Why Do German Shepherds Groan When Lying Down?

Our dogs sure make it sound like they live such a tough life when they let out a loud groan when they lie down. 

German Shepherds are known for making their move to the ground known by groaning whenever they find a spot to rest. 

Why do they make that sound?

Why Do German Shepherds Groan When Lying Down?

German Shepherds groan when they are lying down to express that they are relaxed, similar to how someone may sigh when they get the chance to rest after a long day. While the life of a German Shepherd in the home may not be that tough, these dogs are very expressive.

German Shepherds aren’t the only breed of dog to let the world know of their relaxation when they lie down, though they probably do it a lot more than some other dogs. 

German Shepherds are known for being a more vocal dog breed, so they express themselves a lot more with their voice.

These dogs will groan when they lay down, are trying to find a comfortable spot to be in, or are waking up from a nap. 

Whether these groans are quiet or loud depends on the personality of your dog. 

German Shepherds Will Groan to Seek Attention

Not only will German Shepherds nudge into your hand to ask for pets, but these dogs might also groan when they want attention as well. 

Since dogs can’t speak English, they will use their barks, groans, or whines to communicate with the people around them. 

Sometimes, the thing that they are communicating is that they want love and attention from their owners. 

They might also groan as to say “hurry up” if you aren’t getting up to play or to take them out fast enough. 

German Shepherds May Groan When Stretching

When a German Shepherd lies down or gets up to stretch, it will most likely groan while doing so. 

Again, these dogs are very vocal and like to let everyone know what they are doing even if that means letting those around them know that they are stretching.

German Shepherds May Groan When They Are Anxious

Some dogs whine or cry when they are scared or anxious. 

However, some dogs will also groan to show these negative emotions. 

If you know that your German Shepherd is around something that they don’t like, such as a new event, thunder, or anything that they are afraid of, you can expect them to whine or groan. 

Your German Shepherd May Groan When They Are in Pain

Why Do German Shepherds Groan When Lying Down Why Do German Shepherds Groan When Lying Down?

If you notice your German Shepherd groaning a lot or having those groans be accompanied by whining, especially when they are moving position, they might be in pain.

German Shepherds are prone to a lot of health issues with their bones and joints.

Some of these issues include hip and elbow dysplasia, knee pain, and even arthritis. 

Groaning in pain can be a sign of one of these issues. 


These are growing pains that your young German Shepherd may have that can cause excessive groaning. 

At first, these groans may be mistaken for relaxation groaning with they lie down or stand up. 

However, if you notice other signs of discomfort and if your German Shepherd is still young enough to be growing, these groans may be from growing pains.

While they may be uncomfortable, these aren’t dangerous for your puppy to experience. 

The only thing that can be done is to wait for your puppy to stop growing.


Arthritis most commonly affects senior German Shepherds.

If you notice that the groans that your German Shepherd has once only down when lying down or relaxing have turned into groans of discomfort, you might want to get them checked for arthritis. 

German Shepherds are very active dogs no matter what age they are

Over time, the cartilage between the joints can wear down and cause arthritis pain. 

If your dog is noticeably in pain, it is a good time to take your German Shepherd to the vet to see if arthritis is the cause and what can then be done.

A Possible Injury

Anyone and any animal who is known for being active can be at risk for both minor and major injuries. 

A minor injury results in pain and discomfort for your German Shepherd, who may show that pain through groaning and whining. 

If you see your dog limping or having trouble while lying down, you should take your German Shepherd to the vet to figure out what specifically is happening with your German Shepherd. 

Why Are German Shepherds So Vocal?

So, we have learned that German Shepherds are vocal creatures which is why they communicate through plenty of groans, barks, and whining. 

There isn’t a for-sure answer as to why German Shepherds are more vocal than other breeds of dogs. 

Like many other behaviors that creatures possess, a good reason for why they have those behaviors relates to their history.

This might be true for German Shepherds as well.


German Shepherds were first bred to be the best work dog. 

As their name implies, they are herding dogs that people would use to herd sheep. 

These dogs would use their voice through barking to direct sheep to where they needed to be. 

They will bark even more when a sheep starts to stray from the rest of the flock. 

This breed of dog has kept the herding instinct throughout time, sometimes trying to herd their own family. 

With this, they have kept that vocal trait of when they had to bark and make noises to herd. 

Working As Service Dogs

German Shepherds are commonly seen working with the police and fire department due to their strong sense of smell and protectiveness.

In this job, German Shepherds had to use their voice to communicate what is happening to their owners. 

Whether it’s barking to inform their owner of an intruder or groaning when something bad is about to happen, German Shepherds have to be very vocal on the job. 

Over time, this breed has adapted to that form of communication and is still very vocal even if they aren’t service dogs. 

Wolf Ancestors

German Shepherds are very closely tied to their wolf ancestors. 

Every modern dog is related to wolves in some way, but German Shepherds have a more direct line to this connection. 

Wolves are also known as very vocal creatures. 

Wolves will communicate to other wolves in their pack through howling and other vocal actions. 

This is an instinct that wolves share and that may have been passed down to German Shepherds in domestication. 

A combination of all of these qualities, from training to pure instinct, can all go into why German Shepherds are very vocal dogs. 

They have had to learn to communicate with other dogs and other humans and vocalization has worked pretty well so far. 

There are times when people encourage their German Shepherds to be more vocal whether it’s intended or not. 

German Shepherds are very intelligent and will pick up new habits and behaviors quickly. 

This means that if your German Shepherd starts to learn that barking, groaning, or whining will get them what they want (for example, begging for food,) then they will be more inclined to continue with that behavior. 

Learning the meanings of your German Shepherd’s vocalizations can give you a better relationship with your dog and allows you to better help your German Shepherd with their needs.

That way you can be a better owner and your German Shepherd won’t be left having to figure out how to get you to listen to their needs. 

Final Thoughts

German Shepherds are notorious for groaning when they lie down and that’s simply because they are vocal creatures. 

Most of the time, they groan to show that they are comfortable and relaxed. 

These groans may sometimes seem a little dramatic, but that’s just the way of the German Shepherd. 

Sometimes, you might start noticing your German Shepherd groaning excessively when lying down or moving.

If these groans sound pained or if they are showing other signs of being in pain, you will want to take your German Shepherd to the vet to figure out what is wrong. 

These pained groans can be a sign of arthritis or even a small injury. 

There are many reasons why German Shepherds are very vocal, but there isn’t a reason that is 100% the cause. 

Some possible reasons go back to German Shepherds being work dogs, whether that was herding sheep or working as service dogs. 

German Shepherds had to be vocal to command a herd or to communicate with their owner on the job.

These dogs might also be vocal due to instincts they inherited from wolves. 

No matter how dramatic your German Shepherd may groan, they are still amazing dogs to have as part of your family. 

They have lots of love to give and want lots of love too.

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