Choosing the best companion dog for your German shepherd is exciting but also tricky.
As all dogs have different personalities, with some being more compatible to German shepherds than others.
Whether you’re considering another dog, or just curious in preparation for your next visit to the dog park, this guide has everything you need to know about companion dogs for German shepherds.
Table of Contents
Choosing The Right Companion Dog For Your GSD
Before we compare breeds, it’s crucial to understand the key personality traits of German Shepherds.
This will help us narrow down suitable companion dogs that have similar or compatible personalities.
Of course, each German Shepherd will have their own unique personality and attitude and may not necessarily conform to the points below.
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1. German Shepherds are working dogs
You could argue that German Shepherds are the world’s best working dogs. They are highly versatile, intelligent, trainable, and are eager to follow commands.
Their desire to obey commands and fulfill a role is fundamental to their health and happiness. They must frequently partake in training exercises and need A LOT of mental stimulation to keep their clever minds ticking over.
Other breeds are the complete opposite of this. Some breeds like Bassett hounds or English bulldogs, for example, would rather lay down and ignore you (all day).
A “lazy” breed wouldn’t exactly get in the way of your German Shepherd, but it’s not likely to enhance his life in any way.
Your German Shepherd would thrive having another buddy that enjoys being active following commands just like they are. So that’s something important to consider.
2. Activity Levels
As German shepherds need a considerable amount of exercise, it makes a lot of sense to get a second dog with similar requirements. This way, the two can keep up with each other on every walk.
Fortunately, when it comes to exercise, German Shepherds almost top the charts, so there aren’t many other breeds that will need more exercise.
Many breeds require hardly any exercise at all, and some will outright refuse it! It won’t be a good match-up having a Chow Chow who doesn’t want to leave the couch with a German Shepherd who wants to run to the moon and back.
3. Rough Play
This can vary and not all German shepherds will play rough, but it still needs to be considered. For the most part, young and middle-aged GSDs do like to engage in some level of rough play.
German shepherds can play at a pace that many other breeds can’t handle. And while it’s all just “fun and games” it could actually be a nightmare for another dog who can’t physically hold their own, or just doesn’t like to play rough.
For the wrong breed, this is a recipe for constant fighting which could even be dangerous, not to mention a miserable relationship.
4. Some GSDs Have a Strong Prey Drive
Although German Shepherds do not have as big a prey drive as some other breeds, it’s still important to remember.
Some GSDs will have a stronger prey drive than others, and this can affect their behavior and tendencies towards other animals, especially smaller animals.
If your GSD regularly chases cats, rabbits, or tends to chase smaller dogs, it suggests their prey drive is high.
This suggests that getting a smaller dog may not be the best option.
Of course, big and small dogs can work, but this is something owners should think about carefully.
This is original content produced and published by The Puppy Mag: www.thepuppymag.com
Top 10 Compatible Breeds For a German Shepherd
Let’s cover the top 10 breeds that get along well with German Shepherds. The following breeds match most of the behavioral traits and characteristics that German Shepherds have.
The ten best companion dogs for German shepherds:
- Border collie
- Australian shepherd
- Golden retriever
- Siberian husky
- Portuguese water dog
- Standard poodle
- German shepherds (of course!)
1. Border Collie
If there’s one breed that’s smarter than a German Shepherd, it’s the Border Collie. But apart from their impressive intelligence, they have a lot in common with German Shepherds.
Border collies are high-energy, active dogs that desire to fulfill roles within the pack and to follow orders, much like German Shepherds. Aside from their working similarities, they are also very loyal, and affectionate, and make great family dogs.
Perhaps the only area where border collies are dissimilar to GSDs is their capability to perform guard dog duties. They make great watchdogs, but that’s about it.
All in all, Border Collies are one of the most recommended companion breeds for German shepherds.
Labradors are all-around winners and your German shepherd will think the same two. Labradors get on with nearly all dogs, and German shepherds seem to pick them out at the play parks to interact with.
Labradors are a little physically smaller, but not by much. Meaning they will be able to keep their own when engaging in a little rough play, which they do enjoy.
They can be very active dogs if that’s the lifestyle offered to them, and they will likely be your German shepherd’s ideal exercise partner.
Labs are loving, affectionate, and very obedient when trained. These two breeds usually always get along well.
3. Australian Shepherd
Australian Shepherds are another great match for German Shepherds. Aussies have very similar personalities to GSDs in that they love to work, exercise, play rough, and follow commands.
Aussies are growing in popularity and are becoming a normal household breed. They’re loving, affectionate, extremely smart, and make great pets.
Aussies are smart and will learn just as quickly as a German Shepherd, as long as training is given. Aussies are known for nipping though (coming from their herding background) so this is something to consider.
Aussies don’t make great guard dogs, but other than that, they’re extremely similar to German Shepherds.
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4. Golden Retriever
German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers are constantly battling between 2nd and 3rd place for America’s most popular dog breed, every single year.
The retriever / GSD combination is already well established and they have been making great companion breeds for each other for a very long time.
Retrievers are big, friendly, trainable, LOVE to play, and need a lot of exercise. The perfect partner for most German Shepherds.
A retriever has a bigger desire to appease their owners than a German Shepherd, and they often try to steal the attention and spotlight. But apart from that, these two breeds make an awesome pair.
5. Siberian Huskies
This one stands out from the list. And you may have even raised your eyebrows…
Huskies are very different from German Shepherds, in many ways. Despite needing a lot of daily exercise like GSDs, they are rather stubborn, hard to train and they’re not as intelligent as your GSD.
Huskies are known for being very “cheeky” and cunning, and without strong discipline will misbehave and cause your GSD to misbehave with them.
