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The German Shepherd Husky Mix is a cross of a German Shepherd and a Siberian Husky, also known as Shepsky or Husky German Shepherd Mix. It’s a medium to large dog breed at about 20 to 25 inches, weighing between 45 to 88 pounds. The lifespan of this crossbreed is around 10 to 13 years.
I have a real soft spot for these dogs, and it doesn’t surprise me that lots of other people do, too! Just look at that face! They aren’t what I would call a low-maintenance dog, however, so read on for more info on this breed and see if you can meet this dog’s needs.
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6 Gerberian Shepsky Characteristics That Will Make You Fall In Love
The Gerberian Shepsky has multiple desirable qualities. Here is a rundown of what I think are the 6 most commonly found in this hybrid:
1. This dog is a looker (who requires some maintenance)
They are large dogs, as mentioned above they are 20-25 inches tall and weighing between 45 – 88 lbs. They have broad, wolf-like faces, pointed ears and, thanks to the Husky lineage, they can also be blessed with those piercing blue eyes.
They are normally black or brown with black, but they can also be any of the following colors:
- Brown and white
- Salt and pepper
- Light brown or golden
Her coat is usually thick and fluffy, with long, short, dense or medium fur. Perfect to cuddle up to on a cold night! Both parents have double coats, which helped them work in cold weather, and the German Shepherd Husky Mix has this dual layer, too.
This means they are better living in cold climates. So if you are thinking of getting one of these dogs and you live in a place where it reaches high temperatures, this is not the dog for you!
The Gerberian Shepsky is a moderate shedder and, as its coat is thick and fluffy, it is prone to matting. I advise brushing 2 -3 times a week to keep her double coat shiny and tangle-free.
2. She’s got brains and she’s not afraid to use them
The Gerberian Shepsky isn’t just a looker; she’s got the smarts too, which she inherits from both parents. German Shepherds were bred to herd livestock and are now often used as police and military dogs; in these roles, they work closely with their owners and are able to learn commands quickly.
The Siberian Husky is also a working dog that was trained to pull loads over long distances in the Arctic wilderness. This mix results in an alert dog who is quick to learn.
She will respond well to whistles and verbal commands after just a few repetitions, which makes her easily trainable. This dog does well in dog agility, a great way for intelligent, high-energy dogs to expel energy and exercise their mind. A warning, though: this breed can be a bit obstinate. She may not obey if she senses that you are not a strong leader. This doesn’t mean you can’t be loving towards her, but that above all, you need to be firm, confident and in charge.
Look how quickly this little bundle learns basic commands:
3. She’s the perfect exercise partner (if you’re up to it)
Having descended from two working dogs, it goes without saying that the Gerberian Shepsky is active!
Like its parents, this dog can go for miles without tiring. They are perfect exercise companions and should be taken out twice a day, preferably for an hour or more each time. These dogs love to run, so you should take her to an area where she can go off leash (providing she is trained). You can also teach her to jog or run alongside you. It’s important to wait until they are mature before doing any excessive exercise (which includes prolonged running and too much ball and stick chasing).
As puppies, their growth plates haven’t set yet, and you can cause her long-term injury. In large breed dogs like this one, their plates usually set at around 12 months, so it is best to wait until 12 – 15 months before starting more vigorous exercise. You should talk to your veterinarian to get the okay before starting any exercise program.
If not exercised properly, this dog can become frustrated and spend her excess energy chewing on your shoes, digging holes in the garden or, to your neighbors’ distress, howling. I repeat: this dog is only for active, sporty types!
Given their size and energy levels, I would only recommend this dog to someone with a house and spacious yard.
4. She likes to be employed
As well as physical exercise, these dogs like to fulfill the task they were bred for: doing a job. You should stimulate this need in her to avoid her becoming frustrated. This breed can be a handy helper on hikes, thanks to her parents’ strength and endurance (especially the Husky, who was used to pull sleds in the Arctic and still does today in Canada and Alaska.)
You can fit her with a specially designed doggie backpack, which holds water and supplies (and even your cell phone!), and she will be focused on her job and feeling useful. Not to mention that it helps her burn off more of that pent-up energy. As for the maximum weight to include, it should be 10 – 12% of your dog’s body weight, providing they have no health problems.
5. She’s a natural protector
These dogs are loyal to their owner, which makes them a great family dog. Like their German Shepherd parent, whose job was to keep watch over the herd, they are natural protectors. This can sometimes develop into overprotectiveness and territorial behavior, however, and may lead to displays of aggression towards strangers.
It is imperative that you keep this under control through socializing your dog: make sure your puppy is used to being around as many people as possible from a very young age.
6. She’s a playful pup
So far, that’s brains, beauty, a perfect companion; but let’s not forget this important quality: playfulness! Everyone loves a happy, playful dog, and this breed doesn’t disappoint. She benefits from the Siberian Husky’s sociable, playful nature, which is especially evident during puppyhood when they can play for hours.
You should get her a few toys she can play with at home like squeaky toys and tug toys. Try to socialize her with other puppies too – you could join a puppy training class and make connections, then get your puppies together for a play date!
Potential health conditions
Crossbreeds are generally healthier than purebred dogs. However, this dog could be prone to some health conditions that can occur in its parents. There are two main health problems, including:
Elbow and hip dysplasia
This is a condition that results in an unstable or loose joint. This can be helped by maintaining a healthy weight in your dog, so as not to put stress on her joints.
- Juvenile cataracts: These may not start until 6 years old. They appear as opacity in the lens of the eye and can cause a slight decrease in eyesight to complete blindness in more severe cases.
- Corneal dystrophy: This condition, in which abnormal material accumulates in the clear, outer layer of the eye (the cornea), can cause visual impairment. It tends to affect both eyes and develops slowly.
- Progressive retinal atrophy: This can occur in later life and can lead to partial or complete blindness. Early symptoms can show as night blindness, dilated pupils and the inability to see clearly in bright light. Unfortunately, this condition is inherited, and it cannot be cured. If diagnosed early, however, there is a chance of saving the dog from going completely blind by using specific antioxidant supplementation.
Other health problems can include digestive problems, blood disorders, bloat, and epilepsy.
Feeding your Gerberian Shepsky (who can be a little bit fussy)
As they are highly active dogs, the German Shepherd Husky Mix more often than not has a healthy appetite and requires a protein-rich diet. For large dogs such as this one, this means your dog’s food should contain at least 25% protein in foods containing grains and 30% of proteins in grain-free foods. Bear in mind, though, that these critters can be fussy eaters!
Try to find a brand that appeals to your dog, whether it is one in particular or a combination. Once you do, stick with what she likes. Given that these dogs are prone to digestive problems, it may mean some trial and error when trying to find the best dog food for her.
When it comes to genetics, Gerberian Shepskies got the good end of the deal. They are beautiful, intelligent, loyal, playful and easy to train, as long as you are a firm leader.
Just remember, if you are thinking of getting one of these hybrids, you should be an active, outdoorsy person who is comfortable walking for at least 2 hours a day and has a house with a spacious yard. So if you lead an active lifestyle and you’re looking for a smart and faithful companion, look no further!
Thinking of getting a Gerberian Shepsky? Already the owner of one and want to share your story? Comment below!