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Why Do German Shepherds Groan?

Why Do German Shepherds Groan?

German Shepherds tend to be a more vocal dog breed.  They are known to make all sorts of noises including groaning.  There are many reasons why your German Shepherd may groan, this article will help you to better understand the reasons why German Shepherds groan.

So, Why Do German Shepherds Groan?

German Shepherds can groan for a number of reasons, such as being relaxed, stretching out, seeking your attention, being excited, or because they are experiencing pain.  Remember that a groan can have different meanings depending on the circumstances, so if your GSD is groaning, look at the possible reasons why before getting concerned.

Reasons Why German Shepherds Groan


Believe it or not, your dog being relaxed is a common reason for groaning.  My German Shepherd groans often when she is laying around in a relaxed state.

Groaning while relaxing is common as they are trying to find a comfortable spot to snooze, or they are just waking up from a nice nap.

Seeking attention

Our dogs do all sorts of things to get our attention, groaning can be one of them.  If you have been busy and your GSD gets a little impatient waiting for you to do something, they may groan to get your attention.

I find this usually happens if my German Shepherd is waiting for me to finish something up before we do something fun, like going out for a walk or play session. 

Dogs don’t quite understand time the same way humans do, so if they feel like they have been waiting for you long enough, they may let out a groan or two.


Another reason why German Shepherds groan is out of frustration.  Let’s say they are being told to lay down when they really want to play, they may lay down, but groan while doing so to express their frustration.

German Shepherd thinking

Just like people get frustrated so do dogs, so if you are telling your dog to do something, they aren’t interested in doing, they may groan to let you know they are displeased.


German Shepherds sometimes groan while stretching.  This is most common after they wake up in the morning, or after a nap.  They will stretch out their hind legs and, in the process, some dogs will groan.

Think of this kind of like humans stretching and yawning in the mornings when we wake up.  Some dogs groan just as a part of their process for waking up and starting their day.


Another reason why GSD’s groan is out of excitement.  Just like German Shepherds can growl, bark, or howl out of excitement, they can also groan. 

If you have a German Shepherd, you probably are aware that they have a lot of energy and are easily excitable.  When they get excited that energy has to come out!

Some GSD’s are more prone to barking while others may groan more to express their excitement.   If you are noticing your dog groan while doing an activity that makes them excited, this is probably the reason why.

Expressing pleasure or elation

Often times, when something feels good to our dogs, they express their pleasure with a groan.  You may have noticed that when you rub your dog’s tummy, or scratch behind their ears just right, they start groan uncontrollably.

Groaning under these conditions is just their way of expressing their elation, relaxation, and pleasure from something good happening.

Nervousness or anxiousness

Although German Shepherds present a tough exterior, they can get nervous and anxious as well.  If you German Shepherd is more prone to being nervous about new things or circumstances, they could groan when they are uncomfortable.

For example, many dogs don’t like thunderstorms, so, if you notice your German Shepherd groaning during a thunderstorm, it is probably because the storm makes them anxious and nervous.

Discomfort or pain

Another reason why German Shepherds groan is when something is bothering them physically. 

German Shepherds are tough dogs, and they don’t complain a lot, however, if there is something causing them discomfort, they may groan from time to time because of the pain.

If you can’t figure out any other reason why your German Shepherd is groaning, or if you think your GSD may be groaning too much, make an appointment with their vet to make sure there is nothing medically that could be causing them to groan.

Should You Be Concerned About Your Dog’s Groaning?

Normally, no!  Groaning is just a normal way German Shepherds communicate.  However, if your dog is groaning excessively, you may want to take a deeper dive to see if there is something else causing the groaning.

Here are some things to consider when trying to determine if you should worry about GSD groaning:

  • What situation was occurring when your dog stated groaning?  Usually, you can figure out the cause of your dog’s behavior from the circumstances surrounding when the behavior occurred.  Were they excited, nervous, just waking up, etc.?
  • Does your dog groan once and a while, or all the time?  The frequency of groaning is key to determining whether it is a problem or harmless.  It is 100% normal for your dog to groan sometimes.  However, if they are groaning all day, then the groaning could be a sign that they are in pain or something is bothering them.
  • What is your dog’s demeanor when groaning?  You know your dog, so you should be able to tell if your dog is groaning from enjoyment, versus groaning out of discomfort.  If you dog’s demeanor while groaning gives you pause, it doesn’t hurt to get your dog checked out by a professional just to make sure they are ok.

Final Thoughts

German Shepherds can groan for all sorts of reasons.  Normally, groaning is a harmless way of communication for any dog, however, since German Shepherds are very vocal, they may groan more than some other dog breeds.

However, if your notice that because of the situation, the frequency of the groaning, or your dog’s demeanor that something is off, you should go with your gut and make an appointment with their vet.

As a pet parent, you know your individual dog best, and will be able to tell if your GSD’s groaning is normal or something to be concerned about. 

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