There is a good reason we have covered Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherds in so many of our breed guides! They rank number one and number two on the 2020 Most Popular Breeds list, respectively.
So it comes as no surprise that the German Shepherd Lab Mix is one of the most popular hybrid breeds available today! With the loveable personality of the playful but intelligent Labrador, and the incredible loyalty of the German Shepherd - what is not to love.
Truly, this mix, also known as the Sheprador, is one of the best family dogs you could ever own. Not only does the German Shepherd Labrador Mix get along well with other pets, but they also love children of all ages. Have a curious toddler? No worries - these pups are gentle giants with proper socialization training. Or maybe you have fun and energetic teenagers! Even better - Shepradors love to run, play, and fetch.
Let’s dive into our complete guide and learn all there is to know about this sweet mix!
Breed Overview: Quick Look at What Makes the German Shepherd Labrador Mix
Before we can really understand this loving family dog, we have to look more closely at the parents - The German Shepherd and the Labrador Retriever. Of course like we mentioned, both of these dogs are highly favored and for good reason!
Not only do they rank number 1 and number 2 on the favorites list, but they hold the same places on the best temperament list! So what does this mean for your Sheprador? Well, not only will he be smart, loyal, and tons of fun - but he will also be gentle and have great social skills.
Unlike with some other designer breeds, the Sheprador was not bred intentionally at first. Their mating simply came about naturally and dog lovers noticed how great of a combination they make. At that point, breeders decided to fine tune the German Shepherd Lab Mix into what we know it as today.
History: The German Shepherd
As their name suggests, German Shepherds were first developed in Germany, where they worked as herding dogs for centuries. They bravely kept up with and protected flocks of sheep against predators and quickly developed a reputation as loyal, courageous, and very intelligent.
Around 1907, the noble German Shepherd made its way to America for the first time. And the rest, as they say, is history. These gorgeous dogs won the heart of the country by serving in the military and police forces. German Shepherds are responsible for thousands of successful search and rescue missions, and even work as seeing eye dogs for the blind. As if all of that was not enough, German Shepherds also make the perfect family dog as they have an instinctive guarding nature but are gentle and loving with their humans.
And the best part is that they lend their intelligence and loyalty to the Shepradors that they parent!
History: The Labrador Retriever
Picture this - it is 1500 in Newfoundland, Canada. You are a fisherman and your fish has just fallen off its hook. You would go into the water to collect it, but it is freezing cold! Wouldn’t be nice if you had a dog to retrieve the fish for you? Enter the earliest form of Labrador Retriever.
After centuries of working as water dogs in Canada, Labs made their way to England where they were further refined to become gun dogs. They would retrieve not only fish, but also ducks and birds. In 1917, the American Kennel Club recognized Labrador Retrievers as an official breed and the love affair began.
Labs are arguably one of the most versatile dogs to exist today. They are family friendly, love the water, are happy to hunt, or to just lounge around with you. Truly, the Labrador is America’s dog and this is why they have earned the top spot on the favorites list for decades!
And when their winning genes combine with that of the German Shepherd, we get the best of both worlds!
Now let’s get into the details!
Cost and Appearance: How Much Should You Pay for a German Shepherd Lab Mix Puppy?
Understanding the average cost of each of the parent breeds will help us determine a fair price to pay for the Sheprador. For example, German Shepherds may cost anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to about a thousand dollars, based on pedigree. The same goes for Labrador Retrievers.
However, an extra consideration must be taken when it comes to the cost of hybrid breeds. Ultimately, the price you can expect to pay will depend on if your Sheprador is a first or later generation. So what exactly does this mean?
First generation puppies come from a purebred Labrador and a purebred German Shepherd. A second generation puppy comes from a Sheprador mated with a Sheprador. Later generations follow the same pattern. And as generations increase, so do prices!
This is also a good time to point out that while predicting what your puppy will like is nearly impossible in terms of a first generation puppy, later generations have less variability. For example, a first generation Sheprador may have the soft, floppy ears of the Labrador. But they may have the sharply pointer, alert ears of the German Shepherd. They may even have one of each! It all depends on how the genes combine.
Same goes for coat color. Your Sheprador may have the classic Sable coat of a German Shepherd, or a variation depending on the Lab parent’s coat - chocolate, yellow, black, and even silver are possibilities.
But, second and later generations are more predictable because they have less gene variability. If you want your German Shepherd Lab Mix to look a certain way, we recommend finding a later generation that has the appearance you prefer.
Temperament and Personality: Does the Sheprador Live Up to Its Genes?
Like we have reiterated many times throughout this article, we believe that the German Shepherd Labrador Mix is the perfect dog for a family. Though we usually would not recommend large, highly energetic dogs for first time dog owners, we believe that the Sheprador is an exception. As long as the new owners are committed to dedicating at least an hour a day to accommodating their dog’s exercise and stimulation needs, everything should work out!
German Shepherd Labrador Mixes are pretty chill and easy to care for. But like any dog, they do need proper socialization and behavioral training from a young age in order to thrive. The best way to achieve this is by introducing your Sheprador to many people, places, and things as soon as you bring the puppy home. For example, taking your pup around other dogs will help them learn that other animals represent an opportunity for fun and is nothing to be feared. Also, introducing your pup to loud noises like car horns in a positive way will help them to have no fear during thunderstorms, etc. And perhaps most importantly, introducing your Sheprador to a variety of folks - tall people, men in hats, children of all ages - from puppyhood is helpful to bring out their best traits and keep them from developing any aggression.
