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Purebred dogs have plenty of fans, and they get a lot of attention. But there are a number of incredible mixed breeds that also make fantastic family pets.
The German Shepherd Husky Mix “Gerberian Shepsky” – the product of a Siberian Husky and German Shepherd – is a great example, and many people are starting to take notice of these sweet, smart and spunky canines.
However, like any other breed (or combination thereof), you have to learn all you can about these dogs to be a good pet parent and ensure a good fit for your family.
So, whether you just picked up a German Shepherd Husky mix from the local shelter, or you are specifically seeking this dog breed out, you’ll want to keep reading, as we explain 15 of the most important things Siberian Husky German Shepherd mix owners need to know.
German Shepherds are herding dogs that originated in Germany in the year 1899. Siberian Huskies are sledding dogs that were first bred over 3000 years ago. The exact history of this exciting mix is still unclear, and we aren’t quite sure why the breed was developed or where.
Both of these dog breeds are commonly known as both an intelligent dog as well as working dogs. The German Shepherd Husky mix has an expected lifespan of 10 to 13 years and they can become quite large in size.
We will go into more in depth detail below about the primary traits and characteristics of this eclectic mixed breed of German Husky, but to begin, we thought we would list some of the most known temperament traits.
This dog is extremely friendly, easily trainable, and has positive social tendencies. They are a loving and playful breed that is great around children while maintaining their protective side that makes them good guard dogs to have for the family.
They are highly intelligent dogs and will learn very quickly as well as willingly which makes them extremely easy to train. This is good because they also require an adequate amount of regular exercise which will help them stay clear of some of their lesser desired habits like excessive barking and excessive chewing.
Since your Gerberian Shepsky is a very active dog as well as large in stature, they need to have a diet that is packed full of calories and protein. However, when feeding your dog, you must also take into account their age, size, and actual activity level.
Puppies will require more calories than older dogs to help with their growth. Less active and senior dogs require between 1,300 and 1,600 calories while active and working dogs require 1,700 to 2,400 calories per day for optimal health and performance.
To keep up with the active lifestyle of your furry friend, they should have ample space to run and play and plenty of toys to keep them busy and entertained.
Early socialization is also important, so they continue to grow up friendly and outgoing. Dog parks are great for this kind of social training and will also provide them with the mental stimulation they need.
But if you are in a hurry, just check out the chart below or scroll down to the FAQ section at the end of the article.
|Trait or Characteristic||Gerberian Shepsky|
|Parent Breeds||German Shepherd and Siberian Husky|
|Size||60 to 90 Pounds|
|Coat Colors||Varied - most are brown or black with white markings|
|Coat Length||Medium to Long|
|Shedding||Medium to Long|
|Personality||Loyal, Energetic and Smart|
|Good with Kids?||Very Good|
|Lifespan||10 to 15 Years|
Although no one knows exactly when the first Gerberian Shepskies were produced, they were undoubtedly the result of unplanned matings between German Shepherds and Siberian Huskies.
However, once people saw how awesome these mixed-breeds were, some breeders began deliberately breeding the two breeds to create these magnificent mutts.
You can find both types of Gerberian Shepskies today, although you’re more likely to encounter “accidental” individuals in shelters than those who were deliberately produced.
In fact, you’ll likely have to pay for a German Shepherd Husky mix produced by a breeder (those at shelters are typically available for a nominal fee that covers the shelter’s expenses).
Given that German Shepherds and Siberian Huskies are both pretty big dogs (the former average about 70 to 95 pounds, while the latter are usually in the 45- to 65-pound range), it shouldn’t be surprising that Gerberian Shepskies are pretty big dogs too. Most will fall somewhere between 60 and 90 pounds, but outliers aren’t uncommon.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with large dogs (we certainly love them!), but you must be prepared for the big impact big dogs can have on your life.
For example, big dogs require more dog food, more space and larger toys and supplies than their smaller counterparts do. You’ll also need to consider the fact that big dogs can be more challenging to handle and control than small dogs, which may present problems for smaller individuals.
All dogs need a nutritious diet to remain healthy and happy, but big dogs have specific dietary needs that must be addressed through the selection of a proper food.
For example, large dog breeds not only need diets that provide enough protein to build up their big bodies, they usually benefit from foods that are fortified with things like chondroitin and glucosamine, which can help protect their joints.
We’ve written about the best foods for large dogs before, so be sure to check out our comprehensive review of the subject before picking a food for your new Gerberian Shepsky.
German Shepherds and Siberian Huskies are both celebrated for their lovable personalities, but that doesn’t mean their personalities are very similar – in fact, they’re pretty different in a number of ways.
German Shepherds, for example, are rarely inclined to stray far from their owners, while Siberian Huskies won’t hesitate to run for days just to explore the neighborhood.
German Shepherds are a little braver in the face of danger, while Siberian Huskies are more likely to run from danger. Huskies tend to be less interested in training than German Shepherds too. Many owners also note that German Shepherds are rather sensitive dogs, while Huskies are a bit happy-go-lucky.
