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Do German Shepherds Like To Cuddle? [Are They Affectionate?]

German Shepherds are known for being obedient, loyal, and protective; they have a lot of qualities that make them a great breed of dog to own. They are especially ideal if you are looking for a guard dog. But are they affectionate and do they like to cuddle? I have researched this question thoroughly and will inform you of all that I have managed to find here today.

So do German Shepherds like to cuddle? Most German Shepherds enjoy cuddling and showing affection to their owners whom they trust. In more reserved German Shepherds, they should tolerate cuddling at the very least. Thankfully, there are things that you can do to help your dog become more comfortable and enjoy cuddling more if they are not particularly fond of it.

Generally speaking, this breed loves a cuddle, but as an owner, it is important to remember that it always depends on the individual dog.

Some thrive on affection and love whereas others have more of a preference for alone time and do not display affection in the same way.

Nonetheless, let’s now dive much more in-depth into the subject! This way, you will know exactly what to expect and what to consider as an owner of this breed.

Are German Shepherds Snuggly?

German Shepherds are generally friendly and open to snuggling with their owners and with people they like and trust, however, they can act ice cold towards people they do not know.

When thinking of a dog breed that will enjoy snuggling, what will usually come to mind is a small cute puppy.

German Shepherds, on the other hand, are mostly thought to be fierce but loyal protectors that are often kept as guard dogs.

While this is their reputation, it’s not always fair nor entirely accurate.

German Shepherds are known for being: loyal, protective, intelligent, trainable, curious, and obedient.

However, while they tend to become friendly and loyal to their families, they often take a liking to a single owner after spending some time with them.

They are naturally one person loving dogs. They often cling to one family member and adore them solely for the entirety of their lives.

This is not to say that German Shepherds cannot be a loving family dog, it’s just they will likely have a favorite; loving them unconditionally and observably more than the others.

Most German Shepherds who develop this type of attachment to their owner are of course, far more likely to cuddle with them than others when presented with the opportunity to do so.

Why Do German Shepherds Like To Cuddle?

There are several reasons why a German Shepherd may look to cuddle up with you. First and foremost, it is a display of their affection. So, a cuddling dog is showing that they love and trust that individual.

But, there are other reasons, these being:

Get Warm

Even though the German Shepherd is a large dog with a thick double coat, they can and so still get cold. This often occurs when they are ill, have been outside in the cold, or the general temperature starts to drop.

So, naturally, a dog will cuddle up to gather warmth. Its a behavior that they have learnt over many generations and still continue to this day if and when required.

For Affection

All dogs will display their affection differently; some will rest against you, others will put their paw on your lap.

However, these can all be considered as a type of cuddling, especially as they get closer to you. This is actually an expression of the bond that you have with your dog. Its a social behavior that a dog uses to show and receive affection.

Relieve Stress

If your German Shepherd is stressed, for whatever reason, cuddling up against you can reassure them and help them to regain confidence.

Cuddling therefore can relieve stress in a dog, along with gentle talking and even extended eye contact.

Studies have even found that cuddling releases a chemical known as Oxytocin (the love chemical) – both in your dog and in yourself too! So, this action actually has a profound effect on your dog – and is very beneficial.

It is commonly believed that this has been the result of generations of dogs bonding with humans – a relationship where we have both depended on one another.

And this, of course, has been passed down and inherited to each new litter of dogs. Its now in many ways, and instinctual behavior in them.

Feel Safe

Even despite its size, a German Shepherd can still feel vulnerable. This is especially true and likely while they sleep.

This is one of the reasons you may notice cuddling when they sleep – it helps them feel more secure and safe!

This is also why they may even sleep on you, or up against you. It’s all about getting up close and feeling protected.

You will likely notice this throughout the day, or whenever your dog feels threatened or insecure. Sometimes it may happen as they meet new people or animals.


As previously discussed, the German Shepherd is a loyal and protective breed; two reasons why they are commonly kept as guard dogs.

For this reason, cuddling can be a way to stay close to you and protect you.

Of course, there is some benefit in this. However, if they become too protective it can lead to jealousy and other behavioral issues.

Do German Shepherds Like Affection?

So do German Shepherds like affection like many other dog breeds?

Most small breeds are very energetic and require the attention and love of their owners to stay happy and in good health. Without affection, many dog breeds can become sad and even act out.

German Shepherds like the majority of other dog breeds do indeed like affection. After all, they are very loyal dogs and enjoy the affection of their owner.

However, the amount of affection that a German Shepherd enjoys will greatly vary from one dog to the next.

Some German Shepherds may enjoy a lot of attention and affection, on the other hand, some may prefer to be left to do their own thing.

Keep in mind that the nature of German Shepherds means that they will usually be very friendly and enjoy the affection of their owners and family.

