Are German Shepherd Puppies Clumsy? Know What to Expect


german shepherd puppy looking cute and curious at you

If you’re considering or have recently adopted a German Shepherd puppy, you’ve probably noticed their less than graceful behaviors and clumsy movements.

German Shepherd puppies are clumsy. There are multiple reasons for this issue, including their size, body type, personality, and enthusiasm. Your German Shepherd will outgrow their awkward behavior by the time they reach adulthood, which is typically around three years of age mentally

Most pet parents find their puppy’s clumsy behavior endearing, although there are some precautions you should take until your pet outgrows this stage.

We’re going to look at some of the most common reasons why German Shepherd puppies are so clumsy.

German Shepherds Are Awkward As They Grow

German Shepherds grow at a consistent rate until they reach full physical maturity around the age of two to two and a half.

They do not reach mental maturity until closer to three years. 

During adolescence, they get their height first before their bodies fill out with muscle.

You can expect your German Shepherd pup to be all legs and tail. Many Shepherds look awkward as they’re growing, with long, gangly legs but narrow bodies. 

A German Shepherd takes up to two years and a half before they are fully grown, which means your pup has plenty of time to fill out into the characteristic look Shepherds are known for as adults. 

They will retain the behaviors and mentality of a puppy until closer to three years of age. But all dogs are different, so your pet may mature faster or slower than the breed standards.

While in the puppy stage, it’s a common sight to see your German Shepherd tripping over their own feet while running or stumbling up steps. 

Most Shepherds are clumsy during their puppy phase. These signs are not warning you of any developmental delays, and they will outgrow this behavior as adults.

Your pup needs to get used to its new size and height. It will take some getting used to before figuring out how to work their newly grown long legs as they age. 

German Shepherds Are Curious

Another trademark behavior of German Shepherds that often results in clumsy behavior is their colossal need to know all.

German Shepherds love to be in the middle of anything going on, and they’re not shy about putting their nose in your business, figuratively and literally.

This desire to stay in the know can result in your pup getting into some tricky situations that end in ungraceful antics.

If you call your puppy and they don’t come, you may need to track them down to see what mischief they’ve found.

Also, don’t be surprised to see your German Shepherd trying to do what you do, including climbing ladders, jumping into the water, or trying to chase your bike and getting tangled in their leash. 

German Shepherds don’t just get into trouble by doing what you do. This breed of dog needs a lot of room to play and plenty of things to keep them entertained.

A bored German Shepherd is a destructive one, and they will tear up anything around them as a source of entertainment. 

German Shepherds Play Rough

One of the biggest complaints German Shepherd parents have is that this breed likes to play rough.

With other dogs, they go for the throat and want to get physical. Other pet owners may panic, thinking your dog is trying to fight. 

A sensitive dog may become defensive, resulting in a real fight instead of roughhousing. You have to keep a close eye on your German Shepherd when they are playing with other dogs, especially ones that aren’t used to your pup. 

With people, your German Shepherd puppy will try to bite and jump.

It is best that you discourage these behaviors when your Shepherd is a pup, as, at full adulthood, a small bite or jump could cause injury to a person – especially small children. 

German Shepherds Are Land Sharks

German Shepherd puppies are often called Land Sharks due to their propensity to clumsily bite on anything nearby, including your fingers or toes. 

Sharks are known to give “test bites,” and your GSD is no different!

They will also destroy any toys or stuffed animals left within their reach. It’s best to make sure your children always put away any toys they don’t want to be destroyed.

It’s important that you exercise caution, as your clumsy German Shepherd could end up giving you deep gashes from their toenails or painful nips with their sharp teeth, without intention. 

GSDs have a strong, powerful bite that can be difficult to dislodge once they latch on. Their hard grip and fierce protective instinct make them perfect for working with law enforcement or the military

Divert your pup’s chewing to age-appropriate chew toys, even as a young puppy.

Get your pooch in the habit of not jumping up on you or others without a command to avoid being knocked over with their clumsy enthusiasm.

German Shepherds are very intelligent and can learn proper behaviors with consistent training. You should have no trouble teaching your pet not to bite or jump onto a person.

German Shepherds Have a Lethal Deadly Weapon

german shepherd puppy with tail circled in red

Another thing that makes German Shepherds clumsy yet dangerous is their big bushy tail, which comes about the same time as their long legs.

This tail can cause massive destruction in a short time when your pup gets excited or worked up.

As any German Shepherd pet parent will tell you, you must keep anything breakable or valuable up above the height of your pet’s tail to avoid an accident due to their clumsiness! 

Your pup’s tail will only get more deadly over time, so consider how tall your dog will ultimately get and adjust accordingly.

Also, don’t rely on things being out of reach if they’re set far back. German Shepherds have long tails that have quite a reach!

Unlike with other dog breeds, you cannot clip a German Shepherd’s tail, so you’ll have to get used to tail-proofing your home.

It’s also important that you stay out of reach of your GSD’s tail so you don’t end up with a whap on the back of the legs.

A GSD’s tail is more powerful than you may think, and a good whack can actually knock a small child over! 

German Shepherds Are Energetic

Your German Shepherd requires a lot of exercise to keep them in good shape and prevent them from becoming bored and destructive. 

Their high energy level can cause them to have some clumsy moments as they attempt to use their high energy drive.

Don’t be surprised to see your German Shepherd at full gallop only to stumble over their feet and fall!

You may even see your pup run too fast and be unable to stop so that they run into something. But don’t worry, their heads are hard enough to endure such mishaps!

Puppies are much like children. They get excited quickly, and it can be challenging to get them calmed down.

The more excited they get, the more clumsy they can become. Many dog parents document their puppy’s cute clumsiness for fond memories. 

By the time your dog reaches the age of three, there should be no awkwardness left in your pup.

They can chase a ball or jump in the pool without you having to worry or break out the camera for a photo op!

However, even though they will grow out of their clumsy phase, German Shepherds keep their nosy nature.

They will continue to demand staying in the middle of anything going on with you or other family members. 

Consider a Playpen

One solution to keeping your German Shepherd puppy’s clumsiness in check and minimizing destruction is a puppy playpen.

Using a playpen will help to secure your pup while you are doing the things that you have to do like cooking and tending to household chores without worrying about what your pup may be getting into.

We’ve used the Inspired Essentials Pet Playpen with a handful of GSD pups and have been completely satisfied with the results.

A word of caution – do not leave your puppy in any playpen for extended periods unless you are physically present within sight of your pup.

Doing so may lead to separation anxiety, which may only make your GSD more destructive in the long run.

For more information about German Shepherd separation anxiety and how to deal with it, read this great article that we have for you below:

How to Deal With German Shepherd Separation Anxiety

Final Thoughts

German Shepherds are intelligent, energetic, breed with a high energy drive, strong protective instincts, and a strong distrust of strangers.

GSD puppies are often clumsy and prone to getting into trouble, but they will outgrow this phase by about 3 years of age.

Enjoy your puppy’s playful antics while you can, as this is a time that you will look back upon with fondness. And remember to always keep a camera handy!  

Hunter Reed

I've owned and trained German Shepherds for over 18 years now. I'm originally from Indiana, though I've lived in many different states and traveled extensively. The places change, my dogs don't. German Shepherds have been my constant companions. I love every aspect of training them and simply just having them around. I also enjoy sharing my knowledge about German Shepherds with the world, and I encourage all future dog owners to consider one as a companion as well. Read my story here.

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