What kind of dog is the perfect fit for your family? Many people have a difficult time deciding between two popular dog breeds, prompting them to consider a combination of the two.
The Sheprador, a German Shepherd Lab mix, is one of these rare combinations that just might win you over with their lovable attitudes, high energy personalities, and trainable mindsets.
Both the German Shepherd and Lab separately make for a wonderful companion, but you can get the best of both worlds with this intelligent mixed breed dog.
Designer breeding such as the German Shepherd Lab Mix has been going on for decades. It has produced some of the most lovable and popular family pups on the planet, and Shepradors are no exception.
If you have been on the market for a new canine companion, here are all the details you need to know about the Lab German Shepherd Mix and how to care for one before you find a dog breeder.
Where Does the German Shepherd Lab Mix Come From?
German Shepherd Lab mixes are excellent dogs that have been around for decades. Creating specialty hybrid breeds like this has risen in popularity over the past few years, but not many records are available. As a result, we don’t actually know when or where the first Sheprador dog came from.
Most dog breeding experts believe that the first litter was introduced sometime in the 1980s.
While we may never know more than that about the Sheprador, we do have quite a bit of history about both German Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers.
German Shepherd History
German Shepherds can be traced back to their German roots toward the end of the 1800s. They were originally bred and developed as working dogs who could herd and guard sheep.
Highly active and easily trained, these popular large-breed dogs are very adaptable for any kind of task work. Many of the dogs used for police and military work are now German Shepherds, and they excel in this line of work.
They are most definitely bred and raised to be working dogs in some shape or form.
Labrador Retriever History
Labrador Retrievers have almost always been recognized as a popular family-friendly large dog breed. They are classified as sporting dogs and are commonly bred for their ability to hunt.
A well-trained Labrador flushes out downed game and brings it back to the hunter, hence their retriever name. Their history is long with the first Labrador Retrievers being recorded in the early 1800s as imported animals for British aristocrats.
Because of their natural tendency to retrieve and hunt, it is best to care for these types of dogs in high-energy homes where they will have a job to do.
What is the Best Breed to Mix with a German Shepherd?
Many different dog breeds have successfully been mixed with German Shepherds. However, a Labrador Retriever is one of the best breeds because it offers the best of both types of canines.
Both are best suited to families and homes that will allow them to work off some of their energy through sports, long walks, or performing an actual job. They are easy to train, highly intelligent, and extremely playful.
If this description would suit your household, then you will find no better dog to care for than the German Shepherd Lab Mix.
German Shepherd Lab Mix Size and Appearance
Even for the most experienced breeders, it is next to impossible to predict what a litter of German Shepherd Lab Mix puppies is going to look like in advance. Most often, the litter will favor one parent over the other.
In a litter of six to ten Lab Shepherd puppies, you may have some that resemble a German Shepherd and some that more closely resemble a Labrador retriever.
There are a lot of potential color variations, even in each specific breed. Expect to see a Shepherd Lab mix puppy run the gamut from tan and sandy to chocolate brown and black.
Many German Shepherd Lab Mix puppies may represent a combination of colors depending on the colors of the parents. Some will be solid-colored like Labradors while others will have the black markings on the face, back, and legs like a German Shepherd.
Depending on the way the genetics fall, determining in advance the type of coat for German Shepherd Lab puppies is impossible. Both of these breeds have a double coat with soft fur underneath and a coarser type of fur on top.
You should expect this same type of coat on your puppies, but the length could be anywhere from short to a more medium length.
Both males and females are bound to be large dogs. Male Lab Shepherd mixes will be a bit bigger than their female counterparts.
Expect a male dog to weigh anywhere from 50 to 90 pounds, standing between 22 to 26 inches tall. Female dogs are of a smaller size, usually weighing anywhere from 40 to 60 pounds and standing 20 to 24 inches tall.
Do Lab German Shepherd Mix Ears Stand Up?
It is difficult to determine if a German Shepherd Lab Mix will have ears that stand up or not. If you are purchasing your puppy during its first few weeks of life, there is no definitive way to determine if he or she will have the tall ears of a German Shepherd or the long ears of a Labrador.
