What’s better than owning one of the most popular dog breeds globally as a pet? Owning two of the most popular dog breeds in the world. And what’s even better than that? Having both of those breeds combined in one dog.
Two of the most popular dog breeds in the world, combined? Is that even possible? Yes, it is, and it is a thing, and that breed is called the Golden Shepherd. As its name suggests, the breed combines the ever-popular German Shepherd and the immensely lovable Golden Retriever.
Both these beautiful breeds enjoy extraordinary reputations for being loyal family dogs, and now, as a mixed breed, the hybrid is gaining popularity.
Let’s dive into what you need to know about the German Shepherd Golden Retriever mix.
- 1 How the German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix Came into Being
- 2 Parent Breed: German Shepherd
- 3 Parent Breed: Golden Retriever
- 4 Golden Shepherd Looks
- 5 Personality
- 6 Getting Enough Playtime
- 7 Training
- 8 Health & Care
- 9 Feeding a Golden Shepherd
- 10 Grooming and Maintenance
- 11 Other Facts & FAQS
- 12 Final Thoughts on The Golden Shepherd
How the German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix Came into Being
It seemed like only a matter of time before this particular breed became a thing. Breeders generally tend to experiment with hybrid species for a couple of reasons.
Sometimes it’s about trying to eliminate problem traits. In the case of the Golden Shepherd, it’s tough to think of any negative personality traits, though. Both the parent breeds of this dog are friendly, loving, loyal, and obedient.
There is a possibility that there was some intention to address common health problems with either breed. Some of the ailments associated with the parent breeds are well-known. More on that later.
So, perhaps, in this case, it’s about combining the best qualities of each breed. In one sense, this may be considered a case of breeding the super-family-dog. Let’s be honest—if ever there was a dog that deserved a Superdog T-shirt, a hybrid of these two breeds would be in the running.
It’s unclear when the Golden Shepherd started being recognized (at least by some organizations), but some of the earliest indications of interest trace back to around 2009. The International Designer Canine Registry (IDCR), American Canine Hybrid Club (ACHC), and Designer Breed Registry (DRA) recognize the dog officially as a hybrid. The American Kennel Club does not officially recognize the breed, as it is a hybrid.
Parent Breed: German Shepherd
Despite this, they are known for their enthusiasm, loyalty, and intelligence. They became popular in other work-related activities, like policing, rescue, and the military. They regularly make for formidable workers, weighing between 65 and 90 lbs They also stand at an impressive average height of 26 inches.
One of the most famous dogs in popular culture, Rin Tin Tin, has a storied history. He was plucked from a warzone in World War I by a soldier and returned to the states. The dog’s subsequent popularity as a showbiz celebrity helped to entrench the German Shepherd as a popular dog in the US from that point on.
German Shepherds can be considered the less friendly of the two parent breeds. They can appear suspicious of strangers and somewhat aloof or disinterested in casual banter. Their sheer size can also be intimidating, and being on the wrong side of an aggressive German Shepherd is not the ideal place to be.
American-bred Shepherds are more inclined toward traditional looks and features than European ones.
Parent Breed: Golden Retriever
The Golden traces back to roughly the same time as the German, in terms of breed recognition. Around the 1800s, a golden yellow retriever was acquired by one Lord Tweedmouth of England. He crossbred this dog with a water spaniel, and the first Golden Retrievers were created.
Initially intended to be water-loving gun dogs, they became known for their incredible friendly personalities and desire to please. They are also remarkably intelligent (in terms of trainability), and are very child and pet friendly.
They grow to around 24 inches tall and can weigh a hefty 75 pounds. Today, retrievers serve as guide dogs, support animals, and therapy assistants. They look adorable in medical uniforms.
Goldens have been bred to have soft mouths. In the past, when they were hunting dogs, they would need to carry birds and other small game, and their soft mouths would limit any damage to the object. In a domestic context, this makes them a little bit safer to have around kids.
As noted, Goldens are generally friendlier than Shepherds. In fact, Goldens are more sociable than most things. It’s like they were born with sunshine in their hearts, and all they can do is let it out and share it with you.
Goldens are swimmers, too. They love to dive into the water with you, so you’ll never be short of a swimming partner.
Golden Shepherd Looks
It may not be helpful to simply try to describe a Golden Shepherd in terms of looks. German Shepherds look very different from Golden Retrievers, so the questions were always about what the crossbreeds would look like. And the answer is a little anticlimactic: Golden Shepherds do not seem to have a typical look.
An individual dog can look quite different from the other. Some tend to sway towards the Retriever side of things, and others look more like a German Shepherd. Others still, remarkably, combine the features so that they hardly look like either parent breed.
So, at the risk of sounding confusing, here are the hybrid’s possible features:
- Build: Lean or athletic.
- Color: Tan, red, cream, black, and any combination or pattern combining those.
- Eyes: Expressive or intelligent, and usually brown (though it can be blue).
- Ears: Can be floppy or erect.
- Tail: Usually a long tail, which may be slightly curved.
The Golden Shepherd fits nicely between its parent breeds in terms of size. They can weigh up to about 85 pounds, though some outliers have been notably larger at 95 pounds. With 27 inches in height taken as an average, bear in mind that they can be significantly shorter or taller.
These parent breeds are double-coated, owing to their origins as work dogs in water and cold climates. Therefore, the Golden Shepherd has the same characteristic and will tend to be a shedder as a result. In spring and fall, in particular, shedding is at a maximum.
Coats are medium-length and can vary considerably in color, although the colors will range between ordinary German Shepherd and Golden Retriever shades. It is, however, those with a solid color that seem to be the most visually striking.
One of the main factors in deciding whether dogs are suitable for families is personality. It goes a long way to deciding whether your children and other pets are safe—not to mention visitors and extended family.
It also goes hand-in-hand with the type of home you have to offer in terms of space, and whether or not an environment could have a negative impact on a dog’s behavior.
Some breeds are aggressive and high-energy; others are pleasant social animals who adore people and animal buddies. Various combinations of size and personality may factor into the animals that is suitable for your apartment, house, or small farm.
The parent breeds of this dog suggest an all-around pleasant personality that loves the open space of a big yard. Both are considered great family dogs.
Here are some of the key features one could expect from a generally well-rounded Golden Shepherd.
- Golden Shepherds are likely to get along with just about anyone and everyone.
- They are protective of family and maybe wary of strangers at first.
- They will need a fair bit of exercise (at least an hour per day) to maintain good energy levels.
- Training is essential for a happy pet, but these dogs are well-suited to exercise and taking on disciplined activities.
- They get along well with other pets in the home. They usually pose no problem for cats and other dogs.
- Although they love kids, their size can be inadvertently awkward for very young children to manage.
- They do not enjoy being left alone for very long, as they can suffer from separation anxiety.
As a Watchdog
The dog has an innate ability to work. The shepherding background also makes it a good candidate for being a watchdog. They seem to switch between work mode and play mode almost effortlessly.
While being fun-loving, the keen senses and awareness of the dog will alert you to any approaching strangers. Despite their reputation for being friendly, they are also wary around strangers. So, unless introduced, they will watch closely for signs of danger.
This is, of course, enhanced with proper training from an early age. Experts recommend a positive reinforcement approach, using tasty treats and praise as a tool.
Getting Enough Playtime
It’s important to get enough playtime and exercise your dog. But don’t get overzealous with working on your new puppy.
Something to note about getting out and about with your young or newly-adopted puppy: it isn’t fully developed, physically speaking, until about 18 months old. So get into exercise gradually before then, and be careful not to be too strenuous with the puppy.
When they reach adulthood, energy abounds in this breed, and an occasional walk or sniff around the backyard is far from sufficient. This dog needs long walks, playdates, and social time. Budget, at least an hour per day, to be out there running and walking.
You may also want to invest in some active toys for your dog. Teach it to retrieve (it’s in the name) a fly ball or tug at a dog rope. If you’re near a water source, take the pup swimming—they love water!
More About Separation Anxiety
As mentioned above, these dogs can suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for too long. This may result in depression, boredom and unwanted and destructive behavior. Nobody wants a trashed home or apartment, and if your dog is doing this, it may be because he’s alone for too long.
Even if this is not the case, make sure the pup gets lots of exercises to burn off that extra energy.
These dogs do well with other pets, so another dog in the home might be an ideal chum, provided your home is big enough. Knowing your adorable pup has a friend will help put your mind at ease when you have to leave for work.
You may notice that your dog loves to be around you and will often be found sitting or lying at your feet, even during downtime. At the very least, it will always want to know where you are—literally keeping its eye on you.
It’s hard to overemphasize the fun you could have with a Golden Shepherd due, in part, to its intelligence. These dogs thrive on interaction and praise. While you may also use tasty dog treats on occasion to reward them, they are just as happy to get a toy and a scratch behind the ear.
Remember that you may overfeed the dog with treats if you reward it every time it does something good. They are obedient! But invest in some toys or objects to throw and fetch, and you’ll be just as good as far as your dog is concerned.
As with all dogs, early socialization has benefits further down the line. Getting your dog familiar with other people, for example, will make it more pleasant to visitors and strangers when walking in the park. Also, your dog needs to be comfortable with other animals, especially smaller ones.
Your dog’s playful nature will help with this, but it may inherit a protective instinct from its German Shepherd parent breed. In this case, they will treat strangers warily.
General Approach to Training
Generally, a similar overall approach to training can be taken as with a Golden Retriever. One key is to make it fun. Training should be as much fun for you as for your pup. If nothing else, it’s an opportunity to get out into the fresh air and be happy. Everybody in your family should participate in the training, and everyone should practice the same behavior.
This may be an opportunity to invest in a good-quality dog collar and leash. Teaching your dog to leash-walk is essential, as not all public parks allow dogs to walk free. It’s generally a good idea to teach your dog this skill anyway. Be consistent. Training should ideally be practiced daily at least. Even if formal sessions do not happen every day, make sure you follow the lessons consistently and fairly strictly.
Don’t push too hard, and remember to keep the training age-appropriate and skill-appropriate. An experienced dog trainer can advise on this.
Training is a life skill. It will stay with your dog for as long as you make it so. But the same also applies to you. Again, consistency is the key to having a happy home with a happy dog and a happy family.
Finally, don’t confuse your dog’s friendliness and loyalty with it being a pushover to manage. It’s still important to occupy a role in the relationship that is dominant. Be consistent in your training and conditioning, and make sure all household members understand this. Make sure the doggie knows who “leads the pack,” and it will be the best companion you could possibly want.
Health & Care
Like dogs with a working history, you can expect Golden Shepherds to be generally very healthy and robust dogs. You can expect a life of around 10-13 good years, assuming there are no illnesses or accidents. This is a standard life expectancy for dogs of this size.
That said, the breed has not been in existence long enough to note any specific trends in this regard. As a result, the observations made so far are to be taken as a “best estimation” level of assessment.
The good news is that these dogs are not known for any particular illnesses or afflictions. Still, given the parent breed history, there may be a few things to keep an eye out for.
Gastric Torsion (Bloat)
This is an issue with many large breeds, so it’s not specific to Golden Shepherds. The stomach and digestive tract become bloated with gas and even twisted. This is a dangerous condition and can be fatal.
The stomach area may become stiff and balloon-like to the touch. It’s generally very unpleasant and dangerous. For this reason, caution must be taken when it comes to portion size at mealtimes.
This is a spinal condition. Over time, the spine will degenerate, resulting in loss of strength and eventually coordination in the hind legs. This mainly affects older dogs. Usually, early signs include a weaker hind limb, which eventually leads to a “drunken”, staggering walk. Paws may drag, limbs may cross, and your dog may have trouble turning, and even fall over.
Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
This is another condition that is fairly common in large breeds. The bones and joints of the elbow and knee do not align properly, which results in incorrect movement. The joints become inflamed and painful, and the dog finds it progressively painful and challenging to move. The condition can be managed up to a point with medication and vet care.
This is one of the reasons heavy exercise is not recommended for young puppies, as it may aggravate this condition.
The Hyperthyroidism condition happens when the thyroid gland secretes too much thyroxine. It results in a metabolism that is unnaturally fast. This will result in weight loss, irregular heartbeat and breathing, diarrhea, and personality issues like anxiety and depression. The dog may also drink water excessively.
Golden Retrievers seem to be prone to cancers more than other dogs. Regular examinations by a vet should forewarn any signs. It is also a good idea to determine whether a dog’s parents may have had cancer, as it is sometimes passed down in the genes.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy or Pigmentary Uveitis
This is a group of diseases and conditions that essentially affect the eyes and may degenerate eyesight over time. In the case of PRA, night vision is the first to deteriorate, and the condition eventually gives the eyes a dirty or look slightly gray look. Generally, PRA is inherited.
Pigmentary uveitis (PU) primarily affects Golden Retrievers and can therefore also be passed down to the hybrid breed. Roughly 5-10% of Goldens are diagnosed with this disease and it can usually only be identified in dogs of 8 years or older. The eye is colored by pigment and cataracts and, in extreme cases, glaucoma. Early detection can slow the progress of the condition.
Feeding a Golden Shepherd
More than some other dogs, feeding larger breeds like Germans, Goldens and Golden Shepherds may be a little more complicated than simply filling a bowl.
A full-grown adult Golden Shepherd is a decent eater and can eat up to 3 cups of good quality dog food per day. This food does not have to be served all at one time. This portion is also based on a healthy, active dog. In general, look for a dry kibble that is designed for large active dogs.
Feed a puppy smaller portions four times a day. An adult dog can also have two meals a day, totaling the recommended portions. Overfeeding can lead to bloat (see above) or weight gain—obesity is common, too, in such breeds. Larger dogs tend to eat whatever is in the bowl at one time.
Be sure not to feed the dog immediately before or after a walk or exercise. This is also a major potential cause of bloat, and that is definitely a dangerous factor you want to avoid.
Grooming and Maintenance
These dogs love the outdoors, and they will likely get dirty on your long walks. The coats are doubled up for the parents and for this breed, as mentioned. So you’re going to be doing quite a bit of brushing, and a bit of cleaning up after the shedders. Brushing will help somewhat to cut down on shedding, but not by much.
You’ll want to brush regularly to avoid matting, which can become unpleasant and painful. An excellent robust grooming brush set is a must-have investment. Bathing will also help to cut down on odors and dirt, and every eight to ten weeks is a reasonable time frame for an excellent deep bath. Bathing any more than this is detrimental to the balance of healthy oils in the skin and fur.
Many owners simply opt for an occasional visit to groomers, which can also keep hair and nails trimmed and neat.
Other Facts & FAQS
Here are some random questions and interesting facts about Golden Shepherds, their parent breeds, and their characteristics.
Buying from Breeders
Although it’s always better to adopt from a shelter (every dog needs a home), there are some things to consider if you adopt from a breeder. Reputable breeders would be able to declare parents’ medical history. This may be useful to know if you have concerns about the cancer gene. You can expect to pay $500-800 for a pedigreed pup.
Perfect for Runners and Hikers
Because they’re such keen runners, they will be ideal for running hobbyists or hikers.
These dogs may also excel at sports like flyball or course navigation. The parent breeds are known for loving to play, and there’s no reason your pup will be any different. Goldens, historically, do well in agility sports. Frisbee, Dock Diving, and Flyball have all seen Golden Retriever champs. These traits are likely to pass on to a Golden Shepherd, too.
The German Shepherd is the second-most-popular dog in the US for owners. The shocking revelation is that the Golden Retriever is the third-most-popular breed in the US.
Final Thoughts on The Golden Shepherd
Do you think a Golden Shepherd is an ideal dog to adopt? They will certainly have the desired personality while also acquiring their respective parents’ working mentality and loyalty.
One thing that will set this dog apart is its looks. It will be an unusual-looking pup with a unique combination of German Shepherd and Retriever features. They are ideal for your family, and even though they are best suited to a house with a large garden, they can adapt to apartment living, provided they have enough outdoor time with you.
Why not consider adopting one the next time you’re looking for a faithful, friendly buddy to share a run with?
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