German Shepherd vs Husky: Here’s How to Decide Between the Two

Categorized as German Shepherd Types and Mixes
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So you’re trying to decide between getting a German Shepherd or a Siberian Husky. Both are handsome, athletic breeds that can make loyal companions. However, they have some notable differences when it comes to their size, health, grooming needs, temperaments, and trainability that you should consider.

This article will break down the origin, physical traits, exercise requirements, health concerns, shedding and grooming needs, temperament, trainability, and more between these two popular breeds. Read on to help decide if you’re Team German Shepherd or Team Husky!

Where Do German Shepherds and Huskies Come From?

You might already have an idea of where the German Shepherd originated, but did you know the Siberian Husky has an interesting history as well?

The German Shepherd is a herding dog that originated in Germany in the late 1800s. They were bred to herd and guard sheep. Today though, you’re more likely to see them working with the police or military or working as service dogs rather than out on the farm herding livestock.

Siberian Huskies have a pretty cool backstory. They originated among the Chukchi tribe in Siberia, who used them to pull heavy sleds long distances across frozen landscapes. Their amazing stamina and high energy made them the perfect dog for the brutal conditions of the Arctic. The Siberian Husky that we know now is bred from those sled dogs. They love people and make for friendly pets!

Which Dog is Bigger?

German Shepherds are noticeably larger than Huskies. Your Shepherd will likely stand 2-5 inches taller and weigh 20-50 pounds more than the average Husky.

See a side-by-side comparison below:

BreedGerman ShepherdSiberian Husky
HeightMales: 24-26 inchesMales: 21-23.5 inches
Females: 22-24 inchesFemales: 20-22 inches
WeightMales: 65-95 poundsMales: 45-60 pounds
Females: 50-70 poundsFemales: 35-50 pounds

As you can see, Shepherds skew towards the higher end of the size spectrum for dog breeds, while Huskies are mid-sized pups. Either would make a good watchdog, but the Shepherd’s larger size gives them an edge for personal protection or guard dog roles.

Do These Dogs Have Serious Health Issues?

Fortunately, Siberian Huskies tend to be pretty healthy dogs overall. Like many medium-to-large breeds though, hip dysplasia is a concern to screen for. They are also prone to eye problems like cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy later in life.

The German Shepherd unfortunately struggles with more chronic health issues. Elbow and hip dysplasia run rampant in the breed due to poor breeding practices in the past emphasizing that sought-after sloped back appearance. They’re also more susceptible to joint inflammation, digestive issues, immune disorders and neurological problems as they mature.

In the health department, Huskies tend to win over German Shepherds. If getting a robust, hardy pup is a priority for you, the impressive stamina of Huskies may appeal to you more.

Which Dog Sheds Less?

Let’s be honest, neither the German Shepherd or Siberian Husky rank very well when it comes to being lightweight shedders. In fact, both make the list of dog breeds that shed the most.

However, GSDs arguably shed slightly less than Huskies. German Shepherds have a double-layer coat that they blow out a few times per year. Regular brushing and bathing can help contain loose hairs.

The Siberian Husky sheds constantly throughout the year rather than having a big seasonal shed. And oh boy, do they shed heavily during springtime. Daily brushing becomes essential when all their thick winter coat starts coming out in clumps.

If you want a low-maintenance dog when it comes to grooming and keeping your house fur-free, unfortunately neither breed fits the bill. But German Shepherds may require just a bit less effort in the grooming department.

What Are Their Temperaments Like?

The loyal German Shepherd forms close bonds with their family and is quite protective. They will sound the alarm when unfamiliar people approach their territory. German Shepherds should be socialized from a young age to prevent over-wariness or aggression issues. With proper training though, they make devoted companions.

In contrast, Siberian Huskies usually have a very friendly, outgoing disposition without being overly protective. Most Huskies don’t make great guard dogs because they love people too much! They may try to greet an intruder as happily as a welcomed house guest. Recall can also be challenging with this breed since their desire to run and roam tends to override commands.

Basically, German Shepherds lean more towards being reserved with strangers and serious about their duties. Huskies love making new friends and prefer play over work. Choose based on whether you want an affectionate puppy-like personality or a vigilant, loyal protector!

Which Dog is Easier to Train?

The eagerness to please and high intelligence of the German Shepherd makes them generally easy to train. In fact, they excel in advanced obedience training for roles like police work, search and rescue, assistance for disabled owners, competitive dog sports, and more. If you seek an attentive, versatile working dog, the GSD has got you covered.

Siberian Huskies can be endearing goofballs, but training isn’t their strong suit. They tend to have more of an independent, free-spirited mindset. Recall often proves challenging with this breed. Teaching commands takes patience and perseverance. Their mischievous nature may leave you pulling your hair out at times too!

For novice dog owners or those simply seeking a pet rather than working dog though, don’t count Huskies out! While more willful and easily distracted, positive reinforcement and a good sense of humor on your part helps unlock their charms.

Activity Levels: Are These Dogs Hyper?

If you lead an active lifestyle and want adventure built-in with your canine companion, both German Shepherd and Siberian Huskies should meet your needs. However, Huskies edge out Shepherds when it comes to energy levels.

As born sled dogs, Siberians can literally run for miles without tiring. At least 60-90 minutes of intense exercise daily is ideal for them. They thrive best in a home with a securely fenced large yard where they can expend some of that boundless energy.

While no couch potato either, mature German Shepherds tend to be lower energy housemates that are content with a long daily leashed walk or hike alongside their owner. However, Shepherds younger than two years old need plenty of playtime and interactive toys to drain their puppy energy too.

If living with a highly energetic fur buddy sounds fun and you’re an active person, the Siberian Husky temperament could be the perfect fit. If you desire slightly calmer but still athletic and outdoorsy adventure partner, the German Shepherd has you covered.

Which Breed is Right for You?

At the end of the day, lifestyle compatibility and personality preferences should drive your choice between a German Shepherd and Siberian Husky more than other factors. Yes, the Shepherd’s lower grooming requirements, better health, and trainability are marks in their favor. The Husky’s friendly temperament and indefatigable zest for life gives them a certain irresistible charm though.

Weigh your priorities. Activity-wise, the action-packed Husky or moderately active Shepherd can both thrive with plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. Since Husky’s shed more though, be prepared with a good vacuum if you opt for that breed. And consider that the Shepherd’s lowered lifespan and increased health risks later in life may weigh on you emotionally.

If companionship with a fearless devoted guardian is what you envision, the loyal German Shepherd fits the bill. Maybe you connect more to the freewheeling playfulness of Huskies though. There’s really no right or wrong choice! By understanding their differences, you can make the most informed decision possible.

After learning more about their backgrounds, traits and needs, which of these fabulous breeds do you envision making the better addition to your home? Let us know if you have any other questions about choosing between these breeds in the comments!

FAQ

1. Which breed sheds more, German Shepherds or Siberian Huskies?

Both breeds shed a significant amount, however Siberian Huskies tend to shed more year-round whereas German Shepherds have more of a seasonal shed. Husky owners need to be prepared to brush them daily during heavy shedding periods.

2. Are these high energy dog breeds?

Yes, both Siberian Huskies and German Shepherds are very active dogs that require a lot of daily exercise and mental stimulation. Huskies tend to have an even higher energy level and need upwards of 60-90 minutes of hard exercise per day. German Shepherds reach lower peak energy levels when mature.

3. How easy is it to train each breed?

The German Shepherd is considered easier to train than the Siberian Husky. German Shepherds are very focused, aim to please, and respond well to obedience training. Huskies can be more stubborn, independent and be a bit more difficult, especially when it comes to teaching a reliable recall.

4. Which breed is healthier?

Siberian Huskies overall tend to be a sturdy, hardy breed with fewer chronic health issues than German Shepherds. Hip dysplasia can affect Huskies, whereas German Shepherds additionally struggle with elbow dysplasia, spinal conditions, neurological, skin and digestive problems.

5. What’s the better watchdog – German Shepherd or Husky?

For guarding and protection, German Shepherds have a strong advantage due to their wariness of strangers and territorial instincts combined with their large size, strength, and police/military background. Most Huskies love people too much and lack aggression or intimidation towards intruders.

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.