After living with a family for a while they will consider them part of the pact and therefore look out for and protect them.

They will typically enjoy cuddling and being played with by these people as they will have formed a close bond.

German Shepherds will most likely not be the type of dog that instantly becomes friendly with strangers.

They can sometimes act out aggressively towards strangers if they feel the need to protect and they sense a threat by strangers.

So, it naturally follows that German Shepherds will most likely not enjoy being snuggled by people they have just met, although this will vary between different dogs.

Why Is My German Shepherd Not Cuddly?

So now that you know that most German Shepherds do tend to be cuddly with their owners, you may be concerned if yours is not. What does this mean and is there an issue?

As mentioned earlier, the attitude of each German Shepherd dog will be different so it is possible that your dog is just not the cuddly type.

Even so, there are still some other reasons that are worth looking into. These can result in less affection as you would like.

Some are more short-term circumstances based whereas others are longer-term orientated.

The most common are: they’re too hot or uncomfortable, from a lack of socialization as a puppy, from being mistreated by a previous owner/person, or even illness/injury.

Too Hot/ Uncomfortable

It is likely that your German Shepherd does not want to cuddle when they are hot, or during the summer months. Equally, they may be more inclined to do so in the winter.

Remember that your dog has a thick double coat which keeps them warmer – so its harder for them to naturally keep cool.

So, if your dog is not open to cuddling you, it could be something as simple as they are too hot and just want to cool off.

Lack Of Socialization As A Puppy

This is quite a common reason why some German Shepherds do not show much affection.

If your German Shepherd puppy did not have many opportunities to interact with humans and other animals as a puppy, they are unlikely to look for these interactions as an adult.

Therefore, it is important that you spend some time with other people when your dog is young. Do so in a safe environment and be careful with whom you introduce. Start slowly.

Mistreated By A Previous Owner/Person

Unfortunately, animal cruelty does exist. This is also a big reason why a German Shepherd may not be very affectionate.

If they were mistreated by a previous owner, or even by a stranger, especially one that they trusted then this can lead to resistance and being hesitant to form a close bond with you.

Essentially, this is due to fear of the recurrence of their past mistreatment. This is common in dogs that have been adopted from a shelter.

Illness or injury

This is likely to be the cause if your German Shepherd has recently become less affectionate than what they once were.

Usually, a dog will retreat and stay away in order to protect themselves and attempt to heal.

It could be a physical injury – like damage to their paws, or it could be an underlying health condition that is causing pain. Either way, if you suspect your dog is ill or injured – the best thing to do is to take them to a vet to get them investigated and examined.

How To Get Your German Shepherd To Like Cuddling More

So now that you know that some German Shepherds are more open to cuddling than others and some potential reasons why they may not be so open.

But, is there anything you can do in dogs less inclined? Can you further develop trust and bond to help them show affection towards you? Thankfully there is. This will likely result in your dog cuddling with you more.

A few ways to get your German Shepherd to be more affectionate and cuddle with you are by using positive reinforcement, not punishing them, and showing them more affection yourself.

Using Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is where you reward favorable behaviors that you want to promote in your dog.

This can be done by rewarding your German Shepherd with treats or maybe with more attention if that is what they are craving.

For example, you may reward your German Shepherd with a treat every time they do come and cuddle with you.

Not Punishing Them

Punishing your dog is definitely not a good way to get them to become more affectionate.

Punishing your dog for bad behavior will likely only make them more hostile and less affectionate.

Try your best to avoid punishing your dog and instead focus on rewarding good behavior.

This will make them less likely to continue bad behavior and instead practice good behavior regularly.

Show Them More Affection Yourself

Perhaps the best way to get your German Shepherd to be more affectionate is to actually show them affection yourself.

Try calling your dog over and cuddling them more often.

If they see that you like it and are spending time with them then they are more likely to continue coming over and cuddling with you.


For the most part, German Shepherds do enjoy cuddling.

It’s in their nature to be loyal and protective, and remaining close to their owners is one such way that they can express their affection and also keep their owners safe.

That being said, it’s important to note that not all dogs like to cuddle. It’s a personality trait that varies from dog to dog.

Furthermore, a German Shepherd may not be as cuddly as usual due to a number of factors – whether this is heat, injury/illness, or something more long-term like a lack of appropriate socialization from a young age.

Thankfully, if you want to get your dog to be more affectionate and enjoy cuddling more, there are some things you can do.

Ultimately, it’s about building trust with them and letting them know that this is a behavior of which you approve.

And it may even eradicate some barking too!

Related Questions

Do German Shepherds Attach To One Person?

German Shepherds are known to typically attach to one person and one member of the family. This is especially more common in male German Shepherds, although it can occur in females too. It is most likely to occur with owners who feed, train, and spend the most time with them.