So, what happens when you combine the lovable nature of a Labrador Retriever with the fierce loyalty and intelligence of a German Shepherd? Well, you get the German Shepherd Lab mix, a lovable crossbreed with all the great personality traits you could ever want in a family dog.
Also known as Lab Shepherd mixes or Shepradors, these mixed breed canines are highly sought after. It’s not hard to see why. The parent breeds are some of the most popular dog breeds in the world. Like all crossbreeds, Shepradors combine the physical and personality traits of their parents, resulting in a one-of-a-kind companion.
Before you adopt a German Shepherd Lab puppy, it’s important to consider how these dogs will fit into your life. Because they are a designer dog, there are no established breeding guidelines or standards. Oftentimes, pedigree information is scarce as well, creating a lot of unknowns. In this guide, we’ll go over everything you need to know about this mixed breed so that you can decide if they’re right for your family and lifestyle.
History of the German Shepherd Lab Mixes
Not much is known about when these dogs first came to be. There’s a good chance that, like many other designer dogs, the German Shepherd Lab mix was first created by chance.
Canines are fully capable of crossbreeding on their own. In fact, many of the purebred dogs we know today are a result of centuries of careful breeding.
As we mentioned earlier, this crossbreed is a direct result of breeding purebred German Shepherds with Labrador Retrievers.
Labrador Retrievers have a very long history that dates back all the way to the 1830s. It’s believed that they originally hail from the Labrador region of Canada. Back then, they were working dogs that often helped out fishermen. Eventually, these dogs made their way to England where they became companions for European royalty.
German Shepherds were working dogs, too. However, their main job was to herd sheep and other livestock for farmers. Thanks to genetic studies, experts were able to determine that the purebred we’re familiar with today came from several herding dog breeds throughout France and Italy. It wasn’t until the 1850s when attempts to standardize the breed were made in Germany.
Today, Labradors and German Shepherds are very popular the world over.. Though, they are popular for very different reasons. Typically, Labs are known for their companionship. They make great family pets and are often used as guide dogs for those with disabilities.
Meanwhile, German Shepherds are revered for their athleticism and intelligence. You’ll often see these pups working alongside law enforcement, military personnel, and more.
German Shepherd Lab Mix Temperament
The beauty of mixed breed dogs is that they take on traits from both of their parents. German Shepradors are a perfect example of this. These dogs are a joy to be around. They’re incredibly loving and want nothing more to please their families. Whether that required physical work or simply good behavior, these pups are up for the task!
There’s a common misconception that purebred German Shepherds are aggressive, which makes some people worried about the mixed breed. It’s true that German Shepherd dogs are highly protective of the ones that they love. They’re fiercely loyal and eager to please. That’s why they’re so easy to train for tough jobs like law enforcement.
However, that doesn’t mean that they are inherently aggressive. Like all dogs, German Shepherds and their subsequent crossbreed are products of their environment. If they are raised in a good home and receive proper socialization, these dogs won’t have any issues. It’s all about providing proper training, which we’ll get into in a bit.
Shepradors make great family dogs. The combination of intelligent thinking and loyalty can prove to be useful in a home setting. Your watchdog will do all they can to protect your home while still being down for cuddles.
Intelligence and Training
For the most part, training a German Shepherd Lab mix puppy isn’t too difficult for those with some experience. They can be a bit of a handful for novice dog owners who aren’t familiar with established training techniques. However, helping your pup grow up to be obedient and well-behaved is manageable.
You see, these dogs are very intelligent. In fact, some might say that they are too intelligent for their own good. This mainly comes from the German Shepherd side of the dog. German Shepherds are notorious for being stubborn. They’re prone to being a bit independent and overthinking commands.
Shepradors can take on that personality trait, making the training process a bit more challenging. They may require more time and patience to truly understand things.
Another issue you might encounter with German Shepherd mixes is the need for regular mental stimulation. Because they are so intelligent, you must constantly challenge their minds to keep them happy. Mental stimulation toys, such as puzzle feeders, can do wonders to keep your dog’s mind occupied. It’ll help stave off bad behavior and keep them sharp!
Like all dogs, Shepradors do best when positive reinforcement is the training method of choice. While dominance-based training used to be the go-to, several studies have shown that punishments do more harm than good. Hitting or yelling at a dog will only cause them to harbor negative feelings about you or the command you’re giving.
German Shepherd mixes thrive when you use a reward system. Showering your dog with praise and providing plenty of treats is the best way to instill the training techniques.
Types of German Shepherd Lab Mixes
There is only one type of German Shepherd available. There aren’t any variations like there are with some purebreds. These dogs are not recognized by the American Kennel Club Thus, they’re not an official breed with standards.
