Let’s find out whether the black Lab German Shepherd mix is your perfect puppy! We’ll look at their temperament, appearance, behavior and training needs. And what you will need to do to care for your puppy and raise them to be a friendly member of the family.
A black Lab German Shepherd mix dog is a large, athletic cross with a thick, double coat. Labs and German Shepherd Dogs were first bred to fulfil quite different purposes. So, their mixed breed puppies can have very different temperaments. But for adaptable owners with a passion for training, they can be great dogs. In this guide, we help you decide if they could be your perfect match.
Black Lab German Shepherd Mix At A Glance
- Popularity: On the up
- Purpose: work, service, or companionship
- Weight: 50-90lbs
- Temperament: variable, clever, active
Black Lab German Shepherd mix dogs are sometimes also known as German Shepradors, or Labrashepherds. But besides wondering what to call them, people frequently have many other questions about them too.
People Often Ask…
- What does a black Lab German Shepherd mix look like?
- How big do German Shepherd black Lab mixes get?
- Do black Lab German Shepherd mix dogs shed?
- How long does the black Lab German Shepherd live?
- Are Black Lab German Shepherd mixes good family dogs?
We’ll answer all these questions here!
- What the black German Sheprador temperament is like.
- How to train and exercise a black Lab German Shepherd mix.
- And where to find a puppy to buy, or older dog to adopt.
Let’s start by finding out where the black Labrashepherd came from.
Origin of the Black Lab German Shepherd Mix
Designer dogs – the result of deliberately crossing two different pedigrees – are a relatively recent phenomenon. Labs and German Shepherds are currently America’s two most popular dog breeds, so it’s no surprise that they’ve been popular choices for breeders interested in producing hybrid litters. But the Labrador and German Shepherd pedigrees both go right back to the 19th century. And understanding their individual histories provides important insights into German Sheprador temperament.
Labradors were originally bred as hunting dogs, to retrieve fallen waterfowl from the water. Breeders selected breeding dogs for traits which made them great at this job: a strong build, a thick waterproof coat, and an enthusiasm to learn and work in a team with their handler.
The best Labs were also gentle and chilled out companions once the hunting day was over. Which is why Labradors exploded so successfully onto the pet scene, and into service roles as well.
German Shepherd history
German Shepherd dogs, or GSDs, were originally bred to be the ultimate herding dog. Unlike Labs, GSDs needed to be able to work confidently at a distance from their handler. They also used to double up as watch dogs and guard dogs, alerting their owner to the arrival of anything unfamiliar, which might be a threat to their flock. Like Labradors, they also proved to be remarkably versatile, and succeed in a wide variety of roles – including police work, military work, narcotics detection, and service roles.
What to Expect From a Black Lab German Shepherd Mix
The whole purpose of establishing pedigrees for purebred dogs is to ensure that all the puppies descended from that pedigree look and behave in a reliable way. Inevitably, mixing breeds creates possibilities for unpredictable results. Puppies inherit traits from both of their parents at random. It’s impossible to guarantee that a mixed breed puppy will only inherit the best features of both their parents! Even within the same litter, some puppies might look a lot like a Lab but behave like a GSD, and others might look like a GSD but act like a Lab.
Designer dogs with parents who have a lot in common are easier to predict. Puppies from parents who either look very different, or were bred for very different purposes, are more variable.
Black Lab German Shepherd Mix Appearance
Color and pattern inheritance in dogs is pretty complicated, so reserving a black Lab GSD mix puppy before they’re born doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re securing a dog of a particular color.
Black Labs can also carry the genes for chocolate and yellow coloring. Some Labs also silently carry the genes for markings like tan points. These genes hark back to when Gordon Setters contributed to the foundation of the breed. Meanwhile, the GSD’s handsome coat is subject to a number of different genetic possibilities.
So a black Lab German Shepherd mix puppy might be black or dark brown, and have markings including sable shading or tan points.
How big do German Shepherd black Lab mixes get?
