Are German Shepherds Good With Small Dogs
Dog Care Tips · Dog Behavior

Are German Shepherds Good With Small Dogs? Real-Life Examples

Last Updated/Info Checked on June 17, 2023 by Linda Michaels

German Shepherds are by all means one of the most famous and easily recognizable dog breeds not just in America but all over the world.

They can be seen working for the military or police, helping handicapped individuals, or being kept as pet dogs. They are a highly intelligent breed that can be trained easily due to their obedient nature.

GS breed is also very friendly as far as humans are concerned. They are also very protective of their families. But, Are German Shepherds Good With Small Dogs? Today, we are going to discuss that.

But first, we need to understand the personality traits of a German Shepherd dog, as a dog’s behavior with other breeds greatly depends on its nature and characteristics.

Related: Are German Shepherds good for first time owners?

Personality Traits Of A German Shepherd

Let’s talk about the personality of GSD to understand the topic better.

German shepherds are a breed that was bred solely to be phenomenal at herding. Their origin dates back to the late 1890s in the German region, which is pretty recent as compared to many old breeds like the Huskies or Shih Tzu.

Since then, they have been trained as military dogs to fight alongside soldiers, as police dogs to help catch criminals, and also as helper dogs to help and serve thousands of handicapped individuals. This purposeful breeding has shaped their traits to a great extent.

Therefore, it is crucial to be mindful of these characteristics when owning a German Shepherd and to ensure they receive good care and training to overcome any potential difficulties.

1. Smart and Intelligent Breed

Score: 5/5 

When dealing with independent breeds such as German Shepherds, who have been trained to make decisions and interpret their owners’ signals, their minds are constantly active and quick to respond to stimulation.

Credible sources like Dogtime rates them very high on the intelligence scale. As a result, it is crucial to provide German Shepherds with mentally stimulating tasks and activities. To keep them mentally sound.

However, if you fail to provide them with such tasks, you may end up with a highly agitated and restless dog.

Now you may ask how a dog’s intelligence is related to its behavior toward other dogs. The answer to this is pretty straightforward, an intelligent dog is aware of its desires and will pursue them by all means, even if it means challenging other dogs who try to interfere.

However, it’s worth noting that these dogs also understand and value the significance of teamwork as they have been trained to do so. Thus,  when it comes to tasks that require collaborative efforts, they are very likely to show a sense of comradery.

2. Highly Energetic

Score: 5/5 

German Shepherds are one of the most energetic dog breeds, their role as military dogs is living proof of that. They have never-ending energy reserves and thus their exercise demands are off the roof.

This makes it imperative that they are engaged in all sorts of physical activities whether it’s the simple act of walking or being involved in dog sports like frisbee, obstacle courses, etc

Such high-energy dogs are the least compatible options for laid-back breeds that want to do nothing besides laying in bed all day and relaxing. 

3. Independent And Challenging 

Score: 5/5 

As German shepherds have been bred for high-intensity tasks, they have also been trained to perform tasks independently when the need arises. 

They have remarkable intelligence that can also make them independent thinkers and are often challenging to train.

Dogtime rates them as one of the lowest-scoring dogs in terms of their compatibility with inexperienced owners due to their demanding nature.

As a result of their independent nature, German Shepherds may exhibit dominant behavior towards other dogs, especially those that are smaller in size than them. This is an inherent trait in German Shepherds and should be considered when deciding to keep them as pets.

4. Mouthy 

Score: 5/5

German shepherds are one of the mouthiest dog breeds. This means that they have a strong habit of nibbling at things that intrigue their interest. This can be a trouble for small dogs living with them as they may nibble, bite, or use their mouth in any way to assert themselves.

As they are a strong and bigger breed, they may inadvertently hurt the smaller breed in doing so. This is a potential danger of keeping a GS with a small dog as a pet.

5. Strong Prey Drive

Score: 4/5

As German shepherds have been used for military and police aid, they have developed a strong sense of preying.

Their prey drive is so strong that you may find it difficult to control them when they find an animal that they think they should attack, be it a wild animal or another dog.

If left untrained, a German Shepherd would tend to chase after smaller dogs and will attempt to overpower them. Therefore, it is crucial to train them for peaceful coexistence with other pets in the household to prevent any oppressive behavior towards them.

The Good Traits That Make German Shepherds Get Along With Other Dogs

By now, you must be very skeptical about the shared life of a GS with a smaller pup in your house.

However, you should know that a German Shepherd also possesses numerous other qualities that make it a suitable breed to go along with other dogs, that may as well be smaller in size.

The following traits are the reasons why I’m saying that.

1. Family-Centered

Score: 5/5 

German Shepherds are a very family-oriented dog breed. They get attached to their owners and everything that relates to them, be it another human or other dogs. If you look into this characteristic of the GS breed on DogTime you’d find out that they are rated the highest in this category.

So this means that if a dog is introduced to them as family, they would show great love and affection towards it and treat it like their own family.

2. Cannot Tolerate Loneliness

Score: 2/5  (Loneliness tolerance)

German Shepherds like Huskies and many other dog breeds are prone to suffer from separation anxiety. This is because they get attached to their families and cannot function in their absence at all. It is important for their normal functioning that they receive the presence of their loved ones for most of the day.

One of the methods recommended for addressing separation anxiety in German Shepherds is to consider adopting additional pets for their company, preferably those breeds listed later in this article.

Can German Shepherds Be Around Small Dogs?

As a general rule, it is advised not to allow German Shepherds to be in the company of small dogs due to their high prey drive.

German Shepherds have a strong instinct to chase and pursue small animals. They tend to be independent and do not typically get along well with breeds that do not match their temperament.

