What Are the Differences Between Male and Female German Shepherds?

Pet Type


May 13, 2021

In the field of science and biology, there is a concept that is known as sexual dimorphism. This concept is fairly common throughout the animal kingdom and is even present within humans. It is the concept that the male and female sexes of the same species exhibit fairly different characteristics that go beyond just reproductive organs, such as the stature, size, and coloration.

For instance, think about how many male animals in the world have more brightly colored fur, plumage, or skin whereas the females may have more muted colors and a smaller stature. This is an example of sexual dimorphism that is one of the most prevalent examples within the animal kingdom. It is something that you will want to think about when you are looking at dog breeds.

A lot of people do not realize just how far this concept can stretch, affecting the health, behavior, and mentality of two animals that are of the same species but are different sexes. To get a good example of how this applies to dogs, consider the differences between the male and female German shepherds.

The Similarities

It would make sense that both sexes of the same breed of dog are going to be the same in many ways. After all, they were historically bred to serve the same purpose: shepherding animals on a farm. As such, they share many of the same behavioral traits as other animals that were bred to be guard and shepherd dogs.

They are intelligent, active, and loyal animals who are capable of being independent when the time comes for it. This stems from the fact that they would often work long hours in the fields to herd sheep and other animals, sometimes without the direct assistance of the owner. They still remain loyal at the end of the day and are more than happy to serve as companion animals.

Both male and female German shepherds are fully capable of being working dogs in today’s time as well, and they are often considered the standard for military dogs, police dogs, and service dogs. This goes to show that they still retain their reliability and the intelligence to be trained for such jobs. Despite these similarities, there are still a number of differences to consider when trying to decide the winner of the female vs. male German shepherd.

Looking at the Size and Coloration

One of the most obvious differences between the male and female dogs is going to be their appearance. You don’t have to get to know individual dog traits to be able to see that the male and female German shepherd are fairly different when standing side by side. The first traits you will notice is that, as with many other animals that you can find in the wild, the female German shepherd will be smaller and it tends to have a more muted coloration than the males do.

For more specific numbers, the male German shepherd will typically grow to about 24 to 26 inches in height, up to its shoulder and female German shepherds will be about two inches shorter than this. Both of their weights fall within the range of 75 to 95 pounds, though females will be on the lighter end of this scale and the males will be toward the heavier end. Most males will have more defined muscles and more muscle mass than their female counterparts, which contributes to their heavier weight.

Keep in mind that these differences are close enough that a large female German shepherd can easily be the same size as a smaller male German shepherd. A female may have a dark coat compared to others of its gender and a male may have a light coat compared to others. Individual differences may muddle the ability to tell a male and female dog apart, but as a rule of thumb, females are going to be smaller, lighter, and less muscular than the males and have a lighter coat.

The Temperament

Both male and female German shepherds have similar overall personalities of being loyal, intelligent, and highly active dogs that need an outlet for their energy, which often becomes doing work. There are some individual differences between these two genders, though. As a rule of thumb, female German shepherds tend to be friendlier, more outgoing, and more playful whereas the males tend to be more territorial, prideful, and guarded.

People tend to describe the female German shepherds as being better companion dogs and the males as being better working dogs. This is because the females typically have more patience for children poking and prodding at the dog and they aren’t quite as territorial about strangers entering their property, though a female that has been trained to be a guard dog will act as such.

Likewise, the male German shepherds tend to be very efficient when they are taught to be working dogs. Their territorial nature makes them effective at being able to guard a property and their disposition to being less friendly means that they will have an easier time focusing on whatever their job is rather than people looking at the dog and wanting to meet it.

Keep in mind, though, that a dog’s behavior, no matter the sex of the dog, is highly dependent on how the dog is trained.

Which Is Better for You?

More often than not, unless you have a specific purpose for your German shepherd, choosing a male or female dog is not going to make much of a difference as long as you are dedicated to teaching the dog, training it, and spending time with it. With that being said, if you do have a specific purpose for the dog (such as wanting to train it to be a working dog), you will want to weigh your options of choosing a male or female dog.

If you are looking for a dog who will mostly be a family dog or a companion dog who occasionally acts as a guard dog for the property, then you will likely want to consider the female German shepherd. The female dog has shown that it tends to be more patient with younger members of the family and it will act more friendly, making everyone happy, though it still has the resources to act as a working dog to protect the family and keep them safe.

If you are looking for a dog who will be a working dog first and foremost, then you will want to opt for a male German shepherd. While these dogs can absolutely be family dogs, their disposition can come across as aloof at times and they may not tolerate younger children as well, making it a less optimal choice here. However, these aspects of its temperament make it perfect to put to work, whether that is guarding, working along police or military, or acting as a service or rescue dog.