German Shepherd Husky Mix: Is This the Right Breed for You?

Categorized as German Shepherd Types and Mixes
Featured image for an article about German Shepherd Husky Mix: Is This the Right Breed for You?

The German Shepherd Husky mix, also known as the Gerberian Shepsky or Shepsky, is a loving and energetic hybrid that brings together the best traits of two popular dog breeds. This relatively new mixed breed combines the intelligence and loyalty of the German Shepherd with the playfulness and athleticism of the Siberian Husky.

For experienced owners looking for an active and trainable dog, the Shepsky can make a wonderful addition to the family. Read on to learn more about this hybrid’s history, temperament, care needs, health issues, and more.

Here is a helpful table summarizing some of the key information about the German Shepherd Husky mix:

German Shepherd Husky Mix
Size20-25 inches tall; 45-88 pounds
CoatThick, medium-long double coat; sheds moderately
ColorBlack, brown, gray, cream, red, sable, white; often multi-colored
Lifespan10-14 years
Activity LevelVery high; needs 60+ minutes exercise daily
TrainabilityIntelligent and trainable but can be stubborn
Kid FriendlyModerate; supervision needed due to high energy
Dog FriendlyModerate; early socialization needed
SheddingModerate to high shedding
Health IssuesHip/elbow dysplasia, eye problems, allergies
Good ForActive singles, families; those wanting a trainable working dog
Not Ideal ForLow energy households; first time owners; homes with very small children

History of the German Shepherd Husky Mix

The Shepsky is a designer dog breed developed in the late 1990s, likely in North America. Breeders wanted to create a hybrid dog that had the strong work ethic and protective instincts of the German Shepherd along with the tireless energy and wolf-like appearance of the Siberian Husky.

The German Shepherd originated as a herding dog in Germany in the late 1800s. Valued for their intelligence, courage, and loyalty, German Shepherds went on to become popular police, military, and service dogs. Huskies were bred by the Chukchi people of Siberia to pull sleds over long distances. They were later brought to North America to participate in sled dog racing events.

By combining these two breeds, designers hoped to get the best of both worlds – an energetic working dog with an impressive coat. As demand grew for Shepsky puppies, more breeders began intentionally crossing German Shepherd and Siberian Husky dogs.

Today, the Shepsky is recognized by some minor kennel clubs but is not eligible for registration with major breed registries like the AKC. Those interested in a Shepsky puppy should be sure to find a responsible breeder who health tests their breeding dogs.

Appearance of Shepskies

The Shepsky is a medium to large dog, ranging in height from 20 to 25 inches at the shoulder. Weights typically fall between 45 to 88 pounds.

These hybrids have a sturdy, athletic build. They often resemble Siberian Huskies but with the broader head, more upright ears, and black “saddle” markings of a German Shepherd.

The coat of a Shepsky is thick, dense, and medium in length. Common coat colors include black, gray, brown, tan, white, red, and sable. Most Shepskies have a mix of colors and markings. Their fur is straight or slightly wavy and sheds at a moderate to high rate.

Shepskies tend to have triangular ears that stand erect. Their eyes are almond-shaped and range from light amber to brown in color. Blue eyes are possible but less common. Shepskies have long, feathered tails that curl up and over their back.

Temperament of the Shepsky

Shepskies are highly energetic dogs with strong exercise needs. When their physical and mental stimulation needs are met, they make lively yet loyal companions.

This hybrid inherits the intelligence and work ethic of both parent breeds. They’re quick to pick up on new commands and enjoy having a job to do. Obedience training and canine activities like agility are great outlets for their energy and cleverness.

From the Siberian Husky side, the Shepsky can be quite independent and mischievous. Firm, positive training is needed to establish rules and boundaries. Shepskies thrive when there is clear and consistent pack leadership.

The German Shepherd influence makes this hybrid an alert watchdog. Shepskies will bark to let their owners know of any perceived threats. Without proper socialization, some can be wary of strangers.

For families with children, a well-trained Shepsky can be an excellent playmate and guardian. Their affectionate nature and protective instincts make them ideal companions for kids. Adults should still supervise all interactions between dogs and young children.

With early socialization and obedience training, the Shepsky can develop into a loyal and devoted companion. They form close bonds with their owners and aim to please when properly motivated.

Training Requirements

Smart and energetic, the Shepsky can be a rewarding breed to train – but only for knowledgeable owners who have the time to commit.

This hybrid is eager to take part in canine sports like agility, obedience trials, and rally competitions. Keeping their mind engaged with advanced training prevents boredom-related behaviors.

Shepskies have a strong will and may be prone to testing boundaries. Owners must establish a confident leadership role early on. Firm yet positive reinforcement training works best for this hybrid.

The Shepsky’s high intelligence enables them to learn commands quickly. However, their independent streak means training requires consistency and patience. Short, engaging training sessions will hold their interest best.

Early socialization is imperative for the Shepsky. Expose them to a wide variety of people, animals, places, sounds, and experiences in a positive way. This will help build their confidence and prevent suspiciousness or shyness as adults.

For first-time dog owners, the Shepsky is likely too much dog to handle. Their intelligence and exercise needs demand an experienced trainer. Well-raised Shepskies make wonderfully devoted companions for active households.

Exercise Requirements

With two tirelessly energetic parents, the Shepsky is a dog built for action. They thrive when given daily rigorous exercise paired with challenging mental stimulation.

Shepskies require a minimum of 60 minutes of vigorous activity per day. Long walks, hikes, runs, or bike rides help meet their exercise needs. Allow them to run freely in a securely fenced area. Interactive games like fetch are another good outlet.

