Are German Shepherds Good With Babies? (Trainer Answers)

Are German Shepherds Good With Babies

Holding true to their reputation as one of the most popular dog breeds in the world, the German Shepherd is often a prime choice for dog owners (both new and old alike) due to their intelligence and trainability. Many people often think of their fierce reputation as guard dogs and working dogs, too.

But the German Shepherd’s roots actually lay in a much more family-friendly environment, and many parents often consider the breed when looking to add a dog to their home. While German Shepherds may get along well with older children, expecting parents or those with babies or toddlers in the home may be wondering if the German Shepherd also does well with younger children.

So are German Shepherds good with babies?

German Shepherds that are properly socialized and trained are likely to get along well with babies, though this will vary depending on the individual dog. Like any dog breed, German Shepherds should never be left alone with babies or toddlers, and proper steps should be taken to ensure both the dog’s and the baby’s safety.

In the article below, we’ll discuss some of the reasons why a German Shepherd may or may not be a good choice for a home with a baby or toddler, and the things to think about before bringing either dog or baby into the home. We’ll also discuss how to safely introduce your baby to your German Shepherd, and what steps you can take to make sure that everyone is happy and safe.

Are German Shepherds Good With Babies?

German Shepherds do have a reputation for being a family friendly breed of dog, but it’s important to remember that there are a lot of things to consider before determining if a dog (any dog) is good with babies. Individual German Shepherds may have their own tolerance for babies, and their upbringing also plays a role in how likely they are to be comfortable around a baby.

Below, we’ll take a look at the things that contribute to a German Shepherd’s likelihood that they will get along with a baby, as well as some things that might cause an issue and are something to think about before bringing a new dog or baby into your household.

4 Reasons Why German Shepherds May Be Good With Babies

If you have a baby or toddler, a German Shepherd may be a good choice for you due to the following reasons…

Breed History

Captain Max von Stephanitz developed the German Shepherd in the late 1880s. He sought to create a dog that was intelligent, steadfast, easily trainable, and which could be used as an “all purpose” utility dog. While the original career of the German Shepherd was as a sheepherder, they were also used as household guardians, in police and military work, and as seeing eye dogs.

This utility made the German Shepherd an excellent candidate for a variety of homes and owners, including those with newborns or young toddlers. In today’s world, these inherent breed traits are still prized over any others for the German Shepherd, and a well-socialized German Shepherd is able to adapt quickly when confronted with new things in their environment (like a new baby).

Protective Instincts

As part of their breed history and role as a sheepherder, the German Shepherd also tends to have good natural protective instincts. In fact, the German Shepherd is one of the top choices for use as a personal protection or family protection dog.

While some German Shepherds will be naturally inclined to protect babies and their families, it should not be expected without proper training. Additionally, a German Shepherd should never be left alone with a baby, even as a protector with proper training.

Even if your German Shepherd tends to not be super protective, their looks alone could deter a potential threat to you or your baby.

Larger Size

The size of your dog is also something to consider if you’ve got a baby on the way or have toddlers in the home. Many breeders, shelters, and rescue groups will not sell or adopt dogs that are smaller than 15 pounds to homes with babies and young children. With a smaller dog comes the risk that the baby or toddler will accidentally hurt the dog, or potentially trigger a bite by playing too roughly with such a small animal.

For German Shepherds, who are generally between 45 and 75 pounds, the risk of a baby or toddler accidentally stepping on, knocking over, or throwing the dog and causing injury is eliminated.

While parents would still need to teach their baby how to safely and politely interact with their German Shepherd, it’s unlikely that any rough play with the German Shepherd, while the child is a baby or toddler, would result in injury to the dog just based on their larger size.

However, if the German Shepherd is put into a position where it feels the need to correct the child or feels unsafe in any way, there is still a risk that the dog could hurt the child which is why it’s so important to never leave them alone together.

Intelligence And Trainability

One of the best reasons to consider a German Shepherd for a home with a baby is the fact that the breed is so intelligent and easily trainable. This makes them an excellent choice for first time dog owners, including those owners who are also first time parents.

Not only is the German Shepherd adaptable, but their ability to quickly understand information aids in their evaluation of items within an environment.

A properly socialized, well-trained German Shepherd is likely to understand what a baby is, how they relate to the other members of the household, and what relationship the baby has with the dog itself very quickly.

