Male vs. Female German Shepherd

photo by ayucar

According to American Kennel Club, GSDs rank second as the most popular dogs because of their extraordinary characteristics. They’re faithful, obedient, brave and intelligent, regardless of the gender. Though male and female GSDs have similarities, they also have relevant differences. If you’re thinking of buying either a male or a female GSD, take note of the following differences so you can choose which one is a good match for your lifestyle and preference.

Differences Between a Male German Shepherd and a Female German Shepherd

GSDs have individual differences because of how they’re bred, brought up in their environment or trained. However, they also have differences based on their gender. For this post, we will enumerate the gender-based general and natural differences between male GSDs and female GSDs.

Personality Differences 

Male GSDs are more dominant, possessive and proud while female GSDs are more affectionate and gentle. Male GSDs generally dominate because of their large and masculine features. They’re also more territorial of their home, yard, property and their handlers. This could be a problem because we don’t want our house and surrounding areas to smell like urine. If territorial marking is a problem to you, consider spaying your male GSDs because they mark their territory less when spayed. Besides, they’re also possessive towards their items like their food, beds, and toys. To control unwanted behaviors, train your GSD at a young age to prevent problems. On the other hand, female GSDs are less possessive of their belongings and they get along well with their handlers and people in general so they tend to be more protective of them. However, female GSDs can become too dependent which could result in jealousy. 

  • Socialization Difference
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Even though a male GSD likes every member of his family, he prefers bonding with his handler who spends the most time with him. For a female GSD, she bonds not only to her handler but also to other family members and even tolerates outsiders. She’s loving and gentle with children but a male GSD is playful with children which could sometimes hurt when not controlled or trained.

  • Training Differences

Since male GSDs are proud, it can be more challenging to train them than their female counterparts. However, they excel more when they are used as police dogs because they’re good at apprehending criminals. Female GSDs mature early so they have the edge on male GSDs in terms of learning tasks. Female GSDs are more sensitive and more focused so they excel in agility training because they are faster and smaller. However, they can be easily distracted during training when they are in heat unless they’re neutered. Male GSDs can be easily distracted during training as well when they sense a female GSD in heat.

Physical Differences

Let’s start with the obvious difference. Male GSDs are masculine and female GSDs are feminine with delicate and more refined features.

  • Size

A male GSD is taller, bigger and heavier. He has a larger head and a broader body while a female GSD is noticeably smaller and lighter. The size of a male GSD can be intimidating and impressive but the size of a female GSD is useful as well. If you happen to see larger females and smaller males, these are exceptions.

  • Height
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The usual height for a fully grown male GSD is 24 to 26 inches while a fully grown female GSD is 22 up to 24 inches.

  • Weight

Adult male GSDs can weigh 65 to 90 pounds while adult female GSDs can weigh 50 up to 70 pounds.

Don’t worry if your GSD doesn’t fall under the following height and weight range as long as you and your vet agree your GSD is healthy and thriving well. These numbers are not absolutes.

What Should You Choose?

It depends on your preference. Inform the breeder of the specific characteristics you are looking for. Be clear of your purpose in buying a GSD so the breeder can give possible suggestions. If it is feasible, observe male and females GSD puppies together.

If you’re planning to breed a GSD, getting a female GSD is an option. When female GSDs are in heat, they will bleed for a week or more. This happens only twice a year but it can be messy. So if you are inexperienced, it could be difficult. As an alternative, you can choose to get a male GSD. But the problem is when a male GSD smells a female GSD in heat, he will try his best to pursue the female GSD no matter how far she is so you won’t see your male GSD for a while.

Most experts agree that female GSDs are ideal for a family with children so if you have children, get a female GSD since she is more nurturing and gentle. A female GSD is also preferred if you have a small space and if it’s your first time to care for a GSD. However, if you want a GSD for your protection, get a male GSD. Keep in mind though that a male GSD needs more food compared with a female one.

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Even though there are general differences between male and female GSDs, there are still exceptions. You also have to consider how the GSD was raised and trained. Remember that an untrained GSD regardless of gender can become aggressive.

Try not to focus too much on gender because their characteristics depend on their breed not just on their gender. Any GSD, male or female can become your most protective and loyal companions depending on how they’re raised.


Whatever you choose, be open-minded when your expectations are not met. For example, if you bought a female GSD and found out she’s more aggressive than a male one, train her to control her behavior. Many GSDs are abandoned or put up for adoption because of high expectations from their previous owners. Here’s hoping you find the right GSD for you whether a male or female GSD.

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