The Shepsky is a mixed breed dog–a cross between the German Shepherd and Siberian Husky dog breeds. Medium in size, energetic, and loyal, these pups inherited some of the best qualities from both of their parents.
The Shepsky is also commonly called the Gerberian Shepsky. Despite their unfortunate status as a designer breed, you can find these mixed-breed dogs in shelters and breed specific rescues, so remember to adopt! Don’t shop!
These adorable pups are affectionate and loyal. They are also working dogs. Due to their superior intelligence and alert nature, they have a history of taking on guard duties, police work, search and rescue missions, as well as military operations.
An apartment would never do. Shepskies need large homes with yards and need to be responsible for rigorous duties. When under-stimulated, these pups can become destructive and unmanageable. Keep them working to keep them happy! Read on to find out if this is the right breed for you.
Contrary to popular belief, small size doesn’t necessarily an apartment dog make. Plenty of small dogs are too high-energy and yappy for life in a high-rise. Being quiet, low energy, fairly calm indoors, and polite with the other residents are all good qualities in an apartment dog.
Some dogs are simply easier than others; they take to training better and are fairly easygoing. They’re also resilient enough to bounce back from your mistakes or inconsistencies.
Dogs who are highly sensitive, independent thinking, or assertive may be harder for a first-time dog parent to manage. You’ll get your best match if you take your dog-owning experience into account as you choose your new pooch.
If you’re new to dog parenting, take a look at 101 Dog Tricks and read up on how to train your dog!
Some dogs will let a stern reprimand roll off their backs, while others take even a dirty look to heart. Low-sensitivity dogs, also called “easygoing,” “tolerant,” “resilient,” and even “thick-skinned,” can better handle a noisy, chaotic household, a louder or more assertive owner, and an inconsistent or variable routine. Do you have young kids, throw lots of dinner parties, play in a garage band, or lead a hectic life? Go with a low-sensitivity dog.
Some breeds bond very closely with their family and are more prone to worry or even panic when left alone by their owner. An anxious dog can be very destructive–barking, whining, chewing, and otherwise causing mayhem. These breeds do best when a family member is home during the day or if you can take the dog to work.
Breeds with very short coats and little or no undercoat or body fat, such as Greyhounds, are vulnerable to the cold. Dogs with a low cold tolerance need to live inside in cool climates and should have a jacket or sweater for chilly walks. You can find a great jacket for your dog here!
Dogs with thick, double coats are more vulnerable to overheating. So are breeds with short noses, like Bulldogs or Pugs, since they can’t pant as well to cool themselves off. If you want a heat-sensitive breed, your dog will need to stay indoors with you on warm or humid days, and you’ll need to be extra cautious about exercising your dog in the heat.
All Around Friendliness
Some breeds are independent and aloof, even if they’ve been raised by the same person since puppyhood; others bond closely to one person and are indifferent to everyone else; and some shower the whole family with affection. Breed isn’t the only factor that goes into affection levels; dogs who were raised inside a home with people around feel more comfortable with humans and bond more easily.
See Dogs Less Affectionate with Family
Being gentle with children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a blasé attitude toward running, screaming children are all traits that make a kid-friendly dog. You may be surprised by who’s on that list: Fierce-looking Boxers are considered good with children, as are American Staffordshire Terriers (which are considered Pit Bulls). Small, delicate, and potentially snappy dogs such as Chihuahuas aren’t always so family-friendly.
**All dogs are individuals. Our ratings are generalizations, and they’re not a guarantee of how any breed or individual dog will behave. Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences, training on how to get along with kids, and personality. No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, sharp pointy teeth, and may bite in stressful circumstances. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone together, period.
Friendliness toward dogs and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Some dogs may attack or try to dominate other dogs, even if they’re love-bugs with people; others would rather play than fight; and some will turn tail and run. Breed isn’t the only factor. Dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least six to eight weeks of age and who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood, are more likely to have good canine social skills.
