Pet Keen is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Home > Dogs > Are German Shepherds Good With Kids? Considerations & Safety Tips

Are German Shepherds Good With Kids? Considerations & Safety Tips

little girl with two german shepherd dogs in the garden

German Shepherds have had a bad rap for years as dogs that are violent and not good around children. Though they can be intimidating at first and need to be socialized and trained as puppies, German Shepherds make great pets and are good with kids.

German Shepherds are known for being intelligent, trustworthy, curious, adventurous, and excellent guard dogs if trained properly and treated the right way by the people who own them. Of course, as with any dog breed, you need to know a few things about how the loyal German Shepherd interacts with children, and we cover everything you need to know below.


Should You Adopt a Puppy or an Adult for a Family?

It’s important to note that a German Shepherd puppy is a lot of work. If you’re a young family with preschool-aged children, it’s recommended that you hold off getting a German Shepherd puppy until your child is 5 years old. You would think that a puppy would be easier to train to be around children than an older German Shepherd, but that’s not necessarily true.

Puppies are fragile and can become injured easily by tiny hands that don’t know how to handle or treat a young dog. They also require much more time and are prone to jumping, biting, and scratching, which could also result in your child being injured.

An older German Shepherd has already started to calm down and might have already been around children. German Shepherd puppies aren’t ideal for homes with young children, especially if the parents are busy and don’t have the proper time to spend with or train the puppy or teach the children how to handle animals correctly.

german shepherd walking outdoor
Image Credit: Spike Summers, Pixabay

Choose a Child-Friendly German Shepherd

For most families, your best choice is to hunt for a child-friendly German Shepherd to adopt. You want a dog that loves children, not just tolerates children. Your best bet is to visit a rescue or talk to a previous owner to determine how well the dog you’re considering adopting gets along with kids.

Keep in mind that the best German Shepherd to have around kids is the one with proper socialization,  plenty of love and attention, and family-friendly training.


Things to Consider When Adopting a German Shepherd

You’ll want to consider a few factors before bringing a German Shepherd into a family home, especially if you have small children.

  • German Shepherds like to lick and will lick a child in the face. They don’t mean any harm, but this could scare younger children.
  • These dogs are very active and love to jump. However, this makes smaller children easier to knock down when they are being greeted.
  • Never leave your German Shepherd and the children alone to play unsupervised. Accidents have been known to happen even with the best child and the friendliest dog.
  • Even if your child isn’t afraid of large dogs, it’s best to supervise playtime to be on the safe side.
German Shepherd
Image Credit: moorpheus, Pixabay


What Are the Signs that You Might Have an Issue with a German Shepherd?

Sadly, some dogs, regardless of their breed, don’t do well with kids.

Here are some behaviors that may signify that the German Shepherd you’re considering for adoption is unsuitable for your family:
  • Nipping or barking at children
  • Laying on top of a child as if the dog owns them
  • Growling lightly when a child is around
  • Refusing to listen to commands given by a child
  • Circling a child in a continuous motion
  • Licking a child’s hands or face constantly instead of doing other things

If you’ve noticed any of these signs in a German Shepherd you’ve adopted, you should keep the children away from the dog until it has been properly trained by a professional who can teach the dog how to behave around children.

Signs that Things Are Going Well with Your German Shepherd

Sometimes, a German Shepherd doesn’t need to be around children, but these signs show that your dog and child can get along without issues.

  • The dog lays on the sidelines while the children are playing
  • The dog keeps its ears down and back while the kids interact with him
  • The Shepherd chases balls or sticks happily without growling or barking
  • The Shepherd is calm and allows kids to pet it without growling or shying away
  • It wags its tail when interacting with children

Ensure you reward your German Shepherd with treats, new toys, and plenty of love when it does well around the kids. However, it’s still important to stay with the kids and your dog when they play because you never know when an accident can happen, and it’s best to be prepared for every eventuality, no matter what breed of dog your pet is.

kid and german shepherd dog puppy
Image Credit: Stone36, Shutterstock


Final Steps

German Shepherds not only make excellent guard dogs, but they can also make great family pets. However, you need to determine just how well the dog you’re adopting can get along with children. Older children should not have issues living with German Shepherds, but young children should only live with a dog that’s well-trained and socialized. Supervising your kids’ interactions with the dog is essential, but like most happy Shepherds, your dog will eventually become your children’s best friend and greatest protector.

Featured Image Credit: unclepepin, Shutterstock

Our vets

Want to talk to a vet online?

Whether you have concerns about your dog, cat, or other pet, trained vets have the answers!

Our vets