There are many hybrid dogs that are becoming popular choices as family pets, and the German Shepherd lab mix definitely ranks as one of the most appealing.
This cross between a GSD and a Labrador retriever is seen as one of the most fun-loving, loyal family dogs that you can possibly find because of the mix of the two parent genes can lead to a wonderful blend of characteristics.
Many owners of these hybrid dogs will quickly tell you what a joy they are to raise and have as part of a family, and many would suggest that there is little to be concerned about.
Is this Sheprador really the ideal family pet and are there some hidden issues with this cross breed that owners need to watch out for?
This Labrador German shepherd mix guide aims to take prospective new owners through the different considerations of owning this cross breed.
We will start by looking at some of the physical characteristics of the dog – including their expected size – before moving on their behavioural characteristics. Here it is important to not only consider that loyal, playful side but also to look at any potential behavioural problems that owners may have overlooked in their overly-positive blogs.
From there we will look at some of the health care considerations and tips on looking after the dog on a daily basis, such as exercise, diet and grooming.
Finally, the guide will look at options for purchasing one of these beautiful cross breeds and bringing him into the family home.
What shepherd lab mix physical characteristics should you be looking out for?
As with many hybrid dogs, the Sheprador can be seen as a blend of physical traits.
There are clear elements that come straight from the German Shepherd parent but also those that come from the Labrador. It clearly has the shape of a hybrid.
[thrive_text_block color=”note” headline=””]There is a stocky body with the legs of a German Shepherd and the back of a lab and the face also tends to be a mixture of the two. These expressive faces are very much like a lab, only with a longer muzzle and different ears. [/thrive_text_block]
Some owners will talk about the cute floppy ears of their dog, especially if they have a puppy or young dog, but the range of photos of this hybrid that are available show animals with the much pointier ears of the GSD. Of course variations can occur based on genetics and parentage, and this applies to the colour of the dog too.
Despite some reports, you will find that there are many Labrador shepherd mix colours out there.
There is a tendency for these dogs to follow the colouring of the GSD parent with a brown or tan coat, and this can even be seen right down to the saddle, but there are many variations on coat pattern and colours. This can depend on genetics and the colour of the parents.
A pale shepherd with a yellow lab may produce a yellow lab German shepherd mix with a much lighter coat.
A black lab German shepherd mix will therefore be more likely to produce a darker coat, perhaps an all-black Sheprador.
There are black, white and brown hybrids out there because of the variations of Labrador. A chocolate lab German shepherd mix will look different again.
How big can you expect your dog to get?
A German shepherd lab mix size can vary depending on the gender and the parentage of the dog.
If he comes from two stocky animals and is genetically predetermined to be a bit bigger, he may be taller and heavier than his siblings.
A female with more dominant genes from the leaner GSD in her parentage could be much slimmer and shorter. These Shepradors tend to measure between 20 and 27 inches. As for a German shepherd lab mix weight, this can again range from dog to dog based on parentage, gender and environmental factors.
[thrive_text_block color=”note” headline=””] These dogs can be anywhere between 50-100 pounds, which seems like a large difference and can make determining the ideal weight trickier.[/thrive_text_block]
It is best to talk to your vet about the ideal weight for your dog to be sure of keeping them fit and healthy.
[thrive_text_block color=”red” headline=””] One of the problems with these hybrids is that labs have a tendency towards overeating and obesity, something that will be covered further later. This could be a potential issue in those that have more dominant genes from the Lab side.[/thrive_text_block]
What about some of the behavioural characteristics of this hybrid?
When talking about the lab shepherd mix temperament, most owners would instantly agree that this a great family pet because of a number of behavioural traits.
[thrive_text_block color=”note” headline=””]The cross of characteristics means that many of these dogs display a blend of desirable traits from both sides. They often show the loyalty and protective nature of the German shepherd and the loving, soft nature of the lab. [/thrive_text_block]
This means that they can be determined protectors with a softer side and a willingness to please that is amplified by this cross-parentage.
