Do German Shepherds Like To Cuddle

Do German Shepherds Like To Cuddle?

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German Shepherds have a reputation for making excellent family pets and are one of the most popular breeds on the planet. But they can also be aggressive which makes them good candidates as guard dogs and police K9s. This leaves a lot of potential owners wondering just how affectionate they really are. Are they detached and reserved or affectionate and loving? And what about hugs? Do German Shepherds like to cuddle?

Yes, German Shepherds like to cuddle with their owners to varying degrees. Some are more affectionate and cuddlier than others. But most GSDs are down to snuggle up close to you for a nice belly rub and some one-on-one time. They will even sit in your lap if there’s room or sleep in your bed with you at night.

German Shepherds can be big teddy bears depending on their personality. It just depends on the dog and how he or she was raised. This article will give you some further insight into their affectionate side along with answering some common questions about their loving nature.

How To Cuddle With Your German Shepherd?

German Shepherd Laying Next To A Young Woman

There are several ways to cuddle with your German Shepherd. But you want to make sure that your dog is a cuddler before you decide to squeeze him like a teddy bear!

Certain dogs are more affectionate than others and while most of them will enjoy a good snuggle with their owner, some may not.

To hug or not to hug:

Since a cuddle is defined as “a prolonged and affectionate hug,” you need to know how to recognize if your GSD likes to be hugged or not.

While hugging your pet dog is a common theme especially among children, Psychologist Stanley Coren, says “Don’t Hug the Dog!”

Based on this study, he believes that hugging your dog can increase their anxiety and stress.

He did an interesting study, using pictures of children hugging dogs from Google and looking for specific signs of duress. In fact, he found that out of 250 dogs he observed, 204 of them showed signs of stress from being hugged.

Unfortunately, as tempting as it is, 8 out of 10 dogs would rather not be hugged. However, that doesn’t mean your German Shepherd won’t be open to hug. It just depends on the dog.

Signs your GSD doesn’t like to be hugged:

  1. Bares teeth
  2. Ears are down or pinned against the side of head
  3. Half-moon eyes or (whale eyes)
  4. Head turns to avoid eye contact
  5. Licking lips or side of your face
  6. Raising one paw
  7. Submissive eye closure
  8. Yawning

Additionally, some dogs will attempt to escape your clutches and move to a different area of the couch or the floor. Remember to keep an eye out for any of these signs to make sure you aren’t causing him or her any stress!

The best way to cuddle with your German Shepherd:

German Shepherd Cuddling with Young Woman

There are several ways to show your big fluffy love bug affection. But the best way to do it, is to let him or her come to you. This may be hard for kids but manageable for you.

Most of the time, a dog will let you know when they want some affection. They may come lay down next to you on the bed or couch, or even try to sit in your lap.

Here are some good ways to cuddle with your GSD:

  1. Give them a light hug for a few seconds if they’re up for it
  2. Rub their belly as they lay next to you
  3. Let them snuggle up close to you on the couch or bed
  4. Let them sit in your lap if they’ll fit
  5. Nudge their face and nose with yours

Remember, if you feel like your German Shepherd is uncomfortable with snuggling, give him or her some space. Depending on their mood, they may not feel like showing affection.

Why Do German Shepherds Like To Cuddle?

While not all dogs like to be hugged, studies have proven that most dogs like cuddling in some form with their owner.

That’s because, when dogs and humans show affection towards each other, both parties have an increase in the “love hormone” oxytocin. When this hormone elevates, dog and owner enjoy an increase in positivity.

Whilst in the owner cuddle condition 8 out of 20 dogs showed an increase in OT levels from pre to post treatment of over 10%

National Library of Medicine – The Role of Oxytocin in the Dog-Owner Relationship

Additionally, their willingness to cuddle goes back to their roots. Since dogs descended from wolves, they inherited their pack mentality. They are social animals and that need for a group has transitioned from other dogs to humans as they domesticated over time.

Their need for affection also stems from being puppies and snuggling with their littermates and mom. Young pups bond this way and show subordination towards their mother.

So, the next time your German Shepherd decides to cozy up next to you, look at it as a bonding experience. It is his or her way of showing you that they love and trust you completely.

Other Behaviors Associated With Cuddling:

Girl Getting GSD To Look At Her Hand

Most of the time a nice cuddle with your GSD will be an enjoyable experience for both of you. But rarely it can lead to some other behaviors that could be good or bad. Here are a couple of common issues to look out for during your snuggles.


There are certain times when your German Shepherd may be snuggling with you and feel the need to guard or protect you from another person.

GSDs are very loyal and protective. If someone comes over to the house that they have never met, they could get aggressive and try to defend you from what they feel is a threat.

The Zoomies:

When German Shepherd puppies are young, they are real excitable. Even an innocent cuddle with their brothers and sisters can lead to hyperactive play.

These sudden bursts of energy from your pup are called the “zoomies.” A young puppy will often race around as an expression of joy and happiness.

Not to worry! This is a normal phase in their development. Just make sure funnel some of that energy into training.

Do German Shepherd Puppies Like To Cuddle?

