The Golden Shepherd is a designer dog breed that combines two of the most popular and beloved dog breeds – the Golden Retriever and the German Shepherd.
This relatively new hybrid breed exhibits the playfulness and gentle nature of the Golden Retriever along with the loyalty and intelligence of the German Shepherd.
Golden Shepherds make wonderful family companions that form strong bonds with their human pack. They have an outgoing and friendly personality and get along well with children and other pets.
This mixed breed is steadily growing in popularity thanks to their winning combination of traits from both parent breeds.
In this comprehensive guide, we will take an in-depth look at Golden Shepherds – their history, temperament, appearance, grooming needs, exercise requirements, health issues, and more.
Here is a helpful table summarizing some key information about the Golden Shepherd breed:
|Height: 21-26 in
|Medium-long double coat
|Black, cream, white, gold, yellow, chocolate, liver, brindle, black and tan
|Friendly, loyal, devoted, intelligent, eager to please, active
|60+ minutes daily
|Responds extremely well to positive reinforcement training
|Adaptable, but ideal with access to a yard
|Hip/elbow dysplasia, eye disorders, allergies, gastrointestinal issues
|Weekly brushing required
|From reputable breeders
History of the Golden Shepherd
The Golden Shepherd is one of many new “designer dog” hybrids that have emerged over the last couple of decades.
Crossbreeding purebred dogs of different breeds to produce hybrid offspring has become increasingly popular among breeders and pet owners.
The exact origins of the Golden Shepherd are unknown, but this crossbreed likely first appeared in the 1990s or early 2000s in North America.
The Golden Retriever
The Golden Retriever was first bred in Scotland in the mid-19th century. The breed was developed by Sir Dudley Marjoribanks, later known as Lord Tweedmouth.
Lord Tweedmouth crossbred yellow retriever dogs with Tweed Water Spaniels to create an ideal gundog suited for retrieving waterfowl. The Golden Retriever excelled at hunting and retrieving birds shot down during hunts.
Over the years, Golden Retrievers spread in popularity beyond hunting circles and became one of the world’s most popular family companion dogs.
Goldens are known for their friendly, gentle temperament, intelligence, and enthusiasm for life. They make wonderful service dogs, therapy dogs, and search and rescue dogs.
The German Shepherd
The German Shepherd breed originated in Germany in the late 1800s. Cavalry officer Max von Stephanitz is credited with developing the breed we know today. He bred dogs with the intelligence, speed, strength, and keen sense of smell needed in a superior working dog.
German Shepherds were first brought to the United States in 1907 and quickly gained popularity as police dogs and later as guide dogs for the blind.
During World War I, the breed nickname of “Alsatian” became common in Europe to dissociate the dogs from their German origins. After the war, the name German Shepherd became favored again.
Today, German Shepherds are one of the most widely utilized working dog breeds. They excel at various roles including police work, search and rescue, narcotics and bomb detection, disability assistance, and more.
The Golden Shepherd Emerges
By crossing the friendly, laidback Golden Retriever with the quick, alert German Shepherd, breeders aimed to produce guide and assistance dogs with a combination of strengths from both parent breeds.
The hybrid first grew in popularity with North American breeders specializing in mixed breeds.
Enthusiasts appreciate the unique temperament and abilities of Golden Shepherd dogs. They are widely considered to be excellent family pets and working dogs.
Golden Shepherd Size, Height and Weight
The Golden Shepherd is a medium to large-sized dog. Size ranges are:
- Height – 21 to 26 inches tall at the shoulder
- Weight – 50 to 90 pounds
Male Golden Shepherds tend to be larger than females.
Golden Retriever Size
Male Goldens stand 23-24 inches tall and weigh 65-75 pounds. Females are generally 21.5-22.5 inches tall and 55-65 pounds.
German Shepherd Size
Male German Shepherds are 24-26 inches tall and weigh 60-90 pounds. Females stand 22-24 inches tall and weigh 50-70 pounds.
Since Golden Shepherds have one parent from each breed, their size can fall anywhere within the ranges above.
Golden Shepherd Coat and Appearance
The Golden Shepherd is a striking mixed breed with a medium-length double coat that can sport a variety of colors and markings.
Coat Texture and Length
The Golden Retriever parent contributes a dense water-repellent undercoat. The German Shepherd adds a straight, close outer coat.
Golden Shepherds have a double coat of medium length like both parent breeds. Their coat provides insulation from both hot and cold weather.
Frequent brushing is advisable to control shedding. During spring and fall shedding seasons, daily brushing may be required.
Golden Shepherds display an assortment of colors and combinations.
Common coat colors include:
- Black and Tan
Markings can include white muzzles, chests, toes, and tail tips. No single color or pattern is considered standard or preferred for this hybrid.
The many possibilities make each Golden Shepherd unique in appearance. Coat color often depends on which parent breed is dominant in an individual.
The coat may also display a mix of colors and markings from both lineages.
Golden Shepherd Temperament and Behavior
Golden Shepherds are highly intelligent, eager to please, and loyal. They form strong bonds with their owners.
