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The German Shepherd - Labrador crossbreed

german shepherd running in a field and labrador lying down in the forest advice
© Shutterstock

The German Shepherd - Labrador mix breed is a combination of two of the world's most popular and intelligent dogs.

By Ashley Murphy

Origins of the crossbreed

In order to better understand this special crossbreed, let's take a quick look at their individual histories:

The German Shepherd

No prizes will be awarded for guessing where the German Shepherd comes from. But, just in case, the answer is Germany! Known as the Alsatian in Britain and Ireland, these proud and powerful dogs were first used to herd sheep and other cattle. Today's German Shepherds are a dog of choice for police forces all around the world. They're also used by the military and search and rescue teams. Dog owners love them too. The German Shepherd is the second-most registered breed by the American Kennel Club, and seventh-most registered breed by The Kennel Club in the UK. Loyal, brave, and easy to train, they make wonderful companions for active families.

German Shepherd running in grass
The German Shepherd © Shutterstock

The Labrador

The Labrador was first bred in Canada, where hunters and fisherman used them to retrieve fish and other game. Today’s Labradors are more often used as guide and service dogs. Again, the Labrador is one of the most popular breeds in the UK and the USA. These even-tempered and intelligent dogs are known to love three things: food, water, and people. Give them room to run (and swim), and plenty of love, and these dogs will make fantastic family companions.

labrador laying in forest
The Labrador © Shutterstock

Physical characteristics of the crossbreed

The German Shepherd is generally described as a big dog, reaching up to 25 inches at the shoulder and weighing in at up to 88 lbs! Labradors tend to be smaller than German Shepherds, but are still considered large dogs, measuring up to 24 inches in height and weighing in at up to 80 lbs. So, although there are no certainties when it comes to crossbreeding, you can safely assume that you won't end up with anything smaller than the average Labrador. The measurements of a German Shepherd/Labrador mix will be somewhere between 21-25 inches in height and 48-88 lbs in weight.

There’s no “standard” look for this crossbreed. Mixing Labradors with German Shepherds has produced many different types of dogs. Some will bear a strong resemblance to the Labrador, some will be very similar to the German Shepherd. Others will look nothing like either parent breed!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Personality and character of the German Shepherd - Lab mix

Mixed breeds can inherit any of the parent breed traits in any possible combination. Labradors are friendly, playful dogs with a gentle nature. This makes them great family pets, especially for those with younger children. The German Shepherd is confident, brave, and extremely loyal.
Both breeds are very intelligent and eager to please, but this means they can get bored very quickly. A bored dog can soon become a problem dog. A German Shepherd/Lab mix will need plenty of exercise and mental stimulation through games and training to keep them busy!

Exercise requirements of the German Shepherd - Labrador mix

With both parents being natural working dogs, it's safe to say that any crossbreed will need plenty of rigorous activity. At the very least they need one decent 90 minute walk a day, where off-lead time is possible. This is vital in maintaining their physical and mental health.

Potential health risks of the German Shepherd - Labrador cross

Cross breeds tend to have fewer health issues than purebred dogs. However, crossbreeds can also inherit genetic conditions from their parents, so it's important to look at the health issues presented by each individual breed.

One of the major health problems for the Labrador is hip and elbow dysplasia - this is a genetic deformation of the joints which can lead to osteoarthritis. Another thing to consider is retinal atrophy, a gradual deterioration of the retina which can cause complete blindness. Labradors are also prone to obesity - so don't overfeed them.

German Shepherds can suffer from any of the following:

  • Elbow and hip dysplasia
  • Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus – a twisting of the stomach caused by gas and overeating.
  • Chronic Degenerative Radiculomyopathy – this attacks the nerve fibres in the back legs. It can lead to lameness
  • Panosteitis – a bone disease which causes inflammation

All crossbreeds are at risk of these conditions. They're especially susceptible to "crossover" conditions, such as hip and elbow dysplasia.

Is grooming a German Shepherd/Labrador mix time-consuming?

Though some German Shepherds have a long coat, it is more likely that your GSD/Lab mix will end up with a mid-length coat similar to that of the short-haired German Shepherd’s. These coats are easy to groom, and will only require a weekly brush-through to keep shiny and devoid of noughts. You’ll want a vacuum cleaner on hand though, as both Labradors and German Shepherds are very heavy shedders

Are GSD/Lab mixes easy to train?

Training always requires commitment and consistency, but the Labrador/German Shepherd mix is a highly intelligent dog that responds quickly to the correct methods. In fact, these crossbreeds are often eager to learn and enjoy impressing their owners. You could teach this crossbreed to do practically anything! However, it is very important to start basic training at a very early age - these dogs grow up to be big and can be mouthy into adulthood if they are allowed to do so as puppies.

Is a Labrador/German Shepherd cross a good family dog?

Because German Shepherds are used as police dogs, some people may have second thoughts about owning one. They might think the breed is naturally aggressive and would have concerns about making one a member of the family. It's only natural to think like this, but remember, the line between an aggressive dog and a poorly trained dog is very blurry. Owning a big, powerful dog comes with a lot of responsibility. But, train them right, and almost any dog will make a great addition to your family.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Although not as popular as some of the “branded” designer dogs, such as the Cavapoo or the Pom a Pug, the Labrador/German Shepherd mix is starting to get the attention it deserves. And rightly so; this very smart and very active crossbreed will make the perfect pet for the right owner.

What do you think of these mixed-breeds?