Why German Shepherds Tilt Head: The Truth Behind This Adorable Behavior

Why German Shepherds tilt head

Why German Shepherds Tilt Head?

Have you ever thought, why does your German Shepherd tilt his head from time to time?

There are many reasons behind this particular gesture, but this head tilt is one of the sweetest gestures of German Shepherds.

They have many other adorable habits, but this head tilting by such a large dog breed makes you love them even more.

You may find this gesture enticing in German Shepherd when interacting to him. They will tilt their heads when they hear a loud noise outside. Likewise, they will also tilt their heads before starting to bark.

German Shepherds are often seen to tilt their heads because they are aware of something that we dog parents do not even know or have not noticed.

But in addition to all these things, there are many other reasons German Shepherd tilt head. Read this blog post to learn why your German Shepherds tilt their heads and how to deal with such behavior.

German Shepherds Tilt Head

Why Do German Shepherds Tilt Their Head when they hear a strange sound?

Among the many unique traits of the German Shepherd, his sense of hearing is considered the best. They can even detect those sounds and frequencies that a normal human ear cannot detect.

But a human ear has the advantage over dogs in that they can perceive sound from whatever direction it starts in. On the other hand, German Shepherds have a limited directional hearing.

Also read: Why do German Shepherds look like Wolves?

How does the head tilt help with hearing?

If we compare the hearing ability of the German Shepherd with that of humans, we will see that the structure of the outer ear of humans is designed in such a way that it picks up the sound so clearly and so that they do not even have to turn to that side.

The ability of humans to hear sound is not affected by the fact that which side the sound is coming from.

This is not the same in the case of the German Shepherd; they have earflaps that totally or partially cover the ear canal and act as a barrier between sound transmissions, so dogs have to tilt their head to detect the sound.

Generally, German Shepherd earflaps are mobile, so if your dog makes a slight adjustment, he can focus on the exact location of the sound. Similarly, different dogs have different challenges.

In Cocker Spaniel, their heavy earflaps can completely cover the ear canal. As a result, sound wave transmission interferes from all directions.

Whereas in the case of the German Shepherd, only the back of the ear is covered by earmuffs, and its sound detection is only limited from the rear end.

See also: How long can you leave a German Shepherd in a crate?

German Shepherds Head Tilted

They tilt their head to locate the source of sound

As you know, German Shepherds have one of the most sensitive hearing senses and are always investigating their environment.

They can hear any strange sounds or even footsteps from a great distance; this is one of the main reasons why they are one of the best watchdogs/guard dogs.

The German Shepherd usually tilts his head to locate any strange sounds, and this process is known as triangulation.

In this process, your dog’s ears work as a stereo receiver, and when they tilt their head, they try to track the base of the sound, and their brain helps count the time the sound reaches their ears. This will further help them understand whether the sound is coming from the closest source or from a distance.

Plus: When will my German Shepherds ear stand up?

They are focusing on the words that you are saying

Head tilting is a common gesture of intelligent dogs. This is often seen in dogs like retrievers, German shepherds, and Labradors. Despite the difference in language, the German Shepherd tilts his head in a way that he tries to understand what you are saying to them.

They also tilt their head to get a clear image of their face. A study published in Psychology Today by Dr. Stanley Coren said that “at some point, your German Shepherd tilts his head to understand your body language, facial expression, and eye movement.

More than five hundred dog owners participate in that study, including one hundred and eighty-six dogs with more flat-faces. In the end result, 52% of flat-faced dogs tilt their heads regularly, and 71% of owners who have large- muzzle dogs like the German Shepherd stated that their dogs often tilt their heads.

Fun read: Can I brush my German Shepherds teeth?

Why Does German Shepherd Tilt Its Head?

Does a German Shepherd tilt their head when they are curious?

Yes, German Shepherds often bow their heads when they are confused or curious about something in their environment. They take this action to help themselves get a better view or hear clearly what they are curious about.

Does the German Shepherd Tilt His Head in Ear Problems?

There may be some serious health issue behind the head tilt in the German Shepherd, and you need to research it properly to find the truth behind the behavior. Head tilting is commonly seen in ear infections.

However, it is very difficult to differentiate between normal head tilt and that associated with the ear problem. But you don’t have to worry that the difference between the two can be distinguished by the following signs.

  • If your German Shepherd tilts his head in abnormal behavior and tilts it more than usual, there is a greater chance that he has ear problems.
  • Similarly, if they tilt their head when sitting alone in the absence of any sound or visual, they have an ear problem.

An ear infection can be bad news for a dog owner, but it can be treated in time if you identify it quickly.

Important read: How to clean German Shepherd ears?

Does head tilting help in getting a Better View of Things?

German Shepherds have a long muzzle, and sometimes their mouth blocks the view at a certain angle, so they tilt their heads to get a better look at things. Although there are other parts of the body that can block your dog’s view, as in the case of flat-faced dog breeds.

So, flat-faced, big-mouth dogs will often tilt their heads to look better, to understand you better, and more common to look adorable in front of you.

Adorable German Shepherd Head Tilt

Is tilting the head a habit of German Shepherds?

Sometimes you will see that there is no reason behind this head tilting, and your German Shepherd does it out of habit.

This is one of the irresistible and cute behaviors of German Shepherds. When you see this behavior out of nowhere, you may find yourself smiling, patting them, and giving them a treat.

This love and care from you may be the reason why your German Shepherd has developed a habit of tilting his head.

Fun read: Why do my German Shepherd growl at me?

When is head tilting considered a problem, and you have to take your dog to the vet?

When your German Shepherd constantly tilts his head, this means that he is not communicating or doing anything else.

It is a sign of a medical problem; there may be an infection in the ear canal, it may be fungi or bacteria that cause itching, pain, and head tilt.

If your German Shepherd is suffering from a middle ear infection, there is a greater chance that you will notice a persistent head tilt. Similarly, when they tilt their head to the side, it can be an indication of a neurological problem.

If you found all of these conditions in your German Shepherd, then you should take your dog to the vet.

Adorable German Shepherd

Do dog owners encourage this head tilt behavior?

Although there are several factors behind this head tilt, it looks cute regardless of its cause. Being human is in our instinct to respond to cuteness. When dogs bow their heads, we often speak in a good tone, pat them, and smile. So, in a sense, we give them positive reinforcement and encourage this head-tilt behavior.


Head tilt in the German Shepherd is mainly due to different factors, but if it is associated with any medical problems, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.

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