It’s no surprise that German Shepherds are one of the most popular breeds of dog around - they’re loyal, obedient, and have a protective streak, making them great companions. But if you consider welcoming a German Shepherd into your home, perhaps to join an existing pet cat, you may wonder whether these two can coexist harmoniously.
What's the final verdict? Are German Shepherds good with cats? That is exactly what we shall discuss in this blog post!
So, can German Shepherds be with cats?
The answer to whether German Shepherds can get along with cats is yes - with the right training, socialization, and supervision. The key to success lies in introducing your German Shepherd to your cat in a safe and controlled way so that both animals can get used to each other’s presence. However, the introduction will be much more complicated if your GSD has a high prey drive.
Before we continue, let's learn more about German Shepherd personality to understand better how we can build a strong bond (if we can) with a GSD and a cat.
1. Loyal and devoted companions: German Shepherds are known for their loyalty, intelligence, and devotion to their families. They will form strong bonds with their owners and show great affection towards them. This makes them excellent companions – ideal if you’re looking for a loyal friend.
2. Highly intelligent and trainable: German Shepherds are incredibly intelligent and willing to learn, making them easy to train. This trait makes them one of the most popular breeds for police and military work. They can also excel in other activities, such as agility, obedience training, and sports.
3. Strong protectors with a natural guard instinct: German Shepherds have a natural guard instinct, which makes them great protectors. They are usually very alert and bark when they sense danger, acting as an alarm system. However, their guarding instincts can be problematic if not trained properly.
4. Very active and need plenty of exercise & stimulation: German Shepherds are highly energetic and need a lot of exercises to stay healthy and happy. They require many activities, such as running, hiking, swimming, playing fetch, agility training, and more.
5. Can be wary of strangers but friendly when socialized properly: German Shepherds are naturally suspicious of strangers and can be aggressive if not socialized correctly. It’s important to introduce them to new people and other animals from a young age so that they can learn to trust others.
Now let's get back to the question: Are German Shepherds good with cats, and how to introduce a cat to a German Shepherd?
How do I get my German Shepherd to like my cat?
Let's be honest, this job will not be easy, and you need to take it seriously and be careful, otherwise, someone can get injured.
To introduce a cat to your German Shepherd, you can start by giving them a “safe room" where they can move freely and feel safe. Also, it would be a good idea to keep your GSD on the leash, teach him basic obedience commands, and prepare tasty treats to reward him when he behaves well.
The other tool you can use when introducing a cat to your German Shepherd is a muzzle. The muzzle can help you prevent any accidents.
We prepared 10 great and proven tips on introducing a cat to your German Shepherd!
1. Start the introduction process in a safe and controlled environment: When introducing your German Shepherd to a cat, it’s important to do so in a way that ensures safety for both animals. Choose an enclosed area (like a backyard) or room where you can monitor their interaction without too many distractions.
2. Give them some space: Allow your German Shepherd and cat to get comfortable with each other by giving them enough distance from each other at first. Don't force them together and let them go at their own pace when getting used to one another's presence.
3. Offer treats as rewards for good behavior: Rewarding positive behaviors is key when trying to have your GSD learn how to interact appropriately with cats - give treats as rewards when they remain calm and ignore the cat or any cues from the cat that may trigger undesirable behavior such as barking, growling, etc...
4. Supervise all interactions until trust is established: Even if things seem okay after initial introductions, always supervise all future interactions until you're sure both animals are comfortable around each other - this will help build trust over time and prevent potential conflicts from arising down the line.
5. Provide enrichment activities: German Shepherds are active and need plenty of mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy. Providing them with interactive toys, puzzle games, or training exercises will help keep them entertained while also providing a great bonding opportunity between you and your GSD. Try introducing a cat to your German Shepherd when your dog has low energy (after training or running).
6. Allow the cat to take the lead: It’s important to let the cat feel comfortable and in control during introductions. Let them move around and explore at their own pace, and don’t force your GSD to interact with the cat if they’re not ready.
7. Consult a professional if needed: If intro sessions aren't going well, or you're having trouble getting your German Shepherd to accept the cat, it may be best to consult a professional dog trainer. They can provide personalized advice and help guide you in the right direction toward successful introductions.
8. Ensure your German Shepherd knows basic obedience commands: Teaching your GSD basic commands like 'sit', ‘stay’, 'come', and ‘leave it’ can help them understand boundaries when interacting with cats. If they get too close or become too excited, you can command them to back away from the cat and stay calm.
