The Labrador Retriever is the most popular dog in the country. The German Shepherd is second on the list. Both earn their top spots for being majestic, loyal dogs that carry some of the most prized traits to be found in the canine kingdom. So what happens when they’re cross-bred?
German Shepherd + Labrador Retriever = German Sheprador
Like a lot of popular mixed breeds, the German Shepherd, Labrador Retriever mix is not an officially recognized breed by the American Kennel Club. However, it is recognized by other dog breed-centric organizations.
While this unique mix isn’t universally recognized as its own breed, they are popular enough to have their own “unofficial” name – the German Sheprador, which is frequently shortened to Sheprador. Some people go the other way with the nickname and call them Labrashepherds.
What Does a Sheprador Look Like?
No matter what you call them, Shepradors are beautiful dogs. The hybrid breed has a head similar to a lab but has a longer, GSD-type muzzle, floppy ears, medium-sized feet, and a variable tail. When they’re out and about, they are as graceful and playful as you may expect them to be, given their respective pedigrees.
What Are the Origins of the Sheprador?
The Sheprador is considered to be a “designer” dog; that is a hybrid pooch distinctively produced by two different pure breeds. This type of dog differs from a mutt or a mixed breed in the sense that you can acutely trace the bloodlines from the parents. Other dogs that fall into this category include Labradoodles and Chiweenies.
As is the case with most designer dogs, the Sheprador really doesn’t have a clear-cut origin story in terms of when they started showing up on the scene. It is speculated that they started cropping up around the 1980s when a lot of the other popular hybrid pooches were “created.”
The two breeds that are responsible for this hybrid is a different story. The GSD can be traced back to 19th Century Germany, where they were bred to be an intelligent, athletic working dog. This pedigree has led the GSD to be a dog capable of being a reliable police dog, guide dog, search and rescue dog, and more.
The Labrador Retriever is older than the GSD – the breed was bred in what is now Canada in the 18th century. It was bred to have the drive of a working breed, but the loyal nature to be a good family dog after hours. The breed’s working drive also led it to be a popular pooch for police, military, therapy, and rescue work.
What is a Sheprador Like?
Much like his physical appearance, a Sheprador’s personality provides you with a steady mix of personality traits culled from both breeds. Some may view these traits as the best of both worlds, while others may disagree. Your mileage may vary.
The typical Sheprador has the type of temperament with strangers befitting a GSD. Your pooch will be aloof and a bit wary of people he doesn’t know or doesn’t recognize as part of your family. This streak makes him a solid watchdog that will be quick to alert you if something foul is afoot.
The reason why the Sheprador treats strangers with an air of suspicion is because he carries a strong penchant for loyalty and family protection. Like a lab, this hybrid breed is eager to please his brood and has a bright and cheerful personality when he feels he can let his guard down.
The mix of playfulness and protectiveness effectively makes a Sheprador a gentle dog that can jump into fierce defender mode at a moment’s notice. This blending makes him a terrific choice for families with children. Indeed, the dog does tend to score high marks in terms of having the patience needed to deal with typical childhood shenanigans.
The Exercise Needs of a Sheprador
As one may expect, a Sheprador needs exercise and plenty of it. This is not an ideal breed if you live in an apartment or a home that has small backyards space. If you are an active family that thrives on enjoying the great outdoors, the Sheprador may be the best dog you’ve ever owned.
You can expect to take your pooch out for at least a couple lengthy walks every day. This is important because it taps into the hybrid’s inherent need to work – something he gets from both bloodlines. You may look at walking and exercise as giving your dog a workout. He’ll simply look at it as a task he needs to complete.
If you slack on this duty, your Sheprador will end up making up his own form of work. Unfortunately, this DIY job description can easily include digging up your gardenias, shredding your sofa to smithereens, and other forms of unpleasant mischief. Remember, these acts aren’t being done out of spite – he’s merely looking for something to do.
What’s more, you also need to make sure you’re keeping your Sheprador’s mind stimulated, or the same kind of nefarious results may occur. Exercise will help to stimulate his brainpower, but don’t overlook the power of a good puzzle toy to occupy his time when you’re not out and about.
Are Shepradors Easy to Train?
Because of the hybrid’s athletic nature, you can work to train your Sheprador to do some pretty impressive activities. These can include such crowd-pleasing endeavors like agility training, flyball, and Frisbee catching. Also, Shepradors are known to enjoy a good dip in the pool every now and then.Because Shepradors are such an intelligent hybrid breed that is eager to please their owner, they are very easy to train. As is the case with other dogs, you need to make sure you provide your pooch with consistent training that is gentle yet firm and positive. Praise and rewards are always great motivators to get this pooch to fall in line.
