German Shepherds and Labradors are both friendly, intelligent, and loyal dogs, with boundless energy and a playful nature. The German Shepherd Labrador mix or Sheprador embodies the qualities of both breeds and is known to be a wonderful companion dog.
In this article, you’ll learn about the Labrador and German Shepherd mix dog appearance, their nature, their positive characteristics, and if they are the right family pet for you so keep reading!
Characteristics of the Sheprador Parent Breeds
Both Black Labradors and German Shepherds are unique breeds, both known for specific characteristics in terms of appearance, and both are very popular dog breeds.
German Shepherd Physical Characteristics
German Shepherd dogs are known for their beautiful physical appearance, especially their tan and black coloring but there is much more to this amazing dog.
Usually, around two feet (24 inches) at the shoulders, though females are generally smaller
Males are usually between 66 and 88 pounds. Females are usually between 50 and 70 pounds
- German Shepherd puppies have floppy ears, but adults have erect and pointed ears
- Dark eyes, often with an almond shape to them
- Long straight muzzle with a square black nose
- Medium-to-long dense double coat
- Bushy curved tail
- Known for a tan belly and legs with a black back, but can actually be black-and-tan, black-and-cream, black-and-red, or black-and-silver. They can even be all black, or white.
German Shepherd Personality
German Shepherds have a reputation for being dangerous, but experts say it’s not deserved. They may be excellent for police work, but it’s not simply because they can be aggressive at times.
German Shepherd Personality Traits:
- Very loyal
- Highly Intelligent
- Very protective
- Somewhat reserved until they’ve bonded with a person
- Talkative in certain situations
- Highly active and energetic when they’re happy
German Shepherds may need some socialization and training to bring out the best of their personalities, but once they’ve bonded, they’re great companions for individuals or families.
Black Labrador Physical Characteristics
As the name suggests, these dogs are known for their black coloring. They sometimes have splashes of white on the chest and toes, but their main coloring is a dark sable.
Labs are usually just under 2 feet at the shoulder
A healthy Black Lab generally weighs between 55 and 80 lbs, according to sites like Thelabradorsite.com
There are two different breeds of lab – American and English. An American Lab is generally slightly smaller than the English variety.
- Short double coat, good for shedding water
- Thick, straight tail
- Webbed paws. They have skin between their toes to help with swimming
- Floppy Ears
- Long muzzle and square nose
Black Labrador Personality
Labradors are known for their friendly personalities, and Black Labs are no exception. Other personality traits include:
- Highly intelligent
- Very social dogs
- Loyal, but also very friendly
- Extremely energetic and playful
- Bond tightly to their families, but don’t dislike greeting strangers and making new friends
History of the Sheprador
It’s not uncommon for new breeds to appear by chance. While no one is sure where the first German Shepherd Labrador mix appeared, we do know some of the history behind them.
German Shepherd History
Max von Stephanitz created and introduced the German Shepherd breed in the 1800s. It was his goal to create the perfect herding dog for German livestock owners.
By the early 1900s, their purpose had shifted from herding to protective occupations such as guard dogs, and working in K-9 units.
The GSD has a strong work ethic and excels in roles where they have a sense of pleasing and protecting their master.
In 1908, German Shepherds became the 60th breed to be officially recognized by the American Kennel Club.
In 1913 the ‘Adventures of Rin-Tin-Tin’ cemented the popularity of German Shepherds in the hearts of American dog lovers.
Black Labrador History
Labradors were actually originally a cross-breed between Newfoundlands and St. Johns Water Dog. The St. Johns Water dog is now extinct.
The breed was originally created to be hunters, bird dogs, and helpers to fishermen. It was thought that they first appeared in the Canadian region from which they take their name.
They were intended to be good swimmers and intelligent dogs who could be trained in a variety of roles.
After being transported to Europe, they became favored companions for European royalty, due to their friendly nature.
They were recognized as a sporting breed by the American Kennel Club in 1917
German Shepherds and Black Labradors are widely considered the two most popular American breeds. So German Shepherd Lab mix dogs seem like a logical step.