So you’re probably thinking why on earth are they on this list? Well, despite all of that, they actually get along really well…
Huskies often seek out German Shepherds to play with at the play parks, and their size, energy, desire to play (and play rough) are all matched.
If you’ve ever considered getting a husky, as long as you’re ready for a lot of work, these two breeds will likely get along very well.
Contrary to popular belief, Siberian huskies make terrible guard dogs and they are naturally very friendly and sociable. They make awesome family pets with adequate training and exercise.
If your GSD is particularly chilled out and enjoys his quiet time, then a Dalmatian may not be a good match…
Dalmatians are one of the very few breeds that require the same and in some cases even MORE exercise than a German Shepherd. Dals are super high energy and will suit your GSD if he has a strong desire to play.
The Dalmatian is a little more stubborn than your GSD and will likely be a little harder to train, but not by much. The good habits your GSD has will likely pass on to a Dalmatian without any issues.
Dalmatians make great family pets and are very loving and friendly. And paired up with your German Shepherd will keep your household very secure.
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7. Portuguese Water Dog
Portuguese water dogs are big, smart, love their exercise, playtime, and their downtime. So right off the bat, these water dogs are a great fit for most German Shepherds.
Portuguese water dogs are very sociable and love to have human company as well as canine company.
They are very intelligent and require a lot of mental stimulation, so it’s important to engage in frequent training and interesting games. This is something you’re probably already doing for your GSD, so that works out just fine.
If you’re looking for a second dog that won’t drop as much hair as your GSD then it’s another good reason to opt for a PWD. Despite having thick curls, this breeds rarely sheds and requires minimal grooming.
8. Standard Poodle
Poodles are big, energetic dogs that love their exercise and aren’t afraid to play a little rough. A poodle will definitely be able to keep their own against any rough-housing given from your GSD.
Despite being very intelligent and easy to train, poodles are known for having a mischievous streak in them so this must be managed.
Poodles are loving, loyal, and make great family pets just like GSDs do. As long as you like to keep on top of training and exercise, a standard poodle will be a great fit.
Time for a smaller breed! Over the years of speaking to many GSD owners and even stumbling into beagles myself with my GSD, beagles match up well with many German Shepherds.
Beagles are a great family dog and other than being a little difficult to train, are an all-around safe choice.
Beagles often need much more exercise than people realize, so this matches up perfectly with what you are already giving to your GSD.
As long as you are ready to implement a strong training regime, a beagle will likely be a good fit for your GSD. But it’s important to consider the character of your GSD first and whether or not he shows signs of getting along with other smaller breeds (at the play park or when crossing paths)
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10. Another German Shepherd
If you’re considering getting a second German Shepherd, your current GSD won’t mind!
It’s yet to be proven if dogs recognize their own breed, but that doesn’t matter. As their personalities and temperaments often match up, they usually make great pairs.
A rule of thumb is that it’s typically safer to get the opposite sex as you’re less likely to have to deal with territorial and or dominance issues. Although it can still happen. Dogs of the opposite sex will typically get along better with each other.
The Most Important Thing to Think About
All German Shepherds are different; energy levels and desire to play can fluctuate greatly amongst GSD’s so it’s important to consider this before settling on a breed.
If your German Shepherd has never been an energetic, rough-housing ball of energy, it’s not advised to get a second dog that is. This would be unfair on your GSD and he won’t want to put up with the new dog’s craziness.
Top Tip: If you don’t already have an insight into which breeds your GSD prefers, it would be a good idea to start visiting doggy play parks or doggy day centers. You’ll see which breeds your GSD naturally gravitates towards, and you’ll soon have your answer.
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What Personalities Best Suit a German Shepherd
There are many more breeds that suit German Shepherds aside from the list above.
Any breed with the following personalities will likely get along well with your GSD.
The best companion breeds for German Shepherds will have the following personality traits:
- Desire to be worked, have a “job” to fulfill
- Enjoys occasional rough play
- Naturally social
- Highly intelligent
- Preferably naturally obedient
- Requires medium to high exercise
- Not territorial
Breeds that display most of the above qualities will likely get on well with a German Shepherd.
Do German Shepherds Get Along Well With Small Dogs?
A very popular question is whether or not German Shepherds get along with little dogs. The answer is both yes and no.
As long as your German Shepherd doesn’t have a tendency to chase smaller breeds and animals, then there is no reason why your GSD can’t get along with a smaller breed.
The prey drive in a German Shepherd varies, and it would not be a sensible idea to get a small or miniature breed if you’re aware that your GSD has a thing for cats, rabbits, or any small creatures you come across during walks.
The risk is just too great and it’s not advised.
The other point to note is that some small breeds are actually too hyper for a German Shepherd. GSD’s love to play, but most of them also like to chill out and lounge around, at least for some part of the day.
Some small breeds like Jack Russell and Foxhound Terriers are constantly buzzing around and this may not work well for a more relaxed German Shepherd.
So, yes, small breeds can work, but it’s just a matter of their temperament matching up correctly. It helps to be physically similar, but it’s not necessary and there are countless examples of German Shepherds living harmoniously with little dogs.
Getting a second dog is a big decision and it’s one you have to think about carefully. Choosing a breed that matches closely with the personality of your German Shepherd is the most important thing to consider.
The best way to find out which breeds your German Shepherd likes, before making a decision is to visit doggy playgroups or start going to the park more.
Observe your GSD for another month or two around many different breeds and you will quickly see a pattern emerge.
You may really want a Labrador, but if you see your GSD constantly shy away or ignore them, he’s trying to tell you something!