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Dogs are no strangers to creating odd sounds, German Shepherds in particular. It shouldn’t surprise you if you suddenly have your pooch start making some odd noise here and there, but you’re likely wondering why your GSD is groaning in the first place.

In most cases, it’s more than likely nothing, just your dog stretching a bit or trying to emote a specific mood.

Usually it’s just the follow-up noise as he’s stretching out after a pretty solid napping session, likely copying you doing the same when you get out of bed.

Other times it could just be a cry for attention or simply a sigh of relief.

In the more dire scenarios though, it’s often a sign of them experiencing some physical pain, the source of which can vary greatly.

Let’s get into a bit more detail about that, shall we?

1. A Sign Of A Heckin’ Good Rest

german shepherd puppy stretchinggerman shepherd puppy stretching

The first, and most common cause behind a German Shepherd’s groan is related to stretching.

While it’s more of an occasional thing, when it does happen, there’s no need to worry.

You’re more likely to see if when he gets up from laying down for longer periods of time, be it from resting or right after waking up from sleep or a short nap.

Once he gets up, he’ll stretch his legs as a means to relieve pressure which can be followed up by said groan, another means of pressure relief.

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If you see him doing it, then he likely had a pretty good nap and is ready to start his day.

2. A Sign Of Excitement

girl watching German Shepherd dog rolling in grass playinggirl watching German Shepherd dog rolling in grass playing

The next most common cause is the expression of excitement and satisfaction.

This is often brought upon via a good belly rubbing session or engaging in the dog’s favorite activity.

Now, it won’t always be a groan. Sometimes it’s a happy bark or even a grunt, depending on how your German Shepherd expresses said excitement, but know that it’s a possible reaction.

He’s by no means upset by you and he’d rather you two continued in the activity.

3. A Sigh Of Relief

german shepherd side profilegerman shepherd side profile

Much like how getting up from a good nap can trigger a groaning sound from your German Shepherd, so too can settling down to rest.

He may have had a long and exhausting day and he just wants to catch some Z’s, and, as he settles down and gets off his paws, you may hear a groan.

Once again, it’s similar to what we do when we finally come home from work or from a long walk and our feet are killing us.

All we want to do is get out of those shoes, sit down in a chair, recline back and relax, and sometimes we too release a similar expression of relief.

Your dog may just be copying you, which is often considered an endearing gesture.

4. An Attempt At Grabbing Your Attention

Photo of a beautiful friendship with a boy and a dogPhoto of a beautiful friendship with a boy and a dog

In some cases, your German Shepherd may feel ignored. After all, they do require a lot of attention and can get bored quite easily if they don’t get it.

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So, more often than not, you may find him coming over to you to try and get you to do something with him.

Once again, the method in which he does so may vary, depending on your doggo’s preferred means of communication.

Some dogs do it verbally through said groans or even barks or whines.

Other dogs may employ more non-verbal methods like pushing themselves into their owners or pawing away at them.

Some may even beg just to get your attention among plenty of other methods.

Be it groaning or anything else, it’s best you answer his call so the groaning doesn’t turn into sadness for your pupper, or the next cause on the list, frustration.

5. He’s Upset At Something

german shepherd lies in autumn woodgerman shepherd lies in autumn wood

When your German Shepherd doesn’t get what he wants or is forced to do something he doesn’t particularly like, you may get a grumble or groan from him followed by some level of reluctance or outright insubordination.

Once again, this is completely normal and a very human way of expressing the same emotion as we do the exact same thing, albeit with a few more intelligible words.

This is likely to happen during training or if they get scolded after doing something wrong that they didn’t believe deserved such a punishment.

So, if you hear your GSD groan after you’ve punished him in some way, know that that’s likely the reason why.

6. A Big Ball Of Anxiety

german shepherd lying downgerman shepherd lying down

With the shift to the more negative causes, it’s no surprise that fear and anxiety would come into play.

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Despite being the icon of bravery, German Shepherds can get scared of things just as much as any dog can.

No canine companion is immune to it, be it a visit to the vet, the sound of thunder or even something as simple as a vacuum cleaner.

But, what brings about a groan is when your dog wants to do something about it, but is unable to, because he lacks the knowledge on how to make it stop.

When things are out of his control, you’ll hear a mix of whines, sad growls, and groans in particular.

If you can read the context behind the situation where your pooch is groaning, then you’ll easily be able to discern the source of this fear and anxiety.

7. Your German Shepherd Is Experiencing Pain And Discomfort

German Shepherd Dog refuses dry foodGerman Shepherd Dog refuses dry food

The final reason ranges from mild to serious, depending on the root cause of the problem, but it’s often related to a health issue.

After A Meal

Starting from the milder feeling of discomfort, this one is most likely a follow-up after your dog gets a proper, filling meal and feels stuffed.

This is likely to produce a groan as he tries to aid his guts in helping settle the food he just ate so he could feel a bit less bloated.

Feeling Gassy

It could also just come from a buildup of gas or a tummy ache, in which case groaning is the better sound because the alternative is a lot smellier.

Bone Or Joint Issue

The more serious reason often relates to some issue with your German Shepherd’s bones.

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Be it worn out joints or outright hip or elbow dysplasia, your dog is likely to groan when one of the weaker ones is strained, producing a pang of dull pain which is instinctively followed by a groan from the GSD.

Muscle Cramps Or Sprains

In a similar vein, dogs, much like humans, can strain their muscles too much to the point where they get a cramp or sprain a ligament.

This then leads to a lot of groaning while the pain lasts and he tries to move around.

An Injury Or Illness

Finally, the more general reason behind your German Shepherd’s groans can be any form of more serious injury or harsh illness.

Anything that can cause him a load of pain is often going to cause him to emote it in a mix of whines and groans.

Though, these groans aren’t going to tell you much about what ails him on their own.

Make sure to check him for any particular symptoms that may narrow this down and react accordingly.

If you can’t, don’t hesitate to call your vet up and ask about the problem so you can help your dog out before something potentially  more hazardous develops from it.

How To Tell Which Groan Is Which?

a portrait of an old German shepherd sticking out her tongue in profilea portrait of an old German shepherd sticking out her tongue in profile

The key is context.

Sure, a lot of these causes are quite different, but the context in which they occur is vastly different in almost every scenario.

All you need to do is observe the surroundings briefly and you’ll easily be able to figure out what the cause is through a simple elimination process.

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Is Groaning A Cause For Worry In German Shepherds?

A lonely german shepherd resting.A lonely german shepherd resting.

It isn’t, not in most cases at least.

It’s often going to just be tied to either relaxation or frustration, followed up by the lesser likely causes of temporary discomfort or discontent.

The only time you should really be concerned is if the groaning is constant and is coupled together with whining or other signs of trouble.

If you’re bothered by the sound, you can always train him to express these feelings in a different way, but you’re not going to be able to affect every single one of these causes that way.

In Conclusion

German Shepherds groan due to a variety of different reasons, both positive and negative.

It’s a common response to different actions like stretching or settling down to relax in some cases.

In others, it’s one of a number of options in expressing a certain emotion like excitement, anxiety or frustration.

Or, your dog may have found it to be the best way to grab your attention when he needs something.

And, in some of the potentially more dire cases, it’s a sign that he may be suffering from a particular health issue or is experiencing some discomfort.

Whatever the case may be, it’s important to learn the context in which each of them occur and react accordingly.

That said, I’m sure that won’t be a problem for any of you folks out there.

Until next time, pet parents.


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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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