How To Care For A Female German Shepherd

How To Care For A Female German Shepherd

Pet owners should appreciate the differences between the male and female German Shepherd before purchasing.

Female German Shepherds differ from male dogs, requiring an alternative approach to raising these dogs.

Besides being smaller than the males, the female’s temperament is slightly different. She also goes into heat, which the male does not. 

Despite sharing similar health issuesthe female also has other potential health problems that the male doesn’t suffer.

Although the German Shepherd genders share many similarities, it is best for potential pet owners to understand their differences to take care of females better.

Once you know how these genders differ, it becomes easier to decide which you want as a pet.


Female German Shepherd Appearance

Female German Shepherd Appearance

You can expect the female German Shepherd to be smaller than the male dog. Most females are smaller than males, especially with dog breeds and other mammals.

Despite these differences, the female German Shepherd makes for a beautiful, loving pet that is easier to train than the male.

The female German Shepherd is also more protective than the male due to her maternal instincts.

Likewise, the male German Shepherd is protective of its territory but is also slightly more challenging to train due to its stubborn dominance streak.


Female German Shepherd dogs are smaller than their male counterparts. Male German Shepherd dogs weigh in at an average of 79 to 88 lbs., the adult female average weight ranges from 66 to 71 lbs. 

Both male and female adult German Shepherds can weigh under or above these average weight ranges. 


The German Shepherd dog is considered a large dogFemale German Shepherds reach heights of 22 to 24″ when fully mature, whereas males grow to heights of between 24 and 26″.

Weight and height differences between the male and female German Shepherd revolve around the male having more muscle mass than the female dog.

Such differences are common throughout the animal kingdom, with males typically larger than females. 

The larger male will require more dog food and exercise than the smaller female, which is important to consider.


Overall, the female German Shepherd is more streamlined than the male. The GSD bitch has a more delicate bone structure than the male and less muscle mass.

Other than the size and height variations between male and female German Shepherds, their appearance is mainly similar.


One study found that female German Shepherds tend to live marginally longer than the male dogs by an average of 1.4.

The female GSD typically reaches 11.1 years, whereas the average lifespan of the male GSD is 9.7 years. The same study reveals that the average lifespan of all GSDs reaches 10.3 years.

Similar research also shows that large dogs tend to live for a shorter time than smaller breeds.

Female German Shepherds differ from the males in terms of their appearance and temperaments.

Female German Shepherd Temperament

Female German Shepherd Temperament

Temperament in any dog is attributable to genetic traits and how you raise animals. Personality and character link strongly to nature vs. nurture, but general characteristics set the female German Shepherd apart from the male dog.

Apart from the nature vs. nurture issues in talking about the female German Shepherd‘s temperament, both genders are exceptionally intelligent.

Having said this, the intelligence of both genders plays out in different ways.

For example, the female German Shepherd is more straightforward to train than the male as the female focuses on following commands. 

In contrast, the male is more likely to assert his dominance and challenge commands. In other words, the male is more stubborn than the female German Shepherd when speaking about training.

In discussing protection, the male and female German Shepherd also show striking differences.

The female is protective of those around her and is not as possessive or territorial as the male. The female dog protects people and her offspring, where the male focuses on protecting its territory.

Other elements that indicate the temperament of the female German Shepherd include:

  • The female German Shepherd bonds equally with all family members, whereas the male tends to bond with the ‘leader of the pack.’
  • Because the female dog tends to bond with all family members, she is a better choice for a family pet. In contrast, the male German Shepherd‘s priority is to protect the person with whom he shares the strongest bond.
  • German Shepherd dogs are a large breed and traditionally working dogs. They have high energy levels, so either dog will need enough exercise, but the male typically needs more due to its larger size. 
  • Female German Shepherds are preferable to males as therapy dogs due to their nurturing temperament. Male German Shepherds are a better choice when protecting individuals or property, or as herding dogs.
  • Dog trainers claim that the female dog is less likely to show hostility and be territorial around unfamiliar people. The male German Shepherd is the opposite because of its dominance over its territory and primary caregiver, so males can make better guard dogs.
  • Female German Shepherds are widely considered a preferable choice as a first-time pet or family dog because of family safety, especially when there are young children in the family.

Dog trainers suggest that you socialize the female German Shepherd puppy to become familiar with children, other family pets, and strangers.

All family members should interact with the female puppy to feed, play, and help with exercising and obedience training.

An inclusive approach to treating the female German Shepherd creates boundaries and establishes a clear connection with your pet.

You appeal to her motherly, protective instincts and harness the best elements of her gentle, playful personality when you make her part of the family group.

Female German Shepherd Health Issues

Female German Shepherd Health Issues

Both genders share many of the same health concerns, with elbow and hip dysplasia being the primary test that breeders must do to stay in business.

While many people are aware that the German Shepherd breed suffers from hip dysplasia, they are less familiar with the other health problems common with this breed.

Not all German Shepherds suffer from these diseases, but they are prone to developing many health issues on the list below. Regular check-ups and vaccinations are necessary, as with any pet. A purebred dog will often encounter more problems than mixed breed.

The Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) specifically lists the following common health conditions for male and female German Shepherds:

  • Degenerative myelopathy.
  • Eye problems.
  • Cardiac issues.
  • Autoimmune thyroiditis.
  • Elbow dysplasia.
  • Hip dysplasia.
  • Bloating
  • Idiopathic epilepsy
  • Hemophilia A
  • Ear infections

A few of the most prominent health problems include bloat, idiopathic epilepsy, and hemophilia A, other than elbow and hip dysplasia.


