If you are contemplating owning a German Shepherd Husky mix for your first dog, you’ve probably encountered someone who said it was a bad idea. Whereas there’s plenty of validated information about purebred dogs, that’s not the case with most mixed breed dogs like the German Shepherd Husky mix.
But does owning a mixed breed dog necessarily mean a bad first-pet experience?
The high-energy and intelligent German Shepherd Husky mix can be a great pet for first-time dog owners. You will value their good looks and hybrid temperament, but you’ll also have to meet their need for a high-quality diet and provide plenty of exercise. Here are 9 tips for a first-time German Shepherd Husky mix owner:
- Ensure the dog is a first-generation crossbreed.
- Carefully assess your breeder.
- Be ready to pay the price.
- No apartments – except with lots of planning and hard work!
- You have a hybrid temperament to deal with.
- Training and socialization are major.
- Be ready for extra grooming.
- Be aware of possible health problems.
- Pros and cons of adoption.
This article is a classic of best tips for first-time German Shepherd Husky mix owners. Here, you’ll find the hybrid qualities that make a Gerberian Shepsky a good dog and the challenges you’ll need to handle so you and your pet can blend perfectly.
But before I get into the 9 tips for a first-time owner of the Gerberian Shepsky, let’s take a look at a necessary overview of mixed breed dogs.
- Mixed Breed Dogs: Are They Crossbreed, Hybrid, or Designer Dogs?
- Registering Your German Shepherd Husky Mix: Will My Dog Be Recognized?
- Advantages of Owning Cross/Mixed Breed Dogs
Mixed Breed Dogs: Terms, Recognition, and Advantages
There are several things owners of mixed-breed dogs need to know. Among these are the right terms to use when referring to these dogs, understanding the principles for their recognition and registration, and the advantages of owning a mixed breed dog. Let’s explore these aspects to some length.
Mixed Breed Dogs: Are They Crossbreed, Hybrid, or Designer Dogs?
We know that purebred dogs are those with a documented pedigree in a studbook of a national kennel club like the American Kennel Club or the UK Kennel Club. We also know that purebred dogs are part of a long lineage of dogs with the same or almost the same physical and behavioral traits that meet set breed standards. But what about mixed breed dogs?
Though the terms mixed breed and crossbreed are used as synonyms, they refer to two different dog breeding practices.
Crossbreed dogs are a mix of two purebred dogs. In this case, a purebred German Shepherd Dog and a purebred Siberian Husky dog, producing a German Shepherd Husky mix. The resulting dog is what is often described as a designer dog.
Mixed breed dogs are dogs bred from more than two breeds. This means that a dog could be born from a German Shepherd Husky mix and a Goldendoodle (Golden Retriever and Poodle mix).
In both the crossbreed and the mixed breed situations, breeders intend to integrate each breed’s positive traits so that hybrid offspring are produced. For example, cross-breeding or mixed breeding could be about mixing a breed with a friendly temperament but highly allergenic with another hypoallergenic to produce a friendly-hypoallergenic family dog.
Unfortunately, mixed-breed dogs can be confusing when it comes to tracing their origins. Sometimes, breeders will be surprised at the “gene mosaic” revealed by DNA tests. It is also for this reason that mixed breed dogs are often referred to as mutts, a name that does not excite fanciers of mixed breed dogs since it implies a dog of unknown origin.
Careful, though, about painting a dull picture of cross/mixed breeding. Great purebreds like the Golden Retriever are a product of mixed breeding.
So, are mixed breeds and crossbreeds recognized by national kennel clubs? Let’s explore this issue in this next section.
Registering Your German Shepherd Husky Mix: Will My Dog Be Recognized?
If you are wondering whether your German Shepherd Husky mix is going to get a pedigree from the AKC, the answer is, no! National kennel clubs have strict breed standards that dogs must satisfy to be recognized as purebred dogs. The fact that a German Shepherd Husky mix is a crossbreed automatically disqualifies it.
But that does not mean you cannot register your dog anywhere. There are other recognized dog registry services, such as The American Canine Hybrid Club (ACHC). You’ll find the Gerberian Shepsky listed among registered breeds in this service.
