How to Draw a Cartoon German Shepherd

In this tutorial, I’m going to teach you how to draw a cartoon German Shepherd (or an Alsatian, depending on which country you’re reading this in!)

I grew up in South Africa and these dogs were EVERYYYWHERE! It seemed every family owned a German Shepherd, except ours – but that’s okay because these dudes poop like champions.

This tutorial is broken up into three parts:

  • the Pencil Sketch – laying down our foundation of basic shapes
  • the Inking Stage – drawing in dark lines for the main shape of our doggy and thin lines for the details
  • the Colouring Stage – bringing our doggy to life with pencils! You can colour in one layer if you want to, but I encourage you to go over your character with two or three layers, as this will make the colours more vivid and richer.

Anyway! Before we start drawing, let’s think about what makes German Shepherds unique from other doggos.


The main things that I focus on when drawing a German Shepherd are their big noses, their eyes (which are very close together) and the shape of their ears (I love their ears! German Shepherds look super alert because their ears are always pricked up)

Most of their coats can be simplified down to two main colours – golden brown and a very daaaark brown/black

As for their posture, I’m sure there are lots of lazy German Shepherds out there, but in my mind, these doggies always look alert and prepared for guard dog duty (or walkies).

Drawing Materials:

  • Paper (Sketchbook or printer paper)
  • Pencil (HB or #2)
  • Eraser – must be shaped like a chicken (I’m kidding)
  • Thick Black Pen (I used a Posca PC-3M)
  • Thin Black Pen (I used a UNI Pin Fine Line 05mm)
  • White Pen (for highlights – I used a Posca PC 1MR)
  • Coloured Pencils (I used Crayola for this doggie: Tan, Light Brown, Dark Brown Purple (for shading), Red (for the doggy’s tongue) and Blue (for the nose)

Alrighty, let’s get crackin’! Once you’ve got your materials, it’s time to get down to business. Follow along each step – remember don’t be shy, just enjoy the process!

Part 1: The Pencil Sketch

Let’s start with that HEAD!

Step 1: Draw the head – this is just a tall trapezium

Step 2: Draw two ears – The ears are large and straight up in the air – pretend you are drawing two leaves! (Actually they are called ‘biconvexes’, but I better not call them that otherwise, my friends will tease me)

Step 3: Draw two tiny circles for his eyes! (Make sure that they are super close together!). Also, give him a big, blobby circle for his nose… and he’s obviously a happy doggy so he needs a big smile as well!

Step 4: Now give him a big tongue and draw in a V lookin’ thingy for his neck

Time for the BODY!

Step 5: For his back, draw a straight line starting from the bottom of his head and stopping at his backside

Step 6: Now draw some smooth curves for his bottom, chest and belly and connect with the other side of his neck

Step 7: Give him a nice long tail! He’s a curious doggy so it kind of looks like a question mark. Make sure you use a good mixture of soft curves and sharp angles

Step 8: For his hind legs – draw his upper legs curving backwards, with his lower legs straight and going forward (repeat for the background hind leg). His front legs are much easier – just draw them going straight down to the ground without any fancy curves or corners!

Step 9: Now put in some tufts of hair. And here I’m outlining where the dark colours are going to be. It’s amazing how important colour is when drawing this dog. He doesn’t really look like a German shepherd yet, but once we put in the dark colours, it’ll make a lot more sense.

For the purpose of neat presentation, the above instructions were drawn digitally in Adobe Photoshop, but here is the sketch that I created in my online course video (see below)

Part 2: The Inking Stage

Get out those pens! Time for the thick outlines!

Step 10: Once you’re happy with the sketch, Time for our friend the thick black pen. Simply draw in the main outlines of our dog (see below), in preparation for the details

… Gimme some details!

Time for the thin pen – for this step I added in a whole bunch of lines, zigzags and hatches. (see below)

Step 11: Draw a few blobs on his nose and shade around the blobs – now his nose looks super duper shiny.

Step 12: Shade in the ears and eyes with non parallel lines.

Step 13: Draw in some hatches on his dark patches of fur on his body and tail.

Step 14: Draw in hatches on the legs that are furthest away from the viewer.

Part 3: The Colouring Stage

 Colour that doggy in!

But first! We need to erase our pencil lines and carefully, CAREFULLY… sweep your rubbings all over the floor!!! (This step is optional)

Step 15: First colour up is the tan pencil. We are filling in quite a large area here so make sure you stop and change your angle of strokes every few seconds. Otherwise you lose interest and your colouring will look careless. So pick an area, colour it in, pick another area, colour it in. break the big shape up into little shapes.

Step 16: Now for the brown pencil – and all of a sudden, our shepherd is starting to look quite German!

Step 17: Now that we have the first layer of colour down, it’s time for the darker brown to add in some rich dark tones.

Step 18: Colour in some red on the tongue

Step 19: Nearly finished, let’s grab the purple and put in some beautiful shading around the edges and to knock back the background legs a little bit more.

Step 20: Colour in the nose with a blue pencil.

Once we have finished the colouring in, we can then safely say that that is how to draw a cartoon German Shepherd!

Next Steps!

I hope you have enjoyed the above process of how to draw a cartoon German Shepherd. If you have not done so yet, feel free to draw along with me and see if you can do it too. (I know you can!).

If you are feeling adventurous and want to come up with your own style of German Shepherd, jump on Google and find some images which you find interesting (could be a close-up of the doggy’s face or the dog in a different pose to the design you’ve just learnt) and draw a cartoon sketch made up of simple, geometric shapes (as seen in Steps 1 to 9, above). Once you’re happy with the sketch, lay in the main outlines with a thick pen, followed by adding in details with the thin pen. Finally get out your pencils (or markers, or crayons or …toothpaste?) and colour in your new creation! Remember to enjoy the process and have fun!

If you enjoyed this tutorial and have found it useful, feel free to check out my course Cartooning for Beginners – How to Draw Cartoon Dogs!


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