4 min read


Why Do German Shepherds Tilt Their Head



4 min read


Why Do German Shepherds Tilt Their Head




Does your German Shepherd tilt his head? It has to be said, that head tilting is probably one of a German Shepherd's cutest characteristics. As big a breed of dog as they are, it's an adorable habit which just makes you want to hug them more and more. Yes, head tilts make German Shepherds pretty irresistible. Does your German Shepherd head tilt when you talk to him? Many do. Or does he head tilt if he thinks he hears a noise outside? German Shepherds have a habit of head tilting just before they start barking. It often seems they're aware of things we pet owners haven't even noticed or have failed to comprehend. As cute a habit as it is, could there be a real reason why German Shepherd tilt their head?

The Root of the Behavior

German Shepherds have ears comparable to gigantic radar receptors. They can literally hear a pin drop and it doesn't have to be close by either. Those magnificent, pointed lobes of theirs can pick up sounds from miles away. Noises which are far out of reach of the human ear are easily discernible to a German Shepherd's auditory senses. If they hear something which they don't recognize or can't decipher, they will try to tune into the sound more by tilting their heads. Think of it as directional sound capturing. It helps them pinpoint where the sound originates from and to determine what it is or what's generated it. Then they can decide if it's a threat to themselves or to their beloved pet owner. If they think it might be, it won't be long before their protective nature comes into force and they start barking.

In some ways, German Shepherds are no different to any other breed of dog. They just love as much attention as they can get. Having their pet owner focus on them for whatever reason is just going to make their day. If you've ever acknowledged your German Shepherd's head tilting in even the most minimal form, do you think he won't have noticed? German Shepherds aren't trained as police dogs for no reason. They have a supreme intelligence and can detect you looking at them even with their eyes closed. Okay, that might be exaggerating a little bit, but they are super sensitive and take notice of everything. You only have to say, "what's that?" when he tilts his head or even sigh because his head tilts are so sweet, for him to pick up on it. Yes, you guessed it. He will be more than happy to give you a head tilting demonstration any time you're near. 

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Encouraging the Behavior

All dogs have a recognizable expression which they use to communicate with. We humans may use words and yes, dogs do bark, but they also use body language to tell us things. A tail wag lets us know they're happy and baring their teeth displays anger and aggression. A head tilt? Not so surprisingly, your pup is all ears and listening. Head tilts are one way a German Shepherd expresses curiosity in what you, his pet owner, is saying. It's been scientifically proven that many dogs can actually understand specific words we speak rather than just sounds. If other dogs can understand a few words of language, a German Shepherd, if you talk to him enough, will probably understand even more. 

If you're chatting away to him and he's tilting his head, he may well be trying to catch some of what you're saying so he can be ready to react to the magic word ‚Äď walk.¬†Sometimes when we encourage our pups to do things with too much frequency because we think it's cute or funny, it can mask an underlying problem. Many dogs, not just German Shepherds, tilt their heads when they have problems with their ears. They might have an infection in their auditory canal or have picked up a parasite such as a tick which is irritating their lobe. It'll take you longer to notice your pup is head tilting for an important reason if you constantly encourage him to do it for entertainment.

Other Solutions and Considerations

There are some serious medical reasons why a German Shepherd head tilts. If your dog is getting on in years and head tilts more often than he used to, you may want to consider getting him checked over by a veterinarian. They'll be able to evaluate the situation and give him medical treatment if he needs it. If you think your dog might have picked up a parasite or has developed an inner ear infection, you'll need to consult with a veterinary professional as soon as possible. They'll be able to examine his ears and provide you with the correct treatment to get him cured.


Are head tilts the cutest thing a German Shepherd does? Maybe or maybe not, as they have a whole list of wonderful and likable characteristics which are just as sweet. But when a German Shepherd head tilts, there's one thing you can guarantee and that is, he is listening. Whether he is listening to you, his pet owner, or not, is a completely different thing.

Written by a Chihuahua lover Liz Correal

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 04/04/2018, edited: 01/30/2020

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