Stranger-friendly dogs will greet guests with wagging tails and nuzzles; others are shy, indifferent, or even aggressive. However, no matter what the breed, a dog who was socialized and exposed to lots of different types, ages, sizes, and shapes of people as a puppy will respond better to strangers as an adult. Remember that even friendly dogs should stay on a good, strong leash like this one in public!
Health And Grooming Needs
If you’re going to share your home with a dog, you’ll need to deal with some level of dog hair on your clothes and in your house. However, shedding does vary greatly among the breeds. Some dogs shed year-round, some “blow” seasonally, some do both, and some shed hardly at all. If you’re a neatnik, you’ll need to either pick a low-shedding breed or relax your standards. To help keep your home a little cleaner, you can find a great de-shedding tool here!
Drool-prone dogs may drape ropes of slobber on your arm and leave big, wet spots on your clothes when they come over to say hello. If you’ve got a laid-back attitude toward slobber, fine; but if you’re a neatnik, you may want to choose a dog who rates low in the drool department.
Some breeds are brush-and-go dogs; others require regular bathing, clipping, and other grooming just to stay clean and healthy. Consider whether you have the time and patience for a dog who needs a lot of grooming, or the money to pay someone else to do it.
Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. This doesn’t mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases; it just means that they’re at an increased risk.
If you’re adopting a puppy, it’s a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you’re interested in. You may also want to ask if your shelter or rescue has information about the physical health of your potential pup’s parents and other relatives.
Some breeds have hearty appetites and tend to put on weight easily. As in humans, being overweight can cause health problems in dogs. If you pick a breed that’s prone to packing on pounds, you’ll need to limit treats, make sure they get enough exercise, and measure out their daily food servings into regular meals rather than leaving food out all the time.
Ask your vet about your dog’s diet and what they recommend for feeding your pooch to keep them at a healthy weight. Weight gain can lead to other health issues or worsen problems like arthritis.
Dogs come in all sizes, from the world’s smallest pooch, the Chihuahua, to the towering Great Dane, how much space a dog takes up is a key factor in deciding if they’re compatible with you and your living space. Large dog breeds might seem overpowering and intimidating, but some of them are incredibly sweet! Take a look and find the right sized dog for you!
Easy-to-train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt (such as the word “sit”), an action (sitting), and a consequence (getting a treat) very quickly. Other dogs need more time, patience, and repetition during training.
Many breeds are intelligent but approach training with a “What’s in it for me?” attitude, in which case you’ll need to use rewards and games to teach them to want to comply with your requests.
Dogs who were bred for jobs that require decision making, intelligence, and concentration, such as herding livestock, need to exercise their brains, just as dogs who were bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. If they don’t get the mental stimulation they need, they’ll make their own work–usually with projects you won’t like, such as digging and chewing. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.
Common in most breeds during puppyhood and in Retriever breeds at all ages, mouthiness means a tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite (a soft, fairly painless bite that doesn’t puncture the skin). Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or “herd” their human family members, and they need training to learn that it’s fine to gnaw on chew toys, but not on people. Mouthy breeds tend to really enjoy a game of fetch, as well as a good chew on a toy that’s been stuffed with kibble and treats.
Dogs who were bred to hunt, such as Terriers, have an inborn desire to chase–and sometimes kill–other animals. Anything whizzing by, such as cats, squirrels, and perhaps even cars, can trigger that instinct. Dogs who like to chase need to be leashed or kept in a fenced area when outdoors, and you’ll need a high, secure fence in your yard. These breeds generally aren’t a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small dogs. Breeds that were originally used for bird hunting, on the other hand, generally won’t chase, but you’ll probably have a hard time getting their attention when there are birds flying by.
Some breeds sound off more often than others. When choosing a breed, think about how often the dog vocalizes with barks or howls. If you’re considering a hound, would you find their trademark howls musical or maddening? If you’re considering a watchdog, will a city full of suspicious “strangers” put your pup on permanent alert? Will the local wildlife literally drive your dog wild? Do you live in housing with noise restrictions? Do you have neighbors nearby? Then you may wish to choose a quieter dog.
