The German Shepherd Lab mix is a designer cross between the energetic and friendly Labrador Retriever and the protective German Shepherd. German Shepherd Lab mixes have the potential to make great herding, hunting, retrieving, therapy, service or pet dogs. Also known as the German Sheprador, this is a loyal, intelligent, medium to large hybrid dog that can reach over 70 lbs in weight. The German Shepherd Lab mix is affectionate with their family, needs plenty of exercise, sheds heavily, and can be destructive if left alone for long periods. Today we’ll be exploring the personality traits of the Sheprador, their health, lifespan, and care needs. We’ll also give you some great tips on raising and training your new puppy. And on finding a German Shepherd Lab mix puppy or adopting a full grown Sheprador.
What is a German Shepherd Lab mix?
A German Shepherd Lab mix, or Sheprador, is a cross between a German Shepherd and a Labrador Retriever. The Sheprador stands at an average of 24 inches tall and can weigh up to 80 pounds when fully grown. While the German Shepherd dog is prone to some unfortunate health issues, it is thought that the general good health of the Labrador can balance out to create a healthy Sheprador puppy.
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? Let’s take a quick look at some of their defining characteristics.
- Popularity: High, but lower than other Lab mixes
- Purpose: Security, companionship
- Weight: 55-80 lbs.
- Temperament: Loyal, energetic, obedient
Where Do German Shepradors Come From?
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 Labrador German Shepherd mix. There’s not even much consensus on the best name for them yet: Sheprador, German Sheprador, Labrashepherd and Labrashep are all being used.
The German Shepherd Lab mix is considered to be a designer dog. 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’ll cover further down, 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. And while it is impossible to predict what traits a crossbreed dog will inherit from which parent, there are many overlapping features and personality traits between the German Shepherd and the Labrador.
German Shepherd Lab Mix Appearance
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 telltale 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. For example, a black Lab German Shepherd mix is likely to have a dark coat, and a German Shepherd yellow Lab mix is likely to have a mid-toned coat.
There are even arresting-looking white German Shepherd Lab crosses. Also, on top of their base color, German shepradors may also inherit their German Shepherd parent’s coat pattern, for example, the classic saddle back markings.
German Shepherd Lab Mix Shedding
The German Shepherd typically has a double coat of medium length. However, some German Shepherds have a long coat that can be wavy or wiry. On the other hand, the Labrador is known for having short, tight hair. Both breeds are infamous shedders, and “blow” their coats twice a year in spring and fall.
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.
German Shepherd Lab Mix Grooming
Labrador German Shepherd mix dog’s require little grooming besides a good going over with a sturdy brush once or twice a week. So, 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. This might be reason enough to choose a different crossbreed if you have a busy family or someone with allergies in the home.
How Big Are German Shepherd Lab Mixes?
German Shepherds are large dogs. They stand 22 – 26 inches tall at their shoulder blades, and weigh 49 – 88 pounds. Meanwhile, Labs are a medium sized breed, 22 – 25 inches tall at their shoulders, and 55 – 80 pounds 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 these puppies. A Labrador German shepherd mix could be as petite as their smallest parent or as big as their largest parent. The weight range for German Shepherds encompasses the weight range for Labrador Retrievers.
So a GSD Lab mix could weigh anything from 55 pounds to 80 pounds. 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. Same goes for determining your crossbreed’s temperament.
German Shepherd Lab Mix Temperament
Labradors are friendly, active and outgoing. They love to interact with people, show their affection, and get on well with children. Also, the German Shepherd is confident, courageous and smart. They are loyal and full of life. Furthermore, 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. Either way, it’s important to properly socialize your new pup from an early age.
Socialization is the process of making a dog comfortable with other animals, people, places and activities. Even for breeds that are known to be friendly and easy-going, like Labradors, socialization is very important. 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. For instance, Socialization can involve having new people call over to the house regularly so your pup gets used to new faces and voices. It can also involve introducing your puppy to new dogs, cats, children and other animals so that they do not become fearful or territorial.
In general, training from an early age is always a good idea. And the German Shepherd Lab cross has some specific training and exercise requirements.
Training a German Shepherd Lab Mix
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.
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. However, it’s important to remember that this breed is prone to some health concerns that could inhibit or affect their exercise requirements and ability.
German Shepherd and Labrador 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?
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. It’s important to make sure that the breeder you buy your puppy from has tested the Lab parent for these inherited problems.
Also, Labs are also notoriously greedy, and prone to obesity if their penchant for snacking is indulged too often. Another less serious but common issue in Labs is ear infections. These are easily treated but may require veterinary care and frequent inspections.
