German Shepherd vs Labrador

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german shepherd vs labrador

German Shepherd vs Labrador Retriever? It’s A Tough Choice!

If You Are Stuck Between These Two Amazing But Rather Different Breeds, We’re Here To Help.

Comparing The Temperament, Health And Care Requirements Of These Two Gorgeous Dogs

If you’re thinking about adding another dog or possibly your first dog to your family, then chances are that by now, you’ve narrowed down your options.

German Shepherd vs Labrador is a common conundrum to find yourself debating.

These are two dog breeds that are commonly found in the workforce and show ring

As well as being much loved pets.

They are also the American Kennel Club’s first and second most popular dog breeds, respectively.

Though these breeds are found in many a household across the world, there are some pretty big differences between the two.

If you are considering buying or adopting Germans Shepherd vs Labrador, then it’s important that you recognize the differences.

These mainly concern their temperaments and possible health problems.

But they also vary in suitability as working partners, show partners or pets.

Let’s dive right in, shall we?

German Shepherd or Labrador Retriever – choosing the right breed for you

At first glance, German Shepherds and Labradors might appear to be on mostly opposite ends of the spectrum, with their only shared trait being their height.

However, they do share some other similarities.

german shepherd vs labrador

Both are prone to hip dysplasia and other health conditions that are common in large dog breeds.

But they are both also known to be extremely intelligent.

Each dog has an incredible work ethic and forms a strong bond with their owner.

But taking a closer look at GSDs and Labs, it’s obvious that their temperaments and suitability as family pets can differ, sometimes drastically, depending on the dog.

German Shepherds are known for their tendency toward guarding and sometimes misplaced aggression.

Labs on the other hand are typically happy family dogs that are quite accepting of strangers.

They can get a little excitable sometimes and can be almost too keen to greet anyone they meet.

There is therefore a difference in the homes which should German Shepherd vs Labrador dogs.

A German Shepherd may be happier in your single-dog, all-adult household, and a Labrador might be the better option if you’re looking for a family-friendly pet only.

But is this always the case?

Labrador Retriever vs. German Shepherd friendliness

When it comes to getting a dog, it’s best that you do not select one simply because you like the looks of it or because it’s a member of a popular breed.

Dogs are individuals with their own unique characteristics and personalities.

German Shepherds were bred to be the ultimate working dog.

Their oldest ancestors were used as sheep herders and guard dogs.

They were tough enough to withstand all kinds of elements, and to loyally protect both the herd and the property from harm.

The fiercely loyal personality has been retained in today’s German Shepherds, but instead of being used for protecting livestock, it has been put to use in police work and guarding important buildings and/or people.

Unfortunately, its common line of work has given the German Shepherd somewhat of a bad reputation when it comes to being an aggressive or easily roused breed.

Since they have an ingrained need to protect their family, a GSD may attack what it perceives to be an “intruder,” be it human or animal, if they feel that their home or owner is in danger.

This type of behavior is what makes the GSD better in some situations than others.

German Shepherd guarding tendencies

Due to their tendency to guard, a GSD may not be suitable in homes that have small or rambunctious children, or that have many visitors from friends or acquaintances.

It’s thought that around 50% of dog bites are in children under 12 years old, and one of the most likely canine culprits is the German Shepherd.

The German Shepherd breed has been shown to be second after Pitbulls when you look at bite fatalities.

You may not be able to keep one in the same house as other dogs or cats, either.

Let’s stress, this doesn’t mean GSDs are inherently dangerous.

This doesn’t rule out German Shepherds for families.

But there is an increased importance when it comes to reducing the risk of guarding and picking the right puppy.

Meeting both the parents and making sure they are friendly is vital.

Thorough socialization from the time they arrive home will also make a big difference.

Labs on the other hand are very social creatures. Although you will occasionally get a Lab that guards or is aggressive, this is rare.

Socialization is still recommended, but there is less pressure and you can have more confidence that your pup will still grow into a social adult dog.

German Shepherd vs Labrador temperament

Both German Shepherds and Labradors can be destructive when left alone for long periods of time.

