German Shepherd vs. Siberian Husky: Differences and Similarities

The German Shepherd and the Siberian Husky are quite different. They are both working dogs but from different professions, and it is this that shapes their temperament and consequentially their needs.  The Siberian Husky also requires a lot of time from his family, but mainly so that he can be exercised thoroughly and simply to be part of the pack.

The German Shepherd needs a firm master that will ensure that he does not become too overprotective of his family, but a master who will also offer him the time it takes to form a close relationship.  The german shepherd is often compared to other breeds like the Rottie, or put up against the lab as a family pet comparison.

So without further ado, let us look at the finer details as to how they are different and similar.

Breed Comparison Chart

 
German Shepherd
Siberian Husky
Height
24 – 26 inches (M)
22 – 24 inches (F)
21 – 23.5 inches (M)
20 – 22 inches (F)
Weight
Up to 65 – 90 pounds (M)
Up to 50 - 70 pounds (F)
45 – 65 pounds (M)
35 – 50 pounds (F)
Temperament
Smart, Confident, Courageous
Mischievous, Loyal, Loving
Energy
Above Average Activity
Very Energetic
Health
Average
Above Average
Grooming
2-3 Times Per week
2-3 Times Per Week
Lifespan
7 - 10years
12-14 years
Price
$1,000+
$850-$1,500

History

The German Shepherd and the Siberian Husky were originally bred as working dogs, but the German Shepherd is relatively new compared to the Siberian Husky.

German Shepherd

The German Shepherd originates from Germany, and he was cleverly engineered across 4 decades by breeding each district’s best herding dogs. During World War I, he was used to deliver supplies to the German Soldiers, and because of this, and anti-German attitudes across the world, his popularity quickly diminished. However, thanks to fanciers of the breed he gained popularity in the late 20th Century, and he is now the world’s most recognizable protection dog, used in police and military services across the world.

His role in many popular films and television shows, such as ‘Rin Tin Tin’, saw his popularity boom in America at the end of the 20th Century. Despite being the most popular military and police service canine choice across the world, he is also now a favored family pet. In 2019, the American Kennel Club (AKC) ranked him as the 2nd most popular dog breed in America.

Siberian Husky

The Siberian Husky is one of the oldest dog breeds in the world, and he was developed by the Chukchi Tribe in Russia to haul light loads at a fast pace over vast expanses of icy terrain without tiring quickly. Not only was he favored as a working dog, but he was also loved for his companionship, and he has been a beloved family pet for as long as he has been a working dog.

In 1925, when a Siberian Husky, called Balto, led a pack of dogs during the most difficult stretch of a 658 mile journey, he carried a life-saving antidote to save hundreds of lives from a deadly outbreak of Diphtheria. This was the moment that the Husky rose to fame, and ever since then he has been a very popular family dog, and in 2019 he is ranked as the 14th most popular breed by the AKC.

Appearance

In some respects the German Shepherd and the Siberian Husky look similar, and in other respects they look completely different. The German Shepherd measures 22 to 26 inches tall, from paw to shoulder, whereas the Siberian Husky measures slightly shorter at 20 to 23 ½ inches tall. The German Shepherd also weighs much more between 50 and 90 pounds, whereas the Siberian Husky weighs between 35 and 65 pounds.

The German Shepherd is much longer than he is tall, and this gives him his sleek and powerful appearance, whereas the Siberian Husky is more proportionate and compact in his shape. The German Shepherd is also a lot more muscular than the Husky, and it is his muscles that give him his extra weight.

They both have a fluffy double coat, which originally kept them warm in the cold German and Arctic environment, however they have very different colorings. The German Shepherd is traditionally known to be black and tan in color, however, there are 10 other recognized colors, such as white (seen here), and a fully blue German Shepherd (seen here). The Husky is recognized in 9 colors, with his white and grey coat being the most popular.