Socialisation with humans is usually not a problem, especially if handled from an early age. They can be a bit cautious at first around new people, which would be the GSD traits kicking in, but they soon become trusting, friendly and good-natured around people.
This ability to fit into a family home as a soft natured, playful pet may be a surprise to some prospective owners that have the image of lab and German shepherd mix working dogs in their minds.
Both parent breeds are known as great working dogs in a range of fields, and this could have led to to less desirable traits for a dog so comfortable around children.
[thrive_text_block color=”note” headline=””]It is no surprise that the offspring of a Labrador Retriever and German Shepherd can inherit some of the traits that make them ideal candidates for some of the same roles as their parents. Police work, guarding duties and work with the armed forces are all common with GSDs, which can lead to misconceptions about a [/thrive_text_block]ggression.
These dogs are also suited to search and rescue, retrieving and anything to do with obedience and intelligence.[thrive_text_block color=”red” headline=””] The potential intelligence of a Sheprador cannot be overlooked. The German Shepherd is considered to be the 3rd most intelligent dog breed around and a Labrador Retriever is not far behind in 7th.[/thrive_text_block]
Are there any German shepherd Labrador mix behaviour problems to be aware of?
Despite their role as a working dog and their ability to fit into a family home with ease, there are some aspects of their personality to watch out for.
Some considered them to be a bit of a touchy breed, suggesting that they can be good with other dogs and animals, but that this depends on training.
There is also the potential to be a little boisterous in play, so young children may need supervision at first. Barking should not be too big an issue.
They will bark in their role as protector of the home, which is what makes them great guard dogs, but they should not be overly vocal.
[thrive_text_block color=”red” headline=””] They also have the potential to be a bit destructive when bored and left alone. Also, it doesn’t help that they like to chew things with their sharp teeth. Not only does this mean they get through chew toys at a fast pace, it could be a problem for unattended items in the house.[/thrive_text_block]
Does this mean that German shepherd lab mix training is actually pretty easy?
Because they come from working dog stock with good genetics, these cross-bred dogs should be easy enough to train with the right approach and techniques.
Their intelligence and obedience mean that they learn quickly, with German shepherds being great at learning new vocal commands without too much repetition.
Stay positive in the reinforcement with rewards and praise, but be careful when giving treats because of that potential problem of overeating.
A great tip here is to start them young. Lab German shepherd mix puppies are keen for praise and quick to learn and could be an obedient, good-natured member of the home in no time at all.
There are even owners that say that toilet training was quick and easy. Do not expect too much too soon, however. Work with your pup and reward the progress.
Lab German shepherd mix health care needs: what do you need to watch out for with your new pet?
All German shepherd lab mix puppies can seem like the picture of health when bred correctly and this energy and good nature continues across adult life with the right care and attention.
[thrive_text_block color=”note” headline=””]The average German shepherd lab mix lifespan is 10-12 years for this cross breed based on their size, so you can have many happy years together. [/thrive_text_block]
There are a number of health issues to watch out for with these dogs, some of which are small and manageable and some that are more of a concern.
The biggest problem with this dog is joint problems, as both parent breeds can suffer and pass on susceptibility to these cross breeds.
Arthritis can be an issue in later life, and hip dysplasia can affect their mobility.
Other major conditions to be aware of are epilepsy, heart problems and OCD.
The size and shape of the ear means that they can be prone to infection if not cleaned regularly and some owners report discharge from the eyes, which also simply needs to be cleaned and monitored.
These issues, along with skin problems, allergies and digestive issues can be all be easily dealt with with the right care and treatment.
Consult with your vet on a regular basis to monitor the health of your Sheprador and to receive the best treatment options.
It is also crucial to look into Labrador retriever German shepherd mix exercise tips and the right diet
A shepherd lab mix diet should not be too hard to maintain with some strict policy on portion size and treats as these dogs are not usually too fussy.
