I meant to mention as a side note about Chows that German Shepherds aer similar. They are firecely loyal to their family and fantastic with their own human children around. The only time I had any of my Shepherd’s hurt me while growing up was purely accidental through rough-housing wiht the dog and the dog looked decidedly upset when it was apparent that I had been hurt (and never more than a scratch at that). With a bunch of kids growing up in my household it was amazing the abuse our dogs would put up with and never ever retaliate.
When it comes to stangers German Shepherds’ are reserved. If theri owners seem at ease then they will be too but they remain wary till they get to know the stranger.
Where the ‘trouble’ with German Shepherds usually arises is when you have your kids friends over. If the kids start playing rough as kids are known to do on occasion the dog may interpret the play as an attack on one of its own and will move to protect its family. German Shepherds are quite intelligent but they are still only a dog and they have a hard time discriminating between play and a legitimate threat when kids are wrestling, crying and the like.
As a result German Shepherds get a worse rap than I think they deserve as they don’t generally attack without some reason (of course there are some in any breed that might). Just keep what I said in mind if you have kids and they go over to play with the family that has a German Shepherd.
I will note that once our German Shepherds got to know my friends we could play rough all we wanted and she knew all was good. We even had a game that involved tackling the dog that my friends participated in and they could full-on grab her and take her to the ground and she didn’t mind (in fact she loved it…we played that game often and the dog was always up for it and usually she would leave us eating dirt instead of holding her when we tried to tackle her).