They have similar shaped heads with large ears, with dark features such as their nose and lips. The Husky, however, is more likely to have bright blue eyes, or even different color eyes, compared to the German Shepherd who should always have dark colored eyes. They also have a similar tail when they are in a relaxed state, which is long and thick, however in a state of alertness the Husky’s tail curls up against his back.

The Siberian Husky has a much fluffier coat in most cases, but the GSD is also known to carry a long coated gene as well.

Temperament

This is where the German Shepherd and the Siberian Husky differ the most. The German Shepherd is more of a serious pup, who is always on guarding duty. He will protect his family to the very end, and he is very suspicious and aloof with anyone outside of the family unit. This is the very reason why he makes such a great guard dog. He is very affectionate with his family, but particularly to his main caregiver, or the one who he considers to be his master, and as such he is said to be a ‘one-man dog’.

This is totally different from the Husky, who is a sociable pooch who loves every family member equally, as well as any stranger or passersby. For this reason, he does not make the best of guard dogs, as he would invite would-be intruders in with open arms. The Husky rarely assumes the family protector role and would much rather be involved in family activities and be the mischievous family member who is constantly the center of attention. The Husky, however, can be overzealous when it comes to greeting new people, and you should be prepared to train this undesirable behavior out of him.

Because the German Shepherd is one of the best guard dogs in town, he will let you know immediately if there is someone, or something, lurking that he doesn’t like the look of. The Husky, on the other hand, rarely barks, but he is a very talkative pup! He loves to howl, sing, and talk to his owners. Mishka was a famous Husky, who went viral on the internet when her parents filmed her talking on camera, and mimicked words such as “I love you”. This is very typical of the Husky so you can expect this chattiness on a daily basis.


Despite their differences, they both make for a great family pet as their popularity ranking would suggest. However, they both have particular requirements that mean that they both need a certain type of family, and as such they are certainly not suited to every family. The German Shepherd needs a firm master, and one who will reward him with love and praise. He also needs to be worked, both physically and mentally, particularly through training sessions. He also feels much more comfortable following a daily routine, just like he would in Police Academy.

The Husky, on the other hand, needs much more physical stimulation than the German Shepherd, and whilst he also needs mental stimulation, it is the lack of exercise that makes him destructive. The Husky is much more independent and stubborn, and as such he does not enjoy training or bonding sessions as much as the German Shepherd and would much rather just get stuck into family playtime and showoff his silly antics.  Huskies need a variety of different toys like Kongs & ropes to keep them occupied.

Similarly, they both need to be with their family for the majority of the day, and neither like to be left on their own for very long. They are both known to suffer with separation anxiety, and because of their size and power, they can both be very destructive if left alone for too long.

Exercise

The German Shepherd requires less exercise than the Siberian Husky, more so than most people would think. The German Shepherd is a medium energy dog and requires under 60 minutes of exercise a day to keep him fit, healthy and occupied. The German Shepherd would prefer to partake in intense activity that is going to get his brain working, such as agility courses, or playing fetch and frisbee. The Husky, however, is a high energy dog who needs at least 90 minutes of exercise a day, and would prefer long and brisk walks, and he makes for an excellent jogging partner. If you live somewhere snowy or icy, he would especially love to go sledging, after all, this is what he was originally bred to do.

They are both known to jump 6-foot fences easily, so you must ensure that you enclose your yard with extra tall fencing. If the German Shepherd escapes, he is likely to rugby tackle an unfamiliar neighbor to the ground, or if the Husky is set free, he is likely to run off into the sunset and never come back!

Training

The German Shepherd is remarkably intelligent, and he loves to please his master, and as such he is relatively easy to train. His trainability is one of the main reasons why he is used in protection services, drug detection roles, as well as being utilized in search and rescue operations.  They are known to be excellent dogs with tasks and training, and do very well when being trained in a GSD sized crate, or using a harness for walks.

The Siberian Husky, on the other hand, whilst he is intelligent, he is independent and would rather be playing than training, so you should not expect him to fetch your morning newspaper or retrieve your slippers unlike the German Shepherd. For this reason, the Husky is not for the novice dog trainer.