However, this is only true for a German Shepherd that hasn’t been trained properly to live with smaller dog breeds. When you want to introduce a GS dog to other breeds, particularly smaller ones, keep the following things in mind:

1. Competition Over Food

German Shepherds often show food aggression based on their primitive instincts and they can easily get angry at small dogs that try to share a bite with them. They are extremely capable of hurting them severely.

Thus, they should be trained to control themselves at the sight of food. The earlier this is done, the better.

2. Size Difference

it is very possible for your German Shepherd to unexpectedly knock over a smaller breed without warning. That’s something they tend to enjoy due to their highly playful nature. Not to mention how they do everything with sheer intensity, according to DogTime.

In the meanwhile, the small dog may get hurt because the force from a GS would be too much for its smaller existence.

3. Physical Aggression

Before you decide to bring a smaller breed into your home alongside a German Shepherd, it is important to consider the German Shepherd’s tendency to be mouthy. 

This behavior can potentially escalate into a situation where the smaller dog may receive more aggression than it can handle in the form of nibbling and biting.

How do you introduce a German Shepherd to a small dog?

Due to the independent and assertive nature of German Shepherds, it is advisable to avoid adopting a small dog as a companion for them, particularly if both dogs are adults and lack previous training.

This is because in adulthood, the room for behavior modification is not much and it would be difficult for both dogs to accept the other dog and share an owner.

However, with appropriate training, German Shepherds and smaller dogs can coexist peacefully in the same household. 

1. Obedience Training

This training should begin early on during puppyhood. Both dogs should receive proper instructions on how to behave when in the presence of the other dog. Primarily, the focus of this training revolves around teaching the dogs to listen to you without fail.

Now you could incorporate positive reinforcement to do that by using treats or you could take benefit from using shock collars’ negative reinforcement. 

Both the positive and negative reinforcement techniques are evidence-based and work fine improving a dog’s obedience. You can either use both or opt for the one that is more feasible for you.

2. Introduce Them At a Neutral Ground

For their first meet-up, you should opt for a location that is neutral for both dogs, this will give more room to both of them to show respect and try to get to know each other better.

Otherwise, one dog may be overconfident and the other may feel underwhelmed. 

3. Avoid Any Un-Supervised Meet-up

Introducing the German Shepherd to a small dog requires you to be very cautious. Even certain small breeds are too territorial to leave any other pooch near such as Chihuahuas. It may be the case that the first signs of aggression come from the smaller dog and not your German Shepherd.

Initially, you should have both dogs under control using leashes or some form of a collar. 

4. Introduce Them As Strangers

Before formally introducing them, try to give them a preliminary introduction. That could include walking the two side by side on a leash. I’ve also seen owners let the two dogs sniff each other’s belongings to get familiar with their scents. 

When they stop showing interest in the new smell of the dog, then it’s the right time to formally introduce them. 

5. Let Them Meet In Their Space

When deciding to adopt dogs that will live together in your home, it is important to introduce them gradually. Start by familiarizing them with each other’s scent and walking them together. 

This process wouldn’t overwhelm them and at the same time allow them to understand each other at their own pace.

Once they have become more comfortable, you can arrange a meeting in their future shared space. However, it is crucial to remain attentive and not ignore their interaction, even after completing the training, as this is a significant concern.

6. Consider Profession Trainers

If, even after following the aforementioned steps, you observe that your German Shepherd continues to display excessive aggression towards the smaller dog or exhibits significant behavioral issues, getting professional training is a recommended option. 

Professional dog trainers employ similar techniques as mentioned earlier but with greater expertise and focus. They have years of experience that can potentially help your German Shepherd become more receptive to shared living. 

However, it is important to consider whether you have the financial means to afford professional training services or not.

7. Observe Patience

With all this, you must understand that nothing good comes without time and patience. Training a German shepherd isn’t a task that gets completed in days or weeks. You will see minor improvements being made by your pooch but there won’t be a ‘voila’ moment. 

What Are The Dog Breeds That Get Along With German Shepherds? 

The following breeds are generally considered the most compatible for shared living with German Shepherds.

  • Belgian Shepherd
  • Husky
  • Doberman
  • Boxer
  • Border Collie
  • Dalmatian
  • Australian Shepherd
  • Labrador Retriever 
  • Golden Retriever
  • Other German Shepherds

What small dog is most like a German Shepherd?

A miniature German Shepherd is a small breed that is very compatible with a German Shepherd. It is essentially a cross between a German Shepherd and a Miniature Poodle or a Collie.

This is a loyal, friendly, and trainable breed that is quite adorable too.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here is, let’s begin.

Do German Shepherds get along with all dogs?

German Shepherds generally interact very positively with dogs of similar size, energy levels, and temperament.

However, they may struggle to develop a connection with dogs that are smaller, less active, and inclined towards a sedentary lifestyle.

Do GS Dogs Get Along With Other German Shepherds?

Yes, German Shepherds get along very well with other German Shepherds because they share the same energy, physical ability, and temperament. 

They will protect and take care of each other well when left alone, unlike the weak bond they would develop for a smaller breed.

Are German Shepherds Good With Small Dogs – Final Thoughts

The German shepherd dog breed is highly versatile and energetic. They can be trained to live with almost any dog breed relatively effortlessly with the right tools and tactics.

However, it is advisable to opt for a larger breed that shares similar energy and strength as a GS dog when considering them for a shared living.

Smaller breeds are more likely to struggle when it comes to handling a German Shepherd’s high energy levels, strong prey drive, and assertive behavior. 

Nevertheless, with proper socialization and training during their early life, they can learn to coexist peacefully.

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