Even though a Sheprador is smart and quick to learn, you still shouldn’t delay on providing your pooch with training and socialization. The younger you train him, the easier it will be for him to absorb it in part because you’re giving him a point of reference on how things should be done. The saying about old dogs and new tricks is around for a reason.
A Look at a Sheprador’s Dining Habits
A Sheprador likes to eat, and it can be rather easy to overfeed the hybrid. This is especially the case if you aren’t giving him the type of daily exercise he needs. Ideally, you’ll want to keep a male Sheprador between 45 and 55 pounds, and a female between 35 and 45 pounds.
You can expect to feed your Sheprador about 3 to 4 cups of dry dog food per day. Ideally, you’ll want to feed him a high-quality dog food that’s high in protein and nutrients and low on filler and artificial preservatives. It may be tempting to skirt quality in favor of cost-effectiveness, but you should avoid this tack as much as possible.
The Health of a Sheprador
A Sheprador will typically carry a lifespan of about 10 to 14 years. This lifespan puts them on the high end of life expectancy compared to other large breeds. It also has a slightly better life expectancy than either a GSD or a Labrador.
Not surprisingly, a Sheprador is prone to some of the health issues that are relatively commonplace for both GSDs and Labradors. The most prominent ailment that can affect a Sheprador is dysplasia, both at the hips and at the elbows. This is a common issue in large breed dogs and its akin to arthritis in a human.
A Sheprador may also be subject to a condition called gastric dilatation-volvulus, something more commonly known as bloat. This is a serious issue that is marked by a stomach that dilates and then twists or rotates. If not treated, it could cause problems ranging from cardiovascular system damage to organ death.
Other conditions that Shepradors may be subject to experiencing include epilepsy, cold tail, ear infections, skin problems, allergies, and eye problems. Fortunately, the risk of some of these issues can be mitigated through the administration of a high-quality diet.
What Are the Grooming Needs for a Sheprador?
Just like his parents, a Sheprador is going to have a thick, sturdy double coat. This coat makes him a hardy breed that can handle cold temperatures much better than other breeds. However, it also makes him a shedding machine.
Shepradors will shed their coats twice a year, and they tend to leave a good amount of hair all over the place during the process. You should be prepared to brush him down with a shedding blade to make sure all of the dead hair is removed. You should brush your Sheprador’s coat on a regular basis to keep it shiny and healthy.
Nail trimming can be a little bit difficult to do on a Sheprador than it is in other breeds. The reason for this is the dog’s nail color, which is transparent. Therefore, the natural “ring” nails have that differentiates the quick from the rest of the nail is a bit difficult to see.
If you aren’t quite sure where the safe spot is, don’t hesitate to get a professional groomer involved. Yet there is a bit of good news here: because Shepradors are such an active breed, you can naturally help keep the nails trim by conducting his exercise on hard concrete surfaces.
Shepradors also tend to produce a slight discharge out of their eyes on occasion. You’ll want to be mindful of this, as it can cause eye irritation and infection if it’s left untreated. Fortunately, the discharge can easily be taken care of by wiping it away with a damp Kleenex.
How Much does a Sheprador Cost?
You may think that a Sheprador is an expensive dog to initially bring into your home. After all, it is a “designer dog,” and anything with the word “designer” in its name is bound to be a bit high on the price scale, right?
Fortunately, if not surprisingly, this is not the case. The price of a Sheprador puppy will run you $150 to $600. One of the reasons why the cost is low is because it’s not a registered breed, so you won’t have to deal with people looking for show dogs inflating the price tag.
With that being said, you should be mindful of the costs that are associated with the hybrid once you bring your new four-legged friend home. You’ll obviously have all the usual basic costs of owning a dog to deal with, such as pet registration, vet visits, toys, food, and grooming necessities.
These last two metrics can provide a decent measure of sticker shock if you’re not prepared. This a breed that can eat you out of house and home if you’re not careful. Even if you are, you may be surprised at how fast 3 to 4 cups of dry dog food each day can disappear.
Because this dog sheds his double coat and has clear nails that can be hard to trim at home, you may want to factor in visits to a professional groomer into the hybrid breed’s overall price tag. This is not something to be ignored because of budget, either. You’re not just making sure your dog looks good – you’re ensuring he’s feeling good, too.
Two Great Breeds that Make One Great Hybrid
If you’ve grown up with either a GSD or a Lab, you already have an inkling as to how dynamic a Sheprador can be. Even if you haven’t, and you’re looking for a smart, loyal dog that has high energy and is gentle with kids, the Sheprador may be the pooch you need in your life.
Obviously, you’ll want to make sure that the environment you’re introducing him to will be suitable for his needs. But if you can provide such an environ to the pooch, you will be blessed with a tremendous family dog that will effortlessly spread joy to your life every day.