What do you get when you combine two of the most loved and gorgeous dogs? You get a Gerberian Shepsky, a German Shepherd Husky mix. These hybrid dogs are some of the most loyal companions that you can get in a dog. Although this particular crossbreed is relatively new and flew under the radar for some time, it is starting to gain popularity amongst the designer dog breed lovers.
There have been a lot of hybrids created with the German Shepherd, just like the German Shepherd Rottweiler mix. But, the Shepsky is becoming a favorite very quickly. It is a hard decision to make when choosing your puppy but that is why this article is here to help.
Here is everything that you need to know about the German Shepherd Husky mix so that you can make the best decision.
- 1 History and Origin of the German Shepherd Husky Mix
- 2 What does a Gerberian Shepsky Look Like?
- 3 Does the German Shepherd Husky Mix Make a Good Family Pet?
- 4 This Hybrid Breed Needs a Lot of Exercise
- 5 Gerberian Shepskies are Not for Novice Owners
- 6 These Dogs Have a Lot of Grooming Requirements
- 7 Training is Very Important for This Hybrid
- 8 Shepsky Personality and Temperament
- 9 German Shepherd Husky Mixes Have a Few Health Concerns
- 10 They Need to be Mentally Stimulated
- 11 Socialization is Critically Important for This Hybrid
- 12 Shepskies Have an Ideal Habitat
- 13 They Have a Few Dietary Requirements
- 14 Pros and Cons of Getting a German Shepherd Husky Mix
- 15 Final Thoughts on German Shepherd Husky Mix Dogs
History and Origin of the German Shepherd Husky Mix
The German Shepherd and Husky mix hasn’t really been around for too long. It is a recent hybrid that is becoming more desirable. This combination of breeds from two vastly different countries and climates resulted in an attentive and energetic household companion.
This crossbreed seems to have existed somewhat naturally over the decades. But, breeders have been intentionally creating Shepskies since the late 1990s in the Northern United States.
The goal of the breed was to create the ultimate working dog from two breeds that are famous for being hard-working dogs. Today, these hybrids are used in the military, search-and-rescue and law enforcement.
To get to know the origin of this hybrid, you need to understand the long history of the parent breeds.
German Shepherd History
German Shepherds are famous for being hard-working sheepdogs that have also been used in law enforcement and as service dogs. This breed originated in Germany in 1899 primarily to herd and guard sheep. They were introduced to America during the gold rush in Alaska as sled dogs.
Over the years they have become a firm favorite amongst desired dog breeds in America. There are some fascinating German Shepherd facts out there that really put things into perspective with this breed.
The Husky has a long history and heritage that dates back to when they were first bred over 3,000 years ago in Siberia as both sled dogs and companions. Much like the other parent breed, the Husky was brought to the United States in 1908 to compete in a sled race, where they won. This cemented their fame and desire within Alaska as sled and work dogs.
Although both parent breeds are officially recognized by the American Kennel Association, this hybrid crossbreed, like most others, is not.
What does a Gerberian Shepsky Look Like?
As with all hybrids, it is somewhat difficult to predict just what your German Shepherd Husky hybrid will look like when they grow up. There are some certainties, though, since both breeds are similar in appearance. So, rest assured that you aren’t in for any major surprises as they grow up.
Both of the parent breeds have straight and erect ears, with a long muzzle. Even with those commonalities, there is a chance that your pup could inherit most of its distinguishing features from one of the parent breeds.
Both parent breeds have an athletic build, with the husky being a bit more slender for balance and speed. The German Shepherd has a bulkier build for its power and endurance.
When it comes to their size, the Husky is the smaller of the two breeds, a medium-sized dog, while the German Shepherd is on the larger side. A Husky can weigh between 35 and 60 pounds, and the other parent breed weighs anything from 50-90 pounds.
There is no definite way of knowing how big your Shepsky will grow, but a rough range of 45-80 pounds would be a good estimate. They can also grow up to anywhere from 20-25 inches tall.
Both parent breeds have a thick double coat, so you can be certain that your pup will have a long and dense coat—not ideal for anyone who has allergies. The parents also both normally have a mix-color coat, so take a look at the coat colors of the parents for a better idea of what color your pup’s coat will be. Black and white or brown and black are the most common.
