What happens when you mix the number 1 and number 2 most popular dog in the US?
You get a German Shepherd Lab Mix, also known as a Sheprador.
This dog’s popularity has exploded in recent years and shows no sign of slowing down. But what happens when you cross a German Shepherd and Labrador? Do you get the best of both breeds, or the worst of both temperaments?
In our complete guide we discuss their temperament, coat and color variations, how to care for them, whether this breed is right for you and much more…
Contents and Quick Navigation
- Photos of German Shepherd Lab Mix
- What is a German Shepherd Lab Mix? (Overview)
- German Shepherd Lab Mix Appearance
- Personality and Temperament
- How to Train a German Shepherd Lab Mix
- Caring for a German Shepherd Lab Mix
- Buying a German Shepherd Lab Mix
- Quick Breed Summary Table
Photos of German Shepherd Lab Mix
What is a German Shepherd Lab Mix? (Overview)
The German Shepherd Lab Mix, also known as a Sheprador, or a Lab German Shepherd Mix, is a cross breed dog.
With the Labrador being the most popular dog in the US and the German Shepherd being number 2, it’s no surprise this cross breed has got people curious. This breed is loyal, very intelligent, friendly, and wants to please you.
Whilst this mixed breed isn’t as popular as other crosses (Cockapoo or Labradoodle) it has much to offer.
This large playful dog will make a loving family member. With a high amount of energy you will want to exercise this dog for around 2 hours a day; it is most suited to individuals with an active outdoor lifestyle.
Trying to predict its exact temperament, or even its coloring, is almost impossible due to variation in genome dominance between the purebred parents.
German Shepherd Lab Mix Appearance
It’s almost like winning the lottery, trying to predict the appearance of your German Shepherd Lab Mix.
Just about the only thing you can say for certain is that they will be a large sized dog weighing between 50-80lbs.
Everything else is up for grabs!
Your puppy could inherit the tall ears from the Shepherd side, or smaller floppy ears from the Labrador side.
Height and Weight
You should expect your Sheprador to be a medium-large sized dog once fully matured.
Remember as a cross-breed there are more variances than pure breeds, but looking at their parents will help us to understand.
The standard for a German Shepherd is:
- 22-26 inches tall
- 49-88 lbs
The standard for a Lab is:
- 22-25 inches tall
- 55-80 lbs
Therefore you should expect your German Shepherd Lab Mix to be:
- 22-25 inches tall
- 50-80 lbs
To get a more accurate indication you should look at their parents. Remember the larger and heavier ones will generally be males whereas the lighter, shorter ones will be female.
German Shepherd Cross Labrador Colors
Their coats vary hugely in color and pattern. Some have a solid color coat (like Labs) and others have mixed color (like Shepherds).
It all depends on the mix of the Lab for example you can have:
- German Shepherd Yellow Lab Mix
- German Shepherd Golden Lab Mix
- German Shepherd Chocolate Lab Mix
- White German Shepherd Lab Mix
Just because you breed with a yellow Lab, it doesn’t guarantee this color in the pups.
This is because the majority of puppies will be first generation; meaning each of their parents is a pedigree. This results in a huge variation in their appearance.
However as a general rule darker Labs will result in your mixed pup having a darker coat. Whereas lighter Labs (yellow and golden varieties), should have a lighter coat.
German Shepherd Labrador Mix Coat
In terms of coat length you should expect their coat to be shorter (like a Labs); the long coat gene in Labs is rare and recessive.
Meaning that even if the German Shepherd side of the parent has long fur it’s still very unlikely your pup will.
One thing that is for certain is they will have a double coat. The undercoat will be soft and fluffy and the guard coat will be rough.
Personality and Temperament
With the Sheprador being a mixed breed, there is no way to know exactly what personality and temperament it will have.
To understand their temperament we need to better understand their parents’ temperament, so let’s look at the expected temperament of both the Labrador and German Shepherd.
Both of these breeds are intelligent, active and loyal dogs.
Labradors in particular are incredibly loyal, very friendly towards humans and can be socialized very well with children.
Whist the German Shepherd isn’t quite as children friendly, it is still a loyal loving dog. Remember they were initially bred to be highly intelligent working dogs. This results in them being dominant and highly protective dogs which will guard anything or anyone they deem as ‘theirs’.
