You may not have heard of the Gerberian Shepsky, but it is highly likely that you have heard of the two breeds of dogs that give rise to this increasingly popular hybrid. After all, they are two of the most well loved breeds of dogs out there – the German Shepherd and Siberian Husky.
A German Shepherd hard at work
A Siberian Husky hard at play
Gerberian Shepsky Basic Facts
- Typical Height: 20-25 inches tall
- Typical Weight: 45 and 90 pounds
- Size: Large
- Life Span: 10 and 13 years
- Combination: German Shepherd Siberian Husky Mix
- Grooming / Coat: Double Coat which protects against the cold winter – will require twice weekly brushing or grooming sessions
- Temperament and Energy Level: High – with their boundless energy, you will need to plan to keep them exercised often so they can make use of the energy and keep fit. If left idle, these large active dogs can become bored easily and are happiest with physical activity in large open spaces.
- Food: High quality food for large breeds would suit them best
- Training: Needs behavior training – owners should start puppy training as early as possible
- Colors: White, Silver, Gray, Red, Brown, Cream, Black
Different dog owners have a different taste when it comes to dogs to add to the family. Some want little balls of fluff that can fit in their purses, whereas others would prefer to have a protective furry companion who can reach the highest shelf when on his hind legs.
If you are considering becoming a parent to one of these energetic dogs, there are certain things that you should know first. The following are 11 of them:
1. Gerberian Shepskies haven’t been around very long.
In fact, it is thought that they were first bred in the 1980s. The hypothesis is that this was part of a trend of an increased love for hybrid dogs. The two breeds that would be the parents of a Gerberian Shepsky were also bred for working purposes. The German Shepherd was initially bred in the late 1800s for the purpose of herding sheep, although this breed came to be used for military and police purposes once its intellect and abilities were observed. The Siberian Husky was originally bred to pull heavy loads of cargo in the Siberian Arctic, and they were imported into the United States as sled dogs with alert ears. Naturally, the combination of these two working breeds would yield a dog pack that has unique and useful capabilities of its own. The first well known Gerberian Shepsky was Dolce, the first therapy dog to work with the FBI in their Memphis division.
2. There is a ton of variation in trainability among Gerberian Shepskies.
Because they come from two breeds of dogs with fairly significant differences between them, the looks and personality of a Gerberian Shepsky can be fairly hard to predict, though most are very loyal and affectionate. It largely depends on which of the two parents the shepsky puppy takes after, not to mention that there can be vast personality differences between even dogs of the same breed. Puppies who take after the Shepherd will likely be intelligent and easy to train, while the ones who take after the Siberian Husky side will typically be somewhat more challenging to train, more easily distracted and likely to wander off when allowed.
3. Shepskies are a mixed bag as watch dogs as well.
German Shepherds have a reputation for being great watch dogs, and it’s common knowledge that they often work with police departments. Huskies, on the other hand, are often known to treat strangers like neighbors, making them far from being the best choice for someone who wants a guard dog. Their hybrid puppies could fall anywhere along this continuum, and people often cannot tell how good their Gerberian Shepskies are at being guard dogs until they watch them in action as the dogs grow up.
4. They are great for big families.
Most of these dogs are known to be friendly and loyal and are typically great with kids. Also, because of the maintenance required to properly take care of them, they will likely be happier in homes with several people.
5. Gerberian Shepskies need lots of exercise.
Given that their parents are both breeds known for being full of energy, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that these dogs need a good amount of exercise daily. If you get one, be prepared for long walks and a lot of playtime, as they will likely need this in order to stay healthy and be less inclined towards mischief!
You may think Jake is angry here…but don’t worry, he’s just playing!
6. Their eyes can be quite unique.
Siberian Huskies are known for their piercing blue eyes. Their progeny with Shepherds will often have the same color eyes, although brown eyes are also common. It’s also somewhat frequent for the hybrids to have one blue and one brown eye.
7. They seem to be more fur than dog.
Almost every dog of this hybrid breed is blessed with a thick, beautiful coat of fur. This is almost inevitable, considering that these dogs are the progeny of two breeds that are notorious for shedding. This is great for keeping your furry friend warm during cold winters, but not so great for people who cannot tolerate dog hair all over their homes. So if you get one of these great dogs, be prepared for a lot of brushing and vacuuming. No amount of training will stop the shedding!
8. Gerberian Shepskies don’t do well in intense heat…
Because of their double fur coat, they tend to do better in cooler or at least moderate climates. As such, if you live in a place that is very hot year round, this is probably not the dog for you.
9. …but they do have an advantage health-wise.
Many purebred dogs come with a slew of health problems. However, being a hybrid, the Gerberian Shepsky has a diverse German Shepherd Husky mix of genes that makes them generally healthier than their purebred parents.
10. That doesn’t mean they don’t have health problems at all, though…
Gerberian Shepskies can have the health problems that are characteristic of their parents’ breeds, which include hip dysplasia, blood disorders, epilepsy, and eye problems such as cataracts. They can also be picky eaters and have digestive issues, meaning that it can sometimes be difficult to find a diet that works.
11. They are great for work and play. Children love them
Because of their combination of characteristics, they are great family dogs and are friendly with children. In addition, many of them can be good working dogs, and they can be of great help to police missions, military organizations, and other purposes as well with their high intelligence.
If you have a Gerberian Shepsky, he or she will give you years of wonderful memories and will be an entertaining and loving part of your home!
Whether or not a Gerberian Shepsky is a good dog for you is for you to determine, based on your lifestyle, home, family, and what you are looking for in a pet. These dogs have many great qualities, but before getting one, it is important to determine that you can create a situation that is good for all involved parties, including the Gerberian Shepsky!
Jen Jones is a professional dog trainer and behavior specialist with more than 25 years of experience. As the founder of ‘Your Dog Advisor’ and the ‘Canine Connection’ rehabilitation center, she applies a holistic, empathetic approach, aiming to address root causes rather than merely treating symptoms.
Well known for her intuitive and compassionate approach, Jen adopts scientifically-proven, reward-based methods, encouraging positive reinforcement over punishment. Jen specializes in obedience training, behavior modification, and puppy socialization. Her innovative methods, particularly in addressing anxiety and aggression issues, have been widely recognized. Jen has worked with many of the world’s leading dog behaviorists and in her free time volunteers with local animal shelters and rescue groups.