The term “bite force” refers to how powerful an animal’s bite is. It measures the strength of the animal’s jaws, and provides an indication of how much damage it can do.
The bite force of many different animals has been measured, including crocodiles, hyenas, hippos, and dogs.
When an animal bites, it’s usually doing it for one of two reasons. It’s either protecting itself or its family, or it’s hunting.
German shepherds don’t need to hunt for their food since they typically live with people. They bite as a protective measure, which may be triggered by fear or aggression.
German shepherds are used for many things, including companionship and family protection, but they’re often trained as police dogs.
Criminals will normally give up rather than risk being bitten, as a German shepherd’s bite force is 238 PSI (pounds per square inch). That’s strong enough to break bones!
What Makes The German Shepherd Bite So Powerful?
Early in the development of the German shepherd breed, the dogs were crossed with wolves. Unfortunately, the resulting dogs were unmanageable and unreliable.
However, the wolf blood has remained in the breed, albeit to a lesser extent, which has resulted in some favorable traits.
In fact, among domesticated dogs only the Rottweiler has a more powerful bite than the German shepherd.
The Shepherd gets a lot of this bite power from the shape of its muzzle, a characteristic inherited from its wolf ancestry.
What Else Does Police Work Involve?
Police dogs do more than just bite people on command.
They aid in finding suspects hiding where the police can’t find them and can sniff out drugs, weapons, and other contraband hidden in vehicles or tossed away by fleeing criminals.
According to the Utah Department of Public Safety, other important skills are taught to police dogs including tracking, search and rescue, and cadaver search.
They’re also taught to either bark or bite when they find a suspect, depending on the command given by the handler.
German Shepherds are the perfect K-9 cops, as they’re highly intelligent, trainable, and able to do things that humans simply can’t do.
Despite being trained to attack when needed, the National Police Dog Foundation reports that it’s common for police dogs to live with their handlers as family pets when not on duty.
How Does a German Shepherd’s Bite Compare to other Animals?
GSDs aren’t the only animals that have powerful bites.
While the German shepherd has one of the most powerful bites of all dog breeds, dog bites actually don’t even rank in the top 10 most powerful bites.
The animals with the strongest bite force are the hyena, at number 10, with a bite force of 1100 PSI, equal to nearly five times that of a German Shepherd.
At number 9 is the grizzly bear, at 1160 PSI, and in the eighth spot is the polar bear, with a 1200 PSI bite.
In the seventh, sixth, fifth, and fourth spots are the gorilla, the bull shark, the jaguar, and the hippopotamus.
These animals have bite forces ranging up to as high as 1800 PSI.
The top three spots go to the champion biters. In third place is the American alligator, with a bite force of 2125 PSI.
The second spot goes to the saltwater crocodile, with a bone-crunching bite force of 3700 PSI.
The strongest bite force in the world belongs to the Nile crocodile, with 5000 PSI, about 21 times that of the German shepherd.
Knowing an animal’s bite force provides an idea of how powerful its jaws are, and how much damage it can do.
Animals that consume bones, such as hyenas and crocodiles, can be expected to have extremely strong jaws.
Even those that bite aggressively or defensively, such as the hippopotamus or the gorilla, can be very powerful biters as well.
Bite Force: German Shepherd vs Wolf
German shepherds and wolves are somewhat similar in size, though the actual size of the wolf can vary by species and subspecies.
It can be difficult to accurately measure the bite force of wild animals.
In tests filmed for National Geographic using captive gray wolves, their bite force was measured at 406 PSI.
What Are Some Of The Considerations When Measuring Bite Force?
When measuring the bite force of any animal, it should be noted that it isn’t going to bite with the same force every time, so the measurement will vary from one bite to the next.
If an animal is frightened and feels it’s defending itself, it’s likely to bite much harder than if it’s just attempting to scare away a potential threat.
What’s the Point of Measuring the Bite Force of an Animal?
Part of the reason for learning an animal’s bite force is to understand how an animal functions, and how hard it’s likely to bite in comparison to other animals.
According to Frontiers in Veterinary Science, knowing the normal bite force of an animal can aid in the diagnosis and treatment of various tooth, skull, and jaw problems.
Understanding the bite force of different dog breeds can also help to determine its effectiveness as a protection dog, as well as its suitability as a police dog.
While bite force is only one of many considerations, it’s helpful to have a way to compare different breeds that may otherwise be very similar.
Even without having the technical details of a bite, such as the PSI involved, simply knowing that a dog can bite hard enough to break bones is useful.
Criminals are likely to surrender rather than risk being bitten, and handlers have a clear understanding of just how much damage their dogs can do if allowed to.
Frequesntly Asked Questions
Can a German shepherd bite break bones?
Yes, German shepherds have very strong jaws that are more than capable of breaking bones as they can reach up to 600lb of pressure in just one single bite. A human bone can break when 25 PSI of force is applied, so it shouldn’t even be questioned if this breed of dog can break bones.
So whether a German shepherd dog will break a bone in the human body will depend on the force applied by the dog and the makeup and location of the bone.
However, German shepherd pups may not be as capable as fully-grown ones at breaking bones although they’ll still be more than capable of causing harm compared to what a regular puppy would.
There’s a reason why these dogs are specially used in the police and the military as they’re strong, sometimes terrifying, and very protective when trained to be.
How do you discipline a German shepherd for biting?
The best way to prevent or cut down on your German shepherd biting is by training them not to do so as early as possible in the time that you have them.
They are very strong-minded and muscular dogs, even as puppies, so discipline from a young age to show them who is boss and what is right from wrong will prevent any accidents from happening in the future.
Please bear in mind that puppy biting is completely normal behavior when they’re young, as it is a sign of playfulness and sometimes affection.
If your puppy is biting in the early stages, then try to give them a chew toy to prevent them from biting you, or when they do bite you, say ‘no’ or act as if they’ve hurt you and walk away to show them that you didn’t like that.
These dogs love to please their owners and they’ll be sad that they’ve disappointed you and learn not to bite you in the future. Make sure to let anyone else in your home and guests follow this same process so they learn not to bite anyone they come across.
You can also try touching your German shepherd’s nose and rewarding them when they don’t flinch or lash out to bite you. If they do try to bite, do not reward them and simply continue until they begin not biting. This will train them to be comfortable with having other people around them and touching them.