Labradors were initially bred as gun dogs and would hunt with their owners and retrieve any wild game that had been shot. As a result they are generally very obedient and want to please their owners.
What Does This Mean For A German Shepherd Lab Mix?
Whilst you can’t know for sure, the expected temperament of a German Shepherd Lab Mix is:
- Very loyal
- Active (will need lots of mental stimulation)
- Friendly with humans
Both of its parents are eager to please, quick learners and prone to boredom if under-exercised; you should expect similar from your Sheprador.
However, like any mix they can inherit a wide variety of traits from their parents. This is why you should meet both parents before buying your pup (more on this later).
As your pup starts to mature you will be able to see their main characteristics develop and get a better idea of their personality. Regardless of their temperament, this dog will need to be properly socialized and extensively trained from a puppy to properly integrate them into your family.
Is A Lab German Shepherd Mix A Good Family Dog?
Both the German Shepherd and the Labrador are incredibly common family dogs; so it’s no surprise that lots of people want to know if the Lab German Shepherd mix is a good family dog.
The first thing to say here is that they are a large active dog and any family that gets a Sheprador needs to have active lifestyle to meet the high exercise requirements they have. Families that have an active outdoor lifestyle (hiking, running, trail walking etc.) will be better suited.
Also, as this dog requires lots of mental stimulation having multiple family members is actually a bonus; there will be more people to help train and exercise the dog.
Without stimulation they can get bored and this can lead to chewing and other unwanted behaviors.
One thing to note is that they will have a thick double coat, so if a family member has any sort of dog allergy then the Sheprador isn’t the right dog for your family.
Finally, as with any dog, you should teach your children to respect your dog’s boundaries and be able to understand certain body language.
So to summarize, providing you meet their needs, they are a great family dog and will make a loving member of your family.
How to Train a German Shepherd Lab Mix
If you read the expected temperament section above, you will know that this dog is a working dog. As such they are hyper intelligent and want to learn and impress you. They are very obedient and want to be put to work.
Whilst some dogs are content to lounge around inside all day, your Sheprador will be active and looking for something to do. This means they require lots of training and mental stimulation.
Without this they will likely show signs of boredom and start with common destructive behavior such as digging and chewing.
As with any dog your training time spent with them will be a lifelong commitment, however due to Sheprador’s willingness to please, training them will be very rewarding.
As a large, strong and intelligent dog, you should avoid dominance based training. Any attempt to train them via domination will likely be rebelled against.
Instead you should embrace their love to learn and please, and train them using positive reinforcement; when properly rewarded they will train very hard.
German Shepherds can be hostile towards strangers because of their loyalty and guarding nature. This can become problematic when they are fully grown. Because of this you should heavily socialize them as puppies. Take them to puppy classes, parks and other social settings where they can interact with people they don’t know.
Caring for a German Shepherd Lab Mix
The German Shepherd Lab Mix is an active, intelligent dog. Just like its parents it will need to be well exercised, in addition to an overall active lifestyle.
You should aim to exercise them for around two hours each day come rain or shine. This can include:
- Park runs
In addition to the exercise you should keep them busy at home with mentally simulating games. However due to their hip problems (mentioned above) you should avoid over running them.
Without this crucial mental and physical exercise, they will show signs of:
- Destructive behavior
If you don’t have at least 1.5 hours a day to spend with this dog then we would recommend another breed.
Grooming and Shedding
As you’ll already know both the Labrador and German Shepherd have a double coat; as they are working dogs this double coat is needed to protect them from the elements and will keep them warm.
Suffice to say, your German Shepherd Lab mix will also have a double coat.
Because of this she will need to be brushed once or twice a week. You should use a sturdy brush and groom them for around 10 minutes.
Twice a year (during fall and spring) they will shed like crazy. During this time you will need to brush them daily. If you’re finding that their molting is still excessive you can use a shedding blade.
A high quality vacuum cleaner is non-negotiable with this dog. In addition to this, their grooming routine should include:
- Teeth brushing (3x week or use snack replacement)
- Ears cleaning (1x week)
- Nail trimming (quarterly and should be done at vets)
- Eyes cleaning (as and when needed)
Feeding and Diet
As both of its parents are carnivores, your pup will be predominantly a meat eater. They will need a high amount of protein in their diet. You should aim to give them at least 22% protein; protein is crucial for them during their developmental stages.