You will simply have to be patient to see what they will do. Most of the time, they will pop up by the time the dog is done teething if they are going to point at all.
German Shepherd Lab Mix Exercise Requirements
A German Shepherd Lab Mix makes a great companion animal, but they do need a job to keep them busy.
Many pet owners love the idea of taking their canine to the dog park regularly, practicing agility or playing a rousing game of fetch in the evenings. If you love the idea of taking long walks daily, then a German Sheprador might be ideal for you.
Some people purchase these dogs in order to work them. They make fabulous partners for search and rescue work, police and military work, hunting, and other similar lines of work.
Consider in advance what type of a job or activity you could assign to your Sheprador because they will definitely need to be actively engaged in something to keep them out of trouble.
Compared to other breeds, the German Shepherd Lab Mix is considered very high energy. Dog experts recommend giving your new furry friend roughly 90 to 120 minutes of vigorous exercise every single day whenever possible.
German Shepherd Lab Mix Temperament
Understanding the temperament of your new dog is just as important as understanding his exercise requirements. A German Shepherd Lab Mix makes a great family dog, even if they aren’t placed in a working home.
Plan to spend some time training and exercising your dog to keep her out of trouble, but her general disposition will actually be quite lovely.
Many people adore the German Shepherd Lab mix as a family dog because they are great with children. They are playful, friendly, intelligent, and energetic almost to a fault.
When given a task to do and exercise to work out their energy, they can be well-behaved companions. A dog that is left to his own devices may be bored and become destructive around the house or backyard.
Shepradors combine some of the smartest dog breeds around, so be prepared for training to be quick and easy. As intelligent dogs, you can easily train them to perform advanced tasks which is part of their major popularity.
Not only is this intelligent breed easy to train, but they are also extremely eager to please. A little bit of positive reinforcement for a job well done will go a long way toward reaching your training goals with your new partner.
Some people worry about the reputation that German Shepherds have of being an overly aggressive breed. It is true that a poorly socialized Sheprador could exhibit some signs of mild or overt aggression.
However, this can easily be corrected if caught early on in the dog’s lifespan. Most aggression could be more accurately be labeled as protection because they are naturally excellent protectors who are loyal to those they love.
Human socialization is crucial if you want to avoid encountering the overly-protective nature of a German Shepherd in your new Sheprador pup. Expose him or her to many different types of people.
They should be familiar with people of all races, genders, and ages. You even want them to experience different kinds of attire such as hats, coats, and sunglasses.
Overall, a Labrador German Shepherd mix is going to be a great dog for the right family who wants to put a little bit of time and effort into their canine companion. They have an ideal temperament and a willingness to learn that makes them enjoyable for the whole family.
What Are the Known Health Problems of a Sheprador?
Unfortunately, you do have to consider the average life expectancy and health of your new German Shepherd Lab puppy. Most of the dogs found in this breed will live from 10 to 12 years.
Many of them may experience some health problems throughout their lifespan as well, even though breeders try to account for this when selecting mating pairs for their litters.
Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
Canine dysplasia is common among German Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers. This malformation in the joints causes pain and inflammation that can leave your dog feeling miserable.
It may start at a very early age, which is why some breeders will have hip and elbow evaluations done prior to placing the puppies in a home. While this initial test can’t guarantee that your dog won’t develop dysplasia later in life, it is the best guarantee you can have of a healthy puppy upfront.
Another complaint for large breed dogs is gastric dilation volvulus, more commonly referred to as bloat. Labradors have a wide chest and body frame that tends to support a great deal of bloating.
After eating a large meal, the gas that develops becomes trapped instead of released from the body. The buildup can be quite painful for your pup.
You can avoid some bloating issues by purchasing special slow feeding bowls that prevent your dog from eating their meals too quickly. If you notice that your dog is still suffering from bloating, contact your veterinarian to discuss more options for how to care for this uncomfortable issue.
Consider that Labrador Retrievers are very likely to become obese. If you overfeed them, they will eat what they are given.
Many pet owners describe them as greedy, and it can be a slippery slope once you start overfeeding your German Shepherd Lab mix. It is easy to put on the pounds but hard to take them off. The extra weight can make pain from dysplasia worse as well.
