growling german shepherds

Let’s manage growling German shepherds

Growling German shepherds do nothing other than express themselves and this is not a negative behavior, on the contrary. Humans very often equate growling with outright aggression. Now, let’s see it from the dog’s point of view. How can he express fear or anxiety? He’ll bark, cry, growl, bark and do a whole bunch of facial expressions to get you across. Grunting is an integral part of the dog’s communication kit.

What does the growl mean? What are the causes?

The meaning of the growl can vary widely. Indeed, German shepherds will use the growl in different ways and at different times depending on who they are and how they express themselves and communicate. In general, we can say that growling signals 3 situations the dog may be experiencing fear, pain and defense.

German shepherd showing signs of discomfort

Growling German shepherds that have no reason

Good news, there is no such thing (unless the dog has a neurological problem, for example, but it is very rare and there are other signs). If your German shepherd is growling, stop whatever you are doing and figure out WHY. This is the only way you can fix the problem. What were you doing? What was he doing? In which place? Close to what/who?

German shepherds that growl when scolded

I am one of those who will tell you that an “aggressive reaction leads to an aggressive response.” If you are pushed into the street, you have 2 options. Say nothing and leave with lowered head: inhibit yourself. Or say something calmly, shouting, pushing the other, fighting. It all depends on who you are.

Tell yourself that it’s the same for your dog. If you scold him, and even worse if you use punitive methods such as training whip, rolled newspaper or even spanking, taking by the skin of the neck, howling, etc. you are actually assaulting your dog. He saw it like that.

play with german shepherd

It starts with a growl! He warns you that he is afraid or in pain or that he will defend himself. This is the start of a phase of aggression, but it is only a message. Your dog doesn’t want to bite you, he wants you to stop assaulting him! You are doing it wrong with him, the relationship of trust is breaking down and he does not understand you. You need to reconsider the way you reprimand and reward him!

The dog that growls at people

Growling German shepherds may be afraid or suspicious of people. This can come from a lack of familiarization with all human morpho-types (man, woman, child, tall, short, fat, white, black, with hood, on a bicycle, on a scooter etc.) or from a bad experience. For example, if your dog has been abused or has had a traumatic experience, he may be afraid of people who fit that morphotype or go so far as to generalize to all unknown humans.

In such a situation, a dog needs to gradually get familiar with humans without ever forcing the process. The dog will come forward when he is ready. If you force him, he will be even more reluctant and will go into a state of panic.

german shepherd by his food bowl

The German shepherd who growls at his master or family members

If your dog growls at you, or at a family member, he may be doing resource protection. It is then interesting to watch the event and analyze it. Who, what, where, when, how and what, in order to determine WHY the dog is growling. This helps to act on the cause. Check that this is not one of the reasons mentioned above.

Growling German shepherd showing signs of discomfort

Growling German shepherds may not be comfortable getting a hug or other form of physical contact. Indeed, some dogs are not tactile so they do not appreciate the petting and cuddling that we humans love. If your dog is not inclined to come asking for petting and contact, he may simply not like it.

When you pet him, does he turn his head away from you? Is he moving away? Also check that it is not painful. I am thinking in particular of old dogs with osteoarthritis. It is not visible but our caresses can cause pain.

Finally, a dog does not like to be restrained in the arms of humans. He also doesn’t like people bending over him, better squat down. These two things make your dog more uncomfortable. If you have children, it is up to you to manage how kids interact with your dog and ensure your children respect his living space.

german shepherd playing

Growling at meal time

This is a great classic when you get close to your dog and his bowl while he is eating. This can happen with a puppy as well as an adopted adult German shepherd. Where does it come from? In puppies, this may be due to having had a single bowl for the whole litter. This set up food competition and pushing the dog to eat fast in order to have as much food as possible.

In adopted adult dogs, they may not always have had enough to eat and this creates a resource protection reaction. Clearly, he protects his food because he is afraid of running out of it.

In these cases, teach your dog that you are there to give and not to take. So, do not put your hand in the bowl and do not take it away from the dog. This creates the opposite effect of what is wanted. On the contrary, give him something extra when you pass by!

It’s also important to feed him in a quiet place out of the way. Remove the bowl only when it is empty and your dog has walked away.

What if two dogs growl at each other

The dog who growls when he plays

Growling German shepherds may not like the fact that you take his toy away while playing. In this case, he is afraid of losing it and again here, he is trying to protect his belongings. Don’t mess around with such situation, there is no need to work on the “give” or “leave” until the relationship of trust is established.

Once the trust is in place, you can play take a toy and give it back immediately and your dog will likely forget the sense that you are going to take it without giving it back.

There is another growl, the dog can growl while playing. When excited, he may growl to show his desire to play over and over again. No worries, this is perfectly normal and in no way a threat or a sign of discomfort!