Does the German Shepherd Husky Mix Make a Good Family Pet?
A Gerberian Shepsky gets along really well with other pets, especially if they take more after their Husky parent. They will also get the gentle and goofy qualities from the Husky, and on the other hand, they will get the bravery and loyalty from the German Shepherd. This pup is the perfect balance between being standoffish and trusting.
This combination means that your Shepsky will not only protect your family and guard everyone at home, but it will also be extremely lovable—cuddling you and having many an adorable moment. This breed is perfect for a family that follows an active lifestyle and loves to be outdoors together.
The beauty of these dogs is that their parents were bred to spend a significant amount of time with humans. These dogs will form bonds really quickly with the people that they live with, and they are not too bad with kids either. They just need to be socialized from a young age. Just a word of caution: you should supervise your dog with small kids as they can get a little rambunctious and forget their size.
It is worth knowing that this breed is not really for novice owners, as they require a very high amount of exercise and training. You can find yourself a little overwhelmed if this is the first dog you or your family are looking to get. Young families might find it hard given the amount of time that needs to be set aside to fulfill this dog’s needs.
Overall, they do make an amazing family dog that will naturally protect their herd and make the perfect companion. They aren’t suited for apartment living and need space to run around, so a house would be ideal. They won’t bark too much either, unless you leave them alone for too long or they detect a threat.
This Hybrid Breed Needs a Lot of Exercise
What do you expect when you cross two well-known workhorse breeds? These dogs have immense amounts of energy and can engage in and endure exercise for long periods of time. A strong and regular exercise routine is an essential part of this dog’s life. It helps them sustain both their endurance and strength, which are key qualities of theirs.
This is the perfect dog for someone who lives an active, outdoor lifestyle. Shepskies crave time off of a dog leash, so some hikes in the hills or runs in the forest will be an amazing outing for them. Dog parks and a large fenced garden will mostly do the trick, but that change of environment and freedom is essential for them on a daily basis.
There might be days when you are tired but you will still need to get yourself energized and have some exercise time with your pup. Although, their exercise needs will depend on if they are more Husky or German Shepherd. If they take after the Husky more, longer endurance-type running is more beneficial. If they are more German Shepherd, they will enjoy more advanced activities that require more focus.
An hour or two of exercise a day, either all at once or broken up into sessions, should be planned for your pup. However, any of the prolonged exercise sessions should wait until they are older and their bodies are more developed.
Their growth plates are not set while they are young and any excessive exercise has the potential to cause long-term injuries. It is best if you wait until your pup is around 15 months or older to start the longer runs and hikes with them.
Gerberian Shepskies are Not for Novice Owners
Both parent breeds require a lot of training and maintenance, and the German Shepherd Husky mix is no different. The level of training needed, along with how sensitive this hybrid is, means that this dog is not really for the first-time dog owner. They need a stern hand and early socialization to ensure that they grow up with the right temperament.
With them challenging your status in the pack a lot, you need to be a confident owner who knows how to handle these situations and not react passively and let your pup become the leader. They are sensitive, so a noisy house that also has a lot of visitors is somewhat unsettling. You need to be a dog person through and through to have one of these hybrids as they love to be with their owners and will act out if not given enough attention.
An owner who is actively and constantly involved in their dog’s life is needed. If you are looking for a more relaxed lifestyle dog then this may not be the breed for you. The stubbornness of this breed is a tough thing to go up against so a lot of patience is essential—something that a new dog owner could find frustrating and disheartening.
If you do persevere and notice that their stubbornness is not going away and they are starting to get a little more aggressive while training, you should consider using a professional trainer.
These Dogs Have a Lot of Grooming Requirements
By inheriting a double coat from both their parent breeds, you can be assured that your Shepsky’s fluffy coat will need a lot of maintenance. This thick, long coat is prone to tangles and mats very easily, so frequent brushing will be needed to keep them tangle-free.
Another by-product of this thick coat is shedding—a lot of shedding. With this doggo, you can expect your clothes and furniture to be covered in hair unless you have a consistent grooming routine. They should be brushed at least seven times a week to keep their coat fluffy and free of loose hair.