Crossbreed and mixed breed dogs can also be registered with the Dog Registry of America Inc. This service also registers litters and kennels, and the registration can be done online.
The fact that people take the trouble of having their crossbreed dog recognized and registered should indicate some good qualities in these hybrid canines. So, what are the advantages (and disadvantages) of owning mixed breed dogs?
Advantages of Owning Cross/Mixed Breed Dogs
The value of mixed/crossbreed dogs is often discussed. Some think purebred dogs are better than cross/mixed breeds, such as the German Shepherd Husky mix, while others think the contrary. The discussion is still on, and you might have to decide what’s better for you!
Whatever the case, there are advantages associated with cross/mixed breed dogs. Here are 3 of the most prominent ones.
You Have a Variety for Looks and Temperaments
A primary element for purebred dogs is the requirement to meet the standard physical, temperament, and behavioral expectations. Somehow, there’s no room for variety.
While the good looks and behavioral qualities are present in the purebred dogs, cross/mixed dogs give you endless possibilities – and you know how much looks and behavior matter for dog owners!
Even though not a guarantee because of the genotype-phenotype dynamic, you can guess what your crossbreed puppy will look like and how it will behave from its parent’s qualities. That is actually the reason why people crossbreed; to reproduce the good qualities.
But this advantage can also be a minus, while you know what to expect when you breed two German Shepherds, you might be surprised with the product of a German Shepherd and a Siberian Husky. It can be a trial and error game.
Cross/Mixed Breeds Are Associated With Better Health
In dog breeding, purebreds are mated to preserve the integrity of a breed. But that also means working with a smaller pool of genes; what you have is what you keep.
Instead, crossbreeding widens the gene pool from which the qualities and traits of a dog are created. This means that it is less likely to pass the same health faults from parents to offspring. In basic terms, genes have a lot more to work with, and they can create better quality.
Research has shown that inherited health conditions have a greater prevalence in purebred dogs than mixed breed dogs. Among diseases most pervasive in all purebred dogs are hypothyroidism, allergic dermatitis, and intervertebral disk disease (IVDD).
Cross/Mixed Breed Dogs Have a Higher Life Expectancy
The positive qualities integrated through cross/mixed breeding are a basis for better health in dogs. Research has shown that mixed-breed dogs are less susceptible to inherited diseases but are better carriers of the same, while purebreds carry fewer disease genes but are more susceptible to the same diseases. This gives the mixed breed dogs better chances of living longer.
Also, studies have consistently indicated that mixed breed dogs have a longer life expectancy. In one UK study, for example, purebred dogs suffered from health conditions earlier in life and were more likely to die younger than mixed breed dogs.
Despite these advantages, cross/mixed breeds also have a couple of drawbacks. The most obvious disadvantage with mixed breed dogs is that it is more difficult to predict the outcome of cross/breeding (size, temperament, health, etc.) since there is no established standard to refer to.
Learn About The German Shepherd Husky Mix In This Video…
To reap the listed advantages of crossbreeding the German Shepherd and the Siberian Husky, first-time German Shepherd Husky mix owners should consider the tips discussed in the next section.
9 Tips for a First-Time German Shepherd Husky Mix Owner
If you are a first-time owner, here are 9 tips to work with when deciding whether to choose a German Shepherd Husky Mix.
1. Ensure The German Shepherd Husky Mix is a First-Generation Crossbreed
It is important to know that not all mixed-breed dogs result from a 50/50 crossbreed between purebred dogs. Many of them are the result of multi-generation crossbreeding.
So, if you are contemplating owning a Gerberian Shepsky, ensure that your pet is a first-generation offspring. This means that it has been bred from a purebred German Shepherd and a purebred Siberian Husky.
Experts suggest that second and third mixed breed generations are more predisposed to health issues than first-generation hybrids. The reason for this is that the more generations, the lesser the gene pool, which makes the offspring less resistant to disease.
Also, the second and third generations are more likely to record mating of related crossbreeds. Extreme mixing also creates a basis for less predictability in dogs when it comes to physical looks, temperament, behavior, and health.