Should I be concerned if my German shepherd is growling?

I would say “not necessarily”, however, you have to better understand the cause! Try to understand what is going on, especially if the growl is sudden. If you don’t get it, don’t get angry and panic. Call on a canine expert to explain the reason for the behavior and how to resolve it.

Growling German shepherds communicate their discomfort in all kinds of ways. When it comes to the growl, yes, this is the beginning of an aggressive phase. There are different stages before it comes to an actual assault.

How to stop your dog from growling

Know that the next phase may become worse if the dog feels misunderstood, not respected, in danger, etc. Ask yourself what stage he is at. The growl is nothing more than a warning, a threat and it should not be underestimated, but it should not be feared either.

How to stop your dog from growling?

You will no doubt understand, the answer is clearly to find the cause! Tell yourself that to prevent aggression from escalating you must:

  • Not ignore the dog’s message
  • Understand his intention
  • Sense his feelings
  • Change YOUR behavior

What if two dogs growl at each other?

To this point, we have mainly covered the interaction between growling German shepherds and humans. It obviously also exists between dogs and it is much more effective because they speak the same language. If your dog growls at or is growled at another dog, do not intervene. Humans only scramble canine communication when they intervene and in fact make matters worse.

Don’t do anything, don’t ask him to stop, don’t touch him (that will make him stronger), walk away. Your dog will follow you. If your dog has a tendency to growl, use a lanyard. Try to understand what type of dog he is growling at: male, female, neutered/sterilized or not, tied up or released, in what type of places.

If it’s your dog who is being growled at, he must understand that he has to go. Your dog and yourself must understand that a growling dog is asking for space. This is especially important with a puppy. If you have an adult dog who does not respect the communication signals of other dogs, it may be necessary to consult with an expert to understand and manage such situation. The safety of your dog is at stake!

German Shepherd skin allergies

German Shepherd Skin Allergies: Key Recommendations

German shepherd skin allergies are a common problem for owners of this breed.

Owning a German shepherd brings a lot of joy and happiness to our lives, but it comes with a responsibility. Despite their qualities, German shepherds are more prone to skin allergies than other dog breeds. So, your dog will have to face that challenge on a continuous basis and it will make him restless.

Skin allergies in German shepherds can be painful, irritating and make them uncomfortable. German shepherds have a thick double-layered coat protecting them from heat, cold and rain, and many other environmental conditions.

Skin allergies are common in German shepherds and 1 out of 7 dogs suffer from some kind of skin allergy. Skin allergies in dogs are often caused by a hypersensitive reaction of the immune system to any certain elements like pollen, fungi or food which is called an allergen.

types of allergies observed in German Shepherds

In this article, we will talk about German shepherd skin allergies in detail as well as other types of dog allergies.

German Shepherd Skin Allergies

German shepherds are susceptible to skin allergies due to their thick coats. They can develop skin allergies at any age in their lives, but they are more likely to do so from 1 to 5 years old.

Environmental factors like dust, mites, fleas, etc., play a major role in skin allergies of German shepherds. These allergies are triggered by allergens that are commonly present in the environment or food.

Genetic mutations are also a factor causing skin allergies. Canine atopic dermatitis is the most reported skin allergy among German shepherds. Some other skin allergies are also observed such as:

  • Flea allergy dermatitis
  • Pollen related allergies
  • Bacterial skin infection
  • Contact dermatitis

allergens in a dog's environment

Flea Allergy

Allergy caused by fleas affects dogs more than other types. Flea allergy is also easy to detect as you will see fleas on your lovely dog. It makes the skin really itchy and inflamed.

Your dog will start licking, biting and scratching severely after getting bitten by fleas. Flea allergy is transmitted by the saliva of infected fleas. Even a single bite of a flea is enough to transmit allergy.

House dust mites can also cause flea allergy. This can lead to secondary bacterial or yeast infection as well.

Environmental Allergens

Tree/grass pollens, mold spores and dust are the common allergens that contribute to itchy skin. Most of the environmental allergies are seasonal, primarily occurring in the spring and the fall.

Other allergies can occur at any time of the year. When inhaled, these allergens can cause Atopic Dermatitis in German shepherds.

Dirt and dust mites can also cause breathing problems along with skin allergies. Pollen allergy is usually worse and chronic in German shepherds than other dog breeds.

allergies in german shepherd puppies

Contact Allergy

Contact allergies are least common in German shepherds. When the skin of a dog, like neck, paws, tail, etc, comes in contact with an irritant compound, this can cause severe rashes and itching.

Some agents like cleaning substances, carpet fibers, or some cosmetic skin/hair products can cause allergy dermatitis when they come in contact with your dog’s skin.

It is best to note down what triggers skin allergy in your German shepherd so that you can eliminate such allergens around in his environment.