They are not suited to homes where the family works full time, as they crave companionship.

german shepherd vs labrador

Remember that they are both intelligent dogs that thrive on exercise and having a job to excel in.

When comparing the German Shepherd vs Labrador this is where we need to separate the Labs into two categories.

Although there is only one breed of Labrador Retriever, there are two informal Lab types

The American Labrador and the English Labrador.

While it sounds like the American and English Labradors are differentiated by their location, they are actually distinguishable by their build and temperament only.

The American Lab is what’s referred to as the “working” strain.

They will have a greater need to carry out jobs and work co-operatively with their handler.

The English or show variety will be in general more chilled out when it comes to activities, but may also exhibit a level of ‘silliness’ you might not find in a working Lab or GSD.

Lab vs. German Shepherd size

Both Labradors and German Shepherds are large breeds.

German Shepherds can be anywhere from 50 to 90 pounds, depending on their sex (as a rule, females tend to be smaller), and reach anywhere from 22 to 26 inches tall at the shoulder.

Labrador Retrievers may mature to anywhere from 55 to 80 pounds (same rule about females being smaller), and may reach 21.5 to 24.5 inches tall at the shoulder.

As we mentioned in the previous section, English Labradors are heavier and often shorter dogs than American Labradors.

German Shepherd vs. Lab coat

Both Labradors and GSDs have double coats – a soft undercoat that is beneath a rougher top coat.

But when it comes to German Shepherd vs Labrador coat colors, there is a big difference.

Labs come in three colors, brown (chocolate), black or yellow. Although these are seen in many shades, they are all solid.

German Shepherds have patterned coats as well as plain coats, and these come in varying length.

All Labradors have a short and thick coat, while German Shepherds have a short or long coat.

If you are looking for dramatic fur, then a longhaired German Shepherd is probably going to be more up your alley.

But he will also need a lot more grooming.

Labrador dog vs. German Shepherd grooming and shedding

The Lab’s and GSD’s double coat requires a weekly brushing at minimum.

During shedding season, Labradors might need a biweekly brushing. Or even more.

But the German Shepherd’s longer and shaggier coat will require grooming several times each week during peak shedding times.

Long haired GSDs will require even more work, and maintenance.

Neither dog is great for homes that object to fur flying around sometimes!

German Shepherd vs. Labrador health problems

As purebred dogs, both Labrador Retreivers and German Shepherds may be at an enhanced risk of developing common canine ailments.

These include hip dysplasia, eye diseases, allergies, and skin irritations, to name a few.

Unfortunately, both German Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers are prone to hip and elbow dysplasia.

Another major issue with GSDs related to their spinal and pelvic structure is degenerative myelopathy, or paralysis of the hind legs.

Shepherds with a “banana back” (a sloping top line structure that forces them to stand with their hind legs overly crouched) are want to develop this condition.

In addition to hip dysplasia, Labradors are also prone to obesity, which tends to aggravate, if not speed up, the onset of hip and/or elbow dysplasia.

They may also develop progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), otherwise known as gradual vision loss.

Whichever dog you choose, you will need to find a breeder that health tests their stock.

Black lab vs. German Shepherd intelligence

Both German Shepherds and Labradors are highly intelligent and easily trainable dogs. Either dog will make a wonderful partner in the show ring or the workforce.

Labs of the working strain may be even easier to train (especially if you want to make use of their retrieving instincts), thanks to their hunting breeding and willingness to please their master.

This eagerness (and their keen nose) makes them excellent service dogs, especially.

Due to the German Shepherd’s history, his instincts and innate trainability make him a willing and capable partner for someone who is looking for a show or working dog.

As we mentioned earlier in this article, their devotion to their master is legendary – they will work tirelessly to please and protect their master.

In short, you can’t really go wrong with a Labrador or German Shepherd as far as intelligence and trainability are concerned!

German Shepherd vs Labrador, which is better? -  Dog breed review.German Shepherd or Labrador – which is best?

As large dogs, both German Shepherds and Labradors can be quite the challenge to take on, especially if you’re going to be a new dog owner or if you’re new to either breed.

German Shepherds are working dogs that do not take loyalty lightly.

