German Shepherds and Labradors are two of the most popular dogs. They are both good with families and those living by themselves.
They are intelligent, loyal and easy to train. What many lovers of both breeds want to know is can German Shepherds and Labradors get along well together?
Temperament and Personality of German Shepherds and Labradors
There are many similarities between the two breeds. There are also differences. You should also remember that not all dogs of the same breed always display the same personality or temperament. However, there are traits that are overwhelmingly common in these breeds.
These are considered intelligent, good-natured, and friendly dogs. This makes them easy to train. These combined traits make them a popular choice for families. Labradors are extremely social and need a lot of attention and companionship to be happy. This does make them good with children and other dogs.
This breed can be excitable, so training is important. They don’t always understand “personal space” and this can be a problem as they grow to full size. They love to chase and fetch. If they do not get at least 40 minutes of exercise a day, they can start chewing items around the home or digging in the yard and garden.
Labradors are also very affectionate by nature. If you are looking for a guard dog, this might not be the best breed.
This breed is extremely intelligent and easy to train. Unlike Labs, they do make good guard dogs. They have a protective nature and bond easily with their owner. They will do whatever they can to keep their owner safe.
What they do have in common with Labradors is they do not do well if left alone for extended periods of time. They can start digging and chewing, as well as barking at the slightest noise. German Shepherds do not do well in small spaces due to their high energy levels.
Another trait these breeds have in common is that are prone to hip dysplasia. Digestive problems can also occur in both breeds.
Signs Your Lab and German Shepherd Aren’t Compatible
Once you have both dogs home, you’ll want to closely watch how they behave together. Not all dogs get along, even from the same breed. How your two dogs interact will give you insight on how happy they really are with each other.
If one of your dogs is constantly “humping” the other, it can be a sign of aggression. Often referred to as “increased arousal”, it can even occur in dogs that have been “fixed”. This could be a sign of one dog asserting dominance over the other and should be closely watched.
If one dog is displaying behavior that is inappropriate, this could indicate a problem. Owners often find it difficult to know what this is, especially if it just looks like they are playing. Some troubling signs of this behavior can be pinning a dog down, rolling the dog over, or chasing it after it tries to run away or hide.
Aggressive snarling, growling, direct staring and standing stiffly are all signs that the two dogs might not be happy with each other.
If either of your dogs are displaying any of these behaviors, it does not necessarily mean that one has to go. You can try a few tricks to help mitigate the situation.
First, start by not ignoring the situation. You don’t want either of your dogs to be miserable. Create a diversion. Throw toys for both of them. Do not give treats, it only rewards the bad behavior.
Instead, start by calmly correcting their bad behavior. Training might be necessary. When both dogs are getting along, reward them with treats and praise. It’s important to show equal affection. These breeds can be jealous if they feel one is getting more attention than the other. This can lead to a repeat of the same problematic behavior.
How to Prepare Your Home for Labs & German Shepherds
It’s not too difficult to get your home ready for a Lab and German Shepherd. The first thing you will need is plenty of space. Even though Labs in particular like to cuddle, these are large dogs that need space.
Don’t forget German Shepherds in particular are highly energetic dogs. Running and playing in confined spaces will not work for long. If these breeds feel confined, they can start displaying “bad behavior”.
If you live in an apartment with these dogs, be prepared for plenty of walks. It will also help if you live close to a park where they can run and play. Many neighborhoods have dog parks where you can let your pets socialize with other others that are a similar size. Many of these parks also have equipment designed specifically for dogs to run on and jump over.
Homeowners will have more space, along with yards. You will want to fence your backyard in. You don’t want to have to chase your pets through the neighborhood. It’s also important not to leave them outside unattended, at least until they are properly trained.
Chaining them will keep them in the yard but you only want to do this for short periods of time. These are social dogs and do not do well by themselves.
You will definitely want to buy chew toys for both dogs. It’s important that they each have their own toys. Look for balls and interactive toys. Ropes (on Amazon) are always a good choice as Labs and German Shepherds love to play “tug of war”.
Each dog should have its own space. Whether it’s a large dog crate or bed (on Amazon). These can be in the same room, just not right next to each other. Like humans, sometimes dogs need their own private place to go and relax.