Labradors and German Shepherds are both medium to large sized dogs. Labs weigh 55 to 80 pounds, and GSDs weigh 50 to 90 pounds. For both breeds, females tend to occupy the bottom end of the weight range, and males the upper end. So, a black Lab German Shepherd mix could weigh anything between 50 and 90 pounds too. Their weight will be partly determined by all of the following:
- the general parameters of the breed
- the size of their parents
- their sex
- and environmental factors, like receiving adequate nutrition in puppyhood.
Do black Lab German Shepherd mix dogs shed?
Labs and GSDs both have thick double coats – ideal for insulating them against harsh weather conditions whilst working. They both shed heavily, and ‘blow their coat’ twice a year in spring and fall – which means shedding even more prolifically while their new season’s coat comes through. So, one thing we can say for sure about the black Lab German Shepherd is that they too will be high-shedding dogs.
Regular brushing, and seasonal grooming with specialist tools like a Furminator can help to keep your house clear of discarded fur.
Black Lab German Shepherd Mix Temperament
Labrador Retrievers are famous for being friendly. Besides an irrepressible enthusiasm for making friends with anyone and everyone, they’re also playful and smart. They also have a strong retrieving instinct – or in other words they like to carry things around in their mouths! Black Labs in particular have traditionally been favored for working roles, so they tend to be focussed and easily motivated to engage in training.
German Shepherds are often described as courageous and loyal. They have strong herding and guarding instincts. Part of this is an innate distrust of unfamiliar people. Although, they are devoted and affectionate to their human family and regular guests. They are also very smart, and capable of picking up new cues quickly.
What this means for black Lab GSD mix personality
Labs and GSDs have quite different personalities, shaped by different instincts. But they are both talented problem solvers and quick learners. Sheprador puppies are sure to be smart and trainable too. But it’s impossible to predict whether they will be naturally outgoing and socially confident like a Lab, or more reserved and wary of unfamiliar encounters, like a GSD.
Unfortunately, a black Lab German Shepherd mix puppy’s temperament is not a reliable indicator of what they will be like as an adult either. So, the training and socialization you do with them while they are young will be very important.
Training and Exercising Your Black Lab German Shepherd Mix
Socialization is the process of introducing a young puppy to all the experiences they’ll need to be confident around when they’re older. Puppies under 12 weeks old readily form positive associations with new things, if they have a good first encounter with them. Socialization is particularly important for German Shepherds and their mixes, because they are naturally inclined to be wary of strangers. It gives them the confidence to interact calmly with the world when they are older.
Typically friendly breeds like Labs still need socializing too. And very friendly individuals will also need teaching how to greet people calmly, without jumping up or getting over excited.
German Shepradors also need methodical leash training from a young age – being dragged along the sidewalk by a large dog is no fun!
Labs and GSDs are both athletic dogs which have been bred to be mentally and physically active for several hours a day. An adult Lab GSD mix dog needs at least 2 hours of walking per day. At home, they enjoy additional games of fetch, tug and scent work.
Training and puzzle feeders like Kongs and sniffle mats are valuable for providing mental exercise. A Sheprador is also likely to enjoy dog sports like fieldwork and advanced obedience training.
Black Lab German Shepherd Mix Health
Just like in every other respect, Sheprador health is a mixed inheritance from both of their parent breeds.
Labrador Retrievers are prone to
- hip dysplasia
- elbow dysplasia
- and progressive retinal atrophy.
All of these have a hereditary component, which means potential breeding dogs can be screened for them in advance.
Allergies are also a common problem in Labradors, and have a genetic component. Unfortunately however, there is presently no DNA test for vulnerability. So, ask your breeder whether there is a family history of allergies instead.
German Shepherd Health
German Shepherds are prone to
- hip and elbow dysplasia
- problems with their shoulder joints
- the neurological condition degenerative myelopathy
- and thyroid disease.
