German Shepherds are mostly known for their intelligence, courage, and agility. However, most GSD parents will attest to the fact that they’re incredibly affectionate.
If they could speak, they’d probably tell you they love you and appreciate you a thousand times a day. But since they can’t verbalize their feelings, they show their affection in multiple non-verbal ways.
Of course, different dogs will show their love in different ways. Here are some of the most common German Shepherd signs of affection:
1) They can’t help but kiss or lick you.
Dogs learn to lick and kiss during puppyhood. Puppies lick their mothers’ mouths as a signal that they want to get fed. Therefore, they learn early on that licking on the mouth is a way to show they want to be cared for.
As they grow older, kissing also becomes a communication act. Dogs mouths and noses are incredibly sensitive. A few kisses can give them tons of information about you, including where you’ve been and who you’ve been with.
While it’s up to you to set boundaries with your own GSD, know that kissing you only means that they love you and are interested in what you’ve been doing.
2) They like staying close to you.
German Shepherds have protective instincts, so don’t be surprised when they follow you everywhere!
When you’re bonded with a German Shepherd, they’re most comfortable when they’re around to protect you and feel like they’re doing their job. Additionally, they associate your presence with good feelings, so they’d prefer to follow you around and keep an eye on you.
3) They often snuggle or cuddle.
Apart from following you around, German Shepherds like to feel physically close to you. Snuggling or cuddling is one of the best signs that your GSD is being affectionate because this is one way they treat you as part of their pack.
German Shepherds will lay close to you when you are lying down and sit next to you when you are sitting. Adorably, many GSDs don’t realize their size or weight and would actually sit or lay on you like a small lapdog.
4) They lean on you.
There are many reasons why your German Shepherd might habitually lean on you. You’ll know when this happens because they’ll almost put all their weight on you, which is quite a bit when they’re fully grown.
Often, leaning is a way for dogs to communicate that they want something that only you could provide. It could also be a sign that they’re insecure about something. Although in most cases, they just want to be close to you, even at time when it isn’t convenient for a snuggle.
No matter the reason, leaning is an affectionate gesture that shows your dog trusts you and are at ease when you’re nearby.
5) They allow you to hug them.
The act of hugging dogs became controversial because a casual, observational study revealed that it gives dogs anxiety. Indeed, dogs may not like hugs because it practically immobilizes them and makes them feel unprotected. But, many dog parents — especially those with German Shepherds — would attest to the fact that their pups enjoy hugs. At the very least, dogs will tolerate hugs when they come from people they trust and love.
When your GSD allows you to hug them, check for signs of distress, including folded-back ears and half-moon eyes. If you don’t see any, you’re free to take it as a sign of affection.
6) They ask for rubs.
When you’re a parent to a German Shepherd, you’ll learn that rubbing and scratching them is akin to a part-time job. Each day, you’ll notice small signs they show to ask for this kind of attention.
If you miss the signals, your GSD will soon demand rubs and scratches by pawing at your hand or even sitting on you while looking up at you to make sure they get your attention. Don’t worry! It may sound like a chore, but it’s actually one of the most adorable things about living with a German Shepherd.
7) They’re always happy to see you.
Most dogs you’ve formed a bond with will show excitement when seeing you after a while of being apart. German Shepherds are especially known for this.
They may jump up at you, lick your face, and run around aimlessly at your presence. They may even whine from their inability to contain their excitement. No matter the temperament of your GSD, they’ll surely have their own way of telling you how happy they are to see you, even if you’ve only been away for a few minutes.
8) They keep wanting to play.
When a German Shepherd selects you as a playmate, take it as a sign of affection. It means they love you and they want to do something fun with you. They might bring a toy to you or bring you their leash to go out for a walk.
9) They raise their eyebrows at you.
According to a study led by researchers from Japan’s Azabu University Department of Animal Science and Biotechnology, dogs raise their eyebrows when they’re happy to see you. It is most common for them to raise one eyebrow, especially the left one.
Additionally, the researchers found that the happier they are to see you, the higher the eyebrow is raised. So, when you see your GSD raising an eyebrow at you, they’re not questioning you but showing affection.
10) They look you in the eyes.
Another study led by Japan-based researchers determined that when dogs and their humans engage in eye contact, it leads to a boost in oxytocin in both parties. Oxytocin is generally regarded as the “cuddle hormone” because it is responsible for feelings of comfort in both dogs and humans.
Additionally, the more oxytocin a dog has, the more likely they are to gaze at you. So, when your GSD stares at you, it is because they love you, and your presence makes them feel good.
These ten ways German Shepherds typically show affection are also common to dogs of other breeds. If you don’t know you might dismiss these acts as normal or even silly behavior. Once you recognize they’re trying to tell you they love you, you’ll be able to form an even deeper bond.