Speaking of contact, a dog may get infected by elements in his environment. One example is poison ivy and you can get more information from this guide: Can Dogs Get Poison Ivy?

Food Allergy

German shepherds are allergic to some foods such as potatoes, dairy, meat proteins, eggs, and certain legumes like soy, peas, etc. Many people wonder if there is a connection between food and skin allergies in German shepherds. The answer is yes!

Food hypersensitivity causes skin allergies in your canine friend. Even if you have been feeding the same food to your dog all his life, he can develop it at some point in his life.

So, if your dog gets allergic to some type of food, skin inflammation is one of the first signs to appear.

Food allergies can cause many skin issues in German shepherds. If a food allergy is not treated on time, it can lead to further health issues.

Bacterial secondary infection is also common in food allergies. Food allergies can also cause gastric problems which can be extremely uncomfortable.

If a skin condition is caused by a food allergy, treatment can be a bit complex, but you should consult your vet right away. Store-bought hypoallergic foods sometimes do well if the dog is suffering from extreme food allergies. In some other cases, these foods may not work or even have adverse effects.

If it doesn’t work, then you can shift your dog to homemade food with the consultation of your vet.

treatment of skin allergies in german shepherds

Signs of German Shepherd Skin Allergies

Diagnosing skin allergies can be complicated sometimes because he can show multiple symptoms. Below are some signs to look out for German shepherd skin allergies.

  • Scratching the skin
  • Shaking the head
  • Chewing and licking body parts
  • Watery red eyes
  • Dog suddenly sneezes a lot
  • Intense coughing
  • Red, smelly ears
  • Flaky skin
  • Hair/fur loss
  • Dry skin
  • Patchy skin
  • Poor coat texture
  • Vomiting
  • Gastrointestinal pain
  • Alopecia (loss of hair from some patches)

Ears, eyes, paws, legs, and stomach are of prime importance when looking for signs of allergy in your dog. Hair loss is one of the common symptoms of skin allergy that develops along with red patches or swelling.


Diagnosis of German shepherd skin allergies is based on physical examination and clinical signs. Skin allergies in German shepherds vary according to the types of allergens, and finding the cause is important.

Your veterinarian may ask for some tests for confirmation. The most common test checks for antigen-induced antibodies in the blood of the dog.

healthy german shepherd

Treatment of Skin Allergies

Medication is available for skin allergies. Temporary treatments provide relief from itchy skin and irritability. You can use Vaseline or coconut oil for that purpose. These solutions work for a short time only and you should not be seen as long-term fixes.

Antihistamines and corticosteroids are helpful in relieving allergic symptoms. Immunosuppressants are given in extreme cases with critical care. Antibiotics and antifungal medications are usually prescribed for secondary bacterial infections.

Allergy shots are also available for German shepherds. They help immunize dogs against allergens by slowly introducing allergens into their body. This procedure is termed immunotherapy.

Adding probiotics to your dog’s food can help him with skin inflammation and it also boosts the immune response in dogs.

Many topical shampoos with organic products are available in the market to provide relief from German shepherd skin allergies and help your canine friend feel better.

Topical creams and organic sprays are also available to provide a soothing effect to your dog’s skin.

If the skin condition gets worse, you should see your vet, especially if the fleas or ticks are the cause of the problem.


German Shepherd Skin Allergies Prevention Tips

German shepherds commonly get exposed to skin allergies but there are some preventive measures you can follow to reduce their risk of exposure to allergens.

  • You should get a flea preventive treatment for your German shepherd every three months.
  • Make sure to provide them with a clean environment (like keeping the fleas away) to minimize allergic reactions. Cleaning your house properly, vacuuming carpets and getting rid of dust mites will help your German shepherd stay safe.
  • Regular washing of your dog’s bedding, toys and food bowls is always a good idea to help reduce infections, including skin allergies.
  • You should not give your German shepherd a diet containing dyes or preservatives.
  • Use an air purifier to cleanse the air. It protects your German shepherd from different infectious agents and allergens.
  • Feeding high-quality nutritious food also helps them stay away from allergies. Diet having omega 3 and 6 fatty acids is best for their coat health.
  • Avoid taking your German shepherd to places where pollens can be easily found and clean their paws after returning from a walk.
  • Regular grooming like bathing and combing their hair twice a week is important to get rid of many allergens.

By controlling the symptoms of skin allergy on time, you can get rid of this problem easily. You should monitor the condition of your German shepherd regularly.

Give the complete medication dosage prescribed by your vet to heal the allergy completely.

The best thing is to hospitalize your German shepherd if he is showing severe symptoms of skin allergies. Sometimes your vet may recommend visiting a veterinary dermatologist for treatment of severe German shepherd skin allergies.