Going off on instructions given to them by their owners (either intentionally or unintentionally), a German Shepherd may opt to give the baby quite a bit of distance, or they may be more curious and involved in the baby’s care and upbringing.

In many cases, a German Shepherd will quickly learn that the presence of a baby or toddler means lots of dropped food!

4 Reasons Why German Shepherds May NOT Be Good With Babies

There are also a few things to consider why a German Shepherd may NOT be a good choice for your family if you’ve got a baby or toddler…


While the German Shepherd’s larger size is very much a pro, it can also be a con (especially if you’ve got a baby who is taking their first steps). While an older German Shepherd may be more aware of their size in regard to a small baby or toddler, younger or more energetic Shepherds may struggle with that understanding.

They may accidentally knock over and injure a baby or toddler (who are likely already wobbly on their feet), or they may step on the baby when trying to get somewhere else. German Shepherds do tend to be cuddlers, and unless taught otherwise they may not always understand that a baby or toddler is smaller than them.

The German Shepherd’s larger head also means they have more of a bite force, which can cause significant injury even if the bite was unintentional or given with good bite inhibition.

While even a small dog is capable of causing traumatic injury with a bite, the size difference between a fully grown German Shepherd and a small baby can be a significant factor in how much damage is done.

High Energy

German Shepherds are also known for their energy and athleticism, which can even continue into their senior years. While each dog is an individual and much of this energy can be managed with ample playtime and exercise, it can still cause issues in a household with a baby or toddler, both of which require extensive attention and energy from their parents.

Having a high energy dog on top of a newborn or exuberant toddler might just be too much to add to the mix and could cause unwanted behavioral issues in the dog and lots of frustration from the parents.

The higher energy of the German Shepherd might be ideal for older kids, but for babies and toddlers this energy can sometimes be scary or cause accidental injuries if the dog becomes too excited.

Noise Level

Another trait the German Shepherd is known for is their “guard dog” bark. While this bark may serve a purpose of alerting you to or scaring off a potential intruder, it could also have the same effect on your baby or toddler. German Shepherds tend to be quite vocal, and their pitch can be frantic or steady, loud or quiet.

They also tend to be quite whiny! All of this noise can become excessive and intrusive to new parents, or those who are trying to get their baby or toddler to sleep. Babies and toddlers may also accidentally reinforce unwanted barking because they find it fun, or they may become scared when the dog makes such loud noises.

Predisposed Health And Behavioral Issues

The popularity of the German Shepherd has led to some greedy individuals exploiting the breed for profit. Like many other popular breeds of dogs, the German Shepherd is not immune to poor breeding and backyard breeding practices. This breed has resulted in German Shepherds being predisposed to many serious health issues, including hip dysplasia and neurological issues.

These genetic conditions can be expensive and time consuming to deal with and may require special accommodation for the dog to ensure their comfort and safety. For a home with babies or toddlers, all of this extra care might be too much for the parents to handle.

In addition to physical issues, many German Shepherds are prone to behavioral issues like separation anxiety. Shepherds suffering from separation anxiety may develop additional behavioral issues once a baby is added to the household, and those suffering from something like resource guarding of their owner may also develop aggression issues with a baby or toddler.

Many of these health and behavioral issues can be avoided (or at least the risk reduced) by purchasing puppies only from reputable breeders who place health above anything else. Doing a thorough background check of any German Shepherds from a shelter or rescue group is equally important.

Shelters and rescue groups often have extensive information about the temperament of the dog and are happy to help place the dog in a home where there is no risk to anyone (baby or dog) or will help point you in the direction of a dog that is better suited to your lifestyle.

How Do I Introduce My German Shepherd To My Baby?

If you’ve already got a German Shepherd and you’re expecting a newborn, it’s important to help prepare your pup for their arrival. Ensuring that your German Shepherd has easily accessible areas that they can retreat to is important, as is setting up a schedule for their feeding, exercise, and general care (which is likely to change a bit once the baby arrives).

If you have a high energy German Shepherd, it’s vitally important that their needs are not neglected for even a moment, as this can result in unwanted destructive behaviors which will only add to the stress of the household. If you or someone else within your household is unable to provide this (especially during the first few weeks your newborn is at home), doggy daycare is a great option, as is hiring a dog walker.

If your German Shepherd has had no previous training (or is not great at certain things), now is also a good time to visit with a reputable trainer who can help you and your pup brush up on some important skills for when the baby finally makes their arrival.

