Watch a German Shepherd Chomp an Electric Eel… And Immediately Regret It

Written by Sharon Parry
Updated: October 22, 2023
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In this fascinating montage of encounters with electric eels, we are focusing on the interaction between a German Shepherd dog and an electric eel. With typical German Shepherd bravery, the dog approaches the eel and gives it a good sniff. The dog barks at the eel a few times before grasping it in its mouth. This was a big mistake and the dog gets a nasty shock! The poor canine immediately drops the offending eel and runs whimpering into the adjoining field.

Watch the Shocking Footage Below

What Exactly Is an Electric Eel?

The scientific name for the electric eel is Electrophorus Electricus which literally means ‘electricity bearer’. In fact, there are also two other species of electric eel that are Vari’s electric eel (E.varii) and Volta’s electric eel (E.voltai).

Electrophorus Electricus are not actually eels. They are ostariophysians which are the second-largest superorder of fish and they are a knifefish. They live in the muddy bottoms of rivers in the northeastern parts of South America. Here, you are most likely to find them in the Orinoco and Guyanas Rivers and the middle and lower Amazon basins. They have a long snake-like body and slimy skin.

Electric eel (Electrophorus electricus)

Electric eels (

Electrophorus electricus

) produce electricity using special muscle cells.

©Vladimir Wrangel/

How Do Electric Eels Produce Electricity?

The electric eel relies on three special organs to produce electricity. They are the main organ, the Hunter’s organ, and the Sach’s organ. The organs contain hundreds of modified muscle cells called electrocytes. Eels produce electricity in response to prey or to a threat. In these situations, nerve fibers cause positively charged sodium ions to flow into one side of the electrocytes causing a temporary potential gradient and therefore a discharge of electricity. Each cell only produces a very small voltage but because there are so many of them, hundreds of volts can be created at once. The largest ever recorded voltage produced by an electrical eel was 500 V.

Can an Electric Eel Kill a Dog?

This German Shepherd got away with it! Electric eels can grow to over eight feet in length, so this was just a small one. However, some of the strongest shocks from the largest eels could in theory kill a dog. A single jolt could be enough to incapacitate a dog for long enough for it to drown. Also, repeated shocks could be enough to cause the dog to stop breathing and for its heart to stop. The same is true for humans.

If you live in an area where your dog is likely to encounter electric eels, teaching them the ‘leave it’ command is essential!

The photo featured at the top of this post is ©

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About the Author

Dr Sharon Parry is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on dogs, animal behavior, and research. Sharon holds a PhD from Leeds University, UK which she earned in 1998 and has been working as a science writer for the last 15 years. A resident of Wales, UK, Sharon loves taking care of her spaniel named Dexter and hiking around coastlines and mountains.

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