In recent years, an increasing number of GSDs have also been bred for a specific outline, where their back slopes dramatically down to their hind legs. This causes stress through their spine and the joints in their legs, increasing the risk of painful arthritis.
And finally, due to their deep chest, GSDs are also at high risk of bloat.
Black Lab German Shepherd Mix Health
Caring for a sick dog is stressful, upsetting, and frequently expensive. To avoid this, look for a Sheprador puppy from health tested parents. Keep them at a healthy weight, to protect their joints. And familiarise yourself with the symptoms of bloat, so that you’re prepared to act quick should it happen to your dog.
Black Lab German Shepherd Mix Life Expectancy
Owner surveys indicate that Labradors live for 12-13 years on average, and GSDs live for 9-13 years. Both of these compare well with the all-dog average life expectancy of just over 11 years. And a black Lab German Shepherd mix dog can expect to live beyond their 10th birthday too, maybe even to their early teens.
Do Black Lab German Shepherd Mixes Make Good Pets?
Labrashepherds make good pets for very active people, who have plenty of time to engage with and train their dog. Since they’re intelligent, and bred to work, they are likely to get bored and frustrated if they don’t receive several hours of interaction every day. They might express that through unwanted behaviors such as digging, chewing, and barking.
This mix isn’t a wise choice if you’re relying on your dog being sociable and outgoing, or on the other hand, doubling up as a watchdog. They might not inherit these qualities!
All dogs should be supervised around young children, but Shepradors especially so, due to their size. However, they are well suited to households with older children because they tend to be affectionate and patient with their human family. And energetic kids are great companions for energetic dogs!
Rescuing a Black Lab German Shepherd Mix
Many people would like to adopt an older dog rather than purchase a puppy. For the right owner, this has several advantages. An important one for German Shepherd Lab mix dogs is that you’ll get a clearer idea of what temperament they have inherited.
Since Labs and GSDs are extremely popular in their own right, Sheprador dogs aren’t unusual in the rescue population. There are also a large number of breed-specific rescues working with Labs and GSDs, which might also help to rehome mixes.
Finding a Black Lab German Shepherd Mix Puppy
If you would rather raise your dog from a puppy, you’ll need to find a reputable breeder to purchase one from. Unfortunately, the popularity of designer dogs has made them something of a commercial success for puppy farms. But, puppy farms do not health test parent dogs, or socialise puppies in their care.
Dogs from puppy farms are more likely to have health problems and behavioral problems which are difficult and expensive to manage, and spoil your relationship. So, be extra vigilant when looking for a breeder to avoid unscrupulous ones. They can be very convincing, and give slick pre-rehearsed answers to your questions. This article will help you spot bad breeders and move on!
Your Black Lab German Shepherd Mix
Do you already have a Black Lab German Shepherd mix? We’d love to hear all about them in the comments below.
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- German Shepherd Lab Mix
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- Socializing your Puppy
References And Resources
- Gough A, Thomas A, O’Neill D. 2018 Breed Predispositions to Disease In Dogs and Cats. Wiley Blackwell
- O’Neill et al. 2013. Longevity and Mortality of Owned Dogs In England. The Veterinary Journal
- Adams VJ, et al. 2010. Results of a Survey of UK Purebred Dogs. Journal of Small Animal Practice.
- McMillan. 2017. Behavioral and psychological outcomes for dogs sold as puppies through pet stores and/or born in commercial breeding establishments: Current knowledge and putative causes. Journal of Veterinary Behavior.
- Robinson et al. 2016. Puppy Temperament Assessments Predict Breed and American Kennel Club Group but Not Adult Temperament. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science.
The Labrador Site Founder
Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.
She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program
Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website
I got my lab/shepherd mix as a puppy. He is full of love and very Smart. My best friend!