It should be noted, however, that some owners have seen allergies with food such as chicken, beef and salmon.
3-4 cups of dry food in twos meal should be plenty, but be careful of additional treats and snacking.
[thrive_text_block color=”red” headline=””]As was mentioned above, these dogs have a tendency towards overeating if they inherit that gene from their Labrador parent. This can mean a risk of weight gain and ill health, so it is important to feed them a healthy, balanced diet and provide plenty of exercise. [/thrive_text_block]
The mix of a high energy breed and the tendency to put on weight means plenty of exercise is needed to work off the diet and excess energy. They need plenty of walks, room to run around, and time to play with puzzles and games.
This means that they are not suited to apartment living. Owners say they are not quite as energetic as a full lab, but they can still be a handful.
What is a Sheprador coat like and does it require a lot of maintenance?
A common question that is asked by prospective owners of these hybrid dogs is whether German shepherd lab mix shedding is a big issue or not.
[thrive_text_block color=”note” headline=””] These dogs tend to have a short, dense double coat with a water-repellent coating. This interesting, fluffy fur comes from a mix of the thick coat of the shepherd and the sleek coat of the gun-dog side of the family.[/thrive_text_block]
Your mix’s ancestors would have once swam out into lakes and over rivers to retrieve fallen game birds and wild fowl. As a result, you are likely to find your pup has a love of water.
[thrive_text_block color=”red” headline=””]This coat can mean moderate to high shedding because of the layers and density, so there could be a lot of hair to deal with at time. They can shed a lot in the seasons when the new coat comes in as well, so be ready for lots of vacuuming and grooming. [/thrive_text_block]
German lab mix grooming techniques
Grooming is essential to keep the coats of these dogs in prime condition.
This means regular brushing and maintenance of this thick, fluffy coat to ensure that continual shine, quality and waterproofing.
De-shedders and other special tools can really help here, rather than just brushes because of the thickness and density of the coat.
The hairs are likely to get trapped and there could be a lot to lose before the new coat comes in.
Another approach here is German shepherd and lab mix bathing. This is pretty straightforward and doesn’t need to be carried out too often. Just be careful with any products you use to avoid damaging the oils and layers.
Human products are to be avoided. If in doubt about any grooming techniques or other issues with the coat or nails of your pup, consult a professional groomer.
If you decide that these adorable dogs sound like a great option for your home, the next step is to choose how to get one.
There are two different approach to getting a Sheprador and it all depends upon whether you want a puppy or want to adopt a full-grown dog in need of a home.
German shepherd lab mix adoption is great for experienced owners that want to give a cross breed dog a second chance. Perhaps a previous owner couldn’t handle the needs of this dog and you can rescue them? The only issue here is being certain of the true genetics of the dog.
There is no guarantee that this hybrid is a true mix of German Shepherd and Labrador Retriever, so may not have the temperament and qualities you desire.
The other option is to look for a German shepherd lab mix for sale.
The growing popularity of these lab and German shepherd mix puppies means that many owners are breeding these hybrids.
This way you can look for a healthy, happy puppy and be sure of the parentage of the dog. By talking to the owners, you can also learn about any likely traits or health problems and ensure that the puppies come from a responsible breeder.
What have we learned from this German shepherd lab mix review?
There is clearly a lot to consider when purchasing a Sheprador for the family home.
The temperament, behavioural characteristics and ease of training mean that this great working dog should also prove to be a loyal, loving member of the family with a lot to offer.
This not mean that they are easy to care for, however, as there are still health issues, dietary concerns and all that energy to consider.
Is a German Shepherd lab mix right for you? If you are an active family with the love, space and time to spare for a high-energy, intelligent breed and you want to train one of these gorgeous hybrids to be both a loyal protector and playful friend, you could find yourself in a wonderful 10 year relationship.