These varied traits can occur in a variety of different combinations when these two breeds are bred together. This can make it a bit difficult to know what to expect from a given Gerberian Shepsky. So, be sure to spend some time with any Shepherd–Husky mix you intend to adopt or purchase.
Note whether the puppy runs up to you confidently or keeps his distance for a while. Try to determine whether he keeps his eyes locked on you, or if he’s quick to run off and investigate other things. You can also roll a ball across the floor and see if he just stares at it, or if he launches an attack on the ball.
These types of clues can give you a better idea of how an individual puppy will turn out as an adult.
Most Huskies are clad in white fur, black fur or a combination thereof, but some actually exhibit browns, reds and other tones.
German Shepherds are also quite variable, and they can display just about every common fur color imaginable. Accordingly, Shepherd–Husky mixes can display a wide variety of coat colors.
However, single-color Shepherd Husky mixes aren’t terribly common. Additionally, it can be a bit difficult to predict how they’ll look as adults from their juvenile color patterns.
So, it’s best to avoid getting your heart set on a particular color pattern; instead, just enjoy the fact that your dog’s ultimate coloration may be a bit of a surprise.
All dogs shed, but the amount of fur they’ll leave around your house varies from one breed and individual to the next. And unfortunately, both German Shepherds and Siberian Huskies are notoriously heavy shedders.
So, when you combine both of these breeds into a single dog, you’ll need to be prepared to deal with the shed hair they create.
There isn’t a lot you can do about this, except to brush your dog regularly (and while outdoors – don’t worry, birds will often use your dog’s hair for nest-building materials), and to use fish oil supplements to keep your dog’s coat as healthy as possible.
We’ve discussed these types of supplements before, so check out our definitive guide to the best fish oil supplements on the market.
One big concern many have when considering a large breed mix is how their new dog will get along with children. Fortunately, German Shepherd Husky mixes are generally great with kids as they are gentle with the children, yet tough enough to withstand the indignities children often inflict upon them.
Of course, you should never allow your dog to play with your kids until you are sure you know him well (and you should never allow young children to play with dogs unsupervised).
Ideally, you’ll obtain your Shepherd-Husky mix as a young puppy, so he can grow up alongside the kids.
Gerberian Shepskies are usually pretty healthy dogs (and because they’re a mixed breed, they also benefit from a principle known as hybrid-vigor), but they are susceptible to a number of common health problems that affect both parent breeds.
Some of the most noteworthy health problems include:
Hip and Elbow Dysplasia. This is a genetic disease that is commonly associated with the German Shepherd breed. The disease causes the dog’s joints to form incorrectly and when this happens, the dog may experience pain and lose some function in their elbows or hips.
Cataracts. This is a health condition that is common with the Husky. It is also something that can be passed down to a German Shepherd Husky mix puppy. Cataracts are defined as imperfections in the lenses of the eyes and can seriously affect your dog’s vision and can cause them to become disoriented.
Ear Infections. This is a problem that many German Shepherds face, but it is also a problem that is quite common in dogs to begin with. Some suffer from allergies and other problems with their immune system and these problems can cause a painful ear infection. Seeing a veterinarian to help narrow down the problem with their ears and even possibly switching up their diet can go a long way in helping and preventing chronic ear infections.
Retinal Atrophy. Progressive retinal atrophy and juvenile cataracts can be found in most German Shepherd Husky mixes. Each of these ailments can occur at a different time in your dog’s life, however, and each is also diagnosed differently.
You can often reduce the chances of these ailments afflicting your dog by choosing a good food, ensuring that your dog gets an appropriate amount of exercise and keeping his body weight at a proper level.
It can also be helpful to provide Gerberian Shepskies with probiotic supplements, which can help prevent digestive problems.
As mentioned before, many Siberian Huskies love to run off exploring – sometimes for hours or days at a time. This willingness to wander (often called “Wanderlust”) can turn some Huskies into first-rate escape artists, who often find it easy to bust out of their crates.
Some German Shepherds are also good at escaping, but they are generally more content to remain in their crate until their owner lets them out.
However, things can occasionally get worse when you combine the ease with which Huskies often escape, with the greater strength and intelligence of German Shepherds (this is not to suggest Huskies aren’t smart, but German Shepherds are widely considered to be one of the most intelligent breeds).
So, anytime you consider adding a Gerberian Shepsky to your family, you’ll want to make sure you invest in a heavy-duty, escape-proof crate. It’s also a good idea to double- and triple-check the fence in your yard for gaps or weaknesses.
Shepherd–Husky mixes are fantastic for owners who need their dog to do specific tasks. And because they’re so well-rounded, they can rise to just about any challenge.
And don’t feel bad for expecting them to have a “job” – it will help keep their minds busy, which will keep them happier and tire them out.
