Can German Shepherds Be Hunting Dogs? 4 Important Skills

Inherently athletic and clever, German Shepherds are one of the most popular dog breeds in the world. Military, police, and private security are just few of the fields where these dogs excel.

One of the most frequently asked questions about German Shepherds by new owners is if they may be used as hunting dogs. You may be surprised by the answer to this question!

Among the top jobs for German Shepherds, we’ll see how hunting stacks up against the rest.

How Do German Shepherds Do in the Field? “It depends on the individual dog,” is the short response to the question of whether German Shepherds make good hunting companions. When it comes to hunting, some German Shepherd puppies are naturals at it while others struggle mightily.

What Makes a Good Hunting Dog?

A good hunting dog is one that is physically fit, eager to learn, unafraid, and has the correct disposition. When a dog is chosen to hunt, it must be able to perform at a high degree of alertness and agility.

can german shepherds be hunting dogs

They must be calm, clever, and capable of taking commands before they can learn how to train a hunting dog. Hunting may be a risky sport, and a hunting dog must be able to take on any obstacle. It’s more than simply a tool for hunting and retrieving prey when a dog is well-trained and exudes a sense of self-assurance, courage, and loyalty.

Hunting dogs and their handlers can develop a strong bond. Hunting dogs are better at their jobs when they have a good relationship with their owners. In order to be the best hunting dog possible, a dog needs to be loved and cared for just like any other animal. Biologically, dogs are sociable. Even once the hunting season is over, a hunting dog’s health and happiness aren’t guaranteed without proper care and socializing.

It’s also a good idea to learn about your hunting dog’s past. You want your hunting dog to live as long as possible because of the deep bond that can form between owner and animal. A hunting dog can be a loyal friend for many years if it is well-bred and has few health problems.

History of the German Shepherd

The history of the German Shepherd dog breed may be traced back to the 19th century. A primary goal of the breed’s origins was the preservation of characteristics that would be useful for herding and protecting flocks of sheep. It was essential to have attributes like intelligence, speed, strength, and a great sense of smell.

Max von Stephanitz attempted to standardize the German Shepherd breed at the end of the 19th century. In the German Shepherd, he recognized great promise for both intelligence and strength. He had a vision of what a working dog should look like.

Careless breeding has resulted in health issues and a shift away from the German Shepherd’s original purpose as a working dog. However, despite these differences, the German Shepherd is still an easy-to-train breed. As a result of this trait, they’ve found work as police dogs and seeing-eye canines helping the visually handicapped.

The German Shepherd is a popular breed in today’s culture because of its devotion, protective temperament, and kind disposition. They’re a wonderful breed for families because they’re so family-oriented.

Can German Shepherds be Trained as Hunting Dogs?

In spite of their lack of popularity as hunting dogs, German Shepherds are capable of hunting in spite of that fact. There are a variety of hunting breeds since there are so many different sorts of hunting. For small prey like rabbits, German Shepherds’ finest hunting options are in the scent-tracking category (which they all seem to love). It’s possible for them to learn to retrieve birds, but they must be taught not to shake or harm them.

If they have the correct temperament and a competent gun dog trainer, they’re capable of being well-rounded hunting canines German Shepherds are classified as either working or companion dogs. A German shepherd from a working line is your best bet for a hunting dog. Training a working GSD should be easier and less likely to result in a headache because they are bred expressly for their working traits. These dogs are less prone to suffer from behavioral or temperament problems as a result of the breeding process.

It is also possible to train a German Shepherd Dog to guard the hunter if necessary. Adorable, loyal, and protective of their owners, even working-line GSDs are devoted to their handlers. A dog can be a useful companion for some hunters, even if they aren’t specifically trained for the purpose at hand. However, keeping them close and stopping them from frightening animals would require a lot of training, so they should have a job in addition to being companion dogs.

How to Train Your German Shepherd to Hunt

The best time to begin training a hunting dog is when it is still a puppy. The sooner you start training your puppy, the more likely it is that he or she will develop into a predator. Additionally, it will learn the self-assurance it needs to successfully attack, track, and retrieve prey.

Training a hunting dog requires a lot of interaction with other people and animals. It enables your puppy to adapt to new settings and makes a well-adjusted pet. As a result of socialization, a special link is formed between owner and pet. When you and your dog have a close bond, it is easier to train and order your dog.

Allowing your dog to explore its environment by running across wide fields is also crucial. For a puppy just beginning out on the hunt, wide open spaces can be frightening and full of unknowns. As soon as your puppy becomes comfortable in large areas, he or she will be able to navigate these areas more confidently and firmly in the future.

Guns and gunshots must also be introduced to a puppy at an early age. It is possible to train a dog to associate the sound of a rifle with a signal to go out and retrieve prey, if done correctly. Loud noises can be frightening and overwhelming for some dogs, so they may require more training and exposure in this area.

In order to properly train a hunting dog you must be patient and flexible. You must also be willing to change the training schedule as necessary. It’s a never-ending process. When puppies aren’t being trained to hunt, they can be a bit of a pain. Training your puppy will be more difficult if you allow yourself to become frustrated by expecting too much from him or her right out of the gate. You should approach training with a positive attitude and a sense of empathy for your pet.

What Game Can German Shepherds Hunt?

It is possible to train a German Shepherd to hunt a wide variety of prey. However, they excel in hunting rabbits, rodents, and birds of prey such as turkeys and geese.

It is also possible for the German Shepherd to locate smaller prey that could otherwise go unreported. When trained properly and using their natural intelligence, German Shepherds make excellent hunting partners.

