The German Shepherd Husky mix is a hybrid of two highly intelligent and popular working breeds – the German Shepherd and the Siberian Husky. While each breed has their own unique set of traits and temperament, a German Shepherd Husky mix will typically present with some characteristics that come from both breeds, though it’s not unusual for the offspring of a cross between these two purebreds to take after one parent more predominantly than the other.
As a hybrid that appears to be growing significantly in popularity, German Shepherd Husky mixes are one of the so-called ‘designer dog’ breeds. In addition to being hard-working, loyal and usually personable, these mixes also tend to be wonderfully striking in appearance, often maintaining the typical Shepherd patterning, but gaining the blue eyes that are characteristic of the Husky breed. Inexperienced owners who choose this breed based only on looks, however, may find themselves in over their head, as both parent breeds can be strong-willed and vocal, and German Shepherd Huskies need consistent training, early socialization and clear boundaries to develop into good canine citizens.
In appearance, the German Shepherd Husky is typically considered to be a larger hybrid, generally standing around 2-25 inches at the shoulder, with a weight that ranges between 45 and 88lbs. They have a typically solid (though not overly heavy) structure, and their athletic build and moderate to high energy level allows them to excel in dog sport and endurance activities.
Since the coat coloration can be somewhat unpredictable in hybrids, a German Shepherd Husky can come in a variety of different colors; blue, red, white, cream, brown, grey, and golden have all been noted, though the most common coloration and patterning tends to be either black and tan or brown and black.
Like both Shepherd and Husky parents, their hybrid offspring are also double coated, possessing a soft, dense undercoat that traps warm air to insulate, and a harsher, longer overcoat that keeps them dry and protects them from severe weather conditions. The skull shape can vary in appearance between the Shepherd’s narrower headset and the Husky’s broader shape, but the ears are generally always upright, while the muzzle of a German Shepherd Husky is usually pointed, similar to both parent breeds. Their eyes may be brown, blue, or an even combination of both!
Personality and Temperament
Although this mix has the potential to be gentle and calm if they’re given lots of early socialization and training, they are still muscular, strong dog. They can be protective and loyal pets, and their intuitive intelligence means that they need a job to do in order to keep them from becoming bored. German Shepherd Huskies are usually very trainable, since they respond well to reward-based training practices, and learn verbal commands and whistles quickly and easily. Their innate herding instinct can sometimes be an problem, especially when these dogs are younger, as they are often tempted to mouth and ‘gather’ their humans into one spot – a behavior that they can be redirected out of with time and patience, however.
The fact that they’re at the top of the game when it comes to learning and logical thinking means that a German Shepherd Husky mix could have enormous potential for search and rescue, military operations and even stunt dog training! They bond closely with their family or trainer but stay reserved towards strangers (even to the point of becoming protective of their own ‘people’ and territory) making them an excellent choice for guard dog duty as well. Because both Huskies and German Shepherds tend to have high prey drive, it’s not recommended that these mixes live in homes where there are cats or much smaller dogs, as they may be more likely to chase or even seriously injure these other pets.
Grooming and Shedding
Most canine companions need some amount of grooming, and the German Shepherd Husky is no exception. Their double coat sheds moderately all year, with one or two sessions of heavier shedding, particularly in the spring (often called ‘blowing coat). A thorough brushing several times each week can help to keep the furry tumbleweeds from taking over your house, however, besides being essential for removing excess dead undercoat, allowing these mixed breeds to properly regulate their body temperature. Eye, ear, and toenail care is also important, and some owners may choose to trim their dog’s paw hair to prevent snow accumulation in the winter.
Common Health Issues
While mixed breeds in general tend to be healthier overall, since they’re not vulnerable to many of the health issues caused by inbreeding, a German Shepherd Husky mix may still potentially experience some of the health conditions commonly found in either of its purebred parents. Some of these conditions can include:
- Gastrointestinal issues like inflammatory bowel disease
- Eye issues like juvenile cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy, and kerato-conjunctivitis (dry eye)
- Hip and elbow dysplasia
- Splenic cancer
- Allergic dermatitis
- Perianal fistula
- von Willebrand’s disease
- Degenerative Myelitis
- Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency
In spite of these potential health issues, many German Shepherd Husky mixes can live up to 12 or 13 years of age.
Although owning a German Shepherd Husky mix can be extremely rewarding, it’s essential to remember that these dogs originate from two very driven working breeds, so they absolutely need lots of physical and mental interaction. These dogs are moderate to high energy canines, with a drive to work and play for long periods of time – lovers of these hybrids should be prepared to provide them with at least an hour or two of activity every day. Owners who aren’t able to provide daily intense exercise for their dogs in the form of hiking, swimming, running, or dog sports like skijoring, herding, mushing or agility might find that their dogs become bored easily, quickly becoming frustrated or destructive.
Although their high intellect allows a German Shepherd Husky to learn quickly, they’re also extremely independent and perceptive, and require confident, consistent training methods and firm boundaries. Like most dogs, they respond best to positive, reward-based training that takes their independent nature and problem solving skills into consideration. They can be highly motivated by treats, toys, and play to learn and perform many different types of skills.
Because these dogs are moderately large breeds, close attention should be paid to their growth and body condition from puppyhood, since improper nutrition (or excess weight gain) could cause them to develop bone and joint issues earlier as an adult. Choose a premium diet that’s complete and balanced in terms of nutrients and made with high quality, digestible ingredients –this will not only help your dog maintain a healthier digestive and immune system, but will be less expensive in the long run, potentially saving you money on vet bills in the future.
Excellent nutrition is the first step to excellent health! Keep in mind that many German Shepherd Husky mixes may seem picky, but in actuality, they simply know how much their body needs and will often regulate their own food intake depending on their activity. German Shepherd Husky Mixes (Gerberian Shepsky) are recognized by the American Canine Hybrid Club and the Dog Registry of America Inc.