However, they both need a firm master that is going to take control of him, and a master that understands pack mentality.

It is, of course, important to socialize all pups from a young age, but it is particularly important for the German Shepherd and the Siberian Husky, but for differing reasons. The German Shepherd is a natural protector and as such socialization will help to control his guarding tendencies, and to ensure that he does not become overprotective of his family or estate. The Husky, being mischievous and overzealous, needs to learn how to play fight fairly, and he will only learn this by playing with his littermates and meeting other dogs.

Health

The German Shepherd National Breed Club recommends testing for:

Elbow and Hip Dysplasia – this is quite common in many dogs in later life, and it is caused by an abnormal formation of the elbow and hip joints which, overtime, can cause painful arthritis.

The German Shepherd, despite not being on the recommended test list, is also more prone to suffer from Degenerative Myelopathy, which affects his coordination as a result of a damaged spinal cord, and is more affected by the life-threatening issue of bloat.

The Siberian Husky National Breed Club suggests that he should be tested for Hip Dysplasia as described above, but also for:

Ophthalmologist Evaluation – he should be screened for a list of eye conditions, particularly cataracts and Progressive Retinal Atrophy.

They are both generally healthy dogs, but the German Shepherd has a shorter lifespan, averaging anywhere between 7 to 10 years, whereas the Husky enjoys a much longer life between 12 to 14 years. Before getting any dog, it is important to thoroughly research every health issue that they are prone to, just so you know what symptoms to look out for.

Nutrition

The German Shepherd and the Siberian Husky will require approximately the same amount of food, at around 3 cups a day. The easiest way to keep your dog healthy, alongside regular exercise, is to feed him top quality kibble to ensure that he gets the best nutrients.

A low calorie diet will be better suited to dogs who suffer from joint dysplasia, particularly the German Shepherd as he suffers from both the elbow and the hip abnormalities, as this can help to prevent joint issues. If in any doubt, speak to your Veterinarian who can point you in the right direction.

Grooming

Both the German Shepherd and the Siberian Husky have double coats; a soft under coat is covered by a medium length dense outer coat. The Husky’s coat is much softer to touch compared to the German Shepherd whose coat feels slightly harsher. Despite this difference, they will both require brushing 2 to 3 times a week, but during shedding season they will most certainly need brushing every day. This not only keeps their coat healthy but it also keeps it manageable for both your sanity, and the cleanliness of your household.

The German Shepherd should be bathed once every 8 weeks or so, whereas the Husky is known to be a self-cleaning pup, who will only need a bath a few times every year. Neither of these guys have a strong doggy odor, and they are average on the drooling scale.

Price

Both the German Shepherd and the Siberian Husky cost, on average, $1,000 and up from a reputable breeder. Of course, the price will significantly increase if you are seeking a pooch from an award-winning bloodline. As with any dog, it is important to thoroughly research breeders to ensure that they are reputable and ethical.

As mentioned earlier, both of these guys share the fact that they require a particular type of family who can offer them what they need, and often people welcome these guys into their home not knowing exactly what their needs are, and as such they often find themselves in rehoming centers.

The American German Shepherd Rescue Association lists dedicated rescue centers state by state if you wish to adopt a German Shepherd. The Siberian Husky Club of America Trust also lists dedicated rescue centers if you wish to adopt a Siberian Husky.

Final Thoughts

If you are still undecided between these two breeds then you could always consider a German Shepherd and Siberian Husky crossed pup, also known as a Gerberian Shepsky. Whilst these guys are one of the newest pups on the designer block, they are proving to be quite popular, and seriously cute!

Both the German Shepherd and the Siberian Husky are particular in their needs, and they aren’t suited to every family. If you are thinking about welcoming one of these guys into your family then it is extremely important to thoroughly research them and make sure that you can commit to all of their needs.

Once you have completed your research, and you are still sure that one of these guys are for you, then rest assured that you will be gaining a beautiful pooch, both inside and out!

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