When purchasing your German Shepherd Husky mix, ask your breeder to show you the pedigree for both the German Shepherd and the Siberian Husky.
2. Carefully Assess Your Breeder
I’ve already mentioned the need to ask for the pedigree papers of your German Shepherd Husky mix puppy’s parents. You can also confirm the breeder’s registration with recognized agents like the earlier mentioned Dog Registry of America Inc.
Assessing your breeder on a few other elements is also advised. Here are a few that you should look out for to determine the authenticity of your pet’s breeder:
- The breeder has tested the crossbred dogs for common ailments associated with the breed and carried out the recommended tests; Elbow evaluation for the German Shepherd, Ophthalmologist evaluation for the Siberian Husky, and Hip evaluation for both.
- The breeder can tell you about some success stories with other Gerberian Shepsky owners that have bought puppies from them.
- They will not sell you the puppy before it is eight weeks old.
- They will want to know about your lifestyle and family to ensure that the Gerberian Shepsky is a good fit for you.
- They will not sell you the dog without a contract, and they will have a clause indicating that you can return the dog if you are unable to keep it for any reason.
- They will confirm with you that they can inquire about the well-being of the Gerberian Shepsky even after they have sold it to you.
3. Be Ready to Pay the Price
The general thinking about dog prices is that you’ll pay more for purebreds and less for crossbreeds. While this may be true to some extent, it might not always be the case. For example, purebred dogs with widespread popularity will cost more, but so will popular crossbreeds.
According to some, you can pay a few hundred dollars for a German Shepherd Husky mix. But my research indicates that you will have to pay a lot more.
For example, of the 96 German Shepherd Husky mix dogs listed on the classified advertising site LancasterPuppies.com, the cheapest was listed for $1,025, while the most costly had a $2,300 price tag. (These prices may change as the puppies are sold).
Nonetheless, I also found Gerberian Shepskies listed for £300 ($375) and £550 ($690) on the UK classified advertising site, NewsNow.co.uk. This suggests that, like all other dogs, the price of a German Shepherd Husky mix will vary depending on factors like breeder reputation, dog’s age, and location.
Besides the buying price, you will need to include other owning costs like food, vet visits, health insurance, and other feeding and training accessories and equipment.
4. No Apartments – Except with Planning and Hard Work!
Imagine bringing home to your apartment a German Shepherd Husky mix and hearing him shout, “Not an apartment!” That’s probably what he would say if he was able to! Exercise and space are an important part of a Shepsky’s day.
An intelligent working dog full of energy like the Gerberian Shepsky is not meant for the limited space in an apartment – but it can be done with lots of planning and extra work! However, a home with a yard where your dog can run and jump is recommended and will be easier for you. If left idle, the dog will either try to run away or become destructive.
Like all medium/large high-energy dogs, your German Shepherd Husky mix will require around 2 hours of exercise daily. This can be distributed throughout the day between walks/runs and other activities like fetch, tug of war, and catch.
Also, the Gerberian Shepsky’s medium/large body needs plenty of space. The male can grow up to 25ʺ (63.5cm) and the female 22ʺ (55.8cm). Similarly, an adult male will weigh 55-80lb (24.9-36.3kg) and the female 45-60lb (20.4-27.2kg). Remember though, these are very approximate sizes/weights depending on the parentage and all dogs are different.
I have a great article, Exactly How Much Space Do German Shepherds Need? This explains more in-depth the physical and mental exercise requirements of GSDs and details loads of different exercise tips if you live in an apartment or a small space. You can relate this post to your German Shepherd Husky mix.
5. You Have a Hybrid Temperament to Deal With
While it might be easier to guess the physical looks of a puppy from a sled dog and a sheepdog, you might have to wait for your Gerberian Shepsky to grow so you can tell their temperament. But that can still be anticipated from the temperament of the parents.
So, what temperament recipe am I working with to produce the German Shepherd Husky mix? Here’s my combination:
|German Shepherd||Siberian Husky|
|Self-confident and courageous||Friendly and outgoing|
|Eager and alert||Alert|
|Loyal and protective||Loyal|
|Love to please||Gentle|
|Aloof with strangers but good with other dogs||Open to strangers and other dogs|
|Good family pets, gentle with kids||Enjoy family life and good with kids|
|Tendency to bark||Can be vocal – barks and howls|
The German Shepherd Husky mix has inherited a lot of these qualities and manifests them in their hybrid temperament. For example, they have both parents’ intelligence and loyalty, and friendliness towards strangers from the Husky.
|German Shepherd Husky Mix||1||2||3|
|Affectionate with family||X|
|Friendly towards strangers||X|
|Friendly towards other dogs||X|
|Tendency to howl or bark||X|
|Friendly towards kids||X|
As with other dogs, these good qualities must be nurtured through training and socialization, which is another key tip for first-time owners.
6. Training and Socialization Are Major
Like all dogs, a German Shepherd Husky mix will need early socialization and training to learn commands and build a friendly approach towards family, strangers, and other pets.
Exposing your Shepsky to different social situations where they can meet people and other dogs is paramount. Dog parks are an optimal option.
Also, initiate your Gerberian Shepsky in socialization and training as soon as you bring them home. Like other species, dogs learn best when they are still young, and it is harder to make them change when they have already formed a pattern of behavior – although it can be done with lots of patience and discipline.
Check out this article on how to train a German Shepherd Husky Mix Puppy. I list 7 easy ways on how to train your Shepsky.
A German Shepherd Husky mix can be stubborn and mischievous. So, it is advisable to consider professional training for your pet. Owners often melt at their dog’s begging eyes and will readily let them get away with disobedience or an extra undeserved treat. Hiring the services of a professional trainer will give your dog the recommended discipline.
You can also consider taking your Gerberian Shepsky to a puppy school. This is not only a good opportunity for obedience training but also for socializing. Whichever option you take, reward-based training will yield better results than a punishment approach.
7. Be Ready for Extra Grooming
You will often hear people say that the German Shepherd Husky mix is not for first-time owners. Some of the reasons include their need for plenty of exercise and their grooming requirements. Both will give you an extra daily chore!
German Shepherds are good first good dogs which also means the GSD Husky mix can also be a good choice for first-time owners. My GSD is my first dog and I like to think I’ve done alright. She tends to agree with me too. Here she is all nicely groomed!
The thick double coat of the Gerberian Shepsky sheds a lot. That means you’ll need to brush his fur twice or thrice a week to control shedding and avoid extreme distribution of dog hair in your home or on your clothes. You will also have to brush your pet’s coat daily in the heavy shedding months before the cold and warm seasons. This is when they “blow their coat.”
A good de-shedding tool is recommended, and I use the FURminator. It is meant for large breeds and will get rid of your dog’s loose hair and undercoat as it reaches through the topcoat with ease.
Some will say the German Shepherd Husky mix has a damp-clothes odor. If your Shepsky should manifest this problem, you might consider a bath once every couple of months. More than this will rid your dog’s coat of its natural oils, so it’s not recommended.
It’s important to keep your Gerberian Shepsky nails short and not let them grow to the point of clicking the floor when your dog walks.
The clippers have a safety guard to prevent overcutting the nails, and it comes with a free nail file, good for keeping the edges smooth. If you regularly walk your dog on the sidewalk like me, you won’t need to bother with nail clipping!
The oral health of your Gerberian Shepsky is also delicate. Brush your pet’s teeth at least three times a week. Use a brush created for dogs and non-rinse dog toothpaste.
8. Be Aware of Possible Health Problems
Considering its healthy and strong parents, the German Shepherd Husky mix is generally a healthy dog. But like all dogs, it can be prone to some health conditions. Below are the conditions to be aware of:
Elbow and Hip Dysplasia
Canine Elbow Dysplasia and Hip Dysplasia are genetic, developmental joint disorders affecting a good number of dog breeds. The conditions manifest in joint malformation and can lead to osteoarthritis, an incurable and debilitating condition.