Some breeds are more free-spirited than others. Nordic dogs such as Siberian Huskies were bred to range long distances, and given the chance, they’ll take off after anything that catches their interest. And many hounds simply must follow their noses–or that bunny that just ran across the path–even if it means leaving you behind.
High-energy dogs are always ready and waiting for action. Originally bred to perform a canine job of some sort, such as retrieving game for hunters or herding livestock, they have the stamina to put in a full workday. They need a significant amount of exercise and mental stimulation, and they’re more likely to spend time jumping, playing, and investigating any new sights and smells.
Low-energy dogs are the canine equivalent of a couch potato, content to doze the day away. When picking a breed, consider your own activity level and lifestyle, and think about whether you’ll find a frisky, energetic dog invigorating or annoying.
A vigorous dog may or may not have high energy, but everything they do, they do with vigor: they strain on the leash (until you train them not to), try to plow through obstacles, and even eats and drinks with great big gulps. These dynamos need lots of training to learn good manners, and may not be the best fit for a home with young kids or someone who’s elderly or frail. A low-vigor dog, on the other hand, has a more subdued approach to life.
Some breeds do fine with a slow evening stroll around the block. Others need daily, vigorous exercise, especially those that were originally bred for physically demanding jobs, like herding or hunting.
Without enough exercise, these breeds may put on weight and vent their pent-up energy in ways you don’t like, such as barking, chewing, and digging. Breeds that need a lot of exercise are good for outdoorsy, active people, or those interested in training their dog to compete in a high-energy dog sport, such as agility.
Some dogs are perpetual puppies — always begging for a game — while others are more serious and sedate. Although a playful pup sounds endearing, consider how many games of fetch or tag you want to play each day, and whether you have kids or other dogs who can stand in as playmates for the dog.
Dog Breed Group:Mixed Breed DogsHeight:20 to 25 inchesWeight:45 to 88 pounds Life Span:10 to 14 years
More About This Breed
- Shepskies are mixed breed dogs. They are not purebreds like their German Shepherd Dog or Siberian Husky parents.
- The main colors of Shepskies are brown, black, cream, white, red, and blue. Almost never solid, their coats are generally a mixture of two or more colors.
- Shepskies usually have long, dense coats, and they’re generally not recommended for people with allergies. They tend to shed quite a bit.
- Shepskies have high energy and don’t do well in apartments or homes where they are left alone for long periods of time.
- These dogs’ ancestors descend from cold climates, so they tolerate frigid weather very well.
- Some say the Shepsky is a cross between a babysitter and a cop, both gentle with and protective of the children in their family.
The Shepsky dog breed may have existed naturally over the years, but designer breeders started intentionally mixing German Shepherd and Siberian Husky in the late 1990s, likely in North America.
Breeders wanted to mix the two parent breeds to create a super-hybrid, working dog. They continued to create Shepskies as demand for the mixed breed pups climbed.
Even though the Shepsky breed got its start as a designer breed, some have ended up in shelters or in the care of rescue groups. Consider adoption if you decide this is the breed for you.
Check your local shelters, look up Shepsky rescues, or check with breed-specific German Shepherd and Siberian Husky rescues, as they sometimes help to re-home mixed breed dogs.
The Shepsky is recognized in the Dog Registry of America Inc and The American Canine Hybrid Club.
As the Shepsky is a relatively new breed, there are few standards when it comes to size. That said, as a mix between German Shepherd and Siberian Husky parents, you can expect Shepskies to be medium to large in size.
Most weigh in at 45 to 88 pounds and range in height from 20 to 25 inches at the shoulder. However, many can be smaller or larger.
Many Shepsky lovers describe their dogs’ as an active and playful breed. They are medium in size and full of energy. They hail from a long line of working parents which is why they often need jobs. Whether small or large they need to be needed.
Shepskies are pack dogs and need a pack leader to help guide them. Don’t be surprised if they test the limits of your position in the pack and try to take control from time to time.
When this happens, it’s important not to give into their pushiness. Assert yourself as leader by confirming the ground rules with clarity and consistency.
Making your dog wait to eat is one of the best ways to establish your leadership role. The Shepsky will view you as the keeper of all valuable resources–food, treats, toys, and other canine assets.