Make sure that you have a good quality shedding brush on-hand and something to put the mountains of hair into, unless you want your furniture covered in it.
Sending your dog to a professional groomer every two months is also recommended. It is important to start grooming from a young age to get the pup used to the grooming experience and routine. This will just make it easier as they grow older and bigger—no battling big dogs while trying to brush them.
It is a normal thing to bathe your dog regularly but be careful when bathing this hybrid. They need to be dried properly to avoid that wet-laundry smell. Something to remember is that when you do bathe them, you should only use a mild dog shampoo.
Their hair produces a lot of natural oils that ensure its health and insulation. If you wash your German Shepherd Husky mix too often or with a strong shampoo, their hair will lose these essential natural oils.
There are other less common things to look out for. This hybrid’s ears are a magnet for wax and will need to be cleaned on a regular basis. Special attention should be paid to their teeth as well. Brushing their teeth is an essential part of their grooming routine and should be done at least two to three times a week. This is to reduce the risk of contracting the periodontal disease, which is a common health concern with this crossbreed.
Training is Very Important for This Hybrid
Not only is training important because of the size of this dog but also because they will most certainly outlast you if you had to try and chase after them. It is within their genetic makeup to chase and to run. So, your dog listening to you when you tell them to stop is not only a good thing for you but is also critical for those around you and your dog.
Both of this dog’s parent breeds are known to be hyper-intelligent but have different personality traits. Their training needs will depend on which parent breed they take after the most. Huskies are known to be pretty independent and prone to make their own decisions, while German Shepherds love to be trained and to please.
So while on the surface it seems like a German Shepherd Husky mix would be easy to train, it really could not be as easy as one might think.
Obedience training is essential since they love to challenge your authority and will become pretty destructive if they aren’t obedient. A good tip would be to start their obedience training as early as possible to curb any bad habits that they could develop as they grow. You’ll want to avoid these bad habits, unless you like your shoes being chewed on, listening to howling, or having things in your house knocked over.
A Gerberian Shepsky likes to learn but they are extremely sensitive to your vocal commands, which can make training them a bit more efficient. Positive reinforcement is the best method of training these dogs, by providing treats as rewards or for following any orders as they progress in their training. These dogs love to keep busy, so training can be fun for them when you build a relationship with them that is positive.
Use short and clear commands that are easy for them to understand, as you don’t want to confuse your pup during training. Master one command or action before moving on to the next one. Any of your training sessions should be kept pretty short—10 to 20 minutes at most. You need to keep them interested in learning, and with anything longer they will start to get bored.
Shepsky Personality and Temperament
Your puppy’s temperament will depend on which parent they take after but in general, they will be pretty calm and gentle. It is certain that you will have an immensely intelligent dog. Their parents’ attitudes to other animals are very different from each other, with the Husky being a pack animal and the German Shepherd being more protective. So, you will have a pup that displays either a more alpha or a more submissive temperament based on which parent they take after.
A Shepsky is a pack dog by nature, and they will need to look for a leader to direct and guide them. They will also naturally challenge your position within the pack at random times by testing you and attempting to take control. Don’t be afraid to punish them if they do step out of line, in order to maintain your position.
A good way around this and to establish the hierarchy in the pack is by making them wait to eat after you put their food in their bowl. This immediately shows that you are the leader and that they should rely on you for food, toys, and other things.
They are, however, super friendly and will get along well with both other dogs and people. They are loyal to a tee and you can count on them to never disappoint you. With their work dog heritage, they have an inherent need to do tasks and a desire to be needed by you. So, giving them a task of any size will mean the world to them.
These dogs really are not good at being alone. They love to be around people and have a need to be so.—they are companions after all. If they are left alone for extended periods of time, they can start to act out from frustration and boredom.
This applies to not getting enough exercise and not being mentally stimulated enough as well. They take out all this energy and frustration by either chewing on things or howling for attention. Don’t be shocked if your dog starts ‘talking’ to you by whining in an attempt to get your attention.
Ultimately, your pup’s personality will depend on which parent breed they take after the most. If you can, try and meet the puppy’s parents beforehand to get a feel for their temperaments so you know what to expect.
German Shepherd Husky Mixes Have a Few Health Concerns
It is a general belief that a crossbred dog is a healthier dog compared to a pedigree dog. The Shepsky’s parents, however, are prone to a range of different degenerative and hereditary conditions that could potentially pass on to your hybrid. In spite of this, they have a relatively long lifespan—anywhere from 10 to 14 years.
The German Shepherd parent breed is prone to a lot of ailments, especially elbow and hip dysplasia. Bloating and pancreatic inefficiencies are also common illnesses, with epilepsy and back problems also being noted.
For the Shepsky, getting their eyes checked is important as both parent breeds have known eye issues, and it is common for the hybrids to develop issues too. They are also prone to the same elbow and hip issues as their German Shepherd parent.
A fair amount of exercise and a good quality bed, preferably an orthopedic one, should help prevent any joint pain or issues. A German Shepherd Husky mix is slightly more susceptible to epilepsy than most of the other breeds that are known. It is still a rare illness to develop, so don’t worry too much—there is also medication available to help if needed.
This hybrid is known to have dental issues, hence the need for frequent teeth cleaning. Unfortunately, cancer is another health concern that is a consistent diagnosis for this crossbreed. Their huge ears are adorable, but because of their size, ear infections are a common ailment. Nevertheless, this is avoidable with regular ear cleaning.
Although this may seem like a lot of health concerns, these are generally healthy pups that will be by your side as a companion and guard for a long time.
Keep an Eye Open for Juvenile Cataracts and Retinal Atrophy
There are two traits that are prevalent from Huskies that pass down to their hybrid pups. Both have to do with their vision and can be challenging to live with.
This progressive condition will cause damage to the retinas of both of your dog’s eyes over time. Sadly, there is not much that can be done and your Shepsky will eventually lose its sight completely. The only way of helping with this is by taking your dog for regular checkups at your vet.
This will help both you and your dog prepare for the time when they do lose their eyesight. Keep a lookout for if your dog starts to struggle to see at night or in bright light.
This eye problem can start making itself known in a Shepsky from when they are as young as 6 years. This condition means that the lenses of their eyes will slowly turn opaque, which makes their vision go blurry. This is somewhat treatable but can result in losing their eyesight if it reaches the severe stages.
They Need to be Mentally Stimulated
Because of their genetics, their intelligence means that they have a need to be mentally stimulated. You can use games to keep your dog engaged and happy. This can be done through a variety of ways.
An easy way of engaging their sharp minds is by taking them on a simple walk where they can explore their surroundings. They are very observant, so using different routes on a regular basis will keep them interested.
Another great way to engage their minds and prevent boredom while at home is through an interactive dog toy, especially one that will reward them if they are successful in solving it. For some playtime, you can play a game known as “hide and sniff”.
Just let your Shepsky smell the treat or toy while you are holding it, hide it and then let them find it. Once they do, sit back and let them enjoy their little reward for successfully locating it.
Socialization is Critically Important for This Hybrid
Early socialization is imperative for this breed, from puppyhood and for as long as possible. If you have other pets at home, introduce them to each other and let them get to know one another from an early age. This is to prevent any potential aggressiveness towards other pets when Shepskies are older.
The same can be said about other dogs, so that when your dog is out on a walk and off the lead, they don’t start any fights by being overly aggressive. It is within this dog’s nature to be somewhat untrusting, especially if they take after their German Shepherd parent.
A good way around this is to take them to a puppy park and let them interact with as many other dogs as possible. This will help safeguard against any unwanted interactions later in life.
Have all your friends and family meet and play with your pup as well. From adults to children, the more contact with people your dog gets, the better. Get them used to the weird and odd sounds around the house as well, such as a vacuum cleaner, so that they do not think it is a threat when they grow up. This will help with all the barking that this breed is known for in the long run.
Shepskies Have an Ideal Habitat
While this might be a little odd to hear, there is a specific environment that this breed is suited for and another one that should be avoided to ensure the dog’s comfort and health. Sure enough, larger living spaces are preferred over small ones. These are not small dogs and their energy does not make them suited for apartment living. A smaller intelligent dog would be better suited to an apartment life.