Despite all of this, you may see pups with vastly different characteristics. German Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers don’t have much in common when it comes to looks, so you can come across some unique pups with very distinct traits. Genetics is not an exact science. Dominant genes from one parent dog may take over, causing the puppy to look more like one breed than the other.
Characteristics of the German Shepherd Lab Mix
Stature and Weight
Both of the parent breeds for Lab Sheperd mixes are considered to be large breeds. As a result, the crossbreed is going to fall into that same category. There’s no way to know for sure how big a puppy will get as an adult. You can use information about their parents for reference, but several factors will contribute to their true adult size.
Generally, males can weigh upwards of 88 pounds when fully grown. They will stand between 22 and 26 inches at the withers. This is the point between the shoulder blades of the dog.
Females are typically smaller than males. You may come across females as small as 35 pounds. Though, most will be around 70 to 80 pounds. As for height, females tend to be between 20 and 24 inches at the withers.
Again, all dogs are different and there’s a lot of variation based on the parents.
Common Physical Features
German Shepherd Lab mixes can take on a wide range of physical features. Let’s start with the body.
Both of the parent breeds are pretty athletic, so most mixed pups will be as well. These dogs aren’t crazy muscular, but they’re also not as lean as some other dogs. They fall somewhere in the middle. Depending on their activity levels, you might notice strong muscle development on their hind legs.
These dogs usually have wide snouts and dark noses. Their eyes are large and brown. Some pups may have light eyes, but this is quite rare. Genetic variations in the parent breeds can lead to lighter eyes, but a vast majority are going to have big brown eyes.
One characteristic where you will see a lot of variation among these dogs is the ears. Most Labs have large ears that flop down over the sides of the head Meanwhile, perky triangular ears are one of the most defining traits of the German Shepherds. For the mixed crossbreed, it’s all a matter of luck!
The interesting thing about the ears is that you will have to wait and see whether they stand tall or flop down. Puppies are born with soft and fluffy ears. As they grow older, the cartilage in their ears may or may not strengthen to help them stand up. Some pups even have a combination of the two ear styles!
Coat colors can vary across the board with these pups. German Shepherds have an iconic tri-color coat. Distinct patterns of gold, black, and white cover the body. While labs don’t have the same multi-colored look to them, they can be born with a few different coat colors. The most common is gold. However, black and pure-white Labs exist as well.
When these two purebreds mix, there’s a lot of possibilities for the offspring. They may have multi-colored coats or solid ones. It all depends on which parent’s genes are more dominant.
The average lifespan for a German Shepherd Lab mix is between 10 and 12 years. This falls in line with the life expectancy of the parent breeds. Generally, larger dogs tend to have a shorter lifespan than smaller ones.
Many factors will affect how much time these dogs have. Health issues and a poor lifestyle can cut that lifespan short. On the same token, extremely healthy pups are fully capable of living past 12 years of age.
Possible Health Issues
Like all dogs, Shepradors are not immune to disease and health problems. In fact, they may be susceptible to more issues. The problem with mixing breeds is that it opens up the possibilities of health complications in the future. Hereditary problems from both parents can be passed to the puppy. Unfortunately, German Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers are known to suffer from a few different ailments. Here are the most common health concerns to be wary of.
Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
While dysplasia can affect any large dog, it’s most common with German Shepherds. Dysplasia is a musculoskeletal condition that often affects dogs later in life. In many cases, it’s a hereditary problem. However, it takes years to develop and can be triggered by issues as a young pup.
Take hip dysplasia for example. Hip dysplasia can cause debilitating pain. Many dogs who suffer from it have a hard time standing up. They may exhibit signs of extreme weakness in the hind legs, resulting in a noticeably different posture.
The hip sockets become malformed, causing mobility issues with the hip joint. While some dogs are born with it, poor development as a puppy can exacerbate the problem. It’s believed that overweight puppies are more susceptible because there’s excess pressure being put on the delicate bones and joints.
There are treatment options for hip and elbow dysplasia. Veterinarians can perform surgery early on to correct the problem and provide relief. If your dog is already suffering from it, physical therapy and joint supplements can provide relief from pain.
Contrary to popular belief, bloat is not an innocent gas problem with dogs. Also called Gastric Dilation and Volvulus, or GDV, this can be a life-threatening problem.
It occurs when dogs eat too fast or exert physical exercise too soon after eating. Excess air is swallowed, filling the stomach. Eventually, the stomach can twist on itself. This restricts blood flow throughout the body.
If it’s not dealt with immediately, GDV can be fatal.
The best way to avoid bloat is to stay on top of the dog’s eating schedule. Provide small meals and prevent your dog from playing for at least 30 minutes. To control fast eating, you can utilize slow-feeding bowls or puzzle toys. They create an obstacle that forces the dog to eat slower than normal, which can do a lot to prevent GDV.
