With a gentle temperament and a need to stay busy, the German Shepherd Husky mix is often disregarded as a somewhat high-maintenance breed that may potentially wreak havoc around the house due to its size and origin.
Fortunately, this crossbreed isn’t like that at all unless you intentionally decide not to train it and let it run around without anything to do. Craving training and stimulation, it’s an energetic breed that offers protection and loyalty to its family. Don’t be fooled, though — the Husky side of it makes it pretty goofy and loveable too!
The German Shepherd Husky Mix: Origin, Personality, Health, and Care
A Brief History of the German Shepherd Husky Mix
Unfortunately, though it probably would be a riveting tale, we don’t know for sure where the German Shepherd Husky mix came from or how someone got the idea to cross these two rather dominant dog breeds. It was popularized as a designer breed in the late 1990s, but it still isn’t clear where exactly (possibly North America).
What’s certain, though, is that the puppies won’t always look the same or have the same personalities. Some of them may lean more toward the Husky side and show off their stubbornness each step of the way. Others may be more like the German Shepherd, making for a wonderful, fiercely protective pet who always needs something to do.
In any case, the best way to learn more about the breed itself is to examine the parentage. Taking the best of both breeds, the mix should result in an all-in-one pooch that ticks all the modern-day dog owner’s demands.
The German Shepherd in It Forces It to Stay Busy…
As the quintessential police dog, the German Shepherd is the epitome of a loyal, and more importantly, diligent working dog that was developed in Germany back in the late 1800s. The breed is a powerful reminder that dogs can be trained to help humans and that their jobs don’t have to boil down to making children laugh or only herding sheep (the reason they were bred in the first place!).
Still, that doesn’t mean a German Shepherd is just a working dog. It can be just as lovable as a Golden Retriever and is willing to play with its humans — after all, that does keep the breed busy. The only potential issue lies in irresponsible owners who fail to train their German Shepherds.
This breed craves structure and will become nervous and aggressive if it doesn’t know how to act. If the dog doesn’t get enough exercise and stimulation, it may make barking and chewing a habit. Also, as most of its representatives are extremely protective and wary of strangers, it’s vital to socialize them properly and provide a healthy lifestyle.
…While the Siberian Husky Side Amps Up the Goofiness and Stubbornness
As its name says, the Siberian Husky hails from the cold Siberia, where it was bred for sled pulling. Today, though, we mostly know the breed as one of the goofiest around — and probably one of the loudest too.
What differentiates the Husky from the German Shepherd is that this breed, although definitely not lazy, isn’t as interested in working as its counterpart. Of course, with proper training from early childhood, it’s definitely possible to transform the Husky into a full-fledged working dog.
However, due to the breed’s independence and extreme stubbornness, it may not be so easy to train and require lots of structure and instruction to “curb” its natural goofiness.
But that sort of joyous behavior is why families with children, as well as other dogs, love Huskies. They are incredibly good-natured toward both of them, especially if they have grown up together. Friendliness isn’t a problem at all, though their appearance may sometimes be intimidating. Those steely White Walker eyes can be too wolf-like at times!
One of the funniest, definitely endearing (and sometimes annoying) traits of the Husky, however, is how talkative the breed is. This is likely a remnant of its sled-pulling vocation, as the dogs had to communicate while working.
Now, this trait allows the Siberian Husky to…well, express its disappointment and displeasure with something or grab attention. Here’s a neat compilation that paints a clearer picture of this:
Quick Facts About the German Shepherd Husky Mix
- Other names: Gerberian Shepsky, Husky Shepherd, Siberian Shepherd
- Average lifespan: 10 to 14 years
- Height: 20 to 25 inches
- Weight: 45 to 88 pounds
- Coat: shorter or (usually) longer and dense straight hair double coat. It may have a somewhat fluffier appearance due to the Husky parentage. The coat appears in a variety of colors: black, white, blue, red, cream, and brown, as well as variations of these.
- Overall appearance: pointy ears and dual-colored (brown and blue) or blue or brown eyes. The body is usually long and lean. Overall, the German Shepherd Husky mix is a very regal-looking breed.
- Trademark traits: active, protective, affectionate, playful, friendly, intelligent, loyal.
- Suitable for apartments and children: The mix isn’t a great pet if you live in an apartment; it’s energetic and requires lots of exercise and training. It gets on well with children, though, and is very affectionate toward them.
German Shepherd Husky Mix’s Personality and Temperament
Friendly and Always Down for a Play Session
One of the best parts about owning a Shepsky is that you will never feel like you’re not bonding with your dog. Although it loves to keep busy and is rather active, this breed is always ready for a belly rub and isn’t afraid of showing its affection.
On top of that, since it’s such a high-energy dog, the Shepsky won’t refuse a play session. Just know that as it grows, it may require more strenuous activities to get tired!
Keep in mind, though, that the friendliness of the German Shepherd Husky mix does depend on its socialization. If we fail to socialize it properly and early on, it may not be the safest dog to keep around other humans.
Protective and Alert
Due to its origin, we can expect the Shepsky to be extremely protective and alert, no matter if it’s a professional guard dog or a family pooch. If burglars are a problem, this dog will not disappoint you. That’s when its scary wolf-like personality may come up — definitely spooky!
One problem with this, though, is that the breed is very sensitive to sounds. If barking is a dealbreaker for you, it definitely isn’t a dog for you, as it will let you know if something’s wrong loudly and excessively.
Superbly Intelligent and Moderately Independent
Of course, the two breeds the Shepsky originates from are highly intelligent, so it’s not surprising to see that its cognitive abilities make it a rather desirable pet. After all, the fact it’s so smart makes it super-easy to train. And since it is a cross and not a full-on Husky, its personality is more manageable. It’s still independent, but not as stubborn as its wolfy parent!
…And the Negatives
May Want to Replace You as the Pack Leader
A pack is a must for a Shepsky, so it will need a pack leader to guide it through life. However, it can be quite pushy and may try to take over.
Don’t worry much about it, as it’s only trying to test the limits and see how far it may push its human to give in. The important thing is not to give up control — which is where proper training comes into play.
Doesn’t Love Being Alone and Can Get Bored Easily
Now, of course, you can leave a Shepsky alone from time to time, but it can become a nuisance if it’s left alone for hours on end. It doesn’t like being ignored by its family, and even worse, it hates being bored. The working dog genes are strong with this breed, so without a proper task that can keep it occupied or at least some playtime, it may give in to destructive or annoying behavior, like chewing and howling, to release all that unused energy.
Requires Early Socialization
Due to how protective it is, this breed does require early socialization to curb its aggressive tendencies. If a dog isn’t properly socialized, it can become fearful of people and other animals, not to mention of any changes to its routine (like a new family member, for instance).
The earlier we start with socialization, the better, though. An adult dog may already have a fixed personality, so we cannot do much in that case. A young dog, however, thrives on structure and is more receptive to training.
Socialization doesn’t only include teaching a dog not to be afraid of people and other animals, though. When it comes to breeds that are rather sensitive to noise and sounds in general, it’s not uncommon for them to be startled by anything they haven’t heard before. Therefore, exposing them to it all before they reach adulthood is imperative; otherwise, they may bark excessively whenever they perceive a noisy “danger.”
Overall Health and Potential Issues
Shepskies may suffer from epilepsy, a rather common neurological disorder among dogs. Due to this, they may have seizures that are traumatizing both for the dog and the owner.
In some cases, they may lose consciousness during an attack. The seizures boil down to a variety of reasons, including exposure to toxins, genetic abnormalities, brain tumors, blood or organ problems, etc. If none of these are the reason the physical attacks keep happening, the seizures may be idiopathic.