A farm or large family home with a pretty open and fenced-in garden is ideal for this dog to burn off those calories and get in the exercise that they need by themselves sometimes. When it comes to the climate, this dog is somewhat particular and would not do well in specific climates. Because of their genes and Husky parent, they will thrive in a cold to moderate climate. Their double coats will insulate them and keep them warm.
This double coat also means that they are not able to handle environments or climates that have high temperatures. They will overheat, and it can lead to health problems and complications for this pup. So if you live in an arid, hot location, then this might not be the breed for you, unfortunately.
They Have a Few Dietary Requirements
When it comes to a Shepsky’s diet, there are a few different types of diets that they will go through as they grow from puppies into adults. In general, their diet should be aimed at a medium-sized breed that has a high exercise and energy requirement. This special diet is because this hybrid has a pretty high chance of contracting a digestive disease.
While they are still puppies, special attention will need to be given to the amount of food and exercise that your pup gets. If they are more like their German Shepherd parents, then they will need a low-calorie diet to slow their growth. This is because they tend to grow very fast from four to seven months and can develop bone disorders from this rapid growth phase.
Overfeeding is a real issue when it comes to this crossbreed. They need a fair amount of food to keep their stamina and health up with their exercise needs. But, if you feed them too much and they don’t get enough exercise to burn off all those calories, they will pack on weight really quickly. An overweight German Shepherd Husky mix can lead to various joint problems, which you want to avoid.
There are instances where a raw diet works well but a good high-quality dry dog food with the needed nutrients will be just as good. A high protein diet is a good option, with meals being spread between two different feeding times a day. Don’t forget to take into account any dog treats that you give them during the day when calculating their daily calorie intake.
If you plan on using a grain diet, your pup will need around 25% protein at a minimum while a grain-free diet would need a minimum of 30% protein to maintain their health. Fresh fruit like apples, pineapple, orange and blueberries can also be fed to them but in strict amounts. Some form of joint supplement included in their diet would be incredibly beneficial to help their mobility and cartilage growth since they lead an active lifestyle.
Pros and Cons of Getting a German Shepherd Husky Mix
Just like with any dog, there are pros and cons to getting a Shepsky. Knowing these is a great thing since everyone loves to do a pros and cons list for any big decision in life. Getting yourself a dog is a big decision after all.
Pros of the Shepsky
This is one of the most loyal dogs that you will ever have in your life. They will be your ride-or-die companion for many years and protect you and your family fiercely. They are similar in that way to a German Shepherd Black Labrador mix.
While being loyal, they are also one of the most loving breeds out there. They love people and want to be around their owners all the time. So get ready for lots of love and affection from your pup for years to come.
If you are an outdoorsy person or family, this dog is perfect for your lifestyle. They need to be active and exercised, and they love to be outdoors.
The training style for this dog—positive reinforcement—is a simple method. Most dog owners use this method, so for a veteran dog owner, this dog will be a breeze to train.
Cons of Owning a Shepsky
Socialization is an incredibly important step in the puppies’ development. This is to ensure that there are no behavioral issues as they grow up. This will take some time, though, so be prepared for it.
These are high-maintenance dogs that have a lot of grooming requirements and care needs. Multiple weekly brushings and keeping their coats clean are just the tip of the iceberg. You will also need a pet hair vacuum to help with the mountains of hair that they shed.
They have high exercise needs, so if you aren’t home a lot or don’t have the time to set aside one to two hours a day, you will struggle with this dog, and it will start to get bored and act out.
Although this is a hybrid and they are generally considered to be healthier than pedigrees, these dogs do have the possibility of contracting some severe health problems.
Final Thoughts on German Shepherd Husky Mix Dogs
At the end of the day, it is a big commitment to get yourself a puppy. The German Shepherd Husky mix is a tough dog to train and requires a specific lifestyle in order for them to thrive. What may be a portion of your life is a lifetime for them. So ensure that you are able to give them the life that they deserve and are able to look after their needs, and not just get this dog for their looks.
If you can commit, then this dog will give you years of fun and love with plenty of goofy moments thrown in there for you to reminisce about. If you are a confident dog owner, this may just be the dog for you. If you want a fluffy dog but something smaller for apartment life, then a small fluffy dog breed may be a better choice for you.
With that in mind, will you be getting yourself a Shepsky or another beautiful German Shepherd crossbreed?
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