9. Mix their scents: One way to help your GSD become accustomed to the cat’s presence is by mixing their scents. Brush the cat and then brush your German Shepherd with the same brush - this will give them a sense of familiarity with each other's smell even before they meet in person.
10. Be patient: It takes time for animals to get used to each other. It’s important to be patient and let the process take its course. Your German Shepherd can learn how to interact with cats safely and respectfully with enough patience and consistent training.
Why don’t German Shepherds like cats?
Now you may wonder, "but why is it like that? Why do German Shepherds hate cats, and it's so complicated to introduce them to each other?".
Dogs and cats have been known to be natural rivals since ancient times. Due to their strong predatory instincts, German Shepherds are particularly prone to disliking cats. This is because the presence of a feline triggers the instinctive need for them to hunt, chase, and even kill the cat.
Additionally, cats can act unpredictably and aggressively, further straining tension between cats and German Shepherds. Cats may also act defensively due to their fear of dogs.
If you're curious and want to learn more about why German Shepherds don't like cats, we prepared the top 9 most common reasons why GSD hates cats!
1. Instinctive predatory instincts: German Shepherds have an instinct to hunt, which can make them feel the urge to chase cats.
2. Different personalities: Cats and dogs are social animals with different personalities. Dogs crave interaction and attention more than cats, whereas cats tend to be more independent and territorial.
3. Unpredictable behavior of cats: Cats can act suddenly and unpredictably due to their curiosity, making them appear unpredictable or aggressive.
4. Lack of early socialization towards cats: If a GSD isn't exposed to cats in their early life, they might not recognize or understand how to interact with them.
5. Fear of unfamiliar animals: German Shepherds may fear unfamiliar animals, especially cats, due to the possibility of being attacked by a cat if provoked.
6. Prey drive: GSDs may not like cats because of their prey drive. Although a German Shepherd won't attack or kill an unprovoked cat, they still have the instinct to chase them if provoked.
7. The size difference: A German Shepherd is much bigger than a cat, which can be intimidating for cats and make them act more defensively around dogs.
8. Difference in vocalizations: Cats and dogs have different sounds that can be intimidating for a GSD.
9. Unfamiliar scents: The unfamiliar and strange scent of cats may trigger the prey drive of the German Shepherd.
Do German Shepherds naturally hate cats?
No, German Shepherds do not naturally hate cats. While it is true that dogs and cats have been known to be natural rivals since ancient times due to their strong predatory instincts, it does not mean that all dogs are predisposed to dislike cats.
In fact, with the right introduction and training, most breeds of dogs, including German Shepherds, can learn to coexist peacefully and even form strong bonds with cats.
It is important for dog owners to understand that it takes patience, understanding, and consistent training for a German Shepherd to get used to living with cats.
Why do German Shepherds chase cats?
German Shepherds have the instinct to chase anything that moves quickly. This can be due to their predatorial nature, as they instinctively try to catch and capture prey. Cats may also move more quickly than other animals, triggering the chase reflex in dogs.
Also, cats' unpredictability can cause stress or fear in dogs, spurring them to chase after the cat to control the situation. Finally, some breeds of dogs are more prone than others to chase cats due to their strong hunting instincts.
Can a prey driven German Shepherd live with cats?
Yes, a prey driven German Shepherd can live with cats. Although this might be challenging, as GSDs are instinctive to hunt and chase cats, it can be done with the right introduction and training.
However, even in play, German Shepherds can accidentally injure or kill a cat. If your German Shepherd is showing signs of a high prey drive, you should never leave your cat alone with a German Shepherd dog.
Some of the most common signs of a high prey drive German Shepherd dog are:
1. Chasing small animals or birds
2. Growling and barking at cats
3. Stalking, crouching or pouncing when they see a small animal
4. Obsessive hunting behavior
5. Attempting to snatch food from other pets
6. Following the movements of smaller animals with their eyes
7. Reacting quickly to sudden movements of small animals
8. Lunging at smaller animals without warning
Good signs that your German Shepherd will get along with the cats
If your German Shepherd has developed a great bond with your cat, know that this is something special and something that you can't see every day!
But what are good signs that your German Shepherd will perfectly get along with the cat?
Let's find out!
1. They look relaxed and comfortable around cats: If your German Shepherd looks relaxed and comfortable around the cat, that's a great sign.
2. They display friendly behaviors: Friendly behaviors such as wagging their tail and licking or gently sniffing the cats are good signs that they will get along.
