- Quick Breed Summary Table
- History and Original Purposes
- Origin of the German Shepherd
- Origin of the Labrador Retriever
- Origins of the Sheprador
- Fun Facts About the Sheprador
- Sheprador Appearance
- Sheprador Coat and Grooming
- Sheprador Size and Weight
- Sheprador Temperament
- Sheprador Socialization
- Sheprador Training and Exercise Requirements
- Sheprador Health and Care
- Potential as a Family Pet
- Rescuing a Sheprador
- Finding a Sheprador Puppy
- Raising a Sheprador Puppy
- Final Thoughts
The Labrador Retriever is the most popular dog breed in America. The German Shepherd is the second most popular dog breed in America. They’ve ranked this high since at least 2013. The Sheprador is quite simply a crossbreed of the Labrador Retriever and the German Shepherd. The mix produces a friendly, loyal, and highly intelligent floppy-eared pooch who is an excellent fit for families.
In this article, we’ll break down all the characteristics of the Sheprador. We’ll discuss the typical height, weight, coat, grooming needs, health and wellness, care and exercise, temperament, trainability, lifestyle, and more!
Start by checking out this information table and then read further for more details!
Quick Breed Summary Table
|Life Span||10 to 12 years|
|Temperament||Loyal, obedient, friendly, protective, loving|
|Average Height||22 inches to 26 inches|
|Average Weight||49 pounds to 88 pounds|
|Coat Type||Short, dense, double coat|
|Grooming Needs||Moderate – but no professional grooming|
|Shedding||Moderate to high and seasonal|
|Touchiness||Moderate – humans must be respectful of personal boundaries|
|Tolerant to Solitude?||Moderate – thrive on socialization|
|Tolerance to Heat||Moderate – can overheat in warm temperatures|
|Tolerance to Cold||High – thrive in cold climates|
|Barking||Occasional – can be trained to be quiet|
|Good Family Pet?||Excellent family pet!|
|Good with Children?||Good to great with proper socialization|
|Good with Other Dogs?||Moderate to excellent with proper socialization|
|Good with Other Pets?||Good to great with proper training|
|Good Apartment Dweller?||Not very – they need space for indoor activities|
|Good Pet for New Owner?||Fairly easy to get the hang of caring for and training|
|Trainability||Very easy to train|
|Exercise Needs||High – Daily physical activity|
|Tendency to Gain Weight||Moderate|
|Common Health Concerns||Bloat, Joint Dysplasia, Allergies, Ear Infections, Heart Complications, Obesity|
|Average New Puppy Price||$195 to $850|
|Average Annual Medical Expense||$500 to $600|
|Average Annual Non-Medical Expense||$500 to $600|
|Yearly Cost to Own This Breed||$1,000+|
History and Original Purposes
The Sheprador is a designer breed with a catchy name to differentiate from “mutt” breeds. The similar body shapes and personalities have made this mixed breed a favorable and lovable choice among families who love the protectiveness of the German Shepherd and the sheer joy of the Labrador Retriever. Severely different body types and temperaments can cause unhealthy and unhappy offspring as well as controversy among breeders, but in this case, there is little pushback.
Origin of the German Shepherd
Initially, Max von Stephanitz, a German veterinarian, was fascinated by the versatility, stamina, and intelligence of Germany’s sheepdogs in the 19th and 20th centuries. He found a German sheepdog at a show that embodied the best qualities. He named this dog Horand von Grafath. Von Stephanitz created the first official breed registry for German Shepherds and began to build that registry with descendants of Horand.
Origin of the Labrador Retriever
The origins of the Labrador Retriever are much less defined. Labs are descendants from the St. John’s water dogs, an extinct breed. St. John’s water dogs were bred from a mix of Old English, Irish, and Portuguese working dogs. All the ancestors had common traits in outstanding retrieval skills. Since then, the Labrador Retriever has honed its skills through many generations.
Origins of the Sheprador
Shepradors are often bred by accident but have become more recognized as a designer breed. Perhaps not quite as well-known as the Goldendoodle or the Cockapoo, but still beloved. Well-established designer breed registries haven’t created substantial standards on the Sheprador yet, partially due to lack of consensus on the best name. Sheprador, German Sheprador, Labrashepherd, and Labrashep have all bounced around.
Overall, we don’t know what quite to expect from the newly mixed breed. We’re still learning as we continue breeding.
Fun Facts About the Sheprador
- The Labrador and Shepherd are the top 2 most popular breeds in America, making them the ideal combination!
- Actress Edie Falco has a Sheprador named Marley.