This hybrid balances the playful, gentle temperament of the Golden Retriever with the protective nature of the German Shepherd.
The ideal result is an affectionate family dog with strong protective instincts. Golden Shepherds are alert watch dogs who may be wary of strangers. But they are not usually aggressive without cause.
Well-bred and properly socialized Golden Shepherds are friendly and laidback around children and other pets. But supervision is still required around very young or vulnerable children and pets.
Intelligent and Eager to Please
Golden Shepherds are quick learners that respond very well to training. They aim to please their owners. Positive reinforcement training is highly recommended to bring out their best potential.
This hybrid is highly capable in canine roles requiring intelligence such as search and rescue, police work, service dog tasks, and more. Their mix of versatility and willingness to work suits them well for jobs.
Affectionate and Loyal
Golden Shepherds bond deeply with their families. They crave continuous human companionship and thrive when included in family activities.
Separation anxiety can develop if they are left alone for long hours daily. They should have access to people or other pets most of the time.
These dogs will alert owners to anything unusual and have strong protective instincts toward family members, especially children. They make attentive watch dogs.
Playful and Active
The Golden Shepherd often retains the playful, energetic nature of the Golden Retriever. They love playing games of fetch, catching frisbees, learning new tricks, or playing with other dogs.
Plenty of daily activity and outside time is ideal for Golden Shepherds. Without adequate exercise, they may become bored and destructive.
Golden Shepherd owners should be ready to provide substantial daily exercise, regular grooming and training, and plenty of companionship.
Their size and energy level can also pose some challenges:
- Difficulty living in small dwellings without a yard
- May accidentally knock over small children
- Prone to chewing, digging, barking if under-exercised
- Prone to separation anxiety if left alone for long workdays
- Large appetite and tendency to overeat
- Moderate to high grooming needs
With proper care, training, and attention, these minor potential issues are easily avoided. Golden Shepherds make exceptionally loving family companions.
Golden Shepherd Grooming & Care
The Golden Shepherd has a medium-long double coat that requires regular grooming. Plan to brush them thoroughly 1-2 times per week. Use a slicker brush and undercoat rake.
Bathing is only necessary every 1-2 months. Over-bathing strips the coat of essential oils and leads to dry, itchy skin.
Their nails should be trimmed regularly. Teeth require frequent brushing at home and professional cleaning at the vet.
During spring and fall shedding seasons, Golden Shepherds ‘‘blow’’ their undercoats. Daily brushing will be needed as their thick coats shed continuously.
Golden Shepherds have high energy levels and need 1+ hours of vigorous exercise daily.
They particularly love:
- Playing games of fetch
- Catching frisbees
- Running alongside bicycles
- Dog sports like agility
In addition to structured activity, Golden Shepherds should have access to a securely fenced yard where they can play and explore.
This highly intelligent hybrid thrives with the mental stimulation provided by consistent training.
Early socialization and obedience training are strongly advised. They should be accustomed to new people, animals, and environments starting as young puppies.
Positive reinforcement training methods work best. Harsh corrections or punishment can damage the trust of this sensitive breed. Treats, praise, and rewards keep them eager to learn.
Golden Shepherds adapt well to a range of climates and living situations. But they fare best in temperate climates with access to a moderately-sized yard.
Small dwellings like apartments can work but will require vigilant owners committed to providing ample daily exercise. A yard is ideal.
If left alone for long hours, Golden Shepherds may become destructive. Leaving them in the yard all day is not recommended, as they crave human companionship.
A family with flexible schedules that allows time for training, play, and interaction each day is ideal. They make devoted companions when their needs for activity and company are met.
Golden Shepherd Health & Lifespan
Golden Shepherds have a typical lifespan of 10-14 years. Hybrid vigor often allows them to enjoy excellent health, but some issues found in the parent breeds may be present.
Potential Health Issues
From Golden Retrievers:
- Hip and Elbow Dysplasia – malformation of joints
- Eye Disorders – cataracts, glaucoma, progressive retinal atrophy
- Heart Disease – subvalvular aortic stenosis
- Thyroid Disorder – hypothyroidism
- Skin Allergies and Irritations
From German Shepherds:
- Degenerative Myelopathy – spinal cord disease
- Perianal Fistulas – chronic draining lesions
- Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency – inability to properly digest food
- Hemangiosarcoma – malignant blood vessel tumors
Reputable breeders screen breeding stock for common inheritable disorders found in both parent breeds. Adopting dogs from shelters and rescues carries some risk of unknown health issues.
With proper veterinary care, exercise, and a quality diet, Golden Shepherds enjoy life expectancies of 10-14 years.
Finding a Golden Shepherd Puppy
Since Golden Shepherds are a cross between purebreds, reputable breeders are the best source for puppies.
Never purchase puppies from pet stores or online retailers, as these often originate from irresponsible puppy mills.
The Golden Retriever Club of America provides an online breeder referral directory to help find responsible Golden Retriever breeders.
The German Shepherd Dog Club of America offers similar assistance connecting buyers with ethical German Shepherd breeders.
