Welcome To Your Complete Guide To The Wonderful German Shepherd Lab Mix Breed Dog.
From Appearance To Temperament, Training To Care. Everything You Need To Know About This Charismatic Cross.
The German Shepherd and Labrador Retriever are the United States’ two most popular dog breeds.
But what happens when you breed a Lab German Shepherd mix?
Is a German Shepherd Lab the ultimate canine, or does German Shepherd x Labrador = total muddle?
Whether you prefer the handle German Sheprador or Labrashepherd, this article contains everything you need to know about this auspicious hybrid.
Let’s start by looking at the ancestry that goes into a German Shepherd Lab mix puppy.
Making a German Shepherd and Lab mix – German Shepherds
German Shepherd dogs, frequently abbreviated to GSDs, were the passion project of Max von Stephanitz, a German vet who was fascinated by the versatility, intelligence and stamina of Germany’s sheepdogs in the 19th and 20th century.
In 1899, he bought a male dog at a show which he believed embodied all the best qualities of German sheepdogs, and called him Horand von Grafath.
Back at home, Von Stephanitz created the first breed registry for German Shepherds, and began to populate it with the puppies and descendants of Horand.
The rest, as they say, is history, and these days German Shepherds are the American Kennel Club’s second most popular dog breed.
Making a German Shepherd and Lab mix – Labrador Retrievers
Whilst all modern day German Shepherds can be traced back to one common ancestor, the Labrador Retriever’s origins are much less concise.
Labs are descended from an historic breed of the Newfoundland and Labrador province, called St John’s water dogs, which have long since gone extinct.
St John’s water dogs in turn were bred from a mix of old English, Irish and Portuguese working dogs.
What all of the Labrador’s ancestors had in common is that they were selected and bred for their outstanding retrieval skills.
From these roots, the Labrador Retriever as we know it was honed over generations.
Now, Labrador Retrievers pip German Shepherds to the post as America’s most popular dog breed.
Origins of the German Shepherd cross Labrador
Realistically, Lab German Shepherd mix dogs have probably been conceived either accidentally or on purpose for decades.
The crossbreed still doesn’t enjoy the same kind of status and profile as say, the Labradoodle or the Cockapoo.
In fact, burgeoning designer breed registries are still fairly quiet on the German Shepherd x Labrador.
There’s not even much consensus on the best name for them yet: Sheprador, German Sheprador, Labrashepherd and Labrashep are all being used.
So how can we know what to expect from this low profile dog mix?
How big is a Lab and German Shepherd mix?
German Shepherds are described by the AKC as large dogs. They stand 22 – 26 inches (55 – 65cm) tall at their shoulder blades, and weigh 49 – 88lb (22 – 40kg).
Meanwhile, Labs are listed as a medium sized breed, 22 – 25 inches (55 – 62cm) tall at their shoulders, and 55 – 80lb (25 – 36kg) on the scales.
They might fall into different size categories, but as you can see, there’s not an awful lot in it – they’re both sizable dogs!
And there’s a lot of overlap, so don’t assume that the German Shepherd will be the larger parent to a litter of Lab German Shepherd mix puppies!
A Labrador cross German Shepherd could be as petite as their smallest parent or as big as their largest parent.
How much does a German Shepherd mixed with Lab weigh?
The weight range for German Shepherds encompasses the weight range for Labrador Retrievers.
So a German Shepherd Lab mix could weigh anything from 55lb (25kg) to 80lb (36kg).
As usual, the lower end of the range is typically made up of female dogs, and the top end is dominated by the boys.
Your best chance of predicting how big your German Shepherd Lab will grow is by looking at the size of their parents.
What does a Lab mixed with German Shepherd look like?
Most German Shepherd Lab mix puppies are first generation crossbreeds. That is, they have one parent of each pedigree. So there is huge variation in how they look, and no “standard” appearance.
Some have the tell tale muzzle and tall ears of the German Shepherd, others more resemble a Labrador.
The color of their coat will depend on the coloring of their parents.
A German Shepherd and black Lab mix is likely to have a dark coat, and a yellow Lab German Shepherd is likely to have a mid-toned coat.
There are even arresting-looking white German Shepherd Lab mix dogs.
On top of their base color, German Shepherd x Labrador dogs may also inherit their German Shepherd parent’s coat pattern, for example the classic saddle back markings.
What kind of personality does a German Shepherd mix Lab have?
Labradors are friendly, active and outgoing. They love to interact with people, show their affection, and get on well with children.
The German Shepherd is confident, courageous and smart. They are loyal and full of life.
Labradors and German Shepherds are both fast learners and eager to please. German Shepherds in particular need productive ways to channel their intelligence, or they will get into mischief to stave off boredom.
A German Shepherd Lab mix could inherit any combination of the traits of their parents, which is why meeting both parents before committing to bringing home a puppy is so important.
How much grooming does a Labrador German Shepherd need?
Like both their parents, a German Shepherd mix Lab has a double coat. An ultra-warm undercoat and a coarse outer coat to protect them from the elements as they work outdoors.
Your German Shepherd Labrador Retriever mix pup’s coat will almost certainly be short and neat like their Labrador parent’s.
This is because the gene for long coats is recessive and very unusual among Labradors. So even if their German Shepherd parent has a long coat, it’s unlikely to be passed on to their puppies.
This means their coat requires little grooming besides a good going over with a sturdy brush once or twice a week.
However, both breeds are infamous shedders, and “blow” their coats twice a year in spring and fall.
If you bring home a German Shepherd Labrador cross, gathering up their lost hair will be a never-ending task! A good vacuum cleaner is essential.
