German Shepherd Lab Mix: Everything You Need to Know Before Buying

What happens when you mix the two most popular dogs in the US?

You get a German Shepherd Lab Mix, also known as a Lab Shepherd, Labrashepherd, or most commonly as a Sheprador.

This mixed-breed 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 Retriever dogs? Do you get the best of both breeds or the worst of both’s traits and temperaments?

In our complete guide, we discuss the Sheprador’s temperament, coat and color variations, how to care for them, whether this mixed breed dog type is right for you, and much more info

Photos of German Shepherd Lab Mix

Labrador Coats

What is a German Shepherd Lab Mix? (Overview)

The Shepherd Lab mixes, also known as Shepradors are a mixed breed dog.

With the Labrador Retriever being the most popular dog in the US and the German Shepherd being the second, it’s no surprise that this crossbreed has got people curious. This dog breed is loyal, very intelligent, friendly, and wants to please you.

Whilst not as popular as other designer breed crosses (such as the Cockapoo or Labradoodle) Shepradors have much to offer a dog owner.

This large playful dog will make a loving family member.  With a high amount of energy you will want to exercise your Sheprador 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 parent breeds.

German Shepherd Lab Mix Appearance

German Shepherd Lab Mix

It’s almost like winning the lottery, trying to predict the appearance of your Lab Shepherd mix.

Just about the only thing you can say for certain is that they are large-sized dogs weighing between 50-80lbs.

Everything else is up for grabs!

Your puppy could inherit the tall ears from the German Shepherd dog side, or smaller floppy ears from the Labrador Retriever 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 a pure dog breed, but looking at their parent breeds will help us to understand.

The standard for a Shepherds 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 Sheprador to be:

  • 22-25 inches tall
  • 50-80 lbs

To get a more accurate indication you should look at their parents. Remember that the larger and heavier dogs will generally be males whereas the lighter, shorter ones will be female.

Sheprador Colors

Sheprador 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 Labrador Retriever 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 litter.

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 Sheprador appearance.

However, as a general rule, darker Labs will result in dogs with a darker coat. Whereas lighter Labs (yellow and golden varieties), should have a lighter coat.

Sheprador 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 Shepherds side parent has long fur it’s still very unlikely that the puppy 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

German Shepherd

With the Sheprador being a mixed breed, there is no way to know exactly what personality and character type and traits of both the Labrador Retriever and German Shepherd.

To understand their temperament we need to better understand their parents’ temperament, so let’s look at the expected character type and traits of both the Labrador Retriever and German Shepherd.

Both of these parents’ 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.

While Shepherds aren’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 that 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 Labrashepherd is:

  • Intelligent
  • Very loyal
  • Active (will need lots of mental stimulation)
  • Friendly with humans

Both of its parent breeds are eager to please, quick learners, and prone to boredom if under-exercised; you should expect similar from your Sheprador.

However, like any dog breed mix, they can inherit a wide variety of traits from their parents. This is why you should meet both parents before buying your Lab Shepherd puppy (more on this later).

As it matures you will be able to see their main characteristics develop and get a better idea of their personality. Regardless of their temperament, Shepradors need to be properly socialized and extensively trained from a puppy to properly integrate them into your family.

Is A Sherpador 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 Shepherd mix is a good family dog.

The first thing to say here is that they are large and active dogs and any person that gets a Sheprador needs to have an active lifestyle to meet the high exercise requirements they have. A person that has an active outdoor lifestyle (hiking, running, trail walking, etc.) will be better suited.

Also, as these dogs require lots of mental stimulation, having a large family is 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, Shepradors are great family dogs and will make a loving member of your family.

How to Train a German Shepherd Lab Mix

Labrador Coats

If you read the expected temperament section above, you will know that the Sheprador 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 Shepradors via domination will likely be rebelled against.

Instead, you should embrace their love to learn and please, and obedience train them using positive reinforcement; when properly rewarded your Sheprador will train very hard.

Shepherds, as a dog breed, 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 Shepradors 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

Lab and German Shepherd

Exercise Requirements

The Lab Shepherd is an active, intelligent dog. Just like its parent breeds, it will need to be well exercised, in addition to an overall active lifestyle.

