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Why Do German Shepherds Tilt Their Heads?

Why Do German Shepherds Tilt Their Heads?

German Shepherds are easily recognizable because of their popularity, large pointy ears, slopped back, and striking looks.  However, GSD are also known for that adorable German Shepherd head tilt.  If you have wondered why do German Shepherds tilt their heads, this article will dive into the most common reasons for this behavior.

Why Do German Shepherds Tilt Their Heads?

German Shepherds tilt their heads for a variety of different reasons such as because they are confused, they’ve heard a new sound, you’ve encouraged the behavior, or simply as a way of communicating. 

The German Shepherd head tilt is adorable and we will dive into the most common reasons behind this behavior below.

Common Reasons Behind The German Shepherd Head Tilt

Your German Shepherd is Confused

One of the common reasons why your GSD may be tilting its head is because they are confused about something.  This is very common if your German Shepherd is hearing a sound for the first time or experiencing something new for the first time.

In these instances, your German Shepherd may not know how to respond to the new stimuli so they will tilt their head out of confusion.

Your German Shepherd is Trying to Understand What You are Saying

Another reason your German Shepherd may be tilting their head is because they are trying to understand something you are saying.  This commonly happens when you are telling your dog something they haven’t heard before. 

For example, if you are telling your dog “Speak” but they haven’t heard that command before, they will tilt their head as they are trying to understand what you want them to do.

You Have Encouraged the Behavior

You dog may also tilt their head if you have encouraged the behavior.  Any attention is good attention for our German Shepherds. 

So, if you dog tilt his head once or twice and both times you gave a reaction, whether that was getting excited, saying it was adorable or praising your dog.  Your pup will quickly learn that doing that behavior gets them lots of attention.

Even if you didn’t intend to encourage the head tilting if you usually react when your dog tilts their head this could be one of the reasons why they continue to do it.

It is a Way of Expressing Themselves

Dogs don’t have words to communicate as humans do, so another reason for head tilting is because that is a way our dogs are trying to tell us something.  Just like dogs bark, whine, growl, howl and groan as a way of communicating with us, the same goes for some of their other behaviors like head tilting and pawing.

Out of Excitement or Expectation

Another reason why German Shepherds tilt their heads is out of excitement or expectation.  For example, when I say to my dog, “do you want to go for a walk”?  She will tilt her head, almost to say, did I hear you right, then get very excited and run toward the door.

Our dogs have learned that certain words mean good and exciting things are about to happen, so if your words lead them to expect something exciting, they may tilt their heads as they are processing that information before they go crazy with excitement.

Possible Ear Infection

Another possible reason dogs tilt their heads is because of an ear infection.  When dogs have ear infections, you will find them scratching their ears a lot, as well as holding their head to the side.  Many times, they will also tilt their ear sideways too. 

If you notice these behaviors on a consistent basis for many days, schedule an appointment with the vet and get them to check their ears for some type of infection.

To See Better

Sometimes GSDs and other dogs will tilt their heads to see something better.  Occasionally, their snouts can get in the way of something they are trying to see, and a slight tilt of their head will allow them to see better.  This usually only happens to dog breeds that have longer snouts.

Final Thoughts

The German Shepherd head tilt is very adorable, and GSD’s are known for it.  There are various reasons why your dog could be tilting their head as discussed above.  If you really want to drill to the specific reason for your individual dog, look at the circumstances that are occurring when your dog tilts their head and you should be able to figure out why very quickly.

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