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
Luckily, most of these diseases are easily detectable in parent dogs, so again, you’ll need to make sure your breeder has fully test the German Shepherd parent dog. In addition, they are more than usually prone to:
- Gastrointestinal diseases
- Anal infections
- Eye diseases
- Under active thyroid
German Shepherd Lab Mix Health
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. So what impact do these health concerns have on the life expectancy of this breed?
How Long Do German Shepherd Lab Mixes Live?
Labrador Retrievers will typically live between 10.6 and 14 years. Whereas a German Shepherd will typically reach a slightly younger age of 9.2 to 12 years. This means that you can expect to have your GSD Lab mix around for about 11 or 12 years. So now that we know what health and exercise requirements to be aware of, let’s take a look at what to expect from your German Sheprador’s coat.
Do German Shepherd Lab Mixes Make Good Family Pets?
This dog 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. In fact, Labs are one of the least aggressive breeds of dogs, so your pup will likely be the same. However, a big GSD 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. If you don’t think you have the time and effort to dedicate to this demanding crossbreed, consider some similar breeds instead.
German Shepherd Lab Mix Pros and Cons
- Can inherit serious health issues
- Needs lots of exercise
- Likely to shed heavily
- Outgoing and loyal personality
- Great family pets
- Good security dogs
Finding a German Shepherd Lab Mix Puppy
German Shepherd Lab puppies are advertised widely for sale across the country, and luckily don’t command the same price premium as other more fashionable cross breeds. That said, it’s expensive to breed healthy pups, so be wary of 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 and lab mix matings.
If you have a particular coloring for your pet in mind, for example a chocolate Lab German Shepherd mix, then be prepared to wait a little longer for the right pup to come along. If rescuing is not for you, make sure you do your homework so that you are only buying a puppy from a reputable breeder.
German Shepherd Lab Mix Breeders
While there are plenty of reputable and responsible breeders around, there are unfortunately also lots of unscrupulous people trying to make quick money at the expense of animals. If you have friends or family who have found a mixed breed dog from a good breeder, ask for recommendations.
Once you have found a breeder, ask to see records of health tests and inquire about any behavioral or other issues. You should also ask to meet the parent dogs. A good breeder will be happy to show that the parent dogs are good shape, safe and happy conditions. There are also many telltale signs that a breeder is operating a puppy mill. Read on to find all the products and accessories you’ll need for your new puppy.
Rescuing a German Shepherd Lab Mix
If you already have your heart set on a beautiful black Lab German Shepherd mix, you could consider rescuing rather than buying. Start by checking out your local animal shelters as well as various German Shepherd or Labrador specific rescues. Some rescues do take in mixed breeds if they are a cross of their primary breed.
German Shepherd Lab Mix Breed Rescues
Finding a puppy takes lots of patience and research.
There are so many wonderful Lab mixes to choose from if you’re a fan of this lovely breed’s gentle and friendly temperament. There are also healthier parent dogs to choose from instead of the German Shepherd. Here’s some crossbreeds to consider:
- Pitbull Lab Mix
- Golden Retriever Lab Mix
- Border Collie Lab Mix
- Weimaraner Lab Mix
- Chihuahua Lab Mix
- St Bernard Lab Mix
Of course, you might decide to opt for a purebred Labrador Retriever:
German Shepherd Lab Mix Products and Accessories
Before you start gathering all your supplies for your new puppy, take a look at our summary of this beautiful breed.
Your 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!
References And Resources
- American Kennel Club. 2019. German Shepherd. AKC.org.
- PDSA. 2019. Pet Fit Club 2019. PDSA.com.
- Collins LM, et al. 2010. Welfare epidemiology as a tool to assess the welfare impact of inherited defects on the pedigree dog population. Animal Welfare.
- O’Neill DG, et al. 2013. Longevity and Mortality of Owned Dogs In England. The Veterinary Journal.
- Duffy D, et al. 2008. Breed differences in canine aggression. Applied Animal Behavior Science.
- Carver EA. 1984. Coat color genetics of the German shepherd dog. Journal of Heredity.
- Oberbauer AM, et al. 2017. Long-term genetic selection reduced prevalence of hip and elbow dysplasia in 60 dog breeds. PLoS One.
- Kelawala DN. 2017. Clinical studies on progressive retinal atrophy in 31 dogs. Iran J Vet Res.
- American College of Veterinary Surgeons. 2019. Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus.
- FitzPatrick Referrals. 2019. Canine Degenerative Myelopathy.
- Yuill C. 2019. Panosteitis in Dogs. VCA Hospitals Online.
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
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