They require more training and socialization, and you will need to pick the parents carefully in terms of temperament as well as health.

Some GSDs may not be suitable for households with children or other pets, but that is certainly not the rule.

Labradors also have excellent hunting and working behaviors, but may be a little more distracted by scents that they’d like to pursue or by people that they’d like to meet.

Both breeds have dense double coats that require weekly grooming. German Shepherds, with their longer coat, need a lot more grooming that than during shedding season. Especially the longer haired varieties.

There are some health problems with each breed, and regardless of which you choose you will have to find a breeder who health tests.

Finally, as both Labs and Shepherds are active breeds, both will need space for play and self-exercise.

Providing open space can help to keep them occupied when you’re away, and when you’re home, you can enjoy playing and interacting with them.

German Shepherd vs Labrador – which breed did you pick? Let us know in the comments section below!

 
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10 COMMENTS

  1. I have a 2 1/2 yr old blonde lab I cannot say enough aBout her. She is gently sweet trained easy, Friendly. I have never had a problem with her getting along with anyone or any other dog.
    When she was a puppy she did like to eat gold toe socks. And steal dinner from on top of the stove. But to be perfectly honest.
    Perfect partner

  2. I want to take a puppy …..i’m also confused among them the lab & GSD….i fall in love with GSD…labs are also very good .can anyone suggest me what should i go for???

  3. German Shepherds are great, but Labs are just perfect – and they have a sense of humor, too, on top of being gentle, kind and intelligent. Mine has different jokes with different people, and he keeps them straight! I love to see his laughing face, and when he grins, it just melts my heart. (Especially since he has a slightly worried expression in repose – well, maybe “soulful” is a better word.) I couldn’t have found a more compatible friend anywhere, and it was love at first sight for the entire family. I never have to worry that he’ll get into a fight with another dog, or knock a small child over in his exuberance – he’s cheerful, good-natured, sweet-tempered and patient – I wish everyone were like him!

  4. My labs are socialized with my neighbors had. Great fun goes on. My neighbor has had gsds in the full spectrum from sweet to almost fierce.
    My labs have been American (edgier) and English style. All good retrievers though by current American is a spectacular retriever. Either breed is good but one must manage both.

  5. I actually have both a female 6mth old lab and a 5yr old female German shepherd, both girls get on really well. Love them both

    • Brilliant! I have a 7 year old German Shepherd which is trained for my PTSD I have been advised its time to get another dog for her to train and assist with the process. I have been looking at getting a lab and this has encouraged me to do so. I live on a farm so plenty of exercise and we swim twice per week.. so time for me to jump in. 🙂

  6. German Shepard,, best dog I’ve ever had,, he’s so smart and silly,, he loves everyone, he’s an attention hog…. he’s amazing with my grandkids and the 5 pound dog i already had. He was over a year old when i got him,, he was kept in a much to small crate most of his life before i got him.. i have never crated him since.. i love this dog so much, he’s perfect in the house,
    In the car,, I’ve taught him hand signals to sit, come, down, stay, drop, shake, and search, i take him everywhere i can with me,, he’s not mean or aggressive,, but his look and size is intimidating, which i like because i live alone, alsothe job i do, i sometimes have to go into buildings at night to clean, i wouldn’t be able to do these jobs without him,, perfect all around dog.. couldn’t live without a GSD now . absolutely amazing breed.

  7. My family ended up with a pup whose dam is a black American Lab (from field trial stock) and sire is a GSD (police dog). The litter wasn’t planned, but both patents had excellent health backgrounds. Our 3 1/2 year old is very sweet-natured and affectionate with cats, small children, and anyone else. He is extremely energetic and loves learning new skills. One aspect of his personality that I particularly appreciate is that he doesn’t show any interest in stealing food – never any “counter surfing” or trying to help himself to snacks on the coffee table. He is an amazing swimmer, with a narrow rib cage, so his stamina and bursts of speed in the water are spectacular. I think we got the best of both worlds.

  8. Lab for me red fox colour. 20 months old lovely dog approx 60lbs was destructive … toys and bedding mainly …. when tiny but much better now. Lovely temperament and VERY inquisitive ????????

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