aggressive does not bring much food or attention, so German shepherds will adapt and re-domesticate themselves to better fit into the environment. On rare occasions, attacks are prompted by human error, mirrored in the inability to properly read the dog’s body language.

No creature on earth is born as an adult, and the GSD is no different. Puppies slowly develop into the theoretical killing machines I spoke earlier, but until fully mature they are weak, sensitive, and cute.

We are all suckers for a cute dog, and it does not take those same puppies to figure it out and use it against us. Growing up around humans creates a relationship or bond. Even with dogs who have been abused in the past, trust in humans can be restored.

Cohabitating with humankind for ages made dogs evolve and be a great companion instead of considering us prey. Genetics are a strong mechanism that keeps dogs, and even wild dogs and wolves, frightful of encounters with humans.

Can a German shepherd kill you? You bet it can, but the chances of it happening are as thin as air. Still, a GSD attack can be motivated by several things, which we will go through right now.

Reasons A German Shepherd Might Attack

German shepherd running in summer landscapeGerman shepherd running in summer landscape

In the majority of GSD attacks on people, the reason is fear. Everyone knows about the “cornered animal” quote, so we can see it is based on factual information.

Canines are territorial animals that protect their and the pack’s living area. By and large, barking and running at people to scare them away is the preferred method of getting rid of “intruders”, but a German shepherd can attack a person for this reason.

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You will hear many say that GSDs, Pitbulls, or some other breed is a vicious, bloodthirsty dog. A dog is what humans make it be. Abused and mistreated dogs will lash out more often than content, well-cared for dogs.

A dog that has not been obedience trained and properly socialized might bite guests or strangers. This is not uncommon and is usually a sign of poor owner practices and lack of knowledge regarding dog behavior.

There are clear signs of aggressive behavior in German shepherds that might help you anticipate and avoid an attack, so make sure you read our article explaining five clues that mean aggression.

For Potential German Shepherd Owners

man in black clothes walking his german shepherd dogman in black clothes walking his german shepherd dog

Getting a GSD for its amazing array of qualities is a great way to add a canine to your family. However, the breed is not recommended for first-time dog owners.

This is not a shot at your ability to care for a dog, but certain breeds are much harder to work with and require structure that only previous experience with dogs can provide. However, you can always look for advice from behavioral experts or dog trainers.

Creating a bond with your German shepherd is of great importance, but the type of relationship you build is even more important. What does “type of relationship” mean?

Dogs can easily become excessively protective of their owners, and with the pedigree GSDs have in terms of loyalty, intelligence, and alertness protective behavior can quickly transform into aggression. This is where structured training tames that aggressive behavior.

Is the German shepherd dog the right breed for you? It is if you are ready to work hard to raise the ideal dog they are representative of. If you are adamant about getting a GSD as your first dog, then join a dog training course or attend some behavioral training sessions.

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Note: American show-line German shepherds are less aggressive than their working line counterparts, so make sure you get a dog that is easier to work with from the get-go.


German shepherds can kill you. Sharks also kill, and the chance of getting killed by a GSD is as high as getting killed by a shark in a pool. There is no bad question, though, and your curiosity about this matter is admirable.

Animals will be animals, but German shepherds hold a special place in our hearts. They might kill us by plotting against us in a few thousand years, but for now we are safe. After all, you will not find packs of GSDs roaming around on a killing spree.

Jokes aside, a dog attack is a serious matter that mainly involves poor judgement or lack of loyalty from the human side. Being a responsible owner without the fear of learning as much as possible about dogs is the best way to not get killed by a GSD.

By Andy Marcus

Hello, my name is Andy Marcus, and I am a passionate dog lover and enthusiast. For me, there is nothing quite like the joy and love that a furry friend can bring into our lives. I have spent years studying and learning about dogs, and have made it my mission to share my knowledge and expertise with others through my website. Through my website, I aim to provide comprehensive information and resources for dog owners and enthusiasts. Whether it's training tips, health and nutrition advice, or insights into dog behavior, I strive to create a platform that is accessible and useful to everyone who loves dogs.

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