Bloat is the simple term used to describe gastric dilation volvulus (GDV), which can kill a German Shepherd quickly, whether male or female. As the animal matures, the risk of it developing bloat also increases.

Bloat refers to when the dog’s stomach twists, preventing normal digestion. Simultaneously, a twisted gut prevents it from eating and drinking.

The most severe part of bloating is that the blood supply to the stomach and intestines is cut off. Bloating in German Shepherds can cause a swift death if you don’t take the dog for immediate treatment.


German Shepherds will typically develop idiopathic epilepsy within the first four years of life. There is no identifiable underlying cause of this condition which is genetic and less common in female German Shepherds.


Hemophilia A is a disease that affects the German Shepherd’s blood clotting due to a deficiency in coagulation factor VIII (F8).

You can request a breeder to do a test to determine if the male or female German Shepherd has this disease.

Female German Shepherds are typically carriers of Hemophilia A but do not exhibit adverse health symptoms. Still, males with Hemophilia A will show signs of poor health if they carry the disease.

Even if your pet has this disease, you can manage it with professional health care and advice to ensure your dog lives a normal, long life.

Female German Shepherd Reproductive Cycle

Female German Shepherd Reproductive Cycle

The female German Shepherd can begin her first heat or estrus anywhere between nine and twelve months.

Some female dogs will start a little earlier but seldom later than 12 months. If you don’t want to breed with your pet, you should spay her.

Spaying a German Shepherd is not advisable before reaching a year as an operation at a young age can cause unwanted health problems later. 

Similarly, it is inadvisable to neuter the male before they get to a year – also because the operation can cause adverse health problems

When spaying or neutering your dog, consider having an op simultaneously to prevent their stomach twisting to avoid bloating.

Before you purchase a female German Shepherd, you probably want to know more about her heat cycle.

Going into heat or estrus means that your pet’s estrogen levels go up, and she is ready to breed and can fall pregnant.

If you have a miniature German Shepherd as a pet, she can begin her estrus as young as six months as smaller dogs mature faster than large ones.

The large dog breed usually comes on heat twice a year and smaller animals four times a year. Once the heat cycle begins, it can last for a month.


Your female German Shepherd will go through four phases during her heat cycle, each with its symptoms.

  • Proestrus lasts for approximately nine days of the reproductive cycle and is apparent when male dogs display an interest in females. However, during proestrus, the female German Shepherd has no interest in her male suitors. Despite starting to bleed lightly, the female cannot fall pregnant at this stage, which is why she has no interest in mating.
  • Estrus follows proestrus and lasts between four and 21 days. This stage is known as ‘flagging,’ and your pet shows interest at this time because she can fall pregnant as her ovaries release mature eggs. The color of her bleeding becomes lighter, and your pet may rub her rear end against furniture and other items to indicate she is ready to mate.
  • Metestrus endures for about nine days and is when your pet may or may not be pregnant. There are few symptoms at this stage to indicate whether she is in a heat cycle or is pregnant other than her belly looking a little distended. If your female German Shepherd has not fallen pregnant by now, she will move into the last phase of her reproductive cycle.
  • Anestrus is the long period between bleeding and typically lasts for approximately six months. Although this part of your pet’s life is not strictly part of the reproductive cycle, it must happen before your pet goes into heat again.

While the female German Shepherd is in heat, she will exhibit several other temperament signs to give you a clue as to what is happening. 

She may become agitated, irritable, lose her appetite, and want to sleep more to relieve her tiredness and pain.

The best way to approach your female German Shepherd while she is in heat is to be kind and gentle. Watch for indications that she needs to be alone when she wants to play, sleep, or eat.

Prevent male dogs from getting to your pet when in heat if you don’t want to breed. Keep her away from small children or warn children to leave her be during this period until her heat cycle ends.

The Difference In Having Female And Male German Shepherd

The Difference In Having Female And Male German Shepherd

Dog trainers suggest that potential pet owners know how the female German Shepherd differs from the male when purchasing a pet. 

Essentially, the female is different from the male dog in appearance, temperament, and because the female goes into heat.

Looking at the female German Shepherd‘s temperament, it is easy to decide on a bitch instead of a dog if you have children in the home. 

The female dog is easier to train, more friendly, and is protective of all family members.

This protection factor is the primary reason many people prefer to get a female rather than a male dog, which tends to bond best with one person.

Female German Shepherds are also gentler and friendlier than males, which are more territorial and aggressive. However, both genders are protective and trainable, making them great service dogs.

Not everyone chooses to take their GSD for dog training, so the fact that the female is easier to train may not be an issue.

Beyond these points, all pets are individuals, and their personalities rely on their genetic makeup, gender, socialization, and high-quality training.

Just as each animal is an individual, so is each person, and everyone’s preferences and circumstances are unique.

Choose a pet that fits your circumstances, and endeavor to pick a pet that you can care for properly.


The primary difference between the male and female German Shepherd is that the female is smaller and goes into estrus.

The female also tends to be friendlier than the male, which can be a vital deciding factor when purchasing a pet.

Whether you are buying a male or a female German Shepherddog owners need to be attentive to their needs to forge a lifelong bond.


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