Separate water and food bowls are a must. If both dogs came to your home at the same time, you can feed them together. Just make sure one isn’t trying to eat the other’s food. If one dog is new, then it’s best to feed them separately. Over time, they will get used to each other and be able to eat together.
When you are getting ready for both of these dogs you do need to be aware of the two common reasons why they fight. Food and space. If you get your home ready to accommodate both of them, you lessen the chances that they will not get along.
What Other Breeds Are Compatible With Labradors?
Not every one that already owns a Lab is looking for a German Shepherd. If the Shepherd is not the breed for you, there are others that can make excellent additions to the family. Labs are basically friendly with most other dog breeds, though there are a few others that they seem to do better with.
It’s hard not to fall in love with Golden Retrievers. They have a lot in common with Labs, including ancestry. Both breeds are related to the ST. John’s Water Dog. Like Labs, Goldens are energetic, intelligent, and have friendly personalities.
They love attention and need it to thrive. They also need plenty of physical and mental stimulation. Due to their similar personalities, Labs and Golden Retrievers can, and often do, co-exist happily together.
When it comes to getting your home ready for another large dog, the steps are the same as for a German Shepherd.
The beagle is not a new breed but it was made famous by Charles Shultz and his creation of Snoopy. These dogs also make great family pets, even if you already have a Labrador. Beagles are very affectionate, even with other dogs, and especially their owners.
They are not as hyperactive as Labs and their intelligence makes them easy to train. They do require exercise, generally about as much as a Lab. Beagles are smaller, which can be a better fit if you live in a smaller home or apartment.
Even though Beagles are smaller, they still require their own space. Due to their, and Labs, affectionate nature you will want to spend the same amount of time “cuddling” both breeds. Both can become jealous if one feels that the other is getting more attention. This can lead to problems between the two dogs.
When many people think of Border Collies, herding sheep and other animals comes to mind. This breed makes an excellent work dog. They are energetic and intelligent, which makes them easy to train.
These traits, along with their playful and affectionate demeanor also make them good family pets. Border Collies and Labs have several traits in common that include their ability to get along with other dogs. Some breeders have even suggested crossing Border Collies with Labs.
Like Labs, Border Collies love and need to be included in activities with their owners. They also get along well with children. Since they do need attention, like Labradors, it’s important to treat both equally.
These are popular dogs. They have Facebook pages and even Twitter accounts. There is just something about this breed that has the nickname “hotdog” that almost everyone loves. Dachshunds are not only adorable, they are extremely affectionate.
They need attention, not only from their owners but also from any other pets that are in the home. This gentle breed is intelligent. They are good around children and have the same high level of patience as Labradors. Not only do they do well with other animals, they can be a perfect addition to a family with a Lab.
Labradors are known to have a gentle and patient spirit which works well with the low key Dachshund. Another reason to consider getting a Labrador and Dachshund is for health reasons. Dachshunds are subject to back problems and the gentle nature of the Lab won’t cause or affect it.
English Springer Spaniel
Their long soft ears make these dogs adorable. Their fur can require a grooming schedule but that is really their only downside. English Springer Spaniels are excellent companion dogs, just like Labradors. They are a breed that loves to have fun and they are very loving towards their owners.
Labradors are the more energetic of the two breeds. English Spring Spaniels are typically more relaxed. This can be a good mix for many households that aren’t ready for two highly active dogs. English Springer Spaniels do need to be exercised daily. Walking with your Labrador or just playing in the yard can accomplish this.
Labradors and German Shepherds can live together peacefully and happily. Both breeds are the same size and share several personality traits. If they are properly trained and introduced to each other, these dogs can be two great additions to your home.
Most experts agree that it’s best to get these two types of dogs at an early age, but even adult Labs and Shepherds can become great friends. It just takes time and following a few important introduction steps.
Not everyone wants two large dogs in their home. Not all Labradors or German Shepherds share the same common personality traits of their breed. There are other dog breeds that get along well with Labs. You just have to consider what is best for your home and your dog.
Check out our related article on German Shepherd ears