3. They don't bark or show signs of aggression when they encounter a cat: If your German Shepherd is not showing any signs of aggression such as barking, growling, or even lunging at the cat, then they will likely get along.
4. They show interest in playing with cats: If your German Shepherd desires to play games with the cat (such as chasing), that's a good sign that they can live together peacefully.
5. They explore the environment together: If your German Shepherd and cat explore the environment together, they are comfortable with each other.
6. They wag their tails and show affection towards one another: If your German Shepherd and cat wag their tails and affection towards one another, that's a great sign that they will become good friends.
7. The hair on your German Shepherd's back is not standing up: If your German Shepherd's hair is not standing up around the cat, it means your GSD is comfortable and relaxed.
When the hair on a dog’s back goes up (technically called piloerection), it’s usually a sign that the dog is aroused, fearful, startled, stimulated, or excited in some way.
Source: The Wildest
8. Your dog follows your commands to stay calm in the presence of cats: If your German Shepherd can stay calm and obey commands in the presence of cats, it is a great sign that they will get along.
9. They can calm down each other: If your German Shepherd and cat can calm each other down, that's a great sign that they can become friends, maybe even the best sign of a great future friendship!
Are German Shepherd puppies good with cats?
German Shepherd puppies are generally easier to train and socialize with than adults. If you introduce them properly, German Shepherd puppies can get along with cats. The puppy must be taught not to chase or hurt the cat in any way.
Puppies should also be provided with appropriate toys and activities to keep them from becoming bored and developing unwanted behaviors. Supervision is key to ensure that the puppy does not try to harm the cat, or in some cases, to cat hurt the puppy.
Introducing your German Shepherd puppy and cat in a controlled environment will also benefit both animals, as it allows them to get used to each other’s presence and learn how to interact properly.
Are German Shepherds afraid of cats?
Some German Shepherds may fear cats because they have not been exposed to cats at a young age or have had negative experiences with cats. If a dog has not been properly socialized with cats while still puppies, they may develop fear-based reactions to them.
When a dog is exposed to something it perceives as a threat, it may display signs of fear, including barking, growling, and hiding. If your German Shepherd is afraid of cats, it is important to take steps to help them learn to be comfortable around cats.
This can include introducing them slowly in a controlled environment like the yard or providing supportive training that encourages calm behavior.
Will a German Shepherd kill a cat?
It's not typical for a German Shepherd to kill cats, as they are usually very gentle and loyal companions. However, if the German Shepherd has been mistreated or trained to be aggressive towards other animals, it could become violent and potentially attack and even kill a cat.
For this reason, it is important to socialize your German Shepherd with cats early and provide proper training to ensure they understand how to interact safely and gently.
Also, monitoring their interaction when the two are together is important. If your German Shepherd displays any signs of aggression towards the cat, it is best to separate them immediately.
Should you get a cat if you have a German Shepherd?
Having a German Shepherd and a cat in the same home is possible. Before introducing a cat into your home with a German Shepherd, it is important to consider the individual personalities of both animals.
If you have an adult GSD without prior experience with cats, it may be difficult as they can be more difficult to train. Getting a cat should not be an issue if your GSD is well-socialized and has a calm disposition.
On the other hand, if your German Shepherd has behavior issues and you need to invest a lot of time in GSD training, getting a cat will probably make things even worse.
We agree that this doesn't sound fair, but think for a second: do you believe that getting a cat will make your life (and the life of your GSD) easier or harder if your dog has behavior issues?
It will make your life and the life of your dog much harder. First, make sure that you take control of your dog's behavior, and then you can start thinking of getting a cat.
The Best Socialization Techniques
Introducing a German Shepherd to a cat requires careful and effective socialization. Now, we'll explore the best practical strategies to foster a peaceful coexistence between these two distinct pets.
From initial introductions to creating a harmonious living space, these tips are designed to guide you through the process smoothly, ensuring a comfortable environment for both your German Shepherd and cat.
Here’s a more detailed list of 10 socialization techniques for introducing a German Shepherd to a cat, focusing on depth and clarity in each step:
Pre-Introduction Scent Swapping: Begin the socialization process without direct contact by swapping their bedding or toys. This allows each animal to become accustomed to the other's scent, which is a critical first step in building familiarity. Place the cat’s bedding near the German Shepherd's usual resting area and vice versa, and observe their reactions to these new scents.
Creating Safe Zones: Prior to the first face-to-face meeting, establish safe zones for both pets. For the cat, this could be a high perch or a room with a gate, where they can retreat if feeling overwhelmed. For the German Shepherd, designate a space where they can be calm and relaxed, away from the cat, especially when unsupervised.