- Shepradors are a relatively new mixed breed, so if you buy or adopt a puppy, you may be in for a surprise of coat color and temperament as the pup grows! Let the adventure begin!
Most Sheprador puppies are first-generation crossbreeds, meaning they have one parent of each pedigree. This creates the potential for a wide variety of potential characteristics. There won’t be a “standard” appearance until many generations later when we’ve fine-tuned the designer breed.
If you adopt a full-grown Sheprador, you’ll already know what their characteristics are. That leaves out all the guesswork. But if you buy or adopt a puppy Sheprador, you’ll be taking bets on the look, size, weight, coloring, and coat of the dog.
Some Shepradors have the facial features of the GSD with the long, slender muzzle and the tall, alert ears. Others may have the stout muzzle and floppy ears of the Lab. Coat depends on the coloring of the parents and could be any combination of yellow, black, tan, sable, white, or gray.
Sheprador Coat and Grooming
Shepradors typically have dense medium-length double coats that constantly shed. They “blow out” their coats every spring and fall. This means they lose their winter and summer coats and get ready for the next season.
Due to this shedding, you’re going to want to brush your dog every day and invest in a high-quality vacuum. As for the brush, a basic wire or plastic bristle brush will be sufficient for daily brushing. When it comes to season changes, you’re going to want a coat rake to help rid your dog of loose fur. This will reduce the tumbleweeds of fur in your home.
The only time you’ll need to give your Sheprador a bath with shampoo and conditioner is when he’s too dirty to brush him. Let’s say he found a big mud puddle and rolled around in it. Then it’s time to break out the dog-friendly soap. (Never human shampoo or conditioner.)
Sheprador Size and Weight
German Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers are fairly similar in size so you can expect as much variation in height and weight as compared to 2 different GSDs or 2 different Labs. German Shepherds range in weight from 50 pounds to 90 pounds while Labrador Retrievers range in weight from 50 pounds to 75 pounds. Your Sheprador could range in weight anywhere in between.
You can expect a similar situation in height differences. German Shepherds range in height from 22 inches to 26 inches at the shoulder. Labradors range from 22 inches to 25 inches. Again, your Sheprador could be on the taller or shorter end of that range.
As with all breeds, the smaller dogs are usually the females while the larger dogs are the males.
The personalities of German Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers are similar with a few minor differences. Labs are super friendly, very active, and socially outgoing. They love people and other animals when appropriately socialized as puppies. Labs love to play all day and interact with people. They openly show affection and get along with kids.
German Shepherds are confident, alert, brave, and intelligent. They are loyal to their handlers and their families. They need productive ways to channel their energy and focus on feeling accomplished and avoiding boredom. (Boredom could lead to mischief.)
Overall, both breeds are friendly, intelligent, energetic, and eager to please. They love learning and are easily trainable. The only significant variation is that GSDs are prone to be protective.
If you buy or adopt a puppy, be sure to thoroughly socialize the pup so he’s friendly to people, children, strangers, dogs, cats, and other animals. The more exposure the pup gets to these surrounding, the more comfortable he’ll be as he grows older.
Socialization is the process of getting a dog acquainted and comfortable with other dogs, animals, people, places, and activities. Even breeds known to be friendly and outgoing can be fearful and reclusive if socialized improperly.
Shepradors are likely to inherit a love of meeting new people. As puppies, they need to be introduced to new people regularly. The experiences need to be positive. The people who interact with the puppies need to be gentle, supportive, cheerful, and loving. They should speak to the puppy in a soothing voice and hold the puppy with gentle hands. The experience should always be positive and make the puppy look forward to meeting new people.
Introductions to new animals should involve calm, pleasant, friendly animals. No animals who are bullies or play roughly. The pup may not like this and become fearful of unfamiliar animals.
Sheprador Training and Exercise Requirements
Labs and German Shepherds are both energetic and intelligent working breeds. They need at least an hour of exercise and mental stimulation every day. They need a human company for most of the day as well as training to stimulate their brains and avoid behavior brought on by boredom.
This mixed breed loves having a purpose in their lives, which is why the pedigrees are often used as service dogs. They are motivated to learn and eager to please. A great way to channel their energy is to enroll them in specialized training. Basic training is mandatory, but building on those skills is also important. Special skills could include tracking, search and rescue, agility, nose work, therapy, and service.
As they age, the Sheprador may develop health issues that could restrict their exercise, training, and mobility. Monitor your dog’s comfort with walking or running. If he slows down or limps, he may need to reduce his activity levels.
