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Why Do German Shepherds Tilt Their Heads?

Head tilting from your German Shepherd is one of the cutest behaviors. 

Although you probably enjoy it when they tilt their head and look at you, you might be wondering what causes this behavior. 

You might also notice that your German Shepherd tilts their head right before they start barking. 

Why Do German Shepherds Tilt Their Heads?

Most of the time, German Shepherds tilt their heads because they hear something. They might also do it when you are talking to them, and they are trying to understand what you are saying. It could also be a sign of their trying to communicate with you and in rare cases, it might be a sign of an ear infection. 

Knowing the exact reasons why your dog is tilting their head might depend on the circumstances. 

You can always pay attention to their behavior before and after the tilt of their head to see the reasoning behind their head tilting. 

Why Is My German Shepherd Tilting Their Head?

There are many reasons why your German Shepherd might be tilting their head. 

Knowing the exact reason isn’t always possible because they might respond to several different situations by tilting their head. 

Here are some of the most common reasons they tilt their head through and why they might do it often. 

They Want to Know Where the Noise is Coming From

According to most vets, this is the most common reason why your dog will tilt their head. 

German Shepherds have a better sense of hearing than many other dog breeds, so they will hear things that other dogs cannot. 

German Shepherds can also pinpoint the sources of a certain sound, unlike other dogs. 

They will often tilt their head to try and pinpoint the exact location of the sound. 

Adjusting the position of their ears allows them to better hear the noise and better see where it might be coming from. 

It’s kind of similar to a radio. They use their ears to tune into the sound to try and see where it might be coming from. 

They Might Be Trying to Understand What You’re Saying

Head tilting is often seen more in larger dog breeds such as German Shepherds when you are talking to them. 

If you talk to your German Shepherd, they will often tilt their head to try and comprehend your words. 

Of course, they will not understand what you’re saying unless you are using words in their vocabulary. 

However, they will still try and see if they can understand you despite the language barrier. 

They Want to Communicate with You

Your dog cannot communicate directly with you since the language is modes of communication is different. 

However, they might try and use head tilting as a way to tell you something. 

German Shepherds are one of the most intelligent dog breeds so they will always try to tell you how they are feeling, or they will want to communicate their needs with you. 

Head tilting can also be a sign of affection and they can be trying to communicate that they love you and want to be near you. 

You might also see them tilting their head when you are distressed because they are trying to show you love and affection when you are not feeling well. 

German Shepherds are very in tune with their human emotions, and they will try and understand your feelings. 

Even if they aren’t sure why you might be feeling bad, they will try and comfort you so you can feel better. 

They are Trying to See Something Better

German Shepherds have large heads and even larger mouths. With the shape of their heads, they sometimes find it hard to see everything when looking straight on. 

They might begin to tilt their heads so they can see something better that they are trying to get a better view of. 

One of the reasons they have to tilt their head so often is because of their large mouths. 

The mouth will often block their view of things. 

You might see them tilting their head when looking at you because they want to see you better. 

Ear Problems

This is a less common reason why dogs will tilt their head, but it’s something to consider because you want to make sure your dog is healthy and doesn’t have any ear infections or issues. 

Head tilting will often make a dog’s ear feel better so they might and try and do it when they have ear pain or ear itching. 

If you suspect an ear problem, you will need to take them to the vet so they can properly diagnose it and see if there are antibiotics or surgery needed. 

If you see them tilting their head often or trying to rub their ears on something, this might be a signal that they have ear issues.

 You might also see them tilting their head while looking at you without you talking or making any noises. 

This can be their way of trying to communicate with you that they have ear pain and they need help. 

You can also check inside their ear and see if you see any signs of blood or discharge. 

Not every ear problem will have these signs though, so the vet will still need to do a visual exam that can see deeper into the ear. 

Common causes of ear problems include infections in the auditory canal or ticks that might be irritating their ear lobe. 

They are Confused

Some German Shepherds will tilt their heads because they don’t understand what you are saying or doing.

If you are saying words they don’t know or you are going around the house doing an odd behavior, they might follow you around and tilt their head to try and understand what’s going on. 

You might also see them tilting their head if they hear noises outside and they don’t understand what they are. 

Any time your dog hears a strange noise, it’s common for them to head tilt to try and see if they can see what’s going on. 

Your dog might also start to bark after head tilting if this is the reason because they hear a weird noise and they are responding to it. 

It’s Just a Habit

In some dogs, head tilting is just a habit they have picked up as they have grown and developed. It might not mean anything more than just them wanting to tilt their head.

If you encourage the behavior and give them treats when they do it, they might start doing it to get more attention and treats from you. 

Should I Encourage My German Shepherd to Head Tilt?

Head tilting is undeniably a cute behavior and one that you probably try to take photos and videos of because the dog looks so sweet.

There is nothing wrong with encouraging head tilting as it’s not dangerous to their health and it allows them to communicate with you. 

You need to consider why your dog is head tilting though.

If you encourage them to head tilt and often give them treats and other things to keep them doing it, you might miss some of the real reasons why they are head tilting. 

If they happen to have an ear problem, it might take you longer to notice the signs and symptoms because they might be head tilting to get affection and treats. 

You might think they are head tilting more to get affection when they have really started to head tilt because they have an ear problem. 

Always pay attention to your dog’s habits so you can try and ensure why they might be head tilting and if you need to take any action. 

If you have any doubts about ear infections, it’s better to take the dog to the vet sooner rather than later so you can rule out any serious health issues. 

If your dog does not head tilt often, it’s nothing to worry about. 

Some German Shepherds’ heads tilt more often than others.

If you praise your dog when they head tilt, they will be more likely to do it often. 

If you ignore the behavior, you might find that your dog’s only head tilts when they want to see or hear something better. 

Final Thoughts

Head tilting is a cute and often harmless behavior shown by German Shepherds.

This dog breed is more likely to do it than others because of their face shape. 

They need to be able to get a better view of things, so they will tilt their head to try and see around their mouth. 

In some cases, excessive head tilting can mean they have an ear problem.

Although it’s not always the main cause, you might want to take the dog to the vet if you see them head tilting much more than normal or if you see them trying to rub or scratch their ear. 

Dogs love your attention and they will head tilt more if they know you like the behavior and find it cute.