Elbow and Hip Dysplasia
Elbow and hip dysplasia are common among dogs, especially those that are prone to obesity. In the case of the German Shepherd Husky mix, the breed is naturally prone to loose joints that lack the necessary stability to support the dog’s body.
However, this shouldn’t keep you up at night; a proper, healthy diet, exercise, and a stress-free lifestyle should keep the pooch’s joints in great shape.
Keep in mind, though, that you shouldn’t let it jump, run, or play on hard surfaces until the joints are fully formed. Wait until the dog is at least two years old before letting it hit the pavement.
Bloat may sound rather benign, but it can become a serious issue when left untreated (it requires immediate attention!). The stomach fills with gas, which builds up and makes it expand. However, during that expansion, it may put too much pressure on the surrounding organs. That in and of itself is dangerous, as the blood flow may get restricted. The wall of the stomach may also tear.
Large ears warrant ear infections, so Shepsky owners have to make sure they aren’t full of wax or wet. Cleaning out the ears should become a part of the grooming routine. Still, stick to dog-friendly, natural ear cleaning solutions, and softer silicone tips to get all the gunk out.
Shepskies have rather sensitive eyes, so the vet should pay attention to any changes and prescribe treatment to prevent further damage. Overall, four conditions are the most common for this breed:
- Juvenile cataracts. These may cause blindness in young puppies. Cataracts may appear very early, when the dog is only a few months old, and progress fast.
- Canine glaucoma. This is a disease of the optic nerve. The most common symptom is high pressure in the eye. Other symptoms include redness in the whites of the eyes, blinking, cloudy vision or loss, etc.
- Corneal dystrophy, an inherited condition that refers to the grey or white clouding of the eye. It doesn’t impair vision, but there is not much a vet would be able to do about it.
- Progressive retinal atrophy, another inherited condition that affects the retina. It is a degenerative disorder that causes photoreceptors in the retina to die. Thus, it leads to blindness, but not right away — the condition progresses throughout the years.
There is no cure, but since it takes a while to show its effect, the pooch has more time to memorize its environment and may remain happy and healthy. Luckily, the condition isn’t painful.
Just like many other breeds, the German Shepherd Husky mix is also prone to various cancers. Depending on the type of tumor or cancer, it may be surgically removed or warrant chemotherapy or medications. Either way, the dog can get any sort of cancer, but you cannot predict the treatment until the time comes for it.
Food, contact, and inhalant allergies are another common health concern to keep an eye out for. The dog may have an allergic reaction to a certain food or when it comes in contact with a certain chemical. Alternatively, it may inhale airborne particles like dust and mildew.
Though you cannot protect the pup from everything, it’s imperative to make sure its surroundings are healthy and that it’s leading a healthy lifestyle as well. It shouldn’t be exposed to foods it’s allergic to or dangerous chemicals. The environment should also be dust-, pollen- and mildew-free — so hygiene and proper house care are essential.
How to Care for the German Shepherd Husky Mix
Unsurprisingly, a breed with two fairly strong parents ought to require a well-balanced diet. This rings true for the German Shepherd Husky mix, although in its case, the emphasis is on protein.
This breed should get enough protein from both grain-based and grain-free foods. Overall, the diet shouldn’t go under 22–25% protein, as the dog has high energy requirements.
In calories, that roughly translates to 1700 to 2400 calories per day if we’re talking about active adult Shepskies. But of course, that will depend on the dog’s age, activity level, size, weight, and sex. A puppy will most likely need more calories, as it will be more active than an adult dog.
What’s certain is that we need to account for treats when estimating the daily caloric intake for the dog. Shepskies can pack on the pounds easily. If we accidentally overfeed them, they may soon develop some joint issues, among other potential health conditions.
Choosing the right food that’s both good for the dog and tasty may prove a bit tricky. Digestive issues aren’t uncommon in Shepskies, so it’s likely that some brands, and even some food groups, may bother the dog. We cannot do much about that, except to replace the food as soon as we notice it isn’t working for the pooch. Fortunately, we can opt for kibble (dry) or wet food, and even frozen foods are an option.
When taking care of a puppy, we should be wary of feeding it heavier food. Since the pups grow rapidly between the fourth and seventh month of age, they’re prone to bone disorders (from a growth spurt). To prevent that, we can opt for leaner (low-calorie) but still high-quality food.
As one would expect, the German Shepherd Husky mix requires plenty of exercise, not to mention space to take part in it. Therefore, it is not a suitable dog for an apartment. It would thrive the most in a house with a large enough backyard to run laps around.
If for some reason, someone decides to keep one in an apartment, they’ll have to spend a lot of time at the dog park. A bare minimum is two hours of exercise per day (moderate to vigorous).
It would be great if the dog could roam around without a leash as well; that would let it get to know its surroundings better and get used to various sounds and smells. We don’t recommend it, though, if it hasn’t been trained yet.
Playing, running around, and roaming the grounds, in general, might be the best source of exercise for this dog. If you have a Shepsky, consider using an obstacle course to keep the dog active. Tug-of-war, fetch, and similar games are also an option — as long as it gets the dog to run, it’s worth a try.
But don’t forget that it also needs mental stimulation! Challenging puzzles are a good way to keep it entertained for a while, though a proper job or task is the best option overall. In the case of most dog owners, that might not be possible to provide, so the dog park and puzzles will have to do!
The German Shepherd Husky mix has a double coat, which is both good and bad news. What’s awesome about it is that it protects the dog from the cold in the cooler and heat in the warmer months. The bad news is that it tends to get quite messy, as the dog is a moderate shedder. A good vacuum isn’t a potential shopping decision when you have a Shepsky — it’s basically a requirement.
Still, as far as brushing goes, you only have to brush out the pooch two to three times per week. That should keep the coat neat and shiny, spreading some of those natural oils throughout the hair. Furthermore, you don’t have to bathe the dog often either; there’s a chance it won’t like it anyway, and besides, you don’t want to strip the hair of those useful oils!
When it comes to other grooming activities, you should pay attention to your Shepsky’s ears and eyes and make sure they are clean. Moreover, trim the pooch’s nails every few months (as needed) with good-quality clippers.
To prevent periodontal disease, it’s good to introduce a teeth-brushing routine as well. Try to brush the dog’s teeth at least twice a week, or daily if it’s at all possible, using a dog-friendly toothpaste and toothbrush.
Training the German Shepherd Husky Mix
Your Shepsky is eager to learn and is incredibly intelligent. However, neither of those traits will be used to the dog’s best advantage if you don’t take the time to train it properly.
Unfortunately, those same traits may be major obstacles; this breed is easily distracted when bored, so you really do have to keep the dog on its toes and come up with various games and activities all the time.
As far as training goes, though, you should follow the same logic that other dog owners are using. Try to keep it both fun and effective, and aim to reward positive actions, not punish negative behavior.
Furthermore, don’t let your frustration get the best of you; if the training isn’t going well, take a breather. Afterward, come back to the training and break it down into smaller steps.
Most importantly, remember that you have to find your dog’s currency. Whether it’s food, toys, or simply lots of cuddles and praise, knowing what motivates your pooch is going to make each training session that much easier. And seeing as this is a breed that really needs to be motivated to do something specific, that’s one piece of information that’ll prove to be the most valuable throughout the training.
According to multiple sources and anecdotal evidence, the German Shepherd Husky mix seems to be the best of both worlds. Do you crave the loyalty and bravery of the German Shepherd but are, at the same time, absolutely in love with the Siberian Husky’s silliness? This designer breed has all those traits and then some, all wrapped into an incredible pooch who will be a good companion, worker, play buddy, and cuddler.
Keep in mind, though, that the Shepsky requires training and discipline — if you cannot put enough effort into that area, you may be better off with a more low-maintenance breed.