Lab and German Shepherd mix health
Magnification of health problems in pedigree dog breeds has become a well-documented problem.
And there’s evidence that crossbreed dogs live longer than pedigree dogs as a result.
So does this mean a dog with both German Shepherd and Labrador ancestry will be healthier?
Labrador Retriever health
One of the biggest health problems facing Labradors today is hip and elbow dysplasia – looseness in the joints that eventually leads to painful arthritis.
Another is progressive retinal atrophy, a gradual failure of the retina at the back of their eyes that can ultimately leave them blind.
Labs are also notoriously greedy, and prone to obesity if their penchant for snacking is indulged too often.
German Shepherd health
Due to the very small foundation gene pool of the German Shepherd breed, and years spent in pursuit of an exaggerated body shape by some breeders, today they are sadly prone to a catalog of health problems:
- Elbow and hip dysplasia
- Gastric Dilatation Volvulus – dangerous twisting of the stomach caused by the build up of gas after eating.
- Chronic Degenerative Radiculomyopathy – slow onset paralysis of the back legs, caused by loss of the nerve fibers which control them.
- Panosteitis – an inflammatory bone disease.
In addition, they are more than usually prone to:
- gastrointestinal diseases
- anal infections
- eye diseases
- an under active thyroid.
Where does this leave Labrador x German Shepherd crossbreeds?
The good news is that dogs’ joints and eyes can be screened before they breed, so that individuals who suffer from joint dysplasia or poor eyesight can be removed from breeding lines.
Furthermore, conditions like obesity are within our control as pet owners and can be prevented.
And it’s possible that by breeding a Labrador cross German Shepherd, the relatively robust health of the Lab will balance out the misfortunes of the German Shepherd and improve the health of their puppies.
However there hasn’t been any clinical research to prove or quantify that yet.
In the meantime, the best thing you can do for your future German Shepherd Lab mix puppy is ask as many questions as possible about the health and medical history of their parents, and request certificates of health screening.
How much exercise does a Lab German Shepherd mix need?
German Shepherds and Labradors are both energetic, intelligent dogs.
Without a doubt, to wear out a German Shepherd Lab mix so that they don’t bounce off the walls back at home, they’re going to need at least two hour’s vigorous exercise every day.
A young dog in good health could require even more.
They will also need human company for much of the day, and training to keep those big brains from getting bored.
How easy is it to train a Labrador mix German Shepherd?
German Shepherd Labs are likely to inherit a love of people and company from both sides of their family tree. But socializing them properly as puppies will be vital to give them the confidence they need in meeting new people.
German Shepherds despite their great loyalty to their family can be wary of strangers. So thorough socialization from puppyhood is essential, even for a GSD mix.
Labrador and German Shepherd dogs are both working dogs at heart. They’re highly motivated to learn and impress you with their ability to follow instructions.
Like with any dog, training them is an ongoing commitment that lasts a lifetime. But with this ultra smart German Shepherd Lab mix it should be a satisfying and rewarding one.
Is a German Shepherd and Lab mix a good family dog?
A German Shepherd Lab mix could be the perfect addition to your household if you’ve got plenty of space indoors and out for a big dog, and you spend lots of time doing activities your dog can join in with (like running and hiking).
German Shepherd cross Labradors demand lots of stimulation to stop them getting bored and destructive, so if you have family members willing to share in entertaining them that’s even better.
Like both of their parent breeds they’re great with kids if socialized properly as puppies, but always supervise them with young children.
A big German Shepherd Lab mix dog can easily knock over a small child in the excitement of a good game.
Likewise, make sure your children understand the importance of respecting dogs’ boundaries, and knowing when to give them space.
Finding a German Shepherd Lab mix puppy
German Shepherd Lab puppies are advertized widely for sale across the country, and luckily don’t command the same price premium as other more fashionable cross breeds.
That said, breeding a healthy litter of pups from healthy parents costs breeders a lot of money, so be wary of puppies being advertized for improbably low prices.
Besides the usual puppy matching websites, the increasing number of designer breed registries often keep directories of breeders specializing in German Shepherd x Labrador matings.
If you have a particular coloring for your pet in mind, for example a German Shepherd chocolate Lab mix, then be prepared to wait a little longer for the right pup to come along.
Are German Shepherd cross Labradors “designer dogs”?
And does it matter?
The term “designer dog” was coined in the 1980s to describe matings between two different pedigrees.
Along with a catchy portmanteau name, it distinguishes them from mongrels of complicated and unknown ancestry.
But mating pedigrees with very different body shapes or polar opposite personalities can create muddled and unhappy offspring.
As we’ve seen, there’s a lot of overlap in the size and temperament of German Shepherds and Labradors.
So whilst a Labrador Retriever German Shepherd mix is technically a designer dog, it doesn’t warrant much controversy in terms of health and welfare.
Is the German Shepherd Lab mix right for me?
In the increasingly complicated world of designer crossbreeds, the German Shepherd mixed with Lab is a refreshingly sensible and down to earth combination.
Their sizes are very similar, and their personalities are complementary. So when you bring home a German Shepherd Lab mix puppy, you can be pretty clear of what to expect.
If you’ve got the space for a big dog, and an energetic outdoor lifestyle to keep them busy, then a Lab and German Shepherd mix dog might be your perfect match.
Do you own a German Shepherd Lab mix?
Do you think of them as a Sheprador or a Labrashepherd?
Is your dog a black Lab mixed with German Shepherd, a German Shepherd yellow Lab mix, or something else altogether?
What have they been like as a pet and do you recommend them?
Please tell us in the comments section below!
- American Kennel Club
- People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals