Hybrid breeds are always an interesting prospect. They are specifically bred for characteristics that people might find desirable. As a result, they offer interesting personalities, looks, and quirks for pet owners who desire specific traits.
If there are two breeds of dog that are almost universally known as companions, it’s German Shepherds and Poodles. Both have distinctly different reputations and personalities, but both were originally working dogs.
A mix between the two seems like a fascinating notion, although you may not immediately be able to predict the result. With vastly different looks and personalities, what might you expect when adopting a Shepherdoodle? Beyond that, what type of environment, owner, and grooming habits would best suit such a dog?
This article takes a closer look at this breed, which is becoming more popular amongst dog lovers for its characteristics. This is what you need to know about the German Shepherd Poodle Mix.
- 1 The German Shepherd Poodle Mix: Definition
- 2 Parent Breeds
- 3 3 Shepherdoodle Appearance Characteristics
- 4 Personality
- 5 German Shepherd Poodle Mix Care: 4 Things to Consider
- 6 4 Health Concerns for the German Shepherd Poodle Mix
- 7 Training and Socialization
- 8 Last Word on the German Shepherd Poodle Mix
The German Shepherd Poodle Mix: Definition
The German Shepherd Poodle Mix is one of many highly desirable Poodle mixes. Sometimes called the German Doodle or Shepherdoodle for short, this breed is a mix between the German Shepherd and Poodle. They are generally considered great pets, and love being a part of the action when it comes to activities and attention.
They are fairly adaptable in terms of living arrangements (houses or apartments), and will generally get along with most family members and even other pets. They also happen to be adorable when it comes to looks. More on that below.
A Note About Origins
The hybrid breed was allegedly first intended as a US military dog. The intelligence factor seemed to suggest it would be a superb dog for training. Only the standard size Poodle was used as an initial parent breed.
When it comes to hybrids, there are usually reasons for creating the breeds. Those reasons are rooted in the characteristics of the parent breeds. Here’s a quick look at the German Shepherd Poodle Mix’s parent breeds.
The German Shepherd
The German Shepherd is a dog that originated in Germany as a working dog. Today it is one of the most popular and beloved dog breeds in the world, often ranking at the top of most lists for desirability. They were originally bred and used as Shepherd dogs.
Their intelligence has since made them ideal for use as police and military dogs, service dogs, and search and rescue services. The breed is sometimes also called an Alsatian. This is an oddity of sorts as “Alsatian” normally refers to someone from the Alsace region of France.
Some people insist that the Alsatian and German Shepherd are different dogs, though little actual evidence exists that this is the case — at least scientifically.
Poodles, like Shepherds, originate from Germany (not France), and were waterdogs, specializing in water-based hunting. Its long legs helped it wade through low water to retrieve prey. Poodles today come in various sizes: standard, medium, miniature, and toy.
Though most experts argue that the breed is either originally German or French, some go further and argue that the dog may have come from Russia or even Africa.
Fun Fact: The Poodle is called Pudel in German, and Caniche in French.
The Hybrid Factor
It was thought that a hybrid breed would be ideal for working, inheriting the trait from both parent breeds. Strangely, the friendly personality soon won over the hearts of owners, who realized that they were superb companion dogs. They grew in popularity on that front instead. So be careful – you’ll likely develop a crush on a german shepherd poodle mix as soon as you meet it!
3 Shepherdoodle Appearance Characteristics
The question must have been intriguing: What would a cross between these two iconic breeds look like? Would it take on the stately posture of a German Shepherd? Or would it seem more playful and aloof like a Poodle instead?
1. Coat and Colors
The coat is interesting in that it can either be Shepherd-like or Poodle-like, A Shepherd coat will shed a lot more than a Poodle coat, which doesn’t shed much at all. In terms of length, the hair will most likely be medium length, regardless of the texture.
Coats are generally soft to the touch, whether they are curly or straight. Unlike some other breeds, German Doodles do not come in a huge variety of colors. More than likely, your dog will be tan, black, cream, gray, or sable.
German Doodles can be quite large. At full size, they can weigh between 50 and 90 pounds. With two tall parent breeds, you can expect the dogs to be tall as well. They typically stand between 22 and 28 inches tall.
They are reasonably athletic in build, though may appear poofy if their coat leans towards the Poodle type. Still, large paws and strong legs imply an ability to run and work as a large dog.
German Doodles appear somewhat rugged to the eye. They are not as genteel as Poodles may suggest, and also not quite as elegant as your typical prize German Shepherd. Rather, they almost resemble the working-class cousin of both breeds.
Think the jeans and T-shirt version of a dog, as opposed to the suit-and-evening dress version. They have a slightly unkempt look about their hair, which can sometimes grow over their eyes. Their ears are slightly floppier than the upright ears of a Shepherd.
Whatever they may not possess in classical elegance, though, they more than make up for with their affection and cute personality. Stare into those eyes at your peril. You’ll be hooked in seconds.
As mentioned, the sheer friendliness of the breed became its major selling point. They simply love being the center of attention, regardless of what’s going on. You will seldom be left to your own devices with these dogs around.
They are high-energy and will happily gambol around for hours on end. They love to play (invest in some good dog toys) and make sure to provide the time and attention for walks and games every day.
For some reason, they feel that they need to be as close to you as possible, and will naturally want to sit with you and on top of you whenever they can. Given that they are huge dogs, this might be uncomfortable for you.
That said, they tend to be protective of their families. While not overly aggressive, they may not immediately trust strangers. They love kids, though, and will not be problematic with your children under normal circumstances. Best of all, a high intelligence factor makes them easy to train and habitualize.
The Silence of the Sheperdoodle
People have noted that these dogs are not big talkers, despite their friendly and rambunctious nature. They are surprisingly quiet for playful dogs of this size and seldom bark (except when protecting you from strangers). They therefore may be a good choice if you’re looking for a big dog that won’t cause any neighborhood disturbances.
These dogs love to be around you and will seldom let you out of their sight when they can help it. It should come as no surprise, then, that they will suffer from separation anxiety if you are away from them too long.
If you work out of home for large portions of the day and leave your pup alone, this may not be the breed for you. They definitely do not like to be alone for long and may develop a few destructive habits if left to themselves in this way.
If you do want to try to alleviate any separation anxiety for those odd times when they are alone, try investing in some chew toys for large dogs. This will also alleviate some aggression and stress in general.
German Shepherd Poodle Mix Care: 4 Things to Consider
Taking care of a German Shepherd Poodle mix isn’t hard, assuming you can provide the appropriate amount of space and exercise. This is a pleasantly low-maintenance breed.
As mentioned, they are easy to train and socialize and have no inherent aggression problems when it comes to people. They are also not at all fussy about eating. Still, it’s better to feed them a balanced diet of reputable brand dog food.
All in all, even first-time dog owners will find this breed an easy prospect.
1. Life Expectancy
This breed has a fairly decent life expectancy of 12-14 years. As average dog life expectancy goes, that’s pretty long for a large dog. Most large dogs on average are expected to live between 8-12 years.
The long life in this hybrid might be attributed to the Shepherd side of the mix, as American-bred Shepherds typically live around 15 years. Sadly larger dogs tend to age faster than smaller ones, leading to shorter lives overall.
As you can tell by now, this pup requires lots of exercises. Long walks, fetch, and even swimming are all part of the regimen — yes they love water. Try to budget at least an hour every day for a decent workout with your dog. And more than two walks per day is a recommendation.
With this in mind, an apartment dwelling isn’t the ideal situation for these dogs. They will adapt if absolutely needed, but you should consider the nature of the dog, and its desire to get out and run whenever it feels the need.
Another aspect worth considering is that the excess energy may result in some unwanted destruction in a small space. It’s a big dog with a lot of energy to burn. Crankiness due to constraint is not unheard of in such breeds. If you see bits of furniture being chewed upon, you may not be exercising your pooch enough, or it feels closed in by the walls.
From dog to dog, there’s a broad range in terms of weight. Thankfully, most scientifically formulated dog food offers a guide on how much to feed your dog according to its size. Smaller versions may only need about two cups of low-carb, high-protein dry food per day.
Larger dogs will need up to four cups a day. In most cases, you may want to provide two different feeding times, in order to more evenly distribute their food intake over the day. This will help to avoid bloat, a potentially dangerous intestinal condition for large dogs.
The key thing to keep in mind is that your dog maintains a healthy weight for its size. Obviously, overfeeding will lead to weight gain. If you are in doubt, a word with the vet during the regular check-up should provide you with the appropriate target weight.
As previously noted, Sheperdoodles come in two general coat types. One is inherited from the Shepherd, the other from the Poodle. Depending on which yours inherits, the grooming requirements will be different.
German Shepherd coats have long hair that tends to shed. You will need a good grooming brush in order to keep this coat healthy, untangled, and unmatted. Make time to brush 2-3 times per week. It’s also great bonding time with your dog — provided it doesn’t try to eat the brush, of course.
Also, take the time to do a cursory check on your dog’s skin health. Hot spots, cuts, and bruises can go undetected in large dogs, and we do not want these to become infected.
4 Health Concerns for the German Shepherd Poodle Mix
As with any breed of dog, and especially hybrids, it may be valuable to understand some of the common health issues associated. That is not to say that every dog will suffer from these health complications. But at least statistically, there may be some things to be aware of in order to avoid or mitigate problems down the line.
In the case of the German Shepherd Poodle Mix, some issues may be inherited from the parent breeds. Remember that these are merely predispositions, not guaranteed conditions.
Bloat is more accurately known as gastric dilatation-volvulus and happens when the dog’s gut twists as a result of overfeeding. Gas and food distort the gut in such a way that it distends and can be very serious, even leading to fatality.
Minor cases of bloat may resolve on their own, but it is difficult to tell the extent of the condition at the outset, especially for a non-vet. The condition tends to affect large dogs, so Shepherds and Poodles fit the profile.
2. Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
Large dogs, especially German Shepherds, also tend to suffer from this painful progressive condition. In effect, the hip and elbow joints misalign or show abnormal development, leading to gradual loss of movement. It may also eventually cause pain as dogs get older.
Dysplasia can now be detected quite early, and in some cases can at least be managed with medication. In most cases, dysplasia does not directly shorten life. That said, it can and does have an impact on the quality of that life.
The inability for blood to clot is a genetically inherited condition in some dogs. There are two types of hemophilia, with type A being the most common. This condition cannot be cured and is a sensitive and treacherous condition. Spontaneous bleeding may occur, and may even go undetected if internal.
German Shepherd Poodle Mixes are very active, so suffering from hemophilia would be an additional threat, should they be injured or scratched while out and about. Special tests on blood samples are needed to test for hemophilia in digs.
Large dogs also are prone to this painful condition, which happens to be the most common chronic disease suffered by canines. If you notice any difficulty in moving about, especially as they get older, it may be a result of osteoarthritis. It is a condition that gets worse over time, so the sooner you suspect it, the better for having it diagnosed.
Treatment is about managing the discomfort and pain, as there is no practical cure for the disease. Treatment might include strategizing a weight loss regime, medication, and specific types of exercise.
Training and Socialization
Thanks to their parent breeds and genetics, the German Shepherd Poodle Mix happens to be one of the best breeds to train and socialize. They are very intelligent, eager to please, and will gladly listen to their humans in order to make life better for everyone.
The key to all canine training is positive reinforcement. That is an approach to training that rewards good behavior and lets the dog know what is good. Rewards can be treats, but do not underestimate the power of happy interaction (“Good boy!”), affection, and playing. Remember, these dogs love attention.
Here’s something to bear in mind: These dogs are working dogs by genetic design. They are quite capable of taking on “jobs” as part of their role around the house. They also have very active minds and need stimulation in order to maintain their cognitive skills and pleasant personality).
Some of the cutest “jobs” that German Shepherds and their hybrids have been taught to do include “tidying up” their toys by gathering them and putting them in a box. These dogs also do well in fetching specific items — like your slippers or the newspaper.
Teach your dog to wake you in the morning or how to find the remote when you lose it. Failing a job, you can of course employ awesome puzzle games to keep them busy. The word is still out on whether they can brew a good cup of tea, but time will tell.
With all dogs, proper socialization forms a critical part of training, especially when dogs are young. Usually, this involves getting a dog used to being outside and mixing with other people and animals.
These breeds tend to be protective. If they are not used to other people and animals, they can show unwanted aggression towards the unfamiliar.
Socialization of dogs is best undertaken when they are puppies — 4-15 weeks is ideal. This is considered a sensitive time for growth, as it will likely permanently influence the dog’s personality.
It’s a good idea to do some research before you adopt a dog for the first time. Ask a specialist or vet for a socialization plan. The same can be done if you’re introducing a new pet to the house where others already exist.
Remember to do this for both sides: your new animal, unless very young, will likely need some special considerations before being introduced to this relatively giant new friend.
Last Word on the German Shepherd Poodle Mix
It’s no surprise that these dogs are becoming so popular. They have winning personalities, are extremely smart, and make for great family companions. They will also provide you with several hours a day of exercise and fun.
Their parent breeds are two of the most beloved in the world, and inherited traits from size to coat texture keep things interesting. There is a broad variety of looks when it comes to Shepherdoodles.
Are you looking for other Poodle hybrid breeds? Read about the Golden Labradoodle, another delightful breed gaining in popularity.
I covered all of the costs associated with writing this post on the german shepherd poodle mix dog. However, it does contain affiliate links. That means if you click through on some of the links in this article and end up making a purchase I may receive a small commission. It won’t affect the price that you pay. Just wanted to let you know.