Controlled First Introduction: For the initial introduction, keep the German Shepherd on a leash and let the cat have the freedom to approach or retreat as they wish. Ensure this meeting is in a neutral space where neither animal feels cornered. Keep the session short, about 10-15 minutes, and watch their body language closely for any signs of stress or aggression.
Positive Reinforcement: During and after these initial meetings, use positive reinforcement. When the German Shepherd behaves calmly or obeys a command like 'sit' or 'stay' in the cat's presence, reward them with treats and praise. Similarly, offer the cat treats and affection for displaying curiosity or calmness.
Gradual Increase in Interaction Time: As both pets become more comfortable with each other, gradually increase their interaction time. This could be done by extending the duration of their supervised meetings each day. Always remain vigilant and ready to intervene if necessary.
Utilize Barriers for Safe Observation: Employ the use of baby gates or similar barriers to allow the pets to observe and smell each other safely. This can be an excellent way to allow interaction without physical contact, reducing the chances of a physical altercation while maintaining close proximity.
Separate Feeding Stations: Establish separate feeding areas for each pet to prevent food aggression or competition. This helps in reinforcing that they don’t need to compete for resources, promoting a more peaceful coexistence.
Consistent Obedience Training: Continue consistent training with your German Shepherd, focusing on commands that aid in managing their behavior around the cat. Commands like ‘leave it’ or ‘gentle’ are particularly useful in controlling their interactions.
Monitoring Body Language: Develop a keen understanding of each pet's body language. Look for signs of fear (like crouching, ears back, hissing for cats, and excessive panting, growling, or fixation for dogs). These signs indicate it’s time to separate them and give them a break.
- Regular Health Checks and Exercise: Ensure both the German Shepherd and the cat are healthy, with regular vet check-ups. A healthy German Shepherd that receives adequate exercise is less likely to exhibit overly boisterous behavior around a cat, which can be intimidating or threatening to the feline.
Throughout this process, patience is vital. It’s important to understand that each animal is unique, and their adjustment period can vary significantly. Avoid rushing them and always prioritize their safety and comfort.
See for yourself!
You don't believe that German Shepherds and cats can be good friends? Then this video is right for you!
Owning a German Shepherd and a cat can be an incredibly rewarding experience. With patience, consistency, boundaries, and plenty of positive reinforcement, your GSD and cat can become best friends.
Building a lasting relationship between any two animals is gradually introducing them to one another in safe, controlled environments.
Finally, it's important to remember that each animal is unique, and their personalities must be respected.
So if your German Shepherd has shown you in every possible way that he doesn't like cats, then getting a cat isn't the best option.
On the other hand, if your German Shepherd is relaxed and feels comfortable around other animals and people, getting a cat should not be a problem!
Frequently asked questions
Do you still have questions? Check our FAQ section, and you can find your answer here!
❓What is the best dog to have with cats?
The best dog to have with cats has been bred to get along well with other animals. Breeds like the Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, Poodle, and Beagle are all good choices for cat families.
These breeds are usually gentle and affectionate and don’t behave aggressively towards cats.
❓Why is my German Shepherd obsessed with cats?
German Shepherds may become obsessed with cats if they lack mental and physical stimulation and have too much energy. If a German Shepherd becomes bored or frustrated, it may take out its energy on smaller animals like cats.
Providing your GSD with plenty of exercise, training, and enrichment activities can help to alleviate this issue.
Also, your German Shepherd is may be obsessed with cats if he has a high prey drive.
❓Are German Shepherds allergic to cats?
No, German Shepherds are not typically allergic to cats. However, some German Shepherds may have allergies to cat dander or other substances that cats can bring into the home.
If your GSD shows signs of allergies, such as itching, sneezing, or coughing, it’s best to consult a veterinarian to determine the cause of the allergy and treat it accordingly.
It’s also important to keep your GSD away from any areas where cats have been, such as cat litter boxes or carpeted areas that may be covered in cat dander.
❓Are German Shepherds good with kids?
German Shepherds are usually very loving and patient with children, but it is important to socialize your GSD with kids properly. Providing positive reinforcement and consistent training to ensure your GSD behaves appropriately around children is also important.
When introducing a German Shepherd into a home with children, it's best to supervise their interactions and gradually increase their time together.
This will help to ensure that your German Shepherd becomes comfortable around kids and understands how to interact with them properly.
Suggestion: Are German Shepherds good with kids?