Eye diseases, such as progressive retinal atrophy, are pretty common with both parent breeds. The tissue within the eye can degenerate over time. This causes vision loss. Unfortunately, there’s no way to treat the disease. Many breeders will screen for genes that cause it, which can gauge a dog’s risks early on. From there, you can provide supplements or foods rich in beta carotene to slow its progression.
Diet and Exercise Requirements
Shepherd Labrador mixes are incredibly active dogs. They love nothing more than playing and getting tons of exercise. It’s important to give these dogs as many opportunities to expend their energy as possible.
It’s recommended that they get between 90 and 120 minutes of exercise every single day! If you don’t, your dog will be at a higher risk of health complications. German Shepherd Labrador mixes are prone to gaining weight when they don’t get enough exercise. To make matters worse, a lack of exercise can turn into a lasting problem.
If puppies aren’t given the chance to exercise daily, they can develop bad habits and become quite lazy as adults. You need to start your pup on the right foot and establish a healthy lifestyle right off the bat. Go for runs and toss chew toys around the yard. You can break up exercise time in manageable chunks throughout the day to make things easier. As long as you get those 90 minutes in, your dog should have no problem staying healthy.
When it comes to diet, you must be just as vigilant! These dogs have insatiable appetites. Finding something they like won’t be an issue. However, you need to ensure that their food is meeting all of their nutritional needs.
Your canine best friend needs food that’s packed with protein. It should use wholesome proteins like chicken, beef, or fish. The dog food should also have complex carbs and healthy fats like fish oil. Steer clear of anything that has artificial ingredients or unnecessary fillers. Those foods will do more harm than good. The goal is to provide your dog with muscle-building protein that will keep their body in good shape. Examine ingredient lists and don’t let price affect your decision too much. The food you choose will have a huge effect on the dog’s health, so take some time in choosing the right one.
As a good rule of thumb, dogs will need about 30 calories of food for each pound of body weight. This usually amounts to about 4 cups of dry kibble a day. That said, foods can vary dramatically when it comes to nutritional density. Refer to the package and take your dog’s size into consideration when planning meals.
We recommend splitting their caloric requirements into two small meals a day. One meal in the morning and one in the evening will keep their energy levels stable as they go about their active lifestyles. Plus, splitting the meals will help to avoid issues like bloat.
German Shepherd Lab Mix Grooming Needs
How you will groom your dog’s coat will depend entirely on its density and length. It’s always good to brush dogs regularly to avoid matting and tangling. However, thick coats need a bit of extra work. GSDs have double costs. The outer layer of hair is thinner and easier to manage. Meanwhile, the inner coat is thick and dense. It provides insulation in those cold winter months.
German Shepherd Lab mixes can inherit that thick coat. If your pup has a double coat, you’ll need to brush them every few days. They will go through shedding cycles a couple of times a year, resulting in a mess of fur throughout your home! With regular brushings, you can keep the fallout to manageable levels while keeping your pup clean.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are German Shepherd Lab mixes good with kids?
These pups make great family dogs. They get along just fine with kids as long as you socialize them early on. As always, you should never leave your dog alone with young kids. These crossbred dogs are fully capable of attacking people, so you should exercise caution and always keep a watchful eye. It’s also important to teach young children how to act around a dog. They should know not to pull their tail or agitate the dog in any way. If you take those precautions, there shouldn’t be any issues.
Are German Shepherd Lab mixes good guard dogs?
Shepradors make great guard dogs. They’re very loyal to their owners and family members. Plus, they tend to be a bit suspicious of strangers. So, they’ll alert you to trespassers.
Are these dogs aggressive?
This all depends on their upbringing. If you take the time to properly train and socialize these dogs, they will be gentle and loving. However, if the dogs are abused or trained with punishment, they could exhibit aggressive behavior.
How big to German Shepherd Lab mixes get?
Males can weigh as much as 88 pounds and grow to 26 inches tall at the withers.
Do Shepradors get along with other dogs?
German Shepherd Labrador mixes do just fine with other dogs. However, they must be properly socialized first. Exposure to other animals is key during their development. They should be introduced to new family dogs slowly to prevent any aggressive behavior.
Do Shepradors make good working dogs?
Thanks to their intelligence and high trainability, Labrashepherds make fine working dogs. They do particularly well herding livestock.
German Shepherd Lab mixes are a joy to raise. If you have an active lifestyle to keep them fit, they will be a great addition to your family. While they may take a bit longer to train than most large breeds, they’re perfectly capable of learning complex tasks. Treat them well and these pups will spend their lives being a loving canine companion.