Responsible breeders focus on health, temperament, and conformation to breed standards for both parent breeds. They prove their dogs’ soundness through health testing and titles/certifications.
Puppies should stay with their mothers a minimum of 8 weeks before going to new homes. 10-12 weeks is better.
Breeders give new owners health records, pedigrees of parents, written contracts of sale, and assistance transitioning the puppy.
Adopting an adult Golden Shepherd through breed-specific rescues is another option. Shelters and rescues sometimes receive owner-surrendered purebred dogs.
Adopted adult dogs allow you to skip the puppy stage. The shelter or group can also match you with the perfect dog for your home and lifestyle.
Golden Shepherd Puppy Cost
Golden Shepherd puppy prices typically range from $500 to $800 USD.
Factors impacting price include breeder reputation, parental pedigree, puppy gender, conformation to breed standards, and more.
Puppies bred from champion show or working lines may cost toward the higher end of the range.
Shelter/rescue adoption fees are usually under $500.
In addition to the initial puppy cost, owners should budget $1000-2000 for the first year to cover:
- Quality dog food
- Supplies – bedding, bowls, collar/leash, crates, toys
- Veterinary care – exams, vaccines, preventatives like flea/tick medication
- Pet insurance
- Training classes
- Grooming supplies – brushes, nail clippers, toothpaste/brush
Annual expenses after the first year average $500-1000 depending on the dog’s veterinary needs.
Proper initial investment helps set Golden Shepherd puppies up for a long, healthy life as a beloved family member.
Golden Shepherd Breeders
Finding a responsible breeder is key to getting a happy, healthy Golden Shepherd puppy.
Warning signs of unethical breeders include:
- No health testing of parent dogs
- Refusing to show parents or breeding facilities
- Puppies routinely available
- Puppies sold under 8 weeks old
- No contracts, health guarantees, or support
Is a Golden Shepherd Right for Me?
The Golden Shepherd can make an outstanding family companion and working dog for the right owner.
Consider if your lifestyle allows you to provide:
- Ample Daily Exercise – Golden Shepherds need vigorous activity every day. A yard to play in is ideal.
- Frequent Companionship – This breed thrives on human interaction and should not be left alone for long hours daily.
- Obedience Training – Early socialization and positive training are highly recommended. Golden Shepherds excel at canine activities.
- Moderate Grooming – Their medium-long coats requires weekly brushing and seasonal extra care during shedding periods.
- Quality Nutrition – A complete and balanced diet fuels good health and avoids obesity.
If you can meet their needs for exercise, companionship, training, grooming, and excellent care – a Golden Shepherd will repay you with unwavering devotion and bring joy to your life for years to come.
How big do Golden Shepherds get?
Golden Shepherds range from 21-26 inches tall at the shoulder and 50-90 pounds in weight. Males tend to reach the larger end of the range.
What is the temperament of Golden Shepherds?
This hybrid combines the eager-to-please, gentle nature of the Golden Retriever with the intelligence, loyalty, and protective instincts of the German Shepherd. Well-bred Golden Shepherds have an excellent temperament for families.
Are Golden Shepherds good family dogs?
Yes, Golden Shepherds tend to do very well with children and thrive as family companions when provided with adequate exercise and training. Their affectionate, playful nature suits family life.
Do Golden Shepherds shed a lot?
Yes, Golden Shepherds have a double coat that sheds moderately all year, but especially during spring and fall shed seasons. Daily brushing when shedding will help control loose hair.
What health issues do Golden Shepherds have?
This crossbreed may be prone to hip/elbow dysplasia, eye disorders, allergies, and other conditions found in one or both parent breeds. Reputable breeders screen for inheritable disorders.
How much exercise does a Golden Shepherd need daily?
Golden Shepherds need 60+ minutes of vigorous exercise every day. They also do best with access to a yard where they can play. Retrieving games, hiking, running, and swimming are ideal activities.
What is the lifespan of a Golden Shepherd?
The average lifespan for a Golden Shepherd is 10-14 years. With good preventive care, nutrition, exercise, and regular vet checks, they can live a full life.
The Golden Shepherd is truly a wonderful blend of two of the most beloved and capable purebreds – the Golden Retriever and the German Shepherd. This relatively new hybrid breed offers the best of both worlds for families seeking an affectionate, energetic, and devoted pet.
Golden Shepherds inherit the friendly, trusting temperament of the Golden Retriever that makes them gentle companions. From the German Shepherd, they gain intelligence, loyalty, trainability, and natural protective instincts. Proper socialization and training bring out stellar qualities from both lineages.
While the mix of high energy and large size may prove too much for very small children or elderly owners, Golden Shepherds thrive when provided ample daily exercise and activities. Their double-coat requires weekly brushing to control shedding.
With their needs for activity, training, attention, and grooming fully met, the Golden Shepherd repays owners richly with unfailing companionship. They bond deeply to all family members and live to please their people.
For those drawn to this friendly hybrid, reputable breeders offer the best source for healthy, well-socialized puppies to join your family. With sound breeding, excellent care, and devoted owners, Golden Shepherds will bring joy and devotion to homes for many years to come.