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Male Vs. Female German Shepherds

Male vs. Female German Shepherds

If you’re looking to get a GSD, may be wondering which gender is the most appropriate option for you and your family. Is there really a difference between male vs female German Shepherds? 

This article will explore the key differences between the genders to help you make an informed decision.

Male vs. Female German Shepherds: Are There Differences?

Yes, male and female German Shepherds differ. While the behavior and personality of each individual dog depend mostly on upbringing, there are general differences you might want to consider before welcoming a GSD into your life.

The Importance of Knowing the Difference Between Male and Female GSDs

German Shepherds are smart, energetic, eager to please, and as such are easy to train. No matter the gender, having one in your life can be incredibly rewarding.

However, there are a few differences between having a male and a female, and those distinctions can have a significant impact on their care.

Unknown to many, the differences between male and female German Shepherds can actually make huge impacts on a variety of factors including space, training requirements, and even costs.

It’s essential that you understand the differences between the two to make the best choice for your own needs and lifestyle.

How Male and Female German Shepherds Differ

To some, the differences between male and female German Shepherds might seem insignificant, however, even subtle differences could affect how compatible your own GSD is to your own lifestyle and personality.

Here are key differences you should consider before making a choice between the two sexes:

Sizes of Males vs Females GSDs

Male German Shepherds are larger and heavier than their female counterparts. Fully grown female adults weigh between 50 and 70 pounds while males weigh between 65 and 90 pounds. In terms of height, females grow up to about 22 to 24 inches tall while males are taller at 24 to 26 inches.

Two German Shepherds outside

Apart from general height and weight, the builds of GSDs also differ between the two genders. Females tend to have smaller, less muscular frames while males are generally more brawny and broader-chested.


While energy levels, curiosity, and enthusiasm for work differ between individual dogs regardless of sex, gender makes a marked difference in terms of general temperament.

Female GSDs tend to be gentler, sweeter, and friendlier while males are generally more proud and aloof.  Males can be more dominant and will tend to assert themselves when they lack strong leadership.

Presumably because of their more dominating personality, male GSDs are more likely to show aggression. Research by the Royal Veterinary College reveals that, while German Shepherds are not necessarily prone to hostility, males are more likely to display aggression than females. In the study, 6.75% of males and only 2.78% of females displayed such unwanted behaviors.

Accordingly, males tend to be more territorial and protective of their home and space. They also tend to bond with one human and therefore become protective of that particular person. That makes males better suited for guarding and personal protection, or a companion dog for a single-person home.

In contrast, females tend to be more family-oriented. Although they are still undeniably protective of their home and family, they are better suited for households with children.

Learning Ability

Male and female German Shepherds are equally intelligent.  However, since females mature faster and are more sensitive to their handler’s cues, they tend to be a little easier to train. Additionally, their size and frame make them better suited for agility events and other canine sports.

Males are also generally easy to train but their more dominating personalities require a firm handler with strong leadership abilities.

Reproductive Issues

The German Shepherd’s sex has several implications in terms of their care. When left unneutered, male GSDs can adopt some unwanted behaviors as they reach sexual maturity.

Males might become more reactive towards other male dogs and are more likely to mount, hump, and mark. Their urge to mate, especially when a female in heat is within tracking distance, can also be something to contend with.

On the other hand, an intact female will go into heat twice a year starting at as early as 6 months old. That can cause some changes in personality and they might even display some annoying behaviors. This includes howling and flagging—the female version of marking.

The heat cycle also involves some bleeding, which can cause unpleasant odors and stains around your home. Females also need to be separated from males during the heat cycle in order to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

Health Issues

When kept intact, both males and females could face issues related to their reproductive organs. Females can develop uterine infections and also mammary tumors, which are cancerous and fatal in 50% of dogs. On the other hand, neutering males eliminates the risk of prostate problems and testicular cancer.

Beyond reproductive issues, GSDs as a breed are equally susceptible to bloating and digestive disorders as well as bone and joint disorders like hip and elbow dysplasia. Regardless of sex, their other relatively common health concerns include ear infections and obesity.


According to the American Kennel Club, the German Shepherd has a life expectancy of 7 to 10 years. Another study by the Royal Veterinary College’s VetCompass Programme reveals an average lifespan of 10.3 years, with females living 1.4 years longer than their male counterparts. While females live up to 11.1 years on average, male GSDs have an average life expectancy of 9.7 years.


The difference in cost between having a male and female German Shepherd is not too significant. Most of your expenses will be the same regardless of sex.

However, because males are larger, they tend to require more food. While females might need up to 1,740 calories per day, males might require up to 2,100 calories.

On the other hand, sterilization is less costly for males than females. Castrating males involves the removal of the testicles from inside the scrotum while sterilizing a female involves the opening of the abdominal cavity to remove the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. Because spaying tends to be a more complicated procedure that requires additional safeguards, it can be up to double the cost neutering.

Should I Get a Male or Female German Shepherd?

Deciding between a male or female German Shepherd should be a personal one. The best choice really depends on your needs as well as your lifestyle.

In deciding between a male versus a female German Shepherd you should consider your family, the size difference, whether you want to be involved in canine sports, their lifespan, as well as if you want a GSD for personal protection.  Of course, there are other factors in determining whether a German Shepherd is right for you, but these factors help in deciding between the genders.

While some of these differences might matter, in the end it’s all about upbringing and socialization. Regardless of sex, every German Shepherd can be both a good family dog as well as an excellent working dog for as long as they are socialized properly and have a good leader.

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