We have a beautiful, 15 week old, black Shepardor with one steely blue eye and the other dark brown. Nuit (French meaning “Night”) is already proving to be highly intelligent and has learned commands quickly. She has more Lab tendencies as she is highly social with people and other dogs. Nuit is definitely high energy. She loves her long walks especially if we head to the nearby fields where she will search out lost toys, mittens, hats, etc and then want to bring them home. She already knows each one of her toys by name which surprised us but, we test her and she always brings the exact toy we request. Is this unusual? Her appetite is crazy though. This is our biggest challenge along with house training. We’re following the recommended guidelines with a slight bump but, she brings her food dish right to our feet when she’s looking for more…which is often. Any thoughts?
We have a choc lab rescue that we thought was maybe mixed with Chessie. We did the DNA test and Sierra is 73 percent Choc lab and 27 percent German Shepard. We rescued her when she was 2 and we were told she was a handful. Boy that was an understatement. She is a true hunter but wants to kill what she finds then bring it back to you. She sheds like crazy and that coat repels water like a duck. But extremely intelligent and turns out good at the sport of Dock Diving. She is a good helper around the house as she will carry objects for you or retrieve them for you to throw out. She is very hyper and will chase planes across the back yard. Needless to say she needs a lot of exercise. She has golden eyes and you can just see the intelligence in those eyes. She does listen if you can get the command to her before her mind takes off. I use a clicker to break her concentration when she is focused on taking off as it brings her back to me. She is now 9 and still acts like 2.
I had a black lab/shepherd up until a few days ago. He was my best friend and was always there for me no matter what, a member of my family. He was 16 and last week he rapidly declined and stopped eating. Fearing the end we kept him comfortable but, by Monday 8/8 he was so weak I had to do what I didn’t want to and put him out of his misery. The vet came to the house and I was last thing he saw before he passed. I stayed with him another 15 minutes while the vet took the fur from his las brushing together with a paw print cast. I break up while writing this, he was loyal to the end and there will never be another dog like him. I’ve been thisclose to tears since then.
I have a black lab German shepherd, he is the sweetest, smartest, goofiest dog I have ever owned. He’s little over a year old but he is already my best friend and service dog for ESA. He’s great with other dogs, always energetic, never aggressive, and if I take him to the lake I can’t get him out! He love the water. And running around being a goofy boy that he is. And his name? His name is Ludo.
I have a labrador/shepherd mix that we adopted from the Humane Society at 12 weeks old. He is just shy of a year old now, and is a sweetheart. I have had GSDs my whole life, my grandmother actually used to breed them when her kids were growing up, and have to say that there’s not a whole lot of the reservedness, anxiety, or leary ness of strangers that I’ve seen with them. He will sometimes bark if someone rings the doorbell or he sees a neighbor in their yard, but it is an excited type of bark, like he wants to play. He is super affectionate and obedient, and will play all day long with our 3.5y old daughter who he patiently lets climb on his back and lay on him. They chase each other around the house and its hilarious to watch, and is the reason why we named him Buddy. In looks, he’s mostly golden with black outlining his eyes and ears, a black tail that looks more like a GSD but not quite as bushy, a bit of they typical GSD coloring around his neck combo of black/white/tan, the broader head of a lab, and flopped over ears like a lab, which he tries to hold up at different angles, depending on what he’s doing, like a GSD but they’re too floppy. When he’s really interested in something (hunting type mode) he almost gets them up to the way a gsd puppies ears look when they’re a few months old, upright but ears tipped. Generally he holds them almost to the side. Interestingly, I got to see most of his litter as our daughter volunteers at the humane society, and he had one other yellow litter mate, the rest were mostly solid black.
I have just a few months ago rescued a black lab Sheppard mix. She is 5 and a mix of both I have had lots of labs. She has a lot of that in her but has so much more trainable ability and pics up so fast. She is a female 60lbs but is way longer then a lab. She has become very protective to me and my home to strangers but a doll if it’s some one she knows. She is amazing of one of the dogs every one would want that never leaves my side and obeys my commands. She goes every where with me. Still learning her personality as it only been 14 weeks and she keeps coming our of her shell from a kill shelter. Please contact me if I can be of help on the dog. David