Labradors are also prone to progressive retinal atrophy. As the dog grows older, the retina begins to fail and your dog is rendered blind. This is why ophthalmic examinations are so important before you purchase a Sheprador.
ALSO SEE: How Long Do German Shepherds Live?
How Much do German Shepherd Lab Mixes Eat?
When it comes to mealtime, how much should you plan to feed your German Shepherd Lab Mix? Veterinarians often base the amount of food your dog eats off of a calorie amount.
Keep in mind that different name brands and varieties of foods will also have their own recommendations for how much food a dog should consume. In general, the caloric content your dog needs is based on their weight.
Males tend to need more food than females because they weigh more. A fully-grown adult male will need anywhere from 1,300 calories to 3,000 calories depending on their weight. An adult female requires roughly 1,000 to 1,500 calories.
Because of their tendency to bloat, it is suggested that you feed your German Shepherd Lab multiple times a day. Most owners find that it is convenient to split meals up into morning and evening servings. You may also want to feed them healthy snack throughout the day, such as the kind that can help to keep their teeth clean.
Check out our guides to the Best Dog Food for German Shepherds and Best Dog Food for Labs for breed-specific recommendations.
How Do I Groom a German Shepherd Lab Mix?
Grooming these types of dogs can be a little high maintenance compared to some other breeds.
The exact grooming that your dog needs will depend on whether it takes after its German Shepherd parent or its Labrador Retriever parent. Both breeds are subject to a great deal of shedding. However, the longer the hair is, the more grooming that it is likely to require.
Most of these dogs will shed quite a bit of hair when the seasons change in both the spring and fall. You will want to do your best to minimize shedding during this time by brushing their coat and collecting the excess fur.
Many owners try to make a ritual of brushing their dog’s fur at least twice a week, though many people prefer to do it more frequently to prevent it from creating tumbleweeds around their home.
Baths are also an important part of the grooming ritual. Give your dog a bath at least once a month to keep him or her smelling their very best. During this time, you may also choose to trim their nails.
Brushing their teeth is also important to help keep them shiny and clean for years to come. It is ideal to do this daily, but that isn’t necessarily realistic for many pet owners. Instead, you should try to do it as often as you can.
When you are unable to brush their teeth, try substituting it by giving them special dog dental chews uniquely formulated to help with their dental hygiene.
How Much Does German Shepherd Lab Mix Cost?
Unlike many mixed-breed dogs, the German Shepherd Lab Mix is still in the process of slowly gaining popularity. They are going to be less expensive than many of the designer breeds that potential dog owners desire.
A German Shepherd Lab Mix will typically cost you just a few hundred dollars whereas other Lab mixes such as the Labradoodle may cost you thousands of dollars.
Keep in mind that the price of the dog will vary based on the breeder and pedigree of the parents. Expect to pay more for litters that had registered parents who actively competed and won competitions in their division. These pure bloodlines can come with a cost to would-be dog owners.
You should also consider the guarantees that a prospective dog breeder will offer. Because these dogs are prone to issues like hip dysplasia, many reputable breeders will offer health guarantees based on x-rays and other testing they had done.
Some common tests for both Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherds include:
- Hip evaluations
- Elbow evaluations
- Ophthalmologist Evaluations
- EIC DNA test
Is the Lab German Shepherd Mix the Perfect Family Pet?
If you have been searching for the ideal companion for your active family, then the German Shepherd Lab Mix might be the right dog for you.
Beware of what could happen if you don’t keep them actively engaged in some sort of regular exercise or activity. However, they make excellent friends and companions if you are up to the challenge.
Make sure to find a reputable breeder or dog rescue who thoroughly vets each of the dogs they sell before you bring home a new pup. You’ll be glad you did your homework and can rest easy about the health of your new dog.
Lab Shepherd mixes are the perfect combination of friendliness, intelligence, and playfulness. You’ll wonder why you waited so long to make them a part of your family!
A big-dog lover, successful marketing executive, and website developer, Brian founded Canine Weekly in 2016. Brian lives just outside of Seattle with his wife and child. Brian grew up with labs and the family is eager to get another Labrador once their newborn is a little older. Brian is the former owner of Canine Weekly.