The other key nutrition for them is fat. You should aim to give them food with 5-8% fat content.
In terms of the type of feed, you can use fresh, canned or dry. The main rule here is quality; if possible you should feed them a high quality feed. Cheaper feeds tend to have filler ingredients (corn syrup) that can be harmful.
You should look out for products with ingredients on the label which you understand. Food products with lots of ingredients and long complicated words should generally be avoided.
As a puppy you should be feeding them around 4 times a day and this will reduce to twice a day once they reach around six months old.
Known Health Problems
As this mix is the result of a Labrador and German Shepherd, it’s worth noting the common health problems of these two breeds.
With Labs the biggest know problems are:
- Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Unfortunately German Shepherds have a variety of common health problems including:
- Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
- Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (stomach twisting)
- Degenerative Radiculomyopathy (lame back legs)
What Does This Mean For Your Sheprador?
It’s well known that pedigree breeds live short lives and have more health problems than crossbreed dogs, so at the outset that’s good news for your pooch.
However the common health problems listed above can still be a problem. Responsible dog breeders should have screened for these problems before breeding however this isn’t always the case.
You should ask the breeder about your pup’s parents’ medical history and ask for health screening certificates (in particular hip and elbow scores). Whilst there are no absolute guarantees, this will help put your mind at ease and give you some reassurance.
The hope with this mix is the robust health of the Lab shines through and more than balances the somewhat precarious health of the German Shepherd.
How Long Do Lab and German Shepherd Mixes Live?
You should expect your Sheprador to live between 10 to 14 years.
Buying a German Shepherd Lab Mix
Just like any other dog, when buying your German Shepherd Lab Mix you should be prepared to do some homework.
Finding a reputable dealer can be hard work but it will be more than worthwhile over the medium/long run. Buying a safe, healthy pup will save you money on medical bills in the long run.
When finding a dealer the first thing you should look for is that you can meet both the pup’s parents. If the dealer refuses, this is a red flag straight away. You will want to see both the dam and sire to experience their temperament first hand. At a bare minimum you should be able to see the mother.
They will also be able to share health screening results with you and in particular hip and elbow scores (read health concerns section above for more detail).
Generally you will want to find either a Labrador or German Shepherd breeder who is breeding with another specialist.
One thing to add here is that if you want a specific color of Lab you will have to wait for the right dog.
However this isn’t a one way street, a good breeder will also ask you questions. They will be interested in learning about your lifestyle, family and time commitments. You will also notice they won’t push you to buy as they are more interested in making sure their pups go to good homes, rather than making a quick buck.
How Much Do German Shepherd Lab Mixes Cost?
A German Shepherd Lab Mix puppy will cost you between $200 – $600.
Bear in mind that matured or rescue dogs will be significantly cheaper. As they aren’t classified as a designer cross breed they won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
As always if the pups are cheap there is a reason. You should aim to pay around $500-$600 for a healthy pup from a responsible breeder. Remember breeding a healthy pup from healthy parents costs a significant amount of money.
Quick Breed Summary Table
|Breed Characteristics||German Shepherd Lab Mix|
|Size:||22-25 inches tall|
|Coat:||Medium length, Double coat|
|Color:||Will be varied; should be a dark coat with highlighted patterns|
|Do They Shed:||Yes (Lots!)|
|Temperament:||Intelligent, Active and Loyal|
|Socialization:||Can be wary of strangers so needs to be socialized extensively as a puppy|
|Destructive Behavior:||Digging and chewing|
|People Skills:||Loves spending time with people and eager to please|
|Good with Children:||Yes, will be a loyal family member|
|Activity Levels:||High activity. Needs at least 1.5 hours a day of exercise|
So now you know all about this delightful new cross breed, it will make a fantastic family pet, and is a very trusting and loyal dog.
If you give this dog the time and exercise that it needs, you will be rewarded with a loving family member.
Whilst it’s almost impossible to predict your puppy’s color and size we can say with confidence it will have a confident, strong, energetic personality.
If you have an active outdoor lifestyle, and plenty of time to offer them, the Lab and German Shepherd Mix could be the perfect dog for you.
Please leave any questions in the comments section below