The Gerberian Shepsky is a beautiful mix between two intelligent, elegant breeds: the German Shepherd and the Siberian Husky. While not inherently high-maintenance as a mix, both breeds have a number of grooming and care requirements to keep in mind.
The Siberan Husky and German Shepherd both are heavy shedding breeds, with thick double-coats suited to cold climates. However, as a mix, the Gerberian Shepsky tends to be a moderate shedder (although some high-shedding variations can occur). As with both parents, the Shepsky will shed his or her undercoat during the summer months, so frequent brushing with a Furminator or other de-shedding tool is recommended. Never shave your Gerberian Shepsky, no matter how hot the temperature becomes during the summer.
A dog with a double coat can sufficiently cool itself, and you can do more harm than good to a dog’s natural air conditioning by shaving his or her fur. Instead, fill a kiddie pool with water or keep your dog inside if he or she appears to be miserable from the heat. During non-shedding months, you should still brush your Shepsky multiple times per week, as your dog’s long fur can easily become coarse or matted without proper attention. Regardless if your dog is a moderate or heavy shedder, expect to lint roll and vacuum almost daily. If shedding becomes out of control, regular “de-shedding” treatments at the groomer can help ease the problem, as can regular baths with de-shedding shampoo and conditioner. However, avoid bathing your dog too frequently, as German Shepherds and Siberian Huskies can both be susceptible to dry skin, leaving your Shepsky prone to this condition as well.
Included in the regular grooming routine for your Gerberian Shepsky should be attention to ears, eyes, nails and teeth. German Shepherds have a tendency to develop heavy wax build up in their ears, which is a trait that could be inherited by your Shepsky. Frequently check his or her ears, and have a veterinarian or professional groomer clean them, as well as teach you how to do so at home. Never try home remedies, such as pouring mineral oil into the dog’s ear, without a veterinarian’s approval.
After checking your pup’s ears, take a good look at his or her eyes. Like the Husky, the Gerberian Shepsky can have brown, blue, or parti-colored eyes (or one of each). Look to see that eyes are clear and free of any “gunk” in the corners. If there is an excessive amount of discharge, especially yellow or green, contact a veterinarian. The Siberian Husky is prone to a number of eye disorders, including juvenile cataracts, corneal dystrophy, and progressive retinal atrophy. German Shepherds are also prone to cataracts, as well as Pannus and Chronic Superficial Keratits. If purchasing your Shepsky from a breeder, do not hesitate to ask to see the CERF certificates of the puppy’s parents. Having a routine eye exam performed annually is also a good idea.
As is recommended for all dogs, proper attention to nails and teeth are necessary. For most medium-to-large breeds, adequate exercise outdoors can keep nails filed down to a manageable length. However, when nails become long, they must be trimmed or else serious paw pain can occur. Keep a keen eye on your dog’s teeth, and watch for signs of plaque and tartar build-up. Routine dental cleanings can keep preventable diseases, such as gum disease, at bay.
Proper care of your Gerberian Shepsky includes a lot of regular exercise. Both the German Shepherd and Siberian Husky have high energy levels, as they have both been selectively bred for a strong work instinct. The Gerberian Shepsky makes an excellent running partner, willing to traverse miles of road, trails, or bike path, and will gladly carry your supplies in a doggy-backpack. Shepskies are also great hiking partners, and their agile nature helps them to tackle even the most technical of trails.
If cycling is more your style, the Shepsky can easily be trained to run alongside your bicycle, and a number of contraptions exist to make cycling with your dog both easy and safe. Another fun activity is urban mushing, which involves harnessing your pup to a cart, scooter, or wheeled sled and allowing him or her to pull you. In the winter, traditional sled pulling exercises can be both physically and mentally stimulating for a Shepsky. If you do not find vigorous physical activity enjoyable, the Shepsky can be trained to run on a treadmill to burn off excess energy. Additionally, the breed excels at obedience and Agility trials, which are another great way to keep your dog occupied. Regardless, if considering owning a Gerberian Shepsky, you must be aware that this breed has very high activity requirements that must be accommodated. Without regular exercise, the Shepsky can become listless, anxious, and bored, which will result in damage to your home.
Proper living quarters for your Shepsky include a large dwelling with a fenced-in yard. Shepskies are not ideal for apartments, as these dogs are rambunctious and can easily become destructive without adequate room to run. A secure fence is necessary, as Huskies are adept escape artists, and when combined with the athleticism and wit of the German Shepherd, a Shepsky is able to dig under, climb over, jump over, or chew through even the seemingly most steadfast of enclosures. While the Shepsky is good with children, care must be taken to properly socialize your dog, because the Shepsky’s active nature can easily result in your dog knocking over a little one. Additionally, both Huskies and Shepherds have strong prey drives, which make them poor candidates for house mates to cats or other small animals.
Your Gerberian Shepsky’s high activity level will give him or her quite the appetite. The Shepsky’s diet should be high quality, and may need to be free of grain or wheat ingredients, as German Shepherds are more susceptible to food allergies than most breeds. While there are many options available for feeding your dog, including dry kibble, wet food, and the raw diet, there is not one “right” food. A general rule of thumb is to feed the highest quality you can comfortably afford, and always consult a veterinarian when making drastic changes in diet.
The Gerberian Shepsky is a relatively low maintenance hybrid that combines two of the world’s most revered dogs. Known as an intelligent, loyal, and athletic breed, the Shepsky is a true show-stopper, and for good reason. With proper diet, exercise, and preventative care, a Shepsky can live a long, happy, and healthy life!