This loyal dog is a mix between a purebred German Shepherd Dog and a Labrador Retriever. Inheriting traits from both parents, these dogs are often intelligent and loyal. They are well known for their guarding abilities and willingness to train. They have very different personality traits, as highlighted here in this article where we compare the GSD with the Golden Retriever.
Many owners claim that these dogs are quite good with children and make loving companions, though they can be unsure of strangers.
Because this is a mixed breed, it is impossible to tell exactly what traits each puppy might have. A puppy might look like a GSD but act like a Labrador Retriever. You just never know what you’re going to get when you mix two breeds together.
Still, we can draw some conclusions about what German Shepherd Lab mix puppies will act and look like based on the characteristics of their parents. In this article, we’ll look at some of the possible traits of this mixed breed.
- 1 Appearance Overview
- 2 Temperament Overview
- 3 Health Overview
- 4 Grooming
- 5 Activity Level
- 6 Nutrition
- 7 Should I Get a German Shepherd Lab Mix?
Whenever you mix two breeds together, it is impossible to know exactly what the puppies will look like. The parent breeds often have such different genetics that each puppy will look strikingly different, even in a single litter.
Despite this, there are some traits that are common in the Sheprador. After all, there are only so many traits they can inherit.
To help us get an idea of what these puppies might look like, let’s look at the physical traits of each parent breed.
German Shepherd Appearance
The GSD is a strong, working breed, and this is apparent in their appearance. They’re built practically, with strong muscles and wolf-like features. Their body is longer than it is tall and overall evenly proportioned.
These dogs are typically described at medium to large. Their exact size can vary quite a bit depending on their parentage. Usually, they weigh between 50 to 90 pounds. Their height can also vary but usually falls between 22 to 26 inches.
Their coat is two-layered. Their fur is very close and dense. They also shed quite a bit and regularly “blow” their coats. The exact length of their coat varies from medium to long. However, the long-hair gene is recessive and rarer.
Most commonly, German Shepherds come in black and tan or black and red. They commonly have black masks as well as other black markings, including a black “saddle.”
Rarer color patterns also exist, such as sable, black, white, liver, silver, blue, and panda. However, the black and sable versions are only accepted in some standards, while the white coloration is grounds for instant disqualifications. Because of these, these colors do not exist in show lines but might be present in working and companion dogs.
Labrador Retriever Appearance
Labs are also considered medium to large dogs. These dogs typically weigh between 55 to 80 pounds. Males are typically larger, but this is not always the case.
While these dogs are mostly companion animals today, they were originally bred to retrieve game. Because of this, many of their traits are designed for this purpose.
However, the show lines and working lines of this breed diverged, making them different from each other in appearance
Show Labs are typically medium-sized with shorter, stocky bodies. Working dogs usually have longer legs with lighter frames.
No matter what line they come from, these dogs have short and dense coats. Their coat is weather-resistant and can repel water well. They were originally designed to withstand the cold water in the winter, and even companion dogs still have this trait today. Their coat is slightly dry, but it can also be oily. Labrador Retrievers only come in chocolate, yellow, and black.
This mixed breed can inherit any of the traits their parents have. A German Shepherd Lab mix could look exactly like a GSD, or it could look exactly like a Lab. Most commonly, though, they look like a mix between the two.
This mixed breed is medium to large. They are proportional and practically built. Because their parent breeds are both working dogs, they are quite muscular and athletic.
Their coat may or may not be weather resistant. Either way, it will likely have two layers. It can be short and dense or longer. The hair length of the German Shepherd parent plays a large role in the puppy’s coat length.
These dogs can be a large variety of colors. The color of a particular puppy is affected heavily by the coat colors of the parents. A dog with two black parents has a high chance of being black as well. Markings are somewhat more unsure due to the huge number of genes at play. The best way to tell what a puppy might look like when grown is to look at the parents.
These dogs usually have brown eyes. The shape of their eyes is usually diamond-shaped, but this does have some variation. Their nose is nearly always black.