Taking a class on pet safety with kids is also a good idea and is a great way for you to learn how to help your baby and German Shepherd form a great relationship right from the start.

If you recently had a baby or you have a toddler, it’s probably best to wait and add a dog into the home until the child is a bit older, or to look at a senior dog who is well socialized with kids.

Adding in an exuberant young pup for your baby to grow up with might seem like a good idea, but this concept actually leads to a significant percentage of dogs being surrendered to shelters once they exit puppyhood or if the addition of a puppy to a household with young kids inevitably becomes too much for the parents to handle.

It is also incredibly important that you start educating your child about safe interactions with dogs as soon as they are able to comprehend your guidance (which is often much earlier than we realize). This not only keeps your baby or toddler safe, but can help decrease the strain on your German Shepherd, too.

Things To Keep In Mind

In addition to the above reasons as to why and why not a German Shepherd might make a good choice for a home with a baby, there are a few other things to keep in mind when selecting your German Shepherd:


While genetics do play a role in a dog’s temperament and their ability to get along with kids, their socialization (or lack thereof) plays an even larger role.

Poorly socialized dogs tend to overreact to things in their environment, or become unnecessarily fearful, aggressive, or excited out-of-context. They are often unpredictable, which can be dangerous when dealing with a baby or toddler who often has no idea what they are doing around the dog.

Like all dogs, German Shepherds require an extensive amount of socialization during their critical socialization period. If you have a puppy and a newborn, it’s incredibly important that you socialize your German Shepherd puppy early and often, to as many things as possible.

If the puppy’s socialization is neglected during this period of their life, it is almost impossible to work on later in life and can lead to permanent behavioral issues.

If you already have a German Shepherd and are expecting a baby, a local trainer can help assess your Shepherd’s socialization level and address any concerns before your baby arrives.

If there are any issues, having a trainer or behavior consultant on standby who is already familiar with your dog can help immensely if any issues pop up after the baby comes home.

If you opt to add a German Shepherd to your household after the baby has arrived or if you have a toddler, you want to seek out an older German Shepherd who is clearly well-socialized and tolerant of babies and kids.


Don’t underestimate the value of a good trainer! A trainer is more than just someone who helps you teach your dog basic obedience skills. They are great sources for information related to body language, stress behaviors, aggression, and how to safely and properly introduce your baby to your German Shepherd.

Books and videos can be helpful, but a trainer who can see your pup first-hand is the ideal option for ensuring your dog (and you!) are ready for the arrival of a new baby.

A trainer who is certified in a family pet education course or bite prevention course is also a good resource for homes with toddlers who are interested in adding a German Shepherd to the mix and can help you and your kids understand how to safely interact with your dog.


No matter how well-socialized or well-trained a dog is, they are still capable of biting. Even good dogs bite! Biting is a natural communication tool for dogs and the German Shepherd is no different.

This is why it’s incredibly important to monitor any interactions your German Shepherd has with your baby, and to never leave them alone unsupervised.

Accidental bites can happen, and dogs also use soft biting to correct unwanted behaviors in puppies. While these corrective bites may not hurt a puppy, they can definitely break skin or cause more significant injury in a human baby.

Babies and toddlers are also usually not as aware of a dog’s personal space and warning signals, and thus may push a dog beyond its tolerance threshold.

While some of this may seem cute to the parents (there are many, MANY photos and videos of this exact situation, and several examples are within the video below), it’s incredibly dangerous and not only teaches the child inappropriate behaviors towards dogs, but risks the dog’s health and safety as well.

Closing Thoughts

When it comes to babies and toddlers, German Shepherds do tend to get along with them as long as the dog has received appropriate socialization and training from a young age.

Older German Shepherds and those of milder energy levels and temperaments are probably the better choice for a home with a baby or toddler, and puppies should generally be avoided until the baby is older.

As with any dog, German Shepherds and babies or toddlers should never be left alone together, and even the most well-trained dog may still cause injury to such a small human.

If you have a German Shepherd and are expecting a baby soon, it’s also a good idea to reach out to a local trainer who specializes in family education and dog bite prevention to help prepare you and your pup for the arrival of the baby.

Continuing education for the child (which can start much younger than we often realize!) about how to safely and appropriately interact with the dog is also a good idea.

Along those same lines, while it may be cute to see your baby and German Shepherd cuddling up, it might actually be stressful for your dog.

Educating yourself about dog body language and stepping in to help your child understand appropriate and safe play is important.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *