German Shepherd Bite Force: Facts and Myths

german shepherd bite force

How hard do German Shepherds bite?

The expression “bite force” is a reference to how powerful the bite of an animal is. It determines the force of an animal’s jaw and indicates the extent of damage it can cause.

What Does Pounds Per Square Inch Mean? 

Bite force is calculated by PSI which is an abbreviation for pounds per square inch. PSI is a reaction to pressure and is measured by the square inches of each pound.

It’s difficult to gauge the exact bite force of any dog (or species) because every bite won’t be precisely the same. The more fear or adrenaline produced will result in a harder bite compared to biting a toy during play with their human owner.

Keep in mind that bite force numbers listed for any animal are an average. Bite force could be a little lower or a little higher depending on circumstances.

The force a dog has to bite with is related to the breed’s jaw shape and the size of the dog’s head. The bigger the dog means, the harder it can bite.

In comparison, the average person can bite down with a force of around 120 PSI. An adult male can approximately hit 150 PSI.

Dog Bite Force Levels Explained

When an animal bites, the reason it does it is usually due to two main reasons:

  1. It’s protecting its self or its family members
  2. Hunting

As mentioned above, the intensity of a dog’s bite force varies depending on the situation.

Six levels of severity define the force of a dog’s bite. These levels are used to categorize and statistically track dog bites and injuries. These numbers are then used to calculate which dog breeds are the most aggressive and dangerous.

Dog Bite Level 1

A dog postures or displays aggressive behavior to warn and scare off a person, dog, or other animals. The dog’s teeth never make contact. Therefore there is no bite.

Dog Bite Level 2

A dog’s teeth come into contact with skin, but the teeth do not puncture through the skin.

Dog Bite Level 3

From one bite, a dog leaves one to four punctures in the skin. The punctures are not deep, but the dog warns others to back down and take them as a threat.

Dog Bite Level 4

At level 4, the warning signs go up. The number of punctures can vary between one and four, but there’s at least one puncture deep enough to cover more than half of the dog’s tooth.

A level four bite can leave bruising around the wound caused by the dog’s head prey shaking from left to right.

Dog Bite Level 5

A dog bites multiple times in multiple places. The severity of the bites is a level 4.

Dog Bite Level 6

This level is the death of a person or animal as a result of a dog attack.

Level one and two dog bites are the most common, with level six being the rarest.

German Shepherd Bite Force

The bite force of a German Shepherd is 238 PSI or 108 kg.

german shepherd bite force

German Shepherd Bite Force Facts 

German Shepherds are domesticated and don’t have to hunt for food for survival. When German Shepherds bite, they are triggered by protection instincts, fear, or aggression.

German shepherds are utilized for various purposes, including companionship and household security and protection,  but they’re also trained and used as police dogs.

With a bite force of around 238 PSI, a German Shepherd’s bite can fracture bones. Smart criminals surrender themselves once they realize a K9 Officer is about to be released on them.

Belgian Malinois vs. German Shepherd Bite Force

belgian malinois bite force

The Belgian Malinois has become a popular alternative to German Shepherds with law enforcement and the military. Like German Shepherds, the Malinois is an intelligent working breed with protective instincts and prey drive built into their genetics.

However, the Malinois is typically smaller and more agile than most German Shepherds. The Malinois’s smaller size advantage can extend their working career by a year or two compared to a lot of Shepherds.

The Malinois disadvantage is their smaller size equals a smaller head. The Belgian Malinois bite force is 195 PSI compared to a German Shepherd’s bite of 238 PSI.

Wolf Bite Force

wolf bite force

Our current 4-legged companions evolved over many years from wolves. Because of this, it would be logical to assume a dog breed similar in size and structure would have the same bite force as a wolf.

However, there are breeds larger than wolves with less bite force. The reason behind this is evolution.

Dogs became domesticated with soft foods provided for them, eliminating the primal need for jaw strength to take down animals, break down bones and chew meat.

The wolf’s bite force is also attributed to sharper and larger teeth than dogs and structurally larger jaws.

The precise number for a wolf’s bite force varies from source to source.

National Geographic conducted a test and concluded a grey wolf’s bite force to be 406 PSI. This test seems to be controversial as many believe the test wasn’t done correctly.

Two independently funded biologist organizations conducted tests that resulted in a gray wolf’s bite force being 580 PSI and 661 PSI.

Other sources claim a wolf’s bite force is around 400 PSI, but an adult wolf could reach 1,200 PSI in bite force when taking down another animal.

Nailing down the exact bite force of a wolf appears uncertain, but it should be safe to assume that no one wants to be attacked by a wolf with a bite force of at least 400 PSI.

3 German Shepherd Bite Force Myths

1. A German Shepherd’s jaw locks when they bite.

This myth is false. No breed, including Pit Bulls, have locking jaws.

2.  A German Shepherd cannot control how hard they bite.

This myth is false and untrue of any breed. A  comparable example would be saying a human cannot control how hard they squeeze another person’s hand when shaking it.

3. German Shepherds rank in the top 3 breeds when it comes to bite force.

Many sources cite this statistic, but it’s not an accurate statement. German Shepherds rank 3rd out of the ten most dangerous and aggressive breeds.

The list below shows how the German Shepherd’s bite compares to other breeds.

20 Breeds with the Strongest Dog Bite Force

  1. Kangal Dog 743 PSI
  2. Bandog Dog 730 PSI
  3. Cane Corso 700 PSI
  4. Dogue de Bordeaux 556 PSI
  5. Tosa Inu 556 PSI
  6. English Mastiff 552 PSI
  7. Dogo Canario (also call the Perro de Presa Canario) 540 PSI
  8. Dogo Argentino 500 PSI
  9. Leonberger 399 PSI
  10. Rottweiler 328 PSI
  11. American Bulldog 305 PSI
  12. German Shepherd 238 PSI
  13. Pit Bull 235 PSI
  14. Boxer 230 PSI
  15. Doberman 229 PSI
  16. Alano Espanol 227 PSI
  17. Dutch Shepherd 224 PSI
  18. Chow-Chow 220 PSI
  19. English Bulldog 210 PSI
  20. Belgian Malinois 195 PSI

The breeds on this list are the top 20 dogs statistically labeled as aggressive.


German Shepherds are loyal and protective companions. However, owners should not take the power held in their jaws lightly.

Most people do not choose a dog or a breed based on bite force. However, large breed owners need to be responsible and ensure proper socialization and training are done early to prevent aggressive behavior and accidental bites.

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