Sheprador Health and Care
Sometimes the attributes of one breed improve the common health problems of the other breed (e.g., mixing a German Shepherd with a Bulldog elongates the muzzle of the Bulldog and reduces breathing complications). Does this mean a Sheprador will be healthier than a purebred Lab or Shepherd? It’s possible. Labs can be gluttons while German Shepherds often turn their nose to the occasional meal. Mixing the 2 could create a dog who enjoys eating only healthy amounts of food. Overall, though, healthcare of Labs and German Shepherds are pretty similar so being a mixed breed removes a lot of the guesswork.
They should get regular veterinary checkups with vaccines and medications as needed. The goal is to prevent illnesses before they have the potential to occur.
The Sheprador should eat quality food with only a few (not too many, no matter how big his puppy dog eyes may be) treats.
Common health issues of the Sheprador include:
- Hip and elbow dysplasia
- Progressive retinal atrophy
- Ear infections
- Gastric Dilatation Volvulus
- Chronic Degenerative Radiculomyelopathy
The good news is, health issues like obesity and ear infections can be prevented by feeding your dog only what is needed and keeping his ears clean.
The best thing you can do is ask lots of questions at the vet’s office, feed only what is instructed, and exercise your dog well.
Potential as a Family Pet
The Sheprador could absolutely make a great pet! Their guarding instincts will protect your kids from strangers as well as bark at people who approach the property. Their friendliness will want to play with kids all day long with balls, frisbees, fetch, and tug. They may even tolerate playing dress-up or cuddling in a blanket for storytime.
Shepradors do need space indoors and outdoors. That means no small apartments. They need an active family who enjoys dog-friendly activities like hiking, running, and walking.
While this breed should be good with kids, it is safest to supervise their playtime anyway. Labs are the least aggressive breed, but big dogs could accidentally knock a kid over in excitement.
Rescuing a Sheprador
When rescuing a dog, determining an exact breed can be difficult unless it’s an owner surrender with paperwork. Rescue shelters can run DNA tests to determine possible breed mixes, but that may not be exact.
To find a Sheprador, do some searching at various rescue organizations. Some are breed-specific so try looking for Lab or German Shepherd rescues. Or visit your local rescue shelters and see if they have any mixed breeds close to a Lab/Shepherd cross.
Finding a Sheprador Puppy
Finding a Sheprador puppy won’t be as difficult compared to rescue shelters. You can search through breeder databases, advertisements, internet listings, or local listings in the newspaper.
When it comes to breeders, you need to take some precautions, though. Check their licenses, certifications, veterinary records, references, and anything else that will tell you if they’re reputable and honest.
Ask to see where the puppies live. They should not live in a kennel or anywhere outside. They should be warm and comfortable indoors.
Ask to see the parents. Parents should be healthy and happy. They should also live indoors, not outside in a kennel.
Overall, make sure it’s not a puppy mill. Puppy mills will have dirty housing, lack of vet records, and lack of licenses. If the seller does not allow you to see the living conditions or the mother/father, they are most likely a puppy mill. The mother will look worn out, tired, and she may have sagging teats.
Raising a Sheprador Puppy
Previously, we published an article about obedience training for a German Shepherd, so that will give you an in-depth look at all the training methods you can use. They’ll work on a GSD mixed breed as well.
Basic commands and proper manners are essential when raising a Sheprador puppy. He should be a well-mannered dog who doesn’t bark, jump, or cause a commotion. Socializing ties into basic training, too.
You should teach your Sheprador puppy to do his business outside. The best way to teach him this is to take him outside for bathroom breaks every 30 minutes. It may get tiresome, but the learning opportunity is pertinent. Your puppy will learn that he is supposed to go outside. Frequent trips outside will give him confidence that he is able to go outside when needed.
Vet checkups should start immediately. Your veterinarian will be able to advise you on how often to schedule an appointment and what vaccinations he will need. Keeping up with vaccines is essential to keeping your puppy healthy and happy. Worms and parvo are far too common and should be prevented before they happen.
Sheprador puppies should be fed good-quality food. Be sure to follow the feeding guide that accompanies the food you choose. Don’t feed your puppy too many treats as that may cause obesity. If needed, give him kibble while training. Additionally, do not feed your dog table scraps. A dog’s stomach cannot handle the chemical additives, high-fat contents, and high salt contents of our food, especially at a young age.
And always have fresh water available for your puppy. Dehydration could seriously injure your dog as well as generate large medical bills.
A Sheprador could be the perfect German Shepherd mixed breed for your family. Be sure to do all the necessary research and preparations before bringing a dog into the family.
Teach your children to be respectful of dogs. That means no pulling on ears or fur!
Do you have experience with Shepradors? Tell us about it! Or leave a question and we’ll be more than happy to help out!
Thanks for reading!