Will a German Shepherd Attack a Child?


Cassandra Nguy

German Shepherds are naturally friendly breeds and are perfect family companions when properly trained and socialized. Even so, these breeds have a high level of aggression and their instincts may cause harm when untrained, even among children. Only when untrained will a German Shepherd attack a child.

It’s important to train and socialize your German Shepherd while controlling their aggression to prevent further injury.

If you or a loved one has been a victim to a dog bite attack, consult with our representatives at LegalASAP and they can connect you to a personal injury attorney. Most of our network works under contingency fees, meaning you won’t be charged at all if your case is lost, leaving no risk to you.

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German Shepherd Temperament

German Shepherds are inherently intelligent, loyal, and courageous. With proper training they can be obedient, watchful, and protective of their owners.

They generally have high amounts of energy which require necessary walks and regular mental and physical exercise. They make wonderful playmates for children when trained and can be tolerable with strangers.

It is highly encouraged for owners to train their dogs, especially German Shepherds. If not trained, they can be aggressive and will attack if they feel threatened. It is their primal instinct to attack when feeling provoked and most of the cause is due to inexperienced owners losing control of their dog.

Why German Shepherds Attack Children

German Shepherds often attack children due to fear and lack of socialization. Other underlying reasons include when the child possesses food, other objects, or due to territorial aggression. An estimated 241,000 dog bite injuries occurred between ages 0-9 from 2018-21 according to the CDC.

Studies done at the University of Colorado Denver reported 537 children five years or younger were attacked. About 58 of the offending breeds were found in 366 cases with the most common being mixed breeds. Of these mixed breeds, 11.9% were partially German Shepherds and 4.4% were purebred German Shepherds. Learn more about which dog breeds have the strongest bite force before you purchase or adopt a new pet.

German Shepherd Child Attack Statistics

There are over 52 million dogs in America and more than 50% of dog bite victims are children. About 77% of biting dogs are owned by the victim’s family, relative, or a friend of the family. 107 children were attacked by German Shepherd mixes and purebreds between September 1982 to December 2014.

German Shepherd Attacks on Children

BreedsChild Victims
German Shepherd Mix28
German Shepherd/Malinois Mix4
German Shepherd/husky Mix5
German Shepherd/Lab Mix4
German Shepherd/Sharpei Mix1

Two cases were found involving children attacked by a partially-mixed German Shepherd. One being a German shepherd/Lab mix that Attica, NYPD Chief John Palillo identified as the alleged service dog who attacked 2-year-old Emilee Amrhein on April 4, 2004.

Another case showed a German shepherd/husky mix killed Kyle Holland, 5, in Lincoln Park, Michigan, on July 12, 2010 (with a Lab mix) as a wolf hybrid. Below is a table showing dog attacks of mixed German Shepherds.

How to Prevent a German Shepherd Dog Bite

The majority of dog bite attacks occur within households with children who’re unattended and unable to handle energetic breeds. Which is why finding solutions on how to prevent bodily harm is recommended.

The start to preventing German Shepherd dog bites is training them to obey simple commands like sitting and staying. This can keep dogs from running rampant while keeping them in line when guests are over. It’s encouraged for every dog to be trained and socialized so they’re familiar and comfortable with seeing strangers.

Approaching a dog is another important thing to think about. Always remain calm and never make any sudden and unexpected movements as this can provoke the dog. It’s best to let the dog approach you when you offer them your hand to sniff. However, it’s not recommended you pet a strange dog when its owner isn’t present.

There are a lot of ways dog can feel provoked, but here are examples of NOT to do when a dog is around:

  • Hit, beat, or kick a dog
  • Teasing or irritating a dog
  • Making noises or growling at the dog
  • Making hand movements in front of the dog
  • Getting too close to a dog’s face
  • Cornering the dog
  • Covering the dog with blankets
  • Pulling a dog’s ear, tail, or leg
  • Attempting to pet a stranger’s dog

Child Dog Bite Laws in Your State

Multiple states apply different dog bite laws per case. For example, California law states victims of dog bites are entitled to compensation for injuries, damages, or losses whether it’s in public or private property. However, California’s strict liability statute can be overridden if the victim was to blame for the dog’s attack.

These exceptions may include:

  • Victims who provoked, threatened, or harmed the dog
  • Trespassing victims in owner’s private property and got bit
  • Dog works in a K-9 unit for law enforcement
  • Victims partially responsible for their injuries

In some states, there is the one-bite rule, meaning the dog is protected from their first victim. Nevertheless, these can be overruled if the victim has strong evidence of the dog’s dangerous nature.

Other states have mixed bite law regulations, therefore, it’s important to understand which laws apply to your state. You can contact LegalASAP and have us connect you to an attorney who can focus on your specific case.

Who is Liable for a German Shepherd Dog Bite?

If a German Shepherd attacks a child, oftentimes the owner is liable for the resulting damages due to their negligence. Since most cases involve children in family households, owners need to be aware of the consequences of leaving German Shepherds with children. Moreover, training and socializing your dog is highly encouraged to prevent any victims.

There are times when the victims are at-fault. This includes provoking or threatening the dog which causes them to attack. A lot of victims may not know how to approach a dog who may feel fearful and anxious. Which is why learning how to approach a dog without showing signs of threats can prevent such dangerous occurrences.

Protect Yourself Legally with a Personal Injury Attorney

If you or someone you know was attacked by a German Shepherd, don’t hesitate to call LegalASAP! We’ll help connect you to an attorney as soon as possible to answer all questions related to your case.

LegalASAP has a network of 500+ law firms with 25+ years of experience in 10 different practice areas. Take advantage of our free, fast matching services to find trustworthy and experienced attorneys willing to help you with your claim.

They are available 24/7 to answer any concerns or questions you may have for free over the phone—888-927-3080, or fill out a free short evaluation form at your convenience.

Cassandra Nguy

Cassandra Tran Nguy is a legal writer living in Los Angeles, California. She graduated cum laude from California State University, Northridge with a B.A. in English Creative Writing and a minor in Marketing. Visit her online profile at linkedin.com