If you’re a fan of the German Shepherd and the Labrador Retriever, then you’re going to fall head over heels for the Sheprador. This clever mixed breed is the best of both worlds, combining intelligence, loyalty, and affection into one furry bundle of joy.
Of course, the German Shepherd Lab Mix isn’t the dog for everyone. There are pros and cons to owning this clever and energetic mix, and it’s important any prospective owner takes this into consideration.
So, before investing in a Sheprador, here are 15 things you should know.
1. The German Shepherd Lab Mix (The Sheprador) Is Considered A Hybrid
Sheprador dogs are not purebreds, but they are also not considered mutts.
Also known as the Labrashepherd, the German Shepherd Lab Mix is not considered a purebred dog, nor is he considered a mutt. In fact, the Sheprador falls into a somewhat newer category of dog known as a “hybrid”.
Other terms for these types of dogs include crossbreed, designer dog, and mixed breed. Though crossbreeding dogs has been occurring since the beginning of the canine/human relationship, the trend of buying and selling first and second generation crossbreeds has only become popular in the last two decades.
But what is a first and second generation crossbreed dog, and why is this type of dog controversial? Well, there are a few reasons.
First, while crossbreeding has been going on for centuries, it’s original purpose was to eventually create a purebred dog who was perfected through years of refined breeding. It takes generations for a dog to be considered a purebred by most breed club standards, so for breeders to breed and sell first and second generation crossbreeds is considered, by some, to be risky.
A first generation crossbreed, in the Sheprador’s case, is a puppy that is the direct offspring of a purebred German Shepherd and a purebred Labrador Retriever. A second generation Sheprador would be a puppy who is the direct offspring of two first generation sheprador dogs, and so on.
According to some, the buying and selling of first and second generation mixed breeds is risky because the dogs in question are less predictable. Their overall appearance, temperament, and even health are often in question.
However, other experts have pointed out that crossbreed dogs are actually more likely to be healthier than purebred dogs, though this has yet to be proven.
Regardless of where you stand on the issue, there is one thing we know for certain – crossbreed dogs are here to stay, and are quickly becoming some of the most popular dogs to own throughout the United States.
2. The Sheprador Is A Mix Between the German Shepherd and the Labrador Retriever
To better understand the temperament, appearance, and overall personality traits of your potential German Shepherd Lab Mix, it’s always a good idea to take a look into his purebred parent breeds.
Let’s begin with the German Shepherd.
The German Shepherd
German Shepherds were originally bred for herding and are known for their incredible loyalty.
The German Shepherd does have a reputation of being “aggressive”, and while we admit his appearance can be intimidating, a properly trained and socialized German Shepherd is actually incredibly sweet, loyal and affectionate.
These dogs do wonderfully in homes with children and other pets, and are beloved for their unrivaled devotion. Originally created in Germany and designed for herding, the German Shepherd of today is a clever, loving, and loyal working dog who excels in service work, police work, and military work.
According to the American Kennel Club, the German Shepherd is the second most popular dog to own in the United States.
Height: 22 – 26 Inches
Weight: 50 – 90 Pounds
Coat: Double coated, weather-proof, dense and shedding
Life Span: 7 – 10 years
Personality: Devoted, Intelligent, Confident and Energetic
The Labrador Retriever
Labs are the most popular dog in the United States, according to the American Kennel Club.
The Labrador Retriever is one of America’s most beloved dog breeds, ranking it at number 1 out of 196 on the American Kennel Club’s list of America’s favorite dogs. Coming in three colors including black, chocolate and yellow, the Lab is known for his sweet face, playful nature, and family-friendly disposition.
Labs were originally bred as water-retrieving dogs, made evident by their webbed paws and thick “otter tail”, which helped propel them in cold waters of Canada.
They made excellent companions for fishermen, but were just as adored at home as they were on the boat. Like the German Shepherd, Labrador Retrievers of today still make excellent working dogs. They are some of the leading breeds when it comes to service, working as guide dogs, emotional support dogs, and even search and rescue dogs.
Height: 21.5 – 24.5 inches
Weight: 55 – 80 lbs
Coat: Weather-resistant, double-coated, shedding
Life Span: 10 – 12 years
Personality: Affectionate, intelligent, and very friendly
3. The German Shepherd Lab Mix Is An Intelligent and Loyal Dog
Sheprador dogs are very clever and loyal.
As you may have gathered after learning about the Sheprador’s two parent breeds, the German Shepherd Lab Mix is a highly intelligent, loyal and loving hybrid. In fact, he comes from two purebred parents who are considered some of the most intelligent in the canine kingdom.
While intelligent dogs can be some of the most delightful to own and work with, there are also some disadvantages that come along with being so brainy. More intelligent dogs like the German Shepherd Lab Mix can be prone to suffering from anxiety and destructive behaviors related to boredom.
Dogs like the German Shepherd Lab Mix will do well being crate trained when owners are away to help avoid destructive behaviors and reduce anxiety.
When crate training, be sure to never make your Sheprador’s crate a space of “punishment”. Instead, his crate should be somewhere he feels safe, happy and comfortable.
Your Shephrador should also not spend more than five hours at a time in his crate without exercise, water, and a potty break.
4. The German Shepherd Lab Mix Is A Heavy Shedder And May Not Be Best For Those Who Suffer From Allergies
The German Shepherd Lab mix has a thick, double coat that sheds heavily.
If you’re looking for a dog who is hypoallergenic, you may be better off looking for Labradoodle as opposed to a Sheprador. The German Shepherd Lab Mix comes from two parent breeds who are renowned shedders.
A double-coated dog with a dense, weather-resistant coat, the German Shepherd Lab Mix is going to leave behind a bit of fur glitter wherever he goes. He will shed most during shedding season, which occurs during spring and fall, and will need constant brushing and grooming during this time.
However, while he is a heavy shedder, this is also a mix that requires low maintenance grooming and doesn’t have much of a “doggy odor”, thanks to his weather-resistant coat.
But we will talk more about that further down. For now, let’s go over your Sheprador’s appearance.
5. The German Shepherd Lab Mix Dog’s Appearance May Vary
A Sheprador could look more like a lab or more like a German Shepherd, but it all depends on genetics.
One of the controversial aspects of buying and selling a crossbreed is that their appearance is somewhat unpredictable. This is going to be true especially if you have a first or second generation crossbreed Sheprador.
If you want a Sheprador with a more predictable appearance, we suggest looking for one that is third generation or beyond. This will help ensure overall size, coat type, color, etc.
That said, both the German Shepherd and the Labrador Retriever have similar builds. They are medium to large dogs who are muscular, well shaped, and densely coated.
Of course, there are some noted differences in their appearances as well, which means your German Shepherd Lab mix’s appearance can vary. For example, German Shepherds tend to have erect ears, while Labs have floppy ears. German Shepherds are also often larger than Labs.
A German Shepherd’s coat is usually brown, black and tan, while a Lab comes in three distinct, solid colors.
Let’s take a look at what your German Shepherd Lab Mix could potentially look like below.
Sheprador Height: 21 – 26 inches
Sheprador Weight: 55 – 90 Pounds
Sheprador Coat Color: Black, brown, yellow, tan, or a combination of the three
Sheprador Coat Type: Dense, double-coated, shedding, weather-resistant
Sheprador Eye Color: Brown
6. The German Shepherd Lab Mix Is A Larger Dog Who Is Not Ideal For Apartment Living
Sheprador dogs are active and athletic, and need plenty of space to run and play.
While some Shepradors can do well in apartments so long as they are properly exercised and trained, most Sheprador dogs will do best in homes where they have plenty of room to roam.
Highly energetic, the German Shepherd Lab mix is going to need lots of mental and physical stimulation, which means he will enjoy having a home he can explore and a yard where he can run and play.
If cooped up in a small space for too long, Sheprador dogs can potentially become bored, depressed and even destructive. Common destructive and undesirable behaviors in these mixed breeds include chewing, digging, whining, barking, and bathroom accidents.
If you do have a smaller space but still want to get a Sheprador dog, we suggest ensuring that your dog is properly crate trained. It is also best to ensure your dog is adequately exercised at least twice a day.
7. The German Shepherd Lab Mix Does Best In Homes With Owners Who Are Home Often And Can Be Devoted To Them
Sheprador dogs do best with owners who have flexible schedules.
The German Shepherd Lab Mix is beloved for his loyalty and affectionate nature. As such, he becomes very attached to his human family. This is a dog who does best in homes with owners who have flexible schedules and have plenty of time to devote to him.
These are certainly indoor dogs who, while large and outgoing, thrive as active members of their family. They will enjoy going on as many family adventures as they can, including camping, road trips, and long hikes.
They can become distressed, depressed and anxious when left alone for too many hours at a time. If you have a busy schedule but would still like to get a German Shepherd Lab Mix, we suggest investing in a quality dog walking or pet care service, or even enrolling your dog in doggy daycare.
8. The German Shepherd Lab Mix Can Suffer From Some Health Issues Potential Owners Should Be Aware Of
Because of their large size and deep chests, Shepradors can be susceptible to Bloat and a number of other health issues.
The German Shepherd Lab Mix has a relatively good lifespan, with a life expectancy of between 9 and 12 years. However, like all dogs, the Sheprador can suffer from a number of serious health issues that any potential owner should be aware of, including:
- Cardiac Issues
- Hip Dysplasia
- Elbow Dysplasia
- Digestive Issues
- Degenerative Myelopathy
- Exocrine Pancreatic insufficiency
- Skin Issues
- Cruciate Ligament Rupture
- And Bloat
What You Should Know About Bloat
Bloat is a serious and often life threatening condition common in larger dogs like the German Shepherd Lab Mix. It often comes on suddenly, and is triggered by things like overexcitement, eating too quickly, or eating/drinking after an intense exercise or playtime regimen.
The condition occurs when gas fills the stomach, causing it to flip. Symptoms of bloat include excessive panting, unproductive vomiting, extended abdomen, obvious pain, excessive drooling, and collapse.
If you notice symptoms of bloat in your German Shepherd Lab Mix, it is imperative you get him to an emergency veterinarian right away.
You can work to prevent bloat in your Sheprador by monitoring him during exercise and play, and by ensuring he calms down after intense exercise before eating or drinking.
A healthy exercise and diet routine will also help reduce health issues like bloat and others listed above.
9. The German Shepherd Lab Mix May Be Best Suited For Experienced Dog Owners
German Shepherd Lab Mix dogs are very high energy and can be prone to destructive behaviors like chewing if not properly trained and exercised.
Both the German Shepherd and the Labrador Retriever are some of America’s favorite dog breeds for a reason. They are loyal, loving, and highly trainable.
However, due to their high level of energy and intelligence, these dogs can be overwhelming for some novice dog owners looking for a more low-key fur friend. And it goes without saying that their Sheprador offspring will also maintain these characteristics.
A potential owner should prepare for a lot of dog when investing in a German Shepherd Lab mix. Simply put, this is a hybrid who requires lots of time, attention and energy. He is best suited for younger, active singles or families who have enough time and energy to devote to training, play and exercise.
10. The German Shepherd Lab Mix Needs To Be Socialized At An Early Age And Consistently Trained To Prevent Anxiety
Making sure your Sheprador dog is trained and socialized at an early age can help them grow up happy and healthy.
All dogs require early socialization and positive reinforcement training to grow up happy and healthy, and the Sheprador is no exception. In fact, it is especially crucial that this mixed breed is socialized and trained at an early age considering his high level of intelligence and propensity for suffering from anxiety.
Socializing your dog at an early age means introducing your Shepherd to as many new experiences as possible. This includes introducing him to children, strangers, loud sounds and different sights.
It is very important to make sure these first impressions are positive for your dog, so use lots of treats and praise, and refrain from forcing your dog into situations that frighten him.
Along with socializing your German Shepherd Lab mix, it’s also important to begin training at an early age. We suggest beginning with a solid recall, and other basic ques like sit, stay, lay down, etc.
Sheprador dogs are very trainable and eager to please, and as they grow they will enjoy learning new tricks. A working dog at heart, the German Shepherd Lab mix can even learn to be a help around the house with common household chores.
11. A Healthy Diet Will Help Your Sheprador Live A Long and Happy Life
Remember that your Shepreador should eat a dog food that is specified for his age and activity level.
As we mentioned briefly above, a healthy diet is imperative to helping your Sherador live a healthy and happy life. These dogs do best on a high quality dog food specified for their age, weight and activity level.
This means that the German Shepherd Lab mix should eat a dog food that is designed for large breed dogs who are active and athletic.
For the Sheprador specifically, we also recommend a dog food that is rich in protein and good fatty acids. This can increase coat health and help reduce shedding, skin issues, and allergies. A diet rich in protein can also help reduce joint issues and further build healthy muscles.
There are plenty of options for dog food these days, and whether you choose raw dog food, dry dog food, or wet dog food, it’s important to read the ingredients and speak with your vet.
Steer clear of dog foods that have fillers, additives, byproducts, artificial coloring, corn, soy, and wheat.
12. The German Shepherd Lab Mix Is An Energetic And Intelligent Dog Who Needs Plenty Of Exercise and Mental Stimulation
Exercise is key to keeping your German Shepherd Lab mix happy and healthy.
If you’re looking for a dog who enjoys lounging around the house all day, then the German Shepherd Lab mix is not for you. This is a breed who needs lots of exercise and mental stimulation in order to stay happy and healthy.
Two good walks a day should help curb some of this energy, but your Sheprador will also need plenty of play time in the backyard or dog park.
Puzzle toys can help keep your German Shepherd Lab Mix busy, but don’t rely on them to completely distract him. Without the proper time, attention, training and mental stimulation, the German Shepherd Lab mix can have a tendency to become bored and destructive, so watch out!
13. When Properly Trained, Sheprador Dogs Do Well With Children and Other Pets
German Shepherd Lab Mix dogs make great family companions and do well in homes with other pets when properly socialized.
One of our favorite things about the German Shepherd Lab mix is that they do so well with children and families of all ages. These highly versatile dogs are emotionally intelligent, and become very bonded with their people. They are patient and loving with youngsters and gentle with seniors, (though they do best in homes with younger, active families overall).
That said, they can have a tendency to misbehave if their energy is not harnessed, making training and exercise so vital.
When properly trained and socialized, the Sheprador is an ideal family companion who thrives in homes with youngsters and gets on well with other furry siblings.
14. German Shepherd Lab Mix Dogs Have Specific Grooming Needs
Because of their weather-resistant coat, Shepreadors only need to be bathed once every few months.
Due to their thick, dense coats, many people might assume that the German Shepherd Lab mix requires extensive grooming. However, this is a dog who is relatively low maintenance. His coat is self-cleaning and weather-resistant, meaning he only needs bathing once every few months unless he gets especially dirty.
However, because this dog is a heavy shedder, he should be brushed with a quality deshedding brush every couple of days.
During shedding season, your German Shepherd Lab Mix should be brushed at least once a day to help collect loose hair and reduce doggy odor and skin issues.
It’s very important to never shave your Sheprador in an effort to keep him cool, as shaving a double-coated dog can actually have adverse effects including sunburn, skin issues, and heat stroke.
Along with proper brushing, your German Shepherd Lab Mix should have his nails trimmed routinely to keep them from cracking and splitting. His ears should be checked and cleaned to keep them free of moisture, debris and build up, and his teeth should be brushed at least once a day with a quality dog toothbrush and dog-safe toothpaste.
15. Sheprador Puppies Can Be Costly, But Don’t Cut Corners For A Bargain Puppy
Sheprador puppies from a breeder can cost over $800.
German Shepherd Lab Mix puppies can be a bit costly, ranging in price from $800 and higher, depending on the breeder and quality of the puppy’s parents. However, it’s important to avoid going through unreputable sources in search of a cheaper puppy.
Going through backyard breeders or unqualified online sellers could result in you buying a puppy that is unhealthy, which can end up costing you much more in the long run.
Instead, go through a breeder who can offer you a health certificate proving their dogs have been screened for any serious health issues, and a breeder who is well-versed in both German Shepherd dogs and Labradors.
If you would prefer to look for a German Shepherd Lab Mix dog at a lower cost, you also have the option of going through a rescue.
Reducing a dog is often a fraction of the cost of buying one from a breeder, but there are plenty of benefits that go along with adopting a dog that far surpass the cheaper cost. Not only are you giving a dog in need a good and loving home, but you are also opening up space in a shelter for other dogs in need.
Many rescues and shelters will also offer you a free initial vet exam to ensure your new dog is healthy, and most shetlers have their dogs undergo behavioral testing to ensure they are adoptable. It’s a win-win for everyone!
The Top Products Every German Shepherd Lab Mix Dog Owner Should Know About
Investing in quality products made just for a dog like the Sheprador can help you and your pup thrive.
If you’ve decided that a German Shepherd Lab mix is the right dog for you, then congratulations are in order. Remember, preparing for a puppy or rescue dog is key to ensuring you both start off on the right foot (and paw, for that matter), and we want to help.
Here are a few products every owner of a German Shepherd Lab Mix should know about.
MidWest iCrate Starter Kit
One of the first products we recommend for any owner of a Sheprador dog is a comfy, cozy dog crate. The above crate by MidWest Homes for Pets includes an entire starter pack for your pup.
It comes with the crate, two dog bowls, a bed to ensure the bottom of the crate is soft and comfortable, and a crate cover to help reduce anxiety while your dog is alone.
You can order the crate in different sizes depending on your needs, but we suggest getting a crate that is large enough for your German Shepherd Lab Mix to stand up, turn around, and lie down in.
PetSafe Easy Walk Dog Harness
Exercise is going to be a big part of your Sheprador parenthood, and the correct harness will make this experience much easier for both you and your dog.
Our favorite harness for larger, more energetic dogs like the German Shepherd Lab Mix is the Easy Walk front clip dog harness by PetSafe. This harness helps reduce pulling during walks by redirecting your dog back to your side safely.
It does not put pressure on your dog’s neck or sensitive trachea either, which makes it much safer.
Outward Hound Puzzle Toy
The Sheprador is renowned for his clever mind, so it will help to keep him busy during the day using puzzle toys. The above puzzle toy is a popular one by Outward Hound, and utilizes treats to keep your Sheprador interested.
The toy is also dog safe and free of any color, which can be problematic if your dog chews the toy. If you don’t like this particular puzzle toy for your German Shepherd Lab Mix, Outward Hound makes a number of other puzzle toys you can choose from.
And there you have it. So, are you totally smitten with this hybrid dog? Tell us why or why not in the comment section below.
Thanks for reading!
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.