While the original Sheprador might have been accidental, today they’re considered ‘designer’ dogs. Designer dogs are cross-breeds that are deliberately bred from two purebred dogs.
Therefore, a Sheprador is a cross breed of a purebred German Shepherd and a purebred Labrador Retriever.
Shepradors have the potential to combine both the best and worst characteristics of their parent breeds.
In terms of personality and physical appearance, there are a number of ways this hybrid could turn out.
Physical Characteristics of a Sheprador
When it comes to physical characteristics, there is a range of possibilities. Because Shepradors combine the traits of both breeds, there’s no guarantee what physical traits will present from a mix.
Common Physical Traits:
- With both parents being medium-to-large dogs, it’s a pretty sure bet that your Sheprador will be on the larger side.
- Most Shepradors are about 2 feet tall at the shoulder and around 60-80 lbs in weight.
- Both German Shepherds and Black Labs have a long muzzle and a square black nose, so you can expect to see something similar in your Sheprador.
- Both breeds have a double coat, so a Sheprador will as well.
Variable Physical Traits:
- Ears may be floppy or pointed
- Colors can vary widely depending on the colors of the parent dogs, as well as any recessive genes in play.
- They can be a solid color or a mixed color coat
- Their outer coat can be short or long
- Their tails can follow either parent in shape.
While the parent dogs can give you some idea of what to expect, it really depends on which genes are dominant in the pup.
Most designer breeders state there’s no guarantee for certain physical characteristics in a Sheprador.
As with physical characteristics, there is a wide range of personality traits your Sheprador can display or develop.
German Shepherds and Black Labradors are favorites for different reasons. German Shepherds are prized for their protective nature and skill at being guard dogs.
Labradors are popular as hunting dogs and social companions.
However, here are some traits you can be sure will transfer:
- Highly intelligent: Both parent breeds are known for their intelligence
- Extremely loyal: Both parent breeds bond well with their families.
- Highly energetic: Both parent breeds like to move and be active.
- Require Attention: Both of these parent breeds need a certain amount of interaction and stimulation to be happy.
In other characteristics, it’s a bit more variable. You’ll have to wait and see how your Sheprador develops in the following areas:
- More reserved or more friendly?
- Protective or Playful?
- Independent and Stubborn or Eager to Please?
Your Sheprador may take more after one parent than the other. Or it might be a fairly even mix of both.
Are Shepradors Aggressive?
Most Sheprador dogs are sweet and loving animals.
Keep in mind that German Shepherd dogs are known for being aggressive at times so German Shepherd mixes may inherit some of those traits.
How To Care for a Labrador German Shepherd Mix
German Shepherds and Labradors are medium-to-large dogs, highly intelligent and active. With that in mind, there are certain things you need to keep in mind about caring for your Sheprador.
A Sheprador is an active dog with high energy levels so they need a diet suited to their metabolism and specific requirements.
The ideal healthy diet for a Sheprador includes the following:
- Plenty of protein for healthy muscles. Proteins from beef, chicken, and fish are best
- Include plenty of carbs.
- Fatty Oils like Fish oils can provide necessary additions to a Sheprador’s diet.
- Diet should be at least 22% protein with 5% fats.
- Experts on sites like AnimalCorner.com recommend about 30 calories per pound, so about 4 cups of dry kibble per day.
- Avoid unnecessary fillers and additives, since these can be bad for your dog.
- Puppies should be fed 3 times a day
- Shepradors older than 4 months should be fed a minimum of twice a day.
Care Requirements for a Sheprador
Aside from proper diet and exercise, there are a few things your Sheprador will need:
- Regular Brushing Required – A Sheprador can be a heavy shedder. Weekly or even daily brushing is critical.
- Nail Care – Make sure nails are trimmed to reduce the chances of injuries.
- Regular Medical Checks – Regular Trips to the Vet are essential for a happy, healthy dog.
- Make Sure They Have Their Inoculations and Vaccines
Exercise and Space Requirements for a Sheprador
Shepradors aren’t small dogs so you’ll need plenty of room for them to move. Experts suggest having a large backyard for Shepradors to play in.
It is recommended at least two hours of physical exercise a day for your Sheprador.
You need to be able to devote plenty of time and energy to playing, running, walking, and exercising with your Sheprador.
Training and Engaging With a Sheprador
Shepradors are both intelligent and active, so it’s wise to give them plenty of ways to engage to prevent them from being bored.
Whether you want a companion or a service animal, a little bit of training can go a long way. When it comes to Shepradors, you’ll want to keep these things in mind:
- Socializing is important. Your Sheprador needs to be socialized, especially if it inherits more of the German Shepherd personality.
- Shepradors respond best to positive reinforcement techniques when training. They love to learn, but they don’t like being scolded or having a human be dominant over them.
- The reward system works best, as with most dogs.
- Shepradors can be a bit independent and stubborn but just need a little bit of patience.
Shepradors are highly intelligent, so plenty of mental stimulation is important. Interactive toys and regular challenges are important to keep your Sheprador from being bored and acting out.
Training can provide part of the enrichment a Sheprador needs. So can challenges like a puzzle feeder.
Note: Because Shepradors need lots of attention, if you work a lot or are away from home for long periods during the day, they may not be the best choice.
A healthy and well-cared-for Sheprador can easily live for 10-15 years.
Challenges of Owning a Sheprador
With any pet, there are challenges to overcome. So what are the challenges of owning a Sheprador?
Being medium-to-large dogs, space is one potential issue for a Sheprador. If you have a smaller home, it can be difficult to find enough room for both you and your dog to be comfortable.
Aside from space issues, there are potential health and behavior issues that you may want to watch out for.
Health Problems for a Sheprador
German Shepherds and Labradors have some common health issues that you’ll want to watch out for, especially as your Sheprador approaches its older years.
- Hip and Elbow Dysplasia –
Caused when hips and knee joints don’t develop properly. Hip dysplasia is common in Labs and can cause pain and arthritis later in life.
These problems are best avoided by getting plenty of exercise as a puppy and maintaining a healthy weight.
- Bloat, or GDV –
Caused by poor diet, or exercising too soon after eating. Air can be swallowed while eating, and the stomach can dilate and expand, even twist if it’s not treated promptly.
Can cut blood flow or rupture stomach walls, which is often fatal
Be sure to feed your Sheprador proper food, make sure they don’t eat too fast and don’t take them exercising too soon after eating.
- Ocular Diseases –
Ocular Diseases are common in both parent breeds, as tissue in the eyes can degenerate over time.
Health screenings of the parents can identify if your Sheprador is at risk. There is no treatment, but foods rich in beta carotene can slow the progression.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy –
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (GPRA) is an inherited eye disease that will slowly cause blindness in a dog over a period of years.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy commonly occurs in Labradores so it will be smart to have your vet check your Shepradors eyes on a regular basis.
- Obesity –
Overfeeding or lack of exercise can lead to obesity. This can cause other health problems later on in life.
Shepradors tend to eat anything they’re given, so controlling portion sizes at mealtimes is a good way to keep them healthy.
- Allergies –
Dogs can develop allergies over time. Food allergies to things they consume regularly is common.
Varying their diet and including foods that aren’t in their regular diet can help to avoid this.
- Underactive Thyroid –
An underactive thyroid means hormone imbalances. This in turn can lead to lethargy, weight issues, and problems handling cold temperatures.
Your vet can tell you if this is a problem, and what you can do about it.
Sheprador Behavior Issues:
Being intelligent and energetic has its downsides. Without proper mental stimulation and training, you might face the following challenges with your Sheprador.
- Destructive Behavior –
Shepradors that aren’t properly stimulated can develop destructive behaviors in an effort to entertain themselves. The most common is chewing.
Keeping your Sheprador entertained is critical to avoid having your belongings gnawed on.
- Over-Exuberance –
If your Sheprador takes more after its Labrador parent, then they’re likely to engage in more excitable behaviors
Aside from startling guests, this high-energy attitude can also be risky if you have young children.
Proper training can curb some of that energy while playing and regular exercise can help burn off the rest.
- Stubbornness –
A Sheprador that inherits some of its German Shepherd parent’s personality may be stubborn about following orders. Independence can be a good trait, or a difficult one.
Training and patience can help you deal with this trait.
Shepradors are great companions, but there are a few things to be aware of when bringing one home.
- Shepradors are not hypoallergenic dogs. If you have allergies, this can be a problem.
- Shepradors can be great family members, but with small children, you’ll need to be careful to avoid injuries
- Shepradors aren’t small dogs. If you have a small living space, a Sheprador might not be the best choice.
What Special Purposes Can Shepradors Be Used For?
Like their parent breeds, Shepradors have a lot of potential for assisting in special circumstances, according to sites like Dogell.com.
Shepradors as Service Dogs
Are Shepradors good service dogs? They certainly can be.
Shepradors as Service Dogs: Their intelligence, size, and loyalty make them well equipped to be a special companion to help through any circumstances.
Shepradors as Search and Rescue Dogs: They can be used to find and rescue people, or as Detection Dogs to sniff our contraband and dangerous substances.
Shepradors as Guard Dogs: Like their German Shepherd parents, Shepradors can be trained as excellent guards.
While a Sheprador may not possess all the characteristics of a German Shepherd they will still bark when an intruder is noticed and they are very protective of their family.
Shepradors in Military Services: Shepradors can do well in any branch of the Service. They even do well on boats with Naval occupations.
Shepradors as Herders and Hunters: Shepador instincts can help them settle easily into the roles of Herding Dogs, or assistance for hunters.
Shepradors as Emotional Support Animals
Shepradors have a lot of potential as Emotional Support Animals (ESA). They’re friendly and loyal animals, with a warm and engaging temperament.
Some debate whether Shepradors are good therapy dogs because of their energetic nature. They may be too excitable for some elderly people or anyone that does not have the physical ability to deal with a playful dog.
Whether a Sherpador makes a good ESA really depends on the personal needs of the individual.
Another possible solution is to have someone who is in charge of the dog while they are providing therapy for the person in need.
They can do well for those who have depression or anxiety. As long as you can handle an active animal, Shepradors have the potential to be a good choice for an ESA.
Is a Sheprador a Good Family Dog?
Shepradors are friendly animals. They do great with elders, children, and other pets.
The only thing you need to watch is their natural exuberance. Be careful until you’re sure they understand to be careful around toddlers and elders who have issues with balance.
With the proper love, care, and training Shepradors make great family dogs.
If you have an amazing Sheprador in your family you have to have a great name for them! Here is a short list of popular Shepradoe names.
Related Sheprador Questions
How Much Does a Sheprador Cost?
Sheprador puppies can cost $800 or more. The pedigree of the parents and the breeder you purchase from can contribute to the price.
Where Should I Go To Find a Sheprador?
Seek out an official Sheprador breeder.
Be sure you get a responsible breeder who takes good care of their dogs, lets you meet the animals, and can provide proof of regular health checks and good health in the parents.
Check on the internet and see if there are any Sheprador clubs or groups in your area and ask where they got their dogs from.
You can also call around to veterinarians and ask for advice on locating a Sheprador.
Remember it is always a great thing to adopt a dog from a local shelter. Go visit shelters in your area and you may just get lucky and find a Sheprador waiting for you!
Can Shepradors Be Show Dogs?
Shepradors can certainly be part of mixed breed dog shows. They often perform very well.
Are Shepradors Good With Cats?
Remember that any dog is a potential threat to a cat and simply because of size difference could kill or injure a cat. Something to consider if you have a cat in the home now
Having said that, Shepradors are perfectly able to coexist with a cat if they are properly trained and socialized especially from an early age.
Will My Sheprador’s Ears Stand Up?
Many German Shepherds have ears that stand up. It is one of their trademark looks but Labradores have floppy ears that don’t stand up.
So your Sheprador may or may not have ears that stand up.
Shepradors, or German Labrador mix breeds, can be a wonderful companion. They have awesome personalities and can make great family pets.
For people who have the time and energy to keep up with this active and intelligent breed, these are definitely excellent dogs to consider.