Whether you want to enter agility trials or disc dog competitions, teach them to track people or work in search-and-rescue operations, or simply compete in mixed-breed dog shows, Gerberian Shepskies will rarely let you down (for the record, they really excel at Canicross). Just be sure that you get them started on their assigned jobs or sports early.
They aren’t especially well-suited for bird-dog work, as their desire to retrieve is rarely very well developed. Some will play fetch with a tennis ball, but they rarely exhibit the compulsion to retrieve things the way Labrador Retrievers and other hunting breeds do.
All dogs should be given a safe, durable and fun chew toy. This not only gives them a chance to exercise their natural chewing instincts, but it’ll also give them something to do when they’re bored.
And Shepsky puppies definitely need chew toys to help cope with the pain and frustration that occurs during the teething process.
German Shepherd Husky mixes are big dogs with strong jaws and determined minds.
This means that you can’t just toss them any old chew toy and expect it to last. Instead, you’ll need an extra-heavy-duty chew toy, that is built to take whatever your pet can dish out.
And don’t forget: Substandard chew toys can actually represent a safety hazard. You don’t want your dog to break off a piece of rubber, plastic or rope, as he could choke or suffer from an intestinal tear or obstruction.
Do your dog a favor and get him a chew toy you know will last.
Gerberian Shepskies have very high energy levels, and they need the chance to get plenty of exercise every day.
Fortunately, you can usually just let them tag along while you are exercising yourself. Whether you like to hike, swim, bike or jog, your Shepherd–Husky mix will be ready get out and run around with you.
But no matter what activity you choose, just be sure that you engage in the activity regularly. Deprived of sufficient exercise, Gerberian Shepskies will become unhealthy, bored and destructive.
Consider two long walks (of at least 20 minutes) per day to be the bare minimum amount of exercise they need, but they’ll appreciate more a chance to get more vigorous exercise anytime the opportunity arises.
Most German Shepherds and Siberian Huskies are very loving, sweet dogs, but they still require basic obedience training. This will not only help ensure they remain well behaved at home or in public, it will make it more fun to hang out with your dog too.
But, for the best results, you’ll want to start the basic training process early.
Typically, you can begin between 8 and 12 weeks of age. Just be sure to start slow, use only positive reinforcement, and keep the training sessions brief at the outset.
Don’t hesitate to solicit the services of a professional trainer if necessary, and be sure to check out our list of the dog training commands that all dogs should learn.
Both German Shepherds and Siberian Huskies tend to bond pretty strongly with their owners, and they rarely like being left alone for long periods of time (although Huskies are generally a little less clingy than Shepherds are). So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Shepherd-Husky mixes are similarly susceptible to severe separation anxiety.
Accordingly, these are not great dogs for people who have to spend long periods of time away from the home. Not only will it make them miserable, but they’re likely to become destructive – and these are big dogs who can cause quite a bit of damage in the process.
You can keep your Gerberian Shepsky in a crate if you are just going to run errands for a few hours, but you don’t want to force him to stay in his crate while you’re at work or school every day.
READ MORE: 10 Ways to Treat Separation Anxiety in Dogs
Generally speaking, the larger a breed is, the shorter its average lifespan. Chihuahuas often live to be 15 years of age or more, but Mastiffs and Irish Wolfhounds often live only 7 or 8 years.
Shepherds and Huskies have average age ranges of about 9 to 12 and 10 to 15, respectively, and the offspring of the two will likely enjoy lifespans near the high end of this range.
Just be sure to take very good care of your new Gerberian Shepsky – including both his physical and emotional well-being – and he’ll likely be alive and kicking for a long time.
We’ve touched on most of the basic facts about German Shepherd and Husky mixes and their care requirements, but just to review and wrap everything up, we’ve put together this FAQ section in case you had any lingering questions or needed additional clarification.
Most Gerberian Shepskies will reach about 70 to 80 pounds in weight, but some may be as small as 60 or as large as 90. Most stand between 21 and 25 inches in height.
Gerberian Shepskies are energetic and playful. They typically bond strongly with their owners and life spending time with their families, although some may like to wander off and explore.
Yes. Gerberian Shepskies are usually very good with children, and they can actually make pretty good chaperones, once they reach maturity.
Gerberian Shepskies typically get along well with other dogs (cats are another story), but you’ll need to socialize them early.
Although they don’t need to be groomed professionally, Gerberian Shepskies must be bathed regularly and brushed at least once per week (preferably more often), to keep their coat healthy.
Gerberian Shepskies must be given at least 20 to 30 minutes of vigorous exercise each day. This does not include twice- or thrice-daily walks.
Most Gerberian Shepskies will reach 12 to 14 years of age, although some may live a little longer than this. Occasionally, they’ll fail to live much longer than 10 years, but such short lives are relatively rare.
We hope this guide has helped you learn more about Shepherd Husky mixes, and that you have figured out whether or not a Gerberian Shepsky (Husky and German Shepherd) would be a good fit for your family.
Just remember to consider the things your new pet will need and be realistic about the amount of time and resources you have to give before bringing one home.