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Do German Shepherds cuddle?

Our neighbor’s German Shepherd isn’t super affectionate and is very independent. I thought back to our GSD girl, Smokey, who was into cuddling to the point of being needy. So, I had to find out, are German Shepherds known for affection and cuddling?

German Shepherds are known to be a gentle, affectionate dog breed that typically displays love by cuddling. GSDs develop a strong bond with their owner or other members of their pack and show their affection by cuddling among several other ways.

Are the differences in a German Shepherd’s affection based upon inherited traits or the way they are raised? Is it nature or nurture that determines if they like to cuddle? Let’s explore why some German Shepherds are or aren’t affectionate.

German Shepherd Affection
German Shepherd Affection

Are German Shepherds Cuddly?

German Shepherds are often called “velcro dogs” because they tend to stick right by your side and enjoy being family dogs and protectors of the household. They are known for their fierce loyalty and devotion to their family but whether or not they will cuddle depends on the individual dog and how they were raised. If you have multiple people within your household, you may notice your dog clinging to one specific person they have bonded with. Creating a strong bond between you and your shepherd can help them trust you enough to accept cuddling and even return it.

If you have raised your German Shepherd since they were a puppy using love, affection, and positive reinforcement there is a good chance they will continue enjoying cuddling and human interaction. German Shepherds cuddle out of their devoted love for you and will give you affection as their way of showing they trust you, want to protect you, and receive positive mental stimulation from your touch. Their loyalty and love towards their family allow most shepherds to enjoy cuddling, but they can be very standoffish to strangers or people outside of their immediate household.

If a cuddly German Shepherd is your goal, try giving your dog high-value treats every time they seek affection. This will create a positive association with physical affection and they will begin seeking it out more. Avoid using any negative punishments when they are seeking your attention and instead redirect them if they are showing undesirable affection such as jumping on you. 

Why Do Some German Shephards Cuddle More?

It is important to recognize that every German Shepherd is a different individual, like us, that may or may not enjoy cuddling. It all comes down to their individual personality and desires, genetic makeup, and the way they were raised since puppyhood. If your shepherd does not like to cuddle, reevaluate how you are cuddling and take into account that dogs enjoy having their bodies pressed against yours while still having their own space.

Socializing your puppy to human touch from the day you bring it home plays a huge role in how affectionate your dog will grow up to be. If you exposed them to different people, and physical touch, and trained them with high rewards you might see their sweet demeanor more than you would an under-socialized dog. Building trust between you and your shepherd will aid in cuddling because your comfort will make them feel safe and secure. 

Dogs often use cuddling as a source of warmth when they are cold because humans give off body heat. German Shepherds usually have a thick double coat, but it can come in either a long or short-haired style. If your shepherd has a shorter coat you may notice them snuggling up to you more often to stay warm. Another reason your GSD may enjoy cuddling is that it is a natural stress reliever for them and you. Studies have shown that cuddling your shepherd will raise both your and your dogs’ oxytocin levels dramatically and ease any stress. This is why sometimes they will seek your attention by leaning against you or pawing at your hand for physical touch. 

Some German Shephards may have a more affectionate personality and enjoy showing and feeling love through cuddling or staying close by, but due to their protective instincts, some shepherds may prefer to love you from a distance. If your German Shepherd has more working line genetics they may be more independent and display their love through protecting your house and family and staying on guard more often than laying on the couch next to you.

The natural guard dog in GSDs can make them more interested in cuddling or laying against you because they see this as a chance to protect you. Their loyalty is often shown through staying close by and looking after you. If you have an affectionate German Shepherd you may notice them leaning against your leg, similar to huge, even when you are standing.

Due to German Shepherds being a very popular breed, it is very common to see them in shelters or rescues. If you adopted a GSD it can be nearly impossible to know their history or how they were raised and socialized making it very likely they may not be open for cuddling. Always go slow with a rescue dog and let them make the first move for human affection.

How do German Shephards Cuddle?

German Shepherds enjoy cuddling by leaning their body weight against you as if they are trying to hug you. They aren’t known for being lap dogs due to their bigger size, but it’s not uncommon for a shepherd to try to squeeze into your lap if that is what they have been used to since puppyhood. If your dog is used to sleeping in bed with you or relaxing on the couch, they may even sneak up next to your side to cuddle and constantly feel your touch and warmth.

Gestures like tapping you with their paw or laying their head on your lap are their way of asking for affection and letting you know they love you. When they are very comfortable with you they may even roll over on their backs for belly rubs or smother you in kisses.

Keep in mind that most dogs do not enjoy the feeling of being forced into cuddling or being hugged and making an uncomfortable dog do so can lead to aggression or anxiety.  

When you are going in for a hug or cuddle with your dog, look at their body language and give them space if you are noticing signs of stress or unsureness. Stress in dogs can look like yawning, lip licking, whale eye, and stiffness of the body. If your shepherd seems stiff and unable to fully make eye contact with you as you start pulling them closer, this is them telling you they need space. You will be able to tell your GSD is enjoying your physical affection when they have soft eyes, ears back, and relax their body weight on to you. Pay close attention to the moments they are enjoying cuddling and the moments they need more personal space so you can assess how to show them physical affection going forward.

Final Thoughts

Whether or not your German Shepherd enjoys cuddling all comes down to their personality and how they were raised. If you have had your GSD since they were a puppy and spoiled them with love, praise, and positive reinforcement there is a good chance you have created a cuddly dog. Some German Shepherds may be more independent and enjoy your love from a distance, but you can always build your bond over time and use treats and praise to reward affection until it becomes more natural to them.

Cuddling can look different to each shepherd. Some may enjoy resting just their head or paw on you while still having their own space, while others may be a lap dog and will constantly be seeking out your love. Always be sure to continue reading their body language every time you are showing excessive physical attention and look out for any signs of stress or uncomfortableness. 


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