Cute GSD Puppy Cuddles In Its Owners Lap

German Shepherd puppies love to huddle up with their littermates for a few different reasons. Firstly, they need to stay warm and cuddling up with their brothers and sisters keeps them nice and warm and cozy.

Staying warm as a young puppy is very important especially if they are outside in the cold. Huddling up with their siblings keeps them warm by reducing how much of their body is exposed to the cold air.

Believe it or not, huddling up also affects the bacteria in their guts. According to, when animals bundle up together, it actually slows down their metabolism making it easier for them to retain their energy.

Secondly, they want to feel like they are part of the pack. As we discussed earlier in the article, dogs have a pack mentality. They are social animals and it is their instinct to stay together because there is safety in numbers.

Why German Shepherds May Not Like To Cuddle?

GSD Lying Down In The Grass

As we mentioned earlier, not all German Shepherds will like to snuggle. There are several factors that may contribute to their lack of tolerance for affection.

Abusive Background:

When a German Shepherd snuggles up close to you, it means they trust that you aren’t going to hurt them. If this trust was broken from a previously abusive relationship, they may be more suspicious of your close contact and not want to cuddle.

This is something to consider if you plan on adopting a GSD from the shelter. Many times, the dogs at shelters have been neglected and could have trust issues with their new owner.

Born That Way:

Like humans, dogs have different personalities that they are born with. This means different likes and dislikes. Some German Shepherds are 100% cuddlers while others may be more independent and want some space.

I’m sure you have met someone in your lifetime who didn’t like hugs. Similar to humans, some dogs aren’t the touchy-feely type.

Medical Issue:

When a GSD is in pain or has a medical issue, they may not want to be held or touched. It could aggravate the painful area. They may prefer to sit or lay alone.

This is also a good way to tell is something is going on medically with your dog. If they are normally a cuddler and they stop all of a sudden, it is time for a trip to the vet. There could be an underlying issue that you may not be aware of.

This is especially true of senior German Shepherds who could have arthritis or hip dyplasia. Joint conditions can make it uncomfortable for them to move around a lot or snuggle with you on the couch or in the bed.


If a German Shepherd is seriously trained as a guard dog or for sports like Schutzhund, they may be much more serious than your average family companion GSD.

The strict nature of training means they will be more rigid when it comes to protecting their family. Their instinct to guard and protect their loved ones may somewhat diminish a bit of their affectionate nature.

Instead of cuddling up with you, they may choose to lay closer to the door in protection mode. Once again it depends on the individual dog and the amount and consistency of training.


The amount of socialization a German Shepherd gets can have a big impact on their affection level. Dogs that have been properly socialized as puppies will feel much more at home and comfortable around other people and pets.

This makes them much more open to cuddles and snuggles. Young pups should be handled by at least 100 people before the socialization window closes at around 15 weeks.

How To Get Your German Shepherd To Cuddle With You?

There are certain things you can do to improve the chance that your German Shepherd will want to get cozy with you. Here are some good tips for getting your GSD to snuggle with you:

  1. Choose the right time: Your dog may not always be in the mood for affection. Don’t ever force the issue and wait until your dog is settled down and not full of energy. Pick a time later in the evening after dinner when things are winding down.
  2. Don’t overdo it: You want to show your dog affection in moderation. Don’t cuddle them every chance you get. Instead, pick a time in the evening after dinner to snuggle up together. This will give them something to look forward to each night.
  3. Ease into it: You can start small and work your way up to all out cuddling. Begin with some intermittent petting or belly rubs when they lay close to you. The more they get used to your touch, the more time they will want to spend by your side.
  4. Never punish or yell at them: You should never use physical punishment or yell to discipline your dog. It will have the reverse effect and your dog will be scared of you. This will make it hard for your dog to show affection because they will lose trust.
  5. Pay attention to their sweet spots: Some dogs will like certain spots to be scratched or rubbed. While most dogs will enjoy a good belly rub or scratch behind the neck, some aren’t too keen on being touched on the top of their head or on the legs and paws.
  6. Train them to lie down next to you: You can train your GSD to come over to you using the “come” command. Then you can train him or her to lie down next to you using the “down” command. Praise and reward them with a treat and be consistent with training.
  7. Wear them out with physical activities: The more you can wear them out during the day, the more chill they will be later on. Use daily exercise and games to stimulate their mind and body. They will be much more willing to snuggle up with you at bed time.

Remember, when training, always use positive reinforcement. Praise them when they show affection towards you and reward them with a treat for a consistent snuggle.

In Closing:

Some German Shepherds definitely like to cuddle but some don’t. The biggest factor is where they come from and how they were raised. If you get your dog from a shelter, there is a good chance that it was abused or neglected. This will make it much harder to bond and connect with the dog. There will also be a lack of trust which will make it harder for the dog to show affection. In this case you will need to stay patient and give the GSD time to adjust to its new home and owner.

The second biggest factor that plays into it is their personality. There is always a chance that you pick a German Shepherd that just doesn’t like to snuggle. This trait could be passed down from the parents or through several generations of the bloodline. There is no exact science when it comes to the cuddle factor but rest assured, most GSDs are down for a little snuggle!

Please leave a comment below and let us know what you think!

Do you own a German Shepherd? If so, do they like to cuddle up with you? Let us know! We would love to hear about your personal story!

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