All dogs tend to form a special bond with their owners. That bond makes them become attached to and eager to please their humans. When it comes to loyalty, however, it is usually working dogs like German Shepherds that rank at the top.
Are German Shepherds Loyal?
Yes, most definitely. Although all dogs are loyal to some extent, the German Shepherd’s intelligence and drive contribute to their innate sense of loyalty. They tend to form intrinsic bonds with their family and develop an instinct to protect them against anything they might perceive as threats.
Why Are German Shepherds so Loyal?
Some surmise that the German Shepherds’ loyalty is rooted in their wolf ancestry. In the wolf pack, alpha pairs are devoted to each other and are committed to protecting every member of their pack. GSDs could treat their primary human as their alpha pair and the rest of their family as the pack they’re tasked to protect.
No matter the beginnings, however, it is clear that loyalty is something cultivated in the breed standard as dog enthusiasts bred them into the modern GSD we know today.
In the early days of the German Shepherd, they were expected to protect their flock and work closely with their humans in doing so. Loyalty and obedience was necessary for that arrangement to work.
Later on, German Shepherds took on other working roles, most commonly in the military and police force. For these situations, loyalty to their handler is definitely an innate characteristic that’s nurtured in the breed stock.
All their training and socialization for these types of work has nourished their natural tendency to be loyal, which shows even in GSDs kept as companion dogs or household pets.
Benefits of Having a Loyal Dog
Loyalty is definitely something you want in your dog. Not only does it enable you to have a stronger relationship but it also enhances your feeling of safety around them as well as your appreciation of their presence.
Whether your dog is a German Shepherd or another breed, here are some of the most critical advantages of having a loyal dog:
The greater your dog’s sense of loyalty to you, the more eager they are to please you. You’re also better able to communicate with each other as they become more attuned to your cues, even if it’s just your body language, tone of voice, or facial expressions. All that leads to a stronger bond you wouldn’t be able to enjoy with a dog that’s more aloof.
A stronger bond with your dog gives them a stronger drive to work and please you. They tend to be more obedient and easier to train. Plus, loyal German Shepherds are often motivated by praise, which makes reinforcing positive behaviors easier than if they were only driven by treats.
Better Sense of Security
Having a GSD that’s devoted to you makes you feel more secure that they’ll use their canine abilities to protect you and your home. Additionally, the combination of the German Shepherd’s intelligence, size, and strength can make them difficult dogs for inexperienced handlers. Knowing that they’re loyal to you can make you more confident that they wouldn’t hurt you or turn against you.
Possible Downsides to Having a Loyal Dog
Finding disadvantages to a dog’s loyalty might seem silly, but this definitely positive trait does come with several challenges. In many cases, loyal dogs will also exhibit the following behaviors:
Separation anxiety is a common behavior in German Shepherds, which often has to be addressed with structured training. They become agitated when they’re away from their humans and can develop destructive behavior or exhibit signs of severe stress.
Loyalty often comes with protectiveness, and some dogs can become overprotective. Such dogs become reactive and might even become aggressive as they try to scare away anything they might perceive as threats to their human, home, or family.
Sometimes, loyal dogs find it difficult to get along with other pets. They prefer having the undivided attention of their humans and might even perceive other pets as threats.
In such cases, proper training and socialization is critical before exposing them to other animals.
How to Cultivate Loyalty in a German Shepherd
Although loyalty to their handlers is an innate trait in German Shepherds, there are sure ways for you to nourish that quality in your own dog.
Exercise Them Regularly
Regular physical exertion enables you to spend more time with your dog. Additionally, studies show that when you exercise together, both you and your dog experience a surge in a hormone called oxytocin. That surge creates positive feelings between the two of you and improves your social bond.
Engage in Training
Apart from physical exercise, challenge your German Shepherd with regular mental exercises. Honing their intelligence and allowing them to sharpen their natural canine abilities encourages good behavior and further improves your ability to communicate with one another.
Treat Them Well
Sometimes, there’s really not much more you need to do to gain your dog’s loyalty than to simply treat them well. Keep them healthy and pay them as much attention as you can, and they’ll reward you by being an overall happy and well-behaved companion
Evidence of German Shepherds’ Loyalty
Time and again, we hear stories of dog heroes—most of them German Shepherds—who risk their lives to save their owners.
Remember Buddy the hero GSD? He led a state trooper and several fire trucks to their burning home where his family was trapped, consequently saving their lives.
Buddy’s heroism is also featured in the top 10 list of heroic German Shepherds. Check out other canine heroes like him who went above and beyond, and proved their uncompromising loyalty to their humans
But German Shepherds need not risk their lives to prove their sense of loyalty. They do so in their everyday existence as they work alongside their handlers in the various functions they perform.
Even companion GSDs exhibit loyalty as they follow their humans around, seemingly eager to assist in any capacity. They are also ever ready to protect their home and family.
Loyalty is in the German Shepherd’s nature. But when they’re nurtured properly as well as trained to hone their intelligence and communication skills, they’re able to build stronger bonds with their humans that can’t be described as anything other than love and devotion.