German Shepherds and carrying weights

A german shepherd on a hiking adventure

German Shepherds And Carrying Weights:
“Can You Really Depend On Your German Shepherd Dog To Carry Weights And Help You During Your Hiking Trips?”

Dogs were bred to help humans with their needs, they were bred to work. They are lovely, smart, loyal and protective creatures who love you for no reason and who doesn’t need a reason to work for you. Now all dogs are loyal and friendly. But there is a special breed who has always been the perfect fit for anybody.
Do you need a dog to play with your kids and yet be protective? That is definitely a German Shepherd. Do you need a dog that is muscular like a body-builder and yet acts like a cat in his home? That is definitely German Shepherd.
The only catalyst dogs need to work for you is your love and your care.
Now, in this article, we will go through a very important aspect of German Shepherd’s capability which is “German Shepherds and carrying weights”

A Quick Brief About The History Of German Shepherds.

German Shepherds (GSD for short) have always been loyal, protective and yet friendly. They are the perfect mix for anyone.

As this little dog can be your guard and yet can play with your kids. He is a muscular dog that was bred originally in Germany to be used as a work-dog. His muscular body, energy and his bent back made him a perfect dog for anybody. Whether you need a herding dog, a hunter, a retriever or a guarding dog, German Shepherd will always be your perfect companion.

You can read a descriptive article about the history of breeding of GSD here

In this little article, We walk through everything related to the GSD and backpacks, how much weight can German Shepherd carry? Is your dog suitable to carry heavyweights?

German Shepherds and Carrying Weights, The Ideal Weight For Ideal German Shepherd

If you are looking for a short answer, then it is 25% of his actual weight. But please, don’t close the article now.

As this percent can really change from one dog to another depending on many things like:
The age of the dog, his overall health and the nutrition of the dog.

And yet, not all dogs can really carry anything on their back. So it is better to look at the next part, where you can know “What is the ideal weight YOUR German Shepherd can carry? And how can we determine if your German Shepherd is suitable for carrying weights?”

The Perfect German Shepherd For Carrying Weights.

If you really decided to have a working GSD, then you must choose the perfect GSD. First of all, you can’t get a show-line GSD for your work. Don’t get me wrong, Show-lines are perfect dogs but they aren’t bred to work for you. They are more of family-like dogs. They can really help you and guard you but they aren’t hard workers.

Also, show-line German Shepherds have a sloping back which can be destroyed if you decided to let it carry any weight. It is really serious, show-line German Shepherds have also more bent legs than work-line German Shepherds which make them eligible for Hip dysplasias. So please, if you have a show-line German Shepherd then it is best to ignore the rest of this article. But, if you have a work-line German Shepherd then it is best to continue this article as this article gives you a detailed walk-through the steps to achieve what you need during your hiking trips.

To make sure that your GSD can carry the 25% of his weight on his back you have to go through a set of steps:

1- Paying a Visit To The Vet:

This is the number one step of any training for any dog. This is a vital step that unfortunately many dog owners ignore because they think it is not important.

However, it is the most important step. If this step didn’t go well, then, unfortunately, you can’t continue with the steps mentioned in the rest of the article.

You have to make an x-ray for your dog and make sure that he doesn’t have any problems in his back and his legs. You have to make sure that your dog doesn’t have Hip Displaysia.

Not only bones-related problems but also diseases like:
diabetes, heart problems, Neoplasia or any abnormal disease that may affect on his overall health and especially if your dog has a disease that can make him thirsty easily.

If your dog really doesn’t have any problems, then you can make sure that he “physically” can carry 25% of his weight. Please, take care that I said physically.

2-Checking The Age Of The Dog:

Now, after you have made sure your dog is 100% healthy. You can really think to start training your dog.

However, you have to determine the perfect weight your dog can carry depending on his age. GSD can carry between 1-25% of their weight (30% if you have really good GSD)

If your dog’s age is less than 6 months, it is best to ignore making him carry weights, because dogs who are younger than 6 months old are still developing their bones and backs, having your young dog carry things on his back can really damage its back and in extreme cases can destroy his legs.

However, you can really start training to carry an empty backpack just to get his back used to have something on it, but never put any weight until he exceeds 6 months.

Now if your dog is between 6months – 4 years, you can make him carry 25% of his weight if he is healthy because, during that period, dogs are very energetic, strong and will be able to achieve that easily.

Now after 4 years, you really have to decrease the weight gradually, As the dog gets older, his energy level starts to drop and his ability to carry things starts to drop eventually. Now, this doesn’t have to be applied to all dogs, as many dogs stay till 7 or 8 years old as strong as they were at 2 years. So, It really depends on your dog. However, a general rule, when you feel your dog is starting to enter his senior years, you have to decrease the weight gradually until you remove the weight completely.

3-Training The Dog:

That is the last step of course, after checking that your dog can theoretically and physically carry weight on his back then you must follow the following steps to completely train your dog:

3.1 Checking For Signs Of Aggression:

You probably haven’t heard that tip before but as a German Shepherd owner, I have to tell you this one of the most important tips. Because the pressure on your dog’s back can trigger some sort of aggression that makes him bark or bite anybody randomly. So start by putting your hands on his back and put some pressure, then see if he is okay with that. If he isn’t, then you have to go a step backward and start correcting his aggression problems.

3.2 Starting Out Slowly.

Now after you have made sure that your dog doesn’t have any aggression problems -hopefully-, then you can now start out slowly, begin by a harness. Make sure your dog gets comfortable to the idea of having something on his back. After you are sure that your dog is very comfortable with this idea, then it is best to increase the weight gradually to keep his muscles healthy. Please, don’t put a lot of weight at once, because it can damage his vertebral column. Just like a body-builder, he starts out slowly and increases the weight once in a while. You have to do the same with your GSD.

After you are sure that you have reached your dog’s maximum capability, then it is best to start teaching him to walk long distances with this weight -start it out slowly too-. So, every week increase the distance and the weight until you reach your dog’s maximum capability.

Also, remember to start the training process inside the home then eventually step outside.

3.3 Start To Socialize Your Dog.

Well, many of you will find this step weird, but as I said before. The weight your dog carries on his back can make him very aggressive. So, you have to make sure that you socialize your dog well while having the backpack and making people contact him so that he understands that the backpack doesn’t differ in his personality at all.

4. Congratulations

Now, after you have done these steps, you can now depend on your dog during your hiking trips and make sure he will be the best companion ever!


German Shepherds and carrying weights is a long and sensitive subject, however, having a German Shepherd Dog is really exciting, you will have a working and guarding dog that will be suitable for your needs. Also, you will have a strong dog which is suitable for carrying weights!

German Shepherds can carry a lot of weight, they are the best dogs to be trained on carrying backpacks only if you chose the right GSD from the beginning. If you have a healthy and well-fed GSD, then you are good to go and your dog can carry 25% of his weight. If you have unhealthy GSD, then it is best to determine the suitable weight for him based on the doctor’s words.

Don’t forget to look at my recent article :
How An Ordinary Towel Can Become A Dog Sling

Soheir Maher

Hi, I am Soheir. I have always been passionate about dogs. My first dog was Leo who was a wonderful Golden Retriever after that I got Kira another Golden Retriever who is wonderful too. My passion for dogs made me read a lot about them. Training them personally made me become an expert in everything related to them, that's why my writing is always a mix of experience and science. My writing about dogs isn't for the sake of earning a living but instead, for the sake of benefiting people around the world.

Recent Posts