It is understandable if the Gerberian Shepsky is predisposed to these conditions since the German Shepherd is one of the breeds that are highly susceptible to hip dysplasia. Overall, in a study of 78 different breeds, the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) estimates the prevalence of elbow dysplasia to range up to 47.9%, while hip dysplasia had a prevalence of up to 75% in this study of 74 breeds.
These figures varied widely among 78 breeds but in general, it is estimated that around 20% of German Shepherds will have bad hips whilst only 2% of Siberian Huskies will be affected.
The Siberian Husky bears the blame for the eye problems in the German Shepherd Husky mix. These problems include:
- Canine glaucoma: a condition that affects the eye’s optic nerve putting pressure on the eye and eventually causing blindness.
- Corneal dystrophy: this condition is caused by the accumulation of abnormal material in the cornea.
- Juvenile cataracts: cause cloudiness of the lens in young puppies and may progress to blindness even by the end of the first year of life.
- Progressive retinal atrophy: symptoms of this condition include night blindness, dilated pupils, and poor vision in places with bright light.
Epilepsy is a disorder of the nervous system that leads to uncontrolled seizures. According to ACK’s Canine Health Foundation, canine epilepsy is the most common neurological disorder among dogs, affecting about 0.75% of the dog population.
It’s advisable to always work with your pet’s vet for the medical management of the condition, including anti-epilepsy drugs.
Other Health Conditions
Other health conditions that may affect your Gerberian Shepsky include cancer, ear infections and, gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), or bloating. Bloat (GDV) is a life-threatening condition that you need to be aware of.
To protect your Gerberian Shepsky from these conditions, stick to your pet’s vet visit schedule and consult your vet whenever you suspect the onset of some health problem. If your dog is healthy, he has a better chance of living his full lifespan, plus your life is healthier too!
9. Pros and Cons of Adoption
As a general rule, older dogs are harder to train and socialize than puppies. Older dogs or rescue dogs may have had an owner who trained them in one particular way, and you will need to retrain them to create your desired pet companion.
Even though I’m are not against adoption, as a first-time owner of a German Shepherd Husky mix, you may be better off getting a puppy and training him at a young age. Remember that Gerberian Shepskies can be stubborn when it comes to training!
If, however, you are prepared to put in a bit of work, it’s never too late to train a German Shepherd Husky mix due to their high intelligence and eagerness to please.
Check out my article, Is It Ever Too Late to Train a German Shepherd? for some great info and ideas which you can relate to your Shepsky.
Key advantages of adopting, even though you are a first-time owner, are that you pay less and give a home to a dog who would otherwise be without one. In fact, mixed breed dogs are often left out when dogs in shelters are adopted. They are also at a greater risk of being abandoned if they don’t turn out to meet the owner’s expectations.
Despite this, the disadvantages listed below might serve to convince you that dog owners with experience have the upper hand when it comes to adopting a German Shepherd Husky mix:
- If the shelter you are adopting from does not have any reference for the Gerberian Shepsky’s history, you might be adopting a multi-generation mixed-breed dog, which may complicate your ability to care for the pet.
- As already alluded to, it will be more difficult to train and create a close bond with an older dog.
- You miss out on your “best friend’s” growth milestones from being a tiny puppy to a fully grown Gerberian Shepsky.
All dogs deserve a loving parent and home. If you adopt without the experience of putting up with any unexpected behavior, you might end up returning the dog to the shelter. You may be better off leaving the noble act of adoption to the experienced dog owner but if you have your heart set on adoption here is my step-by-step guide to help you along the way.
The German Shepherd Husky mix is an intelligent, high-energy mixed breed dog. While they have a pleasant, loyal and friendly temperament and are easy to train, they can be a challenge for first-time owners because they tend to be stubborn, need plenty of space and exercise, and are expensive to own. They are also prone to some health conditions that you need to be aware of.
Ensuring that your Gerberian Shepsky is a first-generation crossbreed will give you a better chance to predict what your puppy is going to become as an adult.
Also, ensure you buy from a reliable breeder and only consider adoption if you have done your research and understand the whole process. If you’re still undecided if this is the dog for you, you might want to consider other German Shepherd mixes or even a mini German Shepherd.
However, a happy German Shepherd Husky mix means a happy owner!