However, unlike other hunting dogs, a German Shepherd should only be employed for tracking and retrieving purposes. A German Shepherd’s size and strength can be problematic. When a German Shepherd attacks its prey, the victim’s body is often disfigured and mangled.

German Shepherds can be trained to find deer by their owners.

Although they aren’t fast and agile canines, they have a remarkable sense of smell, which may scare the deer away before the shot is fired. The ability to locate deer trails and the ability to follow down wounded deer make them ideal for hunting.

can german shepherds be hunting dogs

What Skills Does a German Shepherd Need to Be a Hunting Dog?

According to this Trapshooters forum thread, a dog’s outward appearance and disposition are both important factors in his success as a hunting companion.


You’ll see references in the discussion thread from hunters about the German Shepherd’s “soft mouth.” There is a good chance that the canine will instead carry the prey (target) in its mouth rather than try to consume or bite it.

This is particularly useful when hunting small game such as birds or foxes. Large creatures like deer and wild boar are less of a concern when hunting.


The ability of a dog’s nose to track and identify prey is another characteristic that hunters frequently emphasize. It has been noted by hunters that German Shepherds don’t appear to use their sense of smell to identify game on an innate basis.

The GSD, on the other hand, is more likely to rely on sight or hearing. When it comes to hunting, the GSD uses its other senses more than its nose, even though it’s commonly utilized for bomb detection, drug detection, forensic work (on dead bodies), and other forms of nose work.


Canine intelligence research provided by Science Daily shows that the German Shepherd has a particularly high degree of the sort of canine intelligence that encourages rapid learning and a high level of loyalty.

Because German Shepherds are descendants of herding and livestock-guarding dogs, they tend to have a “mind of their own,” according to Trapshooters hunters.

The only way to know for sure if your German Shepherd is up to the task of hunting with you is to put him through the rigors of training.

Breed line

According to hunters, it’s important to choose your puppy’s genetic line carefully.

Dogs raised by Captain Max von Stephanitz (or German Shepherds bred to his breed standard) are more likely to exhibit the characteristics of an ideal hunting dog than those bred by others.

can german shepherds be hunting dogs

What Category Does the German Shepherd Dog Fall Into?

It’s possible that you’re still unsure about where the German Shepherd dog fits in among the three basic sorts of gun dogs described earlier in this section.

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), the German Shepherd dog is not a gundog breed at all.

The GSD, on the other hand, is a herding dog. In fact, the earliest German Shepherds raised by Captain Max von Stephanitz were also herding dogs.

Captain von Stephanitz’s goal was to create the ideal working dog, but he instead chose to draw inspiration from herding dog breeds.

It’s for this reason why many hunters believe that a German Shepherd is an inferior hunting dog. Rather than being a hunting dog, they’re a guarding, herding, and protecting breed.

However, the herding dog’s skillset includes a hunting component. It’s part of the job description of a herding dog to chase away or kill predators that threaten their cattle or their human companions.

The German Shepherd is more likely to be working alone and at a distance from its human handlers when this type of necessity occurs.

Due to their high intelligence, German Shepherds do not always make the best hunting partners, as some of the hunting forums have noted. They tend to keep their opinions to themselves when it comes to the best ways to carry out their duties.

How to Know a German Shepherd Dog Will Make a Good Hunting Dog?

Most importantly, conduct your homework on the German Shepherd puppy breeder that you plan on working with. If you want a working GSD, you should look for a breeder who concentrates on that line.

Breeders who work closely with potential puppy owners to find the dog that is most likely to satisfy their requirements are also ideal.

To determine if a puppy from a litter has a greater chance of becoming an excellent hunting dog, it may be helpful to meet the puppy’s parents.

With two working dog parents who demonstrate consistent and reliable hunting skills, you can be more confident that your puppy will display the same.

When to Start Training a German Shepherd Dog to Hunt?

The next question you may have is when to begin training your GSD puppy in hunting dog techniques.

Ideally, you should begin training your GSD as a hunting dog as a puppy. Prior to beginning hunting dog training, make sure your puppy has mastered all of the fundamental obedience instructions.

Overcoming “gun shyness”

There’s no reason to fear that your German Shepherd puppy won’t be able to adjust to working in close proximity to gunshots. However, as Gundog Magazine says, you must ensure that you introduce gunfire in the correct manner.

Avoiding over-exercise too early in life

The necessity to prevent your German Shepherd puppy from indulging in any too rigorous exercise at an early age is one limitation you might not have considered.

According to the German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County, German Shepherd dogs mature at a slower rate than other breeds.

There is a risk that excessive exercise could cause ligament, muscle, bone, and skeletal injury in these dogs until their growth plates have closed and fused.

The growth process might take anything from seven to 14 months to complete. X-rays taken by your veterinarian can tell you when it is safe to take your dog hunting for longer lengths of time.

can german shepherds be hunting dogs

As you now know, it’s critical to have a realistic expectation of how well a German Shepherd Dog would perform as a hunting dog by learning about the breed’s origins and history.

There are some German Shepherds who can do it all, but there are others that can’t seem to comprehend the concept of being a hunting dog. Providing the necessary instruction is all you can do; you can’t do anything else.


Then, may German shepherds be used for hunting purposes? They are not, although it is possible. German Shepherds can be taught to hunt if they are properly trained and started at a young age. It will take time, patience, and a firm understanding of what makes a good hunting dog to teach a dog to be a good hunter.

They’re not your run-of-the-mill hunting dogs. Tracking and retrieving prey is commonly done by dogs like the Labrador Retriever, the Beagle, or even the Bloodhound. Though not developed for hunting like Huskies and other breeds, the German Shepherd is unlike any other dog in that it can be trained.

Princy Hoang

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