Why do german shepherds tilt their heads & what does it mean?

German shephered dog tilting his head

Happiness is a warm doggie. Only love can make your German Shepherd wag his tail, but if he tilts his head, you might question “Why do German Shepherds tilt their heads?” According to the American Kennel Club, head titling isn’t a common behavior that your lovely GSD pup does. However, Did you know that noises are actually the source of this cute behavior? You’re probably surprised now, right?

Well, a German Shepherd’s auditory senses can easily distinguish sounds that are far away from the human ear. When they hear something unfamiliar or difficult to understand, they will tilt their heads in an effort to focus on the sound more. Consider it to be directional sound capture.

German Shepherds are undoubtedly an affectionate breed full of surprises; their world feels like a wonderland. They have amazing qualities and win the hearts of those who meet them, so let’s find out the mystery behind their cute head tilt. Continue reading to have all of your questions answered.

Why do dogs tilt their heads?

German Shepherds are a cuddly bundle of energy renowned for their intellect, devotion, and guarding instincts. However, they’re also well known for tilting their heads to one side while sleeping or staring intently at their handler. It is thought that this behavior is a protective mechanism used by the dog to make it easier for them to identify any threat that may be approaching from the side. Your Shepherd’s head tilt behavior may also be explained by the following common reasons:

1. Your German Shepherd Is Trying to Locate Sounds

German shepherds are a popular breed known for their keen sense of smell and incredible sense of hearing to locate sounds. It is believed that the reason they tilt their head is to better locate the source of an unfamiliar sound. When they hear a noise or strange sounds they will often tilt their head in the direction of the sound in order to better pinpoint its location. The German Shepherd’s hearing range is extremely powerful, this unique ability is just one of the many things that make the German Shepherd breed amazing. 

2. Your German Shepherd Is Trying to Understand What You’re Saying

Dogs communicate a lot with their body language, and their adorable head tilt can be a way of trying to figure out what you’re saying. So if you notice your smart German Shepherd tilting their head a lot, it might just be because they’re trying to understand you better.

3. Your German Shepherd Is Communicating with You

How does my German Shepherd communicate with me? You could be thinking; Well, look carefully, if your dog is titling their head, it’s their way of attempting to communicate with you. Dogs are highly intuitive creatures and can pick up on a lot of human cues that we may not even be aware of. If you notice your dog tilting their head when you talk to them, it could be a sign that they are trying to understand you better.

Head tilting also allows dogs to better focus on our faces and lips, which helps them to interpret our words and body language. So next time your German Shepherd gives you a tilted-head look,  it can be because of communication reasons, so try having a conversation with them and see what they have to say!

4. Your German Shepherd Is Being Playful

German Shepherds are renowned for their great energy and love of play. Therefore, your German Shepherd play might be the reason behind their titling. So next time you see your dog tilting its head, remember that it’s just being playful and enjoy the show! This will make your bond closest to your adorable pup.

5. Your German Shepherd Is Trying To See Better

German Shepherds tilt their heads when they are trying to see better. This is because their eyes are set more to the side of their head, so tilting their head gives them a better view.

6. Your German Shepherd’s Head Tilting Is Caused by a Medical Condition

A tilted head is a very common trait in dogs and it is often associated with a range of different health issues. In fact, up to 20% of dogs may experience some form of head tilt while they are growing up.

There is a health condition that could be the reason why your German Shepherd is tilting its head. The condition is called vestibular disease, and it affects the dog’s balance and equilibrium. The disease can be caused by many things, including inner ear infections, tumors, and strokes.

If your German Shepherd has vestibular disease, it will likely have trouble walking and may even fall over. If you think your dog might have this condition, take it to the vet for an examination to get the appropriate medical treatment.

6.1. Your dog has an ear infection

Dogs often tilt their heads to try and relieve pressure when their ears are bothering them, or have trouble hearing, these are signs that your dog has an ear infection. Therefore, it’s recommended to visit the veterinarian if you notice your German shepherd excessively and uncomfortably tilting its head.

6.2. Your dog is having trouble seeing clearly

Your German Shepherd may be experiencing vision problems if you’ve ever noticed them tilting their head to one side. Unfortunately, the majority of dogs with eyesight issues exhibit this behavior. German Shepherds can better line their eyes with what they are looking at by tilting their heads. Therefore, if your dog is doing this more frequently, it may be time to take them to the veterinarian to check your beautiful puppy dog’s eyes.

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What does it mean when a dog tilts its head?

Your German Shepherd’s head tilt is an expressive gesture to show that it’s eager to grasp what you’re saying. Dogs communicate primarily through body language and vocal cues, which explains why. If a dog tilts its head while you speak to it, it is most likely simply trying to decipher your words and actions. Your German Shepherd’s head tilt could also be caused by the following:

Your German Shepherd is Confused

Head tilting is a common sign of confusion in dogs and can be caused by anything from hearing loss to neurological problems. If your German Shepherd dog is tilting its head frequently or for long periods of time, it’s important to take it to the vet for a checkup.

You have Reinforced Your German Shepherd’s Titling Behavior

Dogs are social creatures and love to please their owners, so if you make a big deal out of your dog’s titles, they’ll be more likely to do it more often. Start by offering lots of praise and treats whenever your dog tilts, and soon they’ll start doing it all the time!

Your German Shepherd Tilts Out Of Excitement or Expectation

If you’ve ever seen a German shepherd tilt its head, you may have wondered why they do it.  Extreme excitement or expectation can be a reason behind the behavior. When a dog is excited, its heart rate increases, and blood flow to the brain increases. This can cause the dog to tilt its head in an attempt to get more blood to the brain. If a dog is expecting something, such as a treat, it may tilt its head in anticipation.

Do German Shepherds stick to one person?

German Shepherd dog on the bed with a girl

German Shepherds bond strongest with one person, but this doesn’t deny the fact that they make incredible family dogs. 

Are dogs who tilt their heads smarter?

There is a popular belief that dogs who tilt their heads are smarter than those who don’t. This is because they are able to better understand human communication. While there is no scientific evidence to support this claim, it is certainly true that dogs who tilt their heads are more responsive to human cues than those who don’t.

How do I know if my German Shepherd is happy?

Your lovely German Shepherd will probably be wagging their tail, playing with toys, and interacting with its favorite person and other people if they are happy. They may also lean into you and bend their heads as you pet them and make eye contact since they are excited and happy to see you.


If you’re ever wondering why your beloved dog breed German Shepherd is tilting their head, it’s likely because they’re trying to communicate with you. They might be trying to understand what you’re saying, or they could be trying to show you that they’re paying attention. Either way, it’s a good idea to pay attention to your dog’s body language and see what they’re trying to tell you.

What do you think?

Written by Jack

Jack is the founder of Germanshepherdsfamily, a german shepherds specific website where you'll find everything you need to know if you are a true lover of the German Shepherd breed!

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