Without adequate daily physical exertion, the Shepsky is likely to become frustrated and bored. Excess energy may lead to undesirable behaviors like barking, chewing, digging, or hyperactivity.

Mental stimulation is just as important for this hybrid. Food puzzles, training games, and interactive dog toys will keep their sharp mind engaged. Canine jobs like agility or competitive obedience are perfect for the bright Shepsky.

Shepskies can adapt to most climates, although they may not tolerate intense heat as well. Their double coat provides insulation from cold environments. Time outdoors should be limited on extremely hot or humid days.

With proper exercise and mental challenges, the Shepsky makes a well-behaved housemate. They can thrive in homes of any size – including apartments – as long as their activity needs are met daily.

Grooming Needs

The Shepsky has a dense, weather-resistant coat that requires weekly brushing and occasional bathing. Shedding is moderate to high, especially during seasonal shedding cycles.

Use a slicker brush worked through the coat once to twice per week to remove loose hair. Bathe only when needed, as over-bathing strips the fur of essential oils.

Check the ears regularly for dirt buildup or signs of infection. Clean inside the ears gently with a veterinarian-recommended cleanser and cotton ball. Clip the nails as needed, usually every week or two.

Shepskies are average shedders most of the year. However, they “blow” their coat once or twice annually as the seasons change. During these shedding cycles, daily brushing may be needed to keep all that loose fur under control.

Consider investing in a good vacuum if you want to keep your home hair-free. Some owners find equipping their Shepsky with a “shedder blade” helps groom the coat and reduce loose hairs around the house.

Feeding Your Shepsky

A high-quality dog food formulated for active medium to large breed dogs is the best diet for a Shepsky. These hybrids have high metabolisms and need nutrient-dense diets to fuel their energetic lifestyles.

Shepsky puppies should be fed a large breed puppy formula for the first 12 to 24 months of life. This will support steady growth and optimal bone development.

Follow your veterinarian’s guidelines for how much to feed your Shepsky based on their age, weight, and activity level. Since Shepskies love to eat, it’s easy for them to overindulge if given the chance. Watch their waistline and don’t leave food out all day.

Treats should comprise no more than 10% of your Shepsky’s daily calories. Opt for healthy training treats like diced chicken, liver, bananas, carrots, or low-fat cheese. Avoid feeding table scraps.

Provide fresh water at all times in a bowl that is washed and refilled daily. Shepskies may gulp their water after exercise or play, which can lead to vomiting or bloat. Allow them to drink slowly rather than taking huge drinks all at once.

Health Issues

While generally healthy, Shepskies are prone to some of the same health issues as their parent breeds. Responsible breeding minimizes the chances of inheriting genetic diseases.

Orthopedic problems like hip and elbow dysplasia are concerns due to this hybrid’s larger size. Signs include limping, difficulty standing up, and reluctance to exercise or play. Keeping your Shepsky lean takes pressure off the joints.

Eye issues including cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy, and corneal dystrophy sometimes occur. Annual eye exams by a veterinary ophthalmologist will help detect issues early.

Other possible health problems include epilepsy, allergies, bloat, heart disease, hypothyroidism, and skin issues. Shepskies have a lifespan of 10 to 14 years when properly cared for.

Choose a breeder who health screens their breeding dogs for common genetic diseases present in German Shepherds and Siberian Huskies. Review health clearances and ask lots of questions before purchasing a Shepsky puppy.

Finding a Shepsky Puppy

Searching for a Shepsky puppy? Take your time researching breeders to find one who prioritizes breeding healthy, well-socialized pups.

Avoid pet stores or online ads selling Shepsky puppies. These dogs often come from irresponsible breeders and puppy mills. Instead, look for breeders who:

  • Have parent dogs with OFA or PennHIP health clearances for hips and elbows
  • Will let you meet at least one of the parents in person
  • Socialize pups in a home environment and start training early
  • Offer a health guarantee against genetic defects

Expect to pay between $500 to over $1000 for a Shepsky puppy from a quality breeder. Adopting an adult Shepsky can be a more budget-friendly option. Try contacting local shelters, rescues, or breed-specific Husky or German Shepherd rescues.

Shepsky Adoption

Consider adopting an adult Shepsky if you want to skip the puppy stage. Check with:

  • Your local animal shelter or humane society
  • German Shepherd and Siberian Husky breed rescues
  • Websites like Petfinder.com that list adoptable dogs

The adoption fee is usually $50 to $100 for an adult Shepsky. Shelter dogs are often already spayed/neutered, vaccinated, and microchipped.

Rescue Shepskies can make wonderful pets. Staff can match you with a dog whose energy level and temperament fits your lifestyle. Adoption gives an adult dog a second chance at finding their forever home.

Is the Shepsky the Right Breed for You?

Shepskies aren’t the ideal dog for everyone. Consider if this hybrid is a good match for your household:

Best For

  • Active singles, couples, or families able to give them daily vigorous exercise
  • People wanting an intelligent and trainable dog for canine sports/jobs
  • Those looking for a loyal and protective family companion
  • Owners with secure fenced yards

Not Ideal For

  • Busy folks unable to commit to daily exercise needs
  • First-time or timid dog owners
  • Those wanting a low-maintenance lap dog
  • Homes where the dog will be left alone frequently
  • Families with very small children (due to high energy)

The Shepsky needs experienced owners able to give them proper leadership, training, and outlets for their energy. When their needs are met, this lovable hybrid will be a fun-loving and devoted companion for years to come.

By Andrew Garf

Andrew Garf has loved dogs, especially German Shepherds, since he was 10 years old. Though he also loves burgers, training dogs is his real passion. That's why he created the website TrainYourGSD.com - to help dog owners learn how to properly train, care for, and bond with their German Shepherd dogs.