A German Shepherd Lab Mix, also known as a Sheprador, combines two very popular dog breeds. Both breeds are intelligent, energetic, and loving while the German Shepherd brings in some watchdog capabilities. So it’s no wonder these dogs can make great family pets, but they are not for everybody. Read on to determine if a German Shepherd Lab Mix is the best choice for your next best friend.
What Are The Two Breeds Like?
To understand a German Shepherd Lab Mix, you need to know a little bit about the two breeds that make up this combination. To begin with, a German Shepherd Dog is a breed of beauty, power, intelligence, and obedience. They are often used as working dogs for the military and police force due to their loyalty, courage, and guardianship. Along with this comes a level of uncertainty in that they tend to be more discriminating in who they consider friends.
German Shepherds are originally from, you guessed it, Germany. They were bred to, you guessed it again, guard sheep. With their innate intelligence and loyalty they were soon discovered to be great in their protective roles with the military and police force.
This is paired with a Labrador Retriever who is known for his friendly, outgoing personality. With most labs, the only parts you have to fear is the tail, as it is constantly wagging, and his amazing abundance of energy. Not only are labs great family dogs, they are still very popular as hunting dogs and can be trained to hunt ducks, pheasants, and even deer and elk antlers.
Labrador Retrievers have their roots in Newfoundland, Canada, where their strong work ethic was put to use hauling fishing nets, ropes and pulling in fish. It’s no wonder that they are still great water dogs and love to swim.
What Is A German Shepherd Lab Mix Like?
Given the two breeds that German Shepherd Lab Mixes come from, it is no surprise that this cross is energetic, active, and needs a job or purpose. They make great family pets as they are generally happy, social, and protective, but they need to have an active family. These dogs are not couch potatoes. They enjoy outside activities like hiking, running, swimming, and fetch. You’ll want to have a large living space as German Shepherd Lab Mixes will be on the large side being over two feet tall and weighing in at around 80 pounds.
If left to his own devices with insufficient exercise or without stimulation, a German Shepherd Lab Mix finds other sources of entertainment, such as digging holes, chewing, and destruction. That’s why it’s best to provide lots and lots of exercise and mental stimulation through play and socialization. You should also provide them with plenty of durable toys to keep them away from the unwanted chewing of things like your shoes and furniture.
Since both German Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers are working dogs, they are typically easy to train. It’s best to start off young and consider obedience classes, for the obedience training as well as the socialization. Also, crate training at a young age may save your house for unwanted boredom destruction.
A German Shepherd Lab Mix can look like either breed. They tend to have a leaner body type then the lab with a thinner, more aerodynamic head like the German Shepherd. They may be solid colored like the Labrador Retriever or come with the typical black and tan markings of a German Shepherd. The coloring will depend on his parents and how closely he follows their traits.
How Do You Care For A German Shepherd Lab Mix?
– Feeding: Being a large breed dog, German Shepherd Lab Mixes should be fed as such, especially while they are growing. Large breed dog foods such as Hills Science Diet Large Breed is specially formulated to provide the proper nutrition for these oversized cuddle buddies. Large breed dogs can experience limb deformities and other issues during growth if given improper nutrition. Large breed formulas contain the right balance of calcium and phosphorus to match the puppy’s bone growth with that of the muscles, tendons, and ligaments to help avoid these issues.
Another important note on feeding German Shepherd Lab Mixes is that both breeds, German Shepherds especially, can be prone to digestive issues. Because of this it is best to find a high quality food that works well for you and your dog and stick with it. A high quality food is one that contains meat as the first ingredient and that doesn’t contain a lot of fillers. Talk to your veterinarian for suggestions. Try to avoid giving treats or other foods that your dog isn’t used to and that could cause stomach upset.
Also, since both breeds have a high incidence of hip and elbow dysplasia, giving either a food or supplement containing glucosamine can help prevent some discomfort. Keeping your German Shepherd Lab Mix trim will also maintain healthy joints.
– Grooming: Coming from two breeds with very thick hair coats, expect German Shepherd Lab Mixes to shed, and lots. They will also require frequent brushing to prevent their double coat from becoming matted, especially when the seasons change. You might have to bathe periodically to prevent an oily buildup and should pay special attention to cleaning the ears as both breeds can have trouble with ear infections.
– Exercise: As stated before, this is normally a very energetic and intelligent breed. They need physical and mental stimulation daily. These dogs aren’t going to be happy with a quick trip around the block. They will need several hours of exercise and play per day. Some will be happy if given a large yard and toys, while others will need socialization with other dogs or you to get the workout that they need.
– Training: If nothing else, you’ll want to socialize your German Shepherd Lab Mix puppy either at obedience classes, the dog park, doggy day care or with a friend’s dogs. Early socialization will help decrease any of the apprehensive German Shepherd personality traits that the mix may exhibit. Socialization is also a great way to burn some energy and for you to bond with your puppy as well. Other training will depend on your individual needs, but rest assured that this intelligent mix can handle any amount of training that you want to do.
Both German Shepherds and Labs are eager to please kind of dogs. This makes them very willing to learn and you will find that you won’t have to repeat commands very often. As long as you use a rewards-based training approach and offer lots of praise, you will find your German Shepherd Lab Mix easy to train.
What Are The Health Concerns of German Shepherd Lab Mixes?
Unfortunately, German Shepherd Mixes are subject to the health concerns of both breeds instead of just one. Common issues that German Shepherd Lab Mixes face are, as stated above, hip and elbow dysplasia and digestive issues like bloat. A few other complications that are less frequently seen are hereditary myopathy, retinal atrophy, and obesity.
In order to decrease the chances of these health issues, make sure to use only reputable breeders that perform testing on their breeding animals. You also need to feed a healthy diet, give them plenty of exercise and have regular checkups with a veterinarian.
How Much Does a German Shepherd Lab Mix Cost?
Since a German Shepherd Lab Mix is a mix and not a purebred, they aren’t going to be as spendy as either of the parent breeds. That being said, the average for a puppy is anywhere from $150-$600. The variation is going to depend on the breeder and lineage of the puppy. When it comes to selecting a puppy, more expensive doesn’t equal better. Do your research beforehand and make sure the breeder is responsible and has done their part to make sure their puppies are healthy.
When thinking about cost, don’t forget to factor in not just the purchasing cost but the maintenance cost as well. High quality dog food isn’t the cheapest option and a large breed dog like a German Shepherd Lab Mix is going to eat plenty. Also, routine veterinary care will run you around $100 a year, but is a necessity and well worth it. Add to that other expenses like chew toys, leashes, bedding and unforeseen medical expenses and you have a significant financial investment. Dogs are not a one-time financial transaction.
Is A German Shepherd Lab Mix For You?
When deciding if a German Shepherd Lab Mix is the dog for you, you need to consider your activity level. Do you have a couple hours a day for hiking, walking, or playing? Do you have a large fenced area for him to run around in? Are you willing to put the time in for grooming and cleaning up hair? If you answered no to any of these questions, you may want to consider a different breed. If you said yes to all, then a German Shepherd Lab Mix may work for you.
With any hybrid dog, you need to realize that you might not know what you will get. Since a German Shepherd Lab Mix is a combination of two breeds, you can end up with a large variation in traits. You might be hoping for the unconditional happiness of a Labrador Retriever but instead end up with the more apprehensive German Shepherd Dog personality. You should for sure end up with a pet that is extra hairy, easy to train, energetic and ready to please. They make terrific companions for person or family.