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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 and the top 10 ways they show love.

German Shepherd Affection
German Shepherd Affection

Why are Some German Shepherds Cuddly?

German Shepherds can be super cuddly even though they were originally bred as working dogs to protect homesteads or to herd livestock. But there was little standardization leading to various breeding inconsistencies, herding abilities, and health defects.

Then, in 1899, a German by the name of Max von Stephanitz set out to create a more consistently strong, intelligent, and healthy herding breed. After attending a dog show, he adopted Horand von Grafrath, who became known as the first German Shepherd. From this point, Von Stephanitz cross-bred other herding dogs to increase the size of the GSD breed and stabilize temperament.

The GSDs switch to showing more affection likely began during the cross-breeding with German herding dogs and continued after they were brought to America. In America, GSDs were further cross-bred with more obedient shepherds to create a family-centric canine.

Even though breeding also has a lot to do with affection, the pack members (human family and other pets) can also influence cuddling. Even the most reserved German Shepherd, has a chance to learn how to cuddle.

What Are Some Ways My German Shepherd Will Show Affection?

The ways German Shepherds show affection will vary by individual dog, but here are some common ways GSDs show their love to their humans.

  1. GSDs often like to cuddle and snuggle! They may not even know how big they are and try to sit on their humans’ laps. And if they have a chance, they’d cuddle up and sleep next to you.
  2. GSDs like being close to their humans. They love following you around like the pack member that you are. It’s important to them to keep an eye on you to protect you.
  3. GSDs love to lick and nuzzle their humans. As part of their pack, dogs want to lick and nose you to bond. Licking also helps them reduce anxiety and relax.
  4. GSDs love to lean on their humans. Leaning on you, laying next to you, jumping up on you, mouthing your hands… they will find any way to be in close contact with you.
  5. GSDs want you to rub their belly. Rolling over and exposing the belly means that they are relaxed and comfortable with you.
  6. GSDs are always happy to see you. Even if it’s only been a minute since you were out of sight they will greet you with tail wagging and mouth open, smiling in their own way.
  7. GSDs want to play with you all the time. Playing relieves their anxiety and strengthens their bond with you.
  8. GSDs gaze into your eyes. If your GSD likes looking into your eyes, it means they completely trust and love you.
  9. GSDs vocalize their affection. They may whine or bark to show how happy they are with you!
  10. GSDs will bring you presents. They will bring their favorite toy and drop it at your feet to tell you they want to play and bond.

Final Thoughts

German Shepherds were bred as working and herding dogs to embody intelligence, obedience, and stamina. GSDs were further cross-bred to create a dog with a stable temperament which translated into more affection.

Every German Shepherd has a distinct personality and different ways they communicate. Some are more reserved while others are super affectionate. Regardless of the ways your GSD shows and receives affection, whether a lick, paw, or cuddle, it’s all for you and their pack!

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