You should aim to exercise your Sheprador for around two hours each day come rain or shine. This can include:

  • Walks
  • Park runs
  • Playing
  • Hiking

In addition to the exercise, you should keep them busy at home with mentally stimulating games. However, due to their hip problems (see below) you should avoid over-running them.

Without this crucial mental and physical exercise, they will show signs of:

  • Destructive behavior
  • Depression
  • Obesity

If you don’t have at least 2 hours a day to spend with your Sheprador then we would recommend another dog breed.

Grooming and Shedding

As above, both the Labrador and Shepherds 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, they 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) your Sheprador 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 breed. 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 parent breeds are carnivores, your Sheprador 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 Shepradors during their developmental stages.

The other key nutrition for the Sheprador 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.

You should be feeding your puppy around 4 times a day, reducing 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
  • Obesity

Unfortunately, Shepherds have a variety of common health problems including:

  • Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
  • Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (stomach twisting)
  • Degenerative Radiculomyopathy (lame back legs)

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Labrador Inherited Problems

Hip and Elbow Dysplasia

Hip and Elbow Dysplasia are common orthopedic problems seen in the Labrador Retriever dog breed. Both of these conditions are usually inherited but can be due to poor nutrition, being overweight, or inadequate amounts of exercise. 

Progressive Retinal Atrophy, Cataracts

Progressive retinal atrophy, or PRA, is a group of inherited degenerative disorders of the retina that occur commonly in dogs. PRA has no treatment and no cure. Although it is not necessarily painful, both eyes become blind. Often dogs adapt so well and the vision changes are so slow that no one notices anything different unless in a new place or when loss of vision is almost complete.

Some dogs with PRA may get secondary cataracts, an eye disease affecting the retina characterized by folds or rosettes (round clumps) of the retinal tissue. Cataracts may be an incidental finding, or they may also be prone to inherited cataracts that make the vision loss happen more quickly. Because of PRA, an affected dog is not a good candidate, so very unlikely to receive, surgical treatment for the removal of cataracts.

Hereditary myopathy

The Labrador Retriever dog breed can inherit a muscle disease called Centronuclear Myopathy (CNM). It is hereditary as an autosomal recessive trait in Labs. The most notable traits are an abnormal gait or a ‘bunny-hopping tendency in the back legs. The disease gets progressively worse over the first year of a dog’s life, but after this will taper off, and some may even see improvement. 

Obesity

The typical Lab loves to eat and is known for gulping down food so fast. This means that it may seem they are still hungry, and their dog-owner and adoring family offers them more food, which unwittingly enables them into the obesity that they are more prone to than other breeds. A gene mutation associated with weight and food motivation has been found specifically in Labradors, occurring even more frequently in those who are used as assistance dogs, which could also explain why food rewards are so effective when it comes to their training. Obesity dramatically increases a Lab’s chances of heart and liver disease, joint inflammation and arthritis, skeletal problems, metabolic and respiratory diseases, and lowered resistance to disease in general.

German Shepherd Breed Problems

Skeletal disorders, including but not limited to 

Panosteitis is a common disease of Shepherds that is commonly referred to as ‘growing pains’ and is caused by an inflammation of the bone marrow, especially that of the limb bones. Because this is caused by rapid growth, it is self-limiting and treatment usually involves medication to alleviate the pain. 

Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) is a condition where the cartilage on the end of a bone in the joint develops abnormally and separates from the underlying bone. The shoulder joint is most commonly affected, but also the elbow, hip, or knee. It often heals by seriously restricting activity for a few weeks, without any other intervention. But if a piece of cartilage breaks off and is floating loose in the joint, your vet may recommend surgery to remove it. 

Hypertrophic osteodystrophy is caused by an inflammation in the growth plates of a dogs’ long bones. Again, as it is caused by rapid growth, it’s a self-limiting condition and often has no permanent side effects. In rare cases, permanent damage may occur to the growth plates, resulting in deformed legs. 

Canine Hip Dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia, as above, is also one of the most common hereditary health problems in the German Shepherd dog breed.