And like we have mentioned, they are pretty high energy. German Shepherd Lab Mixes love to be outside, will jump at the chance to play in water, and have a strong desire for a job. Sometimes, they are happy with a job that consists of being your pal and cuddling up at your feet. But like any dog, they do need daily walks and play time to remain well behaved and satisfied. Unfortunately, if you cannot commit to their needs, you may come home to a shredded sofa! So while Shepradors are an ideal dog for anyone, we recommend at least hiring a dog walker if you are gone for long periods of time.
Caring for Your German Shepherd Labrador Retriever Mix
First, let’s talk about food! Like us, Shepradors love food and appreciate a wide variety of flavors and textures. Unfortunately, this sometimes includes things that you would rather them not taste! Shepradors love to chew, especially when they are puppies.
To avoid destructive chewing, be sure to provide your new puppy with plenty of healthy and safe chew toys - bonus points if they fight tartar like these fun toys do! This is also a great time to mention treats. Small food rewards are a great tool to use while training your Sheprador to obey basic commands. Labradors are highly food motivated so this technique works exceptionally well for this designer breed. But it is important to account for the extra calories contained in the treats when you are considering your dog’s daily nutrition needs.
Most large, active dogs should consume about 30 calories per pound of weight each day. When you bring your Sheprador puppy home, it is best to feed them 4-5 small meals a day to avoid stretching their tummies as they are still growing. However, at maturity, you can start feeding them twice a day instead. We recommend against feeding your dog just once a day. Both parent breeds are prone to Bloat - a potentially deadly condition that causes their stomachs to swell and twist, cutting off the blood supply. Because of this, it is best to avoid filling your Shepradors stomach too full, which is a risk factor for developing the condition.
Aside from these recommendations, we suggest choosing the highest quality food you can afford and following the feeding directions for your dog’s size. On average, female German Shepherd Labrador Mixes will weigh between 35-50 pounds and require about 1200 calories per day. However, males are larger, weighing between 50-90 pounds and require about 2000 calories depending on their daily energy expenditures.
Like we mentioned earlier, Labradors are highly food motivated and will jump at the chance to eat anything you offer them. This includes food left on the uncleared table after dinner, and even trash! So just be careful and make sure your pup does not get into anything that is not meant for him.
Health Considerations: What You Should Know About Shepradors
Sadly because of this trait, Labs are prone to obesity - which leads into our next topic: health considerations. A 2018 study found that Labradors actually have a gene mutation that causes them to be absolutely obsessed with food. And suddenly, Lab owners everywhere experienced a light bulb moment - it all makes sense now! Of course, Shepradors are also prone to obesity. But fortunately, this is an easy health complication to control. Simply keep a watchful eye on how much you feed your pup and all will be well.
Like we have already discussed, Gastric Dilation Volvulus, commonly known as Bloat, is a dangerous condition that develops quickly and is seen in both German Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers. Thankfully, like obesity, Bloat is pretty easy to avoid. Simply make sure your dog does not eat too much too fast and you will have nothing to worry about.
Hip and Elbow Dysplasia is a condition that causes malformation of your dog’s bones and joints, resulting in pain and inflammation. It is pretty common to large breeds and you should obtain hip and elbow scores on your puppies parents before purchasing. Reputable breeders will have these test results readily available and will be happy to show you! If both parents are in good shape, your Sheprador will be too.
These are the most common health issues that you may encounter with a German Shepherd Labrador Mix. And though they can progress into serious problems, they are completely avoidable for the most part!
Our best advice for raising a healthy Sheprador is making sure your puppy receives all their shots and stays up to date on annual check ups. Monthly preventative medications will guard them against deadly heartworms, ticks, fleas, and parasites so these are important too! If you have any questions, be sure to ask your veterinarian.
Next Up: Grooming a German Shepherd Labrador Mix
Unlike some of the super popular designer breeds, like the Mini Goldendoodle for example, Shepradors do not have strenuous grooming requirements. No special haircuts to keep up with and that is a major plus in our book! However, these guys obviously shed - a lot. Both German Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers are high-shedding dogs, which is unfortunate for allergy sufferers. While there are special brushes that help keep this trait under control, no matter what you do, there will always be dog hair sprinkled around like glitter.
When it comes to keeping these rambunctious pups clean, less is more. Bathing them too often will strip their skin and fur of natural oils that protect them and keep their coats healthy. You can avoid this by only bathing them every couple of months and spot cleaning in between. Playing in the rain and rolling in the mud? It is probably a good time for a full bath. But if you are just taking them for a run on a dirt path, simply wipe them clean with a wet cloth. Your Sheprador’s skin will thank you!
Also, do not forget to keep up with nail trimmings and teeth brushing. These can be intimidating tasks, but if you start from puppyhood your Sheprador will be more comfortable with the routine. If you still have trouble, your vet will be happy to help you.
Summary: German Shepherd Lab Mix is a Great Family Dog
Now that we have come to the end of our extensive breed guide, we hope we were successful in showing you just how wonderful the Sheprador is. These dogs are large, energetic, and need space to roam.
They adore children and love to play. But at the end of a long day, they want nothing more than to cuddle up at your feet. They don’t like being alone for long periods, so you may need to invest in a dog walker. But trust us, bring the German Shepherd Labrador Mix into your life will be well worth it!
Do you have a Sheprador? Let us know in the comments!
20-26 inches, 30-95 pounds; depending on sex
Very intelligent and easy to train
Loving, Loyal, Playful, Protective
Obesity, Bloat, Hip/Elbow Dysplasia
High energy; require at least 60 minutes of activity per day
Wonderful for energetic owners; great family dog for kids of all ages
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