One thing Shepskys are not good at is being alone for long periods of time. Without the companionship they need—as well as exercise and the chance to put their intelligence to work—they become bored and frustrated. A Shepsky who’s under-exercised and ignored by their family is likely to express pent-up energy in ways you don’t like, such as howling and chewing.
Like every dog, the Shepsky needs early socialization—exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences—when they’re young. Socialization helps ensure that your Shepsky puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog.
The Shepsky breed is predisposed to some of the same conditions that the German Shepherd and Siberian Husky also face. While most are generally healthy, some may be prone to a few health issues, which is why it is important to maintain good care and regular veterinary checkups.
Some of the more common health problems Shepskys suffer from include:
- Patellar Luxation
- Hip Dysplasia
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy
As with all dogs, you should keep up with your Shepsky’s regular veterinary checkups to detect any health concerns early. Your vet can help you develop a care routine that will keep your dog healthy.
Shepskies are prone to weight gain, and they have high energy levels. One hour of exercise per day is a good starting point. They need dog parks and wide open spaces.
Check their ears for debris and pests daily and clean them as recommended by your vet. Trim your dog’s nails before they get too long–usually once or twice per month. They should not be clicking against the floor. Your groomer can help with this.
Your main concern when it comes to your Shepsky’s care will be maintaining their oral health. You should brush their teeth daily, as many breeds are prone to dental issues. Your veterinarian can instruct you on how to brush your dog’s teeth properly.
A Shepsky diet should be formulated for a medium sized breed with high energy and exercise needs. You should consult your veterinarian or professional nutritionist for advice on what to feed your Shepsky and the correct portion sizes. Their dietary needs will change as they grow from puppyhood to adulthood and senior age. Stay on top of these nutritional requirements.
You’ll need to take special care with feeding and exercising a Shepsky puppy, however. Their German Shepherd parents grow very rapidly between the ages of four and seven months, making them susceptible to bone disorders. They do well on a high-quality, low-calorie diet that keeps them from growing too fast.
Don’t let your Shepsky puppy run, jump, or play on hard surfaces like pavement until they’re at least two years old and their joints are fully formed. It’s fine for puppies to play on grass, though, and puppy agility, with its inch-high jumps, is okay.
Overfeeding your Shepsky and letting them pack on the pounds can cause joint problems, as well as other health conditions. Limit treats, keep them active, and serve them regular meals rather than leaving food available at all times.
Coat Color And Grooming
Shepsky coats are often a mix of their German Shepherd and Siberian Husky parents’ coats and colors. The main colors of Shepskies are brown, black, cream, white, red, and blue. Almost never solid, their coats are generally a mixture of two or more colors.
They usually have long, dense coats, and they’re generally not recommended for people with allergies. They tend to shed quite a bit and you may need to pick up a RoboVac. These pups will require a few good brushes per week. Only bathe as needed so you don’t strip the coat of it’s natural oils. Brushing will also help to spread the oils throughout the coat.
These pups are well suited for cold weather. Their Siberian Husky parentage is straight from Russia, which is about as cold as it gets.
Children And Other Pets
If they’re well-trained and have had plenty of exposure to kids, especially as a puppy, a Shepsky is a great companion for children. In fact, some say they’re a cross between a babysitter and a cop, both gentle with and protective of the children in their family.
Always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party. Teach your child never to approach any dog while they’re eating or to try to take the dog’s food away. No dog should ever be left unsupervised with a child.
The Shepsky is part pack dog and should be socialized early on. Introducing an adult Shepsky to a household with other pets can be more difficult if the German Shepherd parentage personality prevails and may require more work and professional trainers.
Find out if this is the right dog for you by learning about their German Shepherd and Siberian Husky parents.
It may be hard to find a breed-specific rescue for Shepskies because they are a mixed breed. However, you may want to try German Shepherd Dog or Siberian Husky breed-specific rescues, as they often care for mixes, as well. Here are some rescues you can try:
- German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County
- Raven’s Husky Haven and Rescue