How Strong is a German Shepherd Bite? PSI

Did you know that the German Shepherd currently ranks top five amongst domesticated dogs worldwide in terms of biting strength? Other dog breeds that make it to the top list include Pitbull Terriers, the Doberman Pinscher, Husky, and in the first place, the Rottweiler.

With a biting force of 238 PSI, the German Shepherd is quite a fierce protector. There’s no denying that this powerful dog will quickly tear apart an intruder when feeling threatened or given the command.

However, the average biting force of a German Shepherd is only an estimate. Bite levels on individuals or preys vary from one Shepherd to another, depending on their training and motivation.

Besides, due to their domestication, the once strong German Shepherd hunting instincts have suffered a significant suppression. They are more obedient family companions and often display their defensive traits more than following their hunting impulses.

Even though experts have managed to provide estimates, there’s a likelihood that the actual bite force of a German Shepherd is significantly higher.

That’s why we believe that the real bite force of a German Shepherd will likely be revealed in the presence of a real threat and barely through a test.

 All the same, the German Shepherd bite force helps provide useful ranking statistics and gives vets a good idea of the dog’s dental health.

Our primary goal is to help Shepherd owners understand their dogs better as per their bite force. We’ll also look at the different bite levels, how they are measured, and the factors taken into account during measurement.

Measuring the German Shepherd’s Bite Force

When it comes to evaluating your dog’s nipping potential, there are mainly two topics of discussion.

In the first aspect, we’ll look at the different degrees of Shepherd bites and how they help to gauge your dog’s ferocity. Here, we’ll know if your dog is a threat to your safety and that of the public, or it’s just a flaw in their early training that you can correct with some consistency.

The other major discussion involves the different ways of measuring your Shepherd’s bite force. While some techniques are safe and yield practical results, others are quite dangerous and more or less speculative.

The Six Bite Levels of German Shepherds

Statistics indicate that out of every seventy people in North America, at least one person gets bitten annually. However, the reasons for biting and the damage inflicted on each person varies –some bites are accidental while others are intentional.

It’s always advisable to visit the doctor immediately after a bite to treat and assess your injury level.

In total, there are six bite levels. They all vary depending on the German Shepherd’s motive during the bite – most of the time, they are merely looking out for loved ones and protecting their homes.

In other scenarios, they bite when they feel frightened or fearful of their surroundings. German Shepherds also may nip someone’s arm when they touch a fresh wound or injured part of their body – this could purely be an instinctive reaction to pain and not a planned attack.

One veterinarian, Dr. Dunbar, developed a scale that indicates the different levels of a dog’s bite. The scale is key in highlighting the intensities of each bite, from the first to the sixth degree.

Unlike other standard instruments of scale that check measurements directly, Dr. Dunbar’s technique checks the severity of the damage by analyzing the bite scratches, bleeding, and punctures.

This technique is similar to measuring a cyclone’s magnitude – the scale determines the tornado’s intensity by gauging the damage.

Thanks to Dr. Dunbar’s approach, German Shepherd owners can now correct their dogs’ tendencies to bite. While level one to level three Shepherds can be retrained and instructed not to bite, level four to six dogs are more vicious and require special restraint.

First Degree

A first degree Shepherd does not pose any real physical harm. When feeling threatened, the dog exposes his teeth and can make growling sounds but won’t bite.

The main reason for exposing their teeth is to frighten the person or animal nearby. Vets consider dogs in this category safe and not dangerous because sometimes dogs, like humans, get scared and frightened.


Elementary training, including socialization and obedience training, teaches Shepherds how to interact with different people and stay calm.

With consistent teaching, GSDs that were once fearful or hostile toward other pets and people become friendlier and abandon their first degree traits.

Second Degree

When the dog bites, there will be slight scratching on the affected part. However, the scratches and bites don’t puncture the skin. There are also minor cases of bleeding, but the bloodletting doesn’t reach the deeper veins – it’s often near the skin surface.

Second-degree bites occur when dogs are more frightened and intuitively act in their defense. Bleeding and scratches arise when the dog jumps and nips the victim while moving their jaws sideways.

However, they release their victims quickly and don’t make any deep punctures.


Dogs with second-degree bites are often poorly trained in their early life. Owners can start with essential coaching and also teach their dogs how to associate with other people gently. Routine training is also a must if you desire favorable results.


In level three, dogs are not as gentle with their teeth as level two and level one.

Biting observations will indicate a maximum of four punctures on the skin, all of which may vary in depth. However, all the punches will be shorter in depth than half the measurement of the dog’s longest canine.

Third-degree punctures don’t go too deep – dogs tend to let go when casualties struggle to free themselves. Level three bites are relatively dangerous – they can quickly escalate to level four if trainers don’t offer clear-cut lessons on biting and complacency.


Training at this level will require a lot of time, effort, and dedication. Level three German Shepherds need specific training that will teach them to suppress their biting desires.

Besides, ensure you train the Shepherd repeatedly and for a long time until you achieve the desired behavior. Veteran coaches who specialize in behavior training can also help with the correction process.

Fourth Degree

Dogs in this group are more ferocious and dangerous. They also tend to bite repeatedly and cause multiple punctures and nasty bruises on the victim’s skin. The bite wounds are more severe, and casualties ought to see their doctors immediately.

There’s a minimal chance that level four dogs will change their attitudes, especially toward strangers, pets, and other animals. When their protective instincts give in, level four dogs don’t deliberate; they strike.

Because of the severity of level four injuries, victims and dog owners ought to visit their local police stations for statements, hospitals for treatment, and vets to examine the assailing dog.


Level four Shepherds are more dangerous, and training will do little to change their habits. That’s why vets recommend that owners keep them indoors. Besides, a protective muzzle on your dog will prevent them from cinching the vet or any other unfamiliar face outside the house.

Fifth and Sixth Degrees

These are the most severe cases when it comes to bites – in extreme circumstances, bites from dogs in this category can cause death. The dogs are so aggressive that they won’t think twice before tearing apart anything they consider a threat.


Sadly, you can’t train German Shepherds in level five and level six into obedience and socialization.

Experts recommend euthanasia for level five and level six dogs because of their natural wild instincts. The dogs should also be confined in seclusion and prevented from normal interaction with people and pets.

Measuring Techniques

Experts measure a dog’s bite force in pounds per square inch, otherwise known as PSI. The German Shepherd bite force is around 238 PSI. However, it’s subject to change depending on several factors, including the measuring techniques involved.

Here are some standard techniques experts, vets, breeders, and dog owners use to measure a German Shepherd’s bite force:

Electronic Transducers (Pressure sleeves)

An electronic transducer comprises three main parts: the steel wires, the gauge (scale), and the rawhides. Steel wires stick are located at the center of the transducer – they act as pressure plates that transfer the dog’s biting force to the gauge that reads and records the total pressure.

Rawhides are attached to the outermost sleeve section – rawhides are usually covered with flavored eatables and rewards that encourage dogs to tighten their grips on the transducers.

These pressure sleeves are relatively easy to use because dog owners can wear them like gloves during training. They are also well reinforced for protection so that no harm will come to the trainer.

However, despite being convenient accessories, electronic transducers have a few inconsistencies.

It’s quite challenging for the user to determine the exact bite force because dogs use different sides of their muzzles to bite. The GSD may exert more pressure from either the right or left jaw, depending on how conveniently he can get his reward.

You might end up with a reading indicating the bite force from one side of the jaw and not the entire muzzle.

Electronic Titillation

Before undergoing thermionic stimulation, technicians administer anesthetics to German Shepherds. After that, they connect silver conductors to the dog’s entire jawbone structure.

This measuring technique’s main objective is to stimulate the dog’s masseteric muscles – they are responsible for biting and chewing – and impel them to tighten and generate a bite force.

The operator cautiously increases the electronic intensity as time goes by to see how far the bite force will go. Operators usually don’t go too high with electronic stimulation because it could harm the dog.

Dry Skull Calculations

Unlike the other two processes that are more practical, dry skull calculations involve the hypothetical approximation of the German Shepherd’s bite force.

There are many assumptions involved in the calculations, including estimating the skull’s original size and shape. These estimations make it quite challenging to determine the main reason behind the dog’s bite, or in other words, the dog’s motive.

Besides, the skull is quite different in shape and size from a living Shepherd’s skull. Therefore, the results derived from this technique will not be as precise as other practical methods – it involves too many inferences.

Why is a Bite Force Important?

  • The bite force will help a vet diagnose any health issues affecting your Shepherd, especially dental-related problems.
  • Upon the completion of a diagnosis, the vet will know the right treatment plan for your GSD. If the dog suffers from any bone problems, the vet will recommend and facilitate the implantation of screws to fix any loose masticatory bones.
  • Knowing your German Shepherd’s bite force will help you pick the right toys, chews, treats, and food for your specific dog – according to their particular needs.
  • The information also comes as a safety precaution – you’ll know whether or not your Shepherd poses a significant safety risk to you and your family or members of the public.

Factors affecting the German Shepherd’s bite force

These factors may differ from one dog to another, and depending on the measuring technique involved. The following factors influence a dog’s bite force:

  • The dog’s skull shape, weight, and size.
  • Diseases affecting the German Shepherd’s jaws.
  • Overall oral pain or sensitivity.
  • The dog’s motive during the bite.

When determining the dog’s bite force, you can never be too sure of the accuracy of your measuring method because all bites differ.

A Shepherd’s bite during training differs from the bite on an intruder during the night, because, when their hunting instincts heighten, Shepherds become more protective and aggressive. In this nature, their bites are severer than during training.

Comparing a GSD’s bite force with other animals

Rottweilers hold the first position when it comes to ranking domestic animals according to their bite force. The GSD is also among the domesticated dogs with a strong bite force. Others that make it to the top five include Bulldogs, Pitbull Terriers, Huskies, and Doberman Pinschers.

Saltwater Crocodiles are among the most ferocious wild animals, with a bite force of 3700 PSI. Hyenas, grizzly bears, and lions also rank among the top ten globally with incredibly strong jawbones.

Wrapping Up

Any Golden Shepherd owner must know their dog’s bite force. With the results, you’ll decide if you need to socialize the dog or take any other safety precautions to prevent any harm to your children or neighbors.

It would also be best if you treated your Shepherd respectfully and do all you can to avoid provoking them.

For example, ensure you keep your distance and avoid causing any disturbances to a mother Shepherd nurturing her puppies. She’ll be overprotective of her puppies, and you might get hurt when disturbing her.

The best way to prevent any unruly traits in your dog is to train them well from their early life and socialize them properly – this way, they won’t consider everyone a threat.

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