Generics do play a big role in how a dog acts. Some dogs are genetically better guard dogs, for example.
Most purebred dogs have a set personality you can expect. This was accomplished through generations are careful breeding. However, this is not the case with mixed breeds.
Mixed breeds inherit personality traits from both parents in an unpredictable way. This makes every Sheprador unique.
With that said, the environment and socialization also play a huge role. Puppies need to be socialized early and often.
German Shepherd Temperament
The German Shepherd is known for its loyal and protective nature. They are very dedicated to their family and make good guard dogs.
It is important for German Shepherd puppies to be well socialized to prevent unwanted aggression. These dogs can be accepting of strangers as long as they are introduced to many different people in their early years.
These dogs are also very intelligent. They pick up on new commands easily and are eager to please. They listen to their owners well, but might not accept commands from strangers.
Labrador Retriever Temperament
Labs are loved by many due to their easygoing, gentle nature. These dogs are loving and get along with nearly everyone. They are laid back and gentle, which makes them a great fit for children. They love to play with toys and enjoy certain types of training which include agility, flyball and more as they are a sporting class dog.
These dogs live their people. This can sometimes cause Labs to develop separation anxiety, especially if they are not left alone often as a child.
Generally, Labs get along with pretty much anyone. Still, socialization is important to prevent possible fear-driven aggression.
The Lab gets along with children and other pets as long as they are introduced to them at a young age.
This mixed breed can inherit traits from either parent breed. It is impossible to predict how a Sheprador puppy is going to act when they get older. Still, we can make a few educated guesses of what this canine might act like.
This dog will likely be quite intelligent. Both parent breeds have high intelligence and are very trainable, so you can expect the same thing from this mixed breed.
This breed can either be friendly or reserved with strangers. Early socialization can play a huge role in this, so we recommend focusing on socializing. Puppy classes are quite good for this.
Either way, this dog will likely not be as automatically friendly as a Lab and not as reserved as a German Shepherd. They will likely fall somewhere in the middle.
They will likely not make good guard dogs and can have some problems with separation anxiety.
In general, mixed breeds are healthier than purebred dogs. This is because purebred dogs have a much smaller gene pool. Each member of a purebred breed is genetically similar to all other members.
This makes it easier for genetic mutations to spread throughout the population. These mutations can cause health problems.
Mixed breeds are much healthier because they come from a larger gene pool. Their parents were more genetically diverse.
Still, while German Shepherd Lab mixes are considered healthy, they are prone to a few health problems.
Many large dog breeds have trouble with hip dysplasia. There is some possibility that a German Shepherd Lab mix will too.
Hip dysplasia occurs when the hip socket doesn’t form correctly. This can cause arthritis and even lameness in severe cases.
To reduce pain, dogs will typically try and keep their joint as still as possible. Many dogs will look like they’re “bunny hopping.” This is a very common symptom that is hard to miss.
The more the joint becomes unable to function correctly, the more the dog’s body will attempt to compensate. This can result in damage to other areas, such as the knee and spine.
This condition is genetic, though environmental factors do play a role as well. If a puppy’s parents have Dysplasia, they are more likely to have it.
There are tests that can be performed when breeding two dogs together to determine the likelihood of their puppies having this condition. Ethical breeders will perform these tests before breeding two dogs together.
This condition is life-long. Instead, the focus is put on treating the pain and symptoms.
Bloat is a sudden, life-threatening condition that involves a dog’s stomach. It is common in German Shepherds and therefore might affect this mixed breed.
Basically, this disease occurs when the stomach becomes twisted and begins filling with gases. This can cause the stomach to stretch and even bust.
In severe cases, the bloated stomach can cut off blood circulation, resulting in dead tissue and circulation problems.
Mortality rates are 10 to 60 percent. This is largely because bloat is not obviously identifiable, but requires immediate medical attention. The affected dog might not even appear like they are in pain or discomfort.