Cauda Equina Syndrome

Cauda Equina Syndrome (CES) is caused by compression of the nerve roots passing from the lower back toward the tail. German Shepherd dogs are predisposed to developing CES. The most common symptom of CES is pain in the lower back. The most severe cases lead to fecal and urinary incontinence, which is irreversible in most cases. Dogs that are exhibiting mild pain and have never had an episode of back pain before are usually treated with strict rest and pain medications. For dogs that don’t respond to this treatment, surgical intervention is necessary. 

Osteoarthritis

The breeding practices adopted in recent decades make arthritis in German Shepherds more widespread. Osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease is the most commonly known type of arthritis. It is specifically a form of chronic joint inflammation that happens due to cartilage deterioration.

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 puppy’s parents’ medical history and ask for health screening certificates (in particular hip and elbow scores). Whilst there are no guarantees, this will help put your mind at ease and give you some reassurance.

The hope with this mix is the robust health of Labs shines through and more than balances the somewhat precarious health of Shepherds.

How Long Do Shepradors 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 Sheprador you should be prepared to do some homework.

Finding a reputable breeder 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 breeder the first thing you should look for is that you can meet both of the puppy’s parents. If they refuse, 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 that their puppies go to good homes, rather than making a quick buck.

How Much Do Shepradors Cost?

A Sheprador puppy will cost between $200 – $600.

Bear in mind that matured or rescue dogs will be significantly cheaper. As they aren’t classified as a designer crossbreed they won’t cost you a fortune.

As always if the puppies are cheap there is a reason. You should aim to pay around $500-$600 for a healthy Sheprador puppy from a responsible breeder, as breeding one from healthy parents costs a significant amount of money.

Quick Sheprador Breed Summary Table

Breed CharacteristicsGerman Shepherd Lab Mix
Size:22-25 inches tall
Weight:50-80lbs
Lifespan:10-14 Years
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
Intelligence:Very Intelligent
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

Summary

So now you know all about this delightful crossbreed, the Sheprador, that makes fantastic family pets and are very trusting and loyal dogs.

If you give your Sheprador the time and exercise that it needs, you will be rewarded with a loving companion.

Whilst it’s almost impossible to predict your puppy’s color and size, it’s safe to say it will have a confident, strong, energetic personality.

If you have an active outdoor lifestyle, and plenty of time to offer them, then the Sheprador could be the perfect dog for you.

German Shepherd Lab Mix FAQ

Are German Shepherd Lab mix good dogs?

As written previously, Shepradors are a dog breed that is loyal, very intelligent, friendly and wants to please you. They are large playful dogs that make loving family members. Because of their breed history as gun dogs, the Labrador Retriever is very obedient, wanting to please their owners. They are incredibly loyal, and very friendly towards humans,s 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. But remember, with a high amount of energy you will need to exercise your Labrashepherd for around 2 hours a day, so it is best suited to individuals with an active outdoor lifestyle.

Are German Shepherd Lab mix dogs aggressive?

To understand their temperament we need to better understand their parent breeds’ temperament. Both of these breeds are intelligent, active, and loyal dogs. After all, they were initially bred to be highly intelligent working dogs. Whilst not aggressive, this results in them being dominant and highly protective dogs that will guard anything or anyone they deem as ‘theirs’.

How much does a German Shepherd Lab mix cost?

As they aren’t classified as a designer mixed dog breed, Shepradors aren’t especially expensive. A Sheprador costs between $200 – $600. Adult or rescue dogs are significantly cheaper. Don’t forget that, as always, there will be a reason if the pups are cheap. A healthy pup from a responsible breeder will cost $500-$600. 

Please leave any questions in the comments section below

About Thomas Woods 183 Articles
Thomas has been a dog lover since he was 6 years old when his parents got him a rescue Labrador. Since then his love for dogs has lead him to study Animal Behavior & Welfare. He now keeps a six year old English Bullmastiff and educates pet parents through his online publication Perfect Dog Breeds.

2 Comments

  1. Thanks for all the information on the Shepard lab mix. I had this mix when I was a Young man and Was telling my wife a few days ago that was probably the best dog I’ve had.

    • Good to know Scott. I too grew up with a german shepherd & black labs.
      (seperate breeds not mixed)
      The shepherd was my best friend.

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