Common symptoms include the dog list not acting comfortably. A visibly bloated stomach is rare but possible. Difficulty breathing and overall weakness are common. Dogs might also attempt to vomit without actually producing anything.
Bloat is nearly always treated with emergency surgery. This condition can kill very quickly, so it is important to get the affected dog to the vet as fast as possible.
Labs are particularly prone to allergies, so they can affect their mixed breed puppies as well.
Allergies in dogs are very similar to allergies in humans. In fact, they can also present in a similar way – itchy eyes, runny nose, etc.
However, allergies in dogs typically present as skin conditions. They might develop redness, start scratching constantly, and lose their hair. The dog might constantly scratch, which can cause even more skin problems.
Luckily, treatment for dog allergies is very similar to the treatment of allergies in humans. There are allergy tests that can be performed to figure out exactly what your dog is allergic to. There is also allergy medication your dog can take.
Dogs are very commonly allergic to their food. Dogs tend to eat the same type of food over-and-over again, which can cause them to become allergic to it. It is recommended that you switch your dog’s food at least once every six months to prevent this from happening.
These dogs have a lot of hair and will need to be brushed accordingly. This breed will likely need to be brushed daily. You will want to brush them outside or plan on vacuuming the floor when you’re done.
However, it is also possible that they will “blow” their coat a couple of times a year, making them shed more during these periods.
These dogs should only be bathed as needed. They do not get dirty very easily unless they roll in the mud or get into the trash. Unlike other dogs, they will not need regular baths.
If your German Shepherd Lab mix has floppy ears, you will have to clean them regularly. Dust and debris can get stuck in floppy ears, causing infection. Mites are also not uncommon if you allow your dog’s ears to get dirty. A quick wipe with a wet cotton ball is all your pet should need.
Like all dogs, these canines need their nails clipped regularly.
Our grooming suggestion for these dogs is to brush them daily and plan on taking them to the groomers twice a year when they blow their coat. The groomer can cut their nails and get rid of all the excess hair during this time.
The German Shepherd Lab Mix is a pretty active dog. They were built for working all day, so they need to be stimulated appropriately. They do train easily, and that includes crate training. You can get the same type of crate you’d get for a normal GSD, as they are similar in size.
These dogs should have access to a place to run regularly. A fenced in backyard is best; these dogs do not do well in apartments.
About forty-five minutes to an hour of heavy exercise should be expected. You should not exercise your dog right after they have eaten, however, as this can cause bloat. On top of this, they will also play at other times throughout the day, though not as intensely.
These dogs also need quite a bit of mental stimulation. Obedience training is a great way to accomplish this. A fifteen-minute session a day is usually all you need. However, if your dog is acting hyper after they have been exercised properly, try stimulating them more mentally.
These are large dogs, and they are therefore going to eat a lot of food. However, you shouldn’t just give them any food. Choosing the right food can help them stay healthy and active.
When choosing the best food for your dog, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. Firstly, grain-free is not necessarily better. In fact, unless your dog is allergic to gluten, they should be on a grain-inclusive food. Dogs have adapted to eat grain; it is not harmful.
Many grain-free dog foods include unhealthy fillers, such as potatoes and peas, which are actually far more harmful to dogs than grain is. They can cause heart problems and allergies.
You should avoid foods with potatoes, peas, and lentils high in the ingredient list. You should also avoid foods with lamb, duck, or other exotic proteins as the main protein source. These proteins have not been tested to meet a dog’s dietary needs.
In general, avoid “BEG” diets, also known as “boutique companies, exotic ingredients, and grain-free diets.”
Should I Get a German Shepherd Lab Mix?
If you’re looking for a loyal, active dog, this breed can be a very good choice. These dogs get along well with children and other animals as long as they’re socialized, making them a good choice for diverse families.
Be sure you are ready to handle both their exercise and grooming needs, however, which are both pretty high. If you decide to adopt one of these beautiful dogs, be sure to get them on an appropriate diet.