Golden Shepherd | Discover the German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix
Looking for a fun loving, adventure seeking, confident and loyal companion to join you for adventures or as a new addition to the family? The Golden Shepherd is a popular hybrid canine breed developed by crossing German Shepherds (GSDs) and Golden Retrievers that might be right for you.
Why is this such a popular mix?
For one thing, both of the parent breeds are in the top 3 most popular dogs in the USA, according to the AKC. They happen to share many positive attributes including intelligence, loyalty, athleticism and good looks. Meanwhile, the addition of the Golden Retriever can temper some of the intensity of the German Shepherd that some people can find a bit intimidating.
Another reason this hybrid is popular is that by mixing the bloodlines, it can ward off some of the
congenital problems that plague the parent breeds resulting in a healthier dog.
This article will first take a detailed look at what you can expect from a Golden Shepherd, followed by an in depth look at each of the parent breeds. Read on to find a checklist at the end of this article to decide if this designer dog breed is a good fit for your lifestyle.
Let’s take a look at the characteristics that make the Golden Shepherd a popular hybrid:
Golden Retriever German Shepherd Mix | The Golden Shepherd
Less guarded than the German Shepherd, the Golden Shepherd tends to be more trusting with people and other animals thanks to the tempering effects of the Goldie. They are also likely to be a bit more goofy and playful and a little less intense than purebred GSDs.
Both parent breeds are considered very intelligent among dog breeds, so the Golden Retriever and German Shepherd mix is almost always a smart dog that is very driven to please. They have an excellent prospect to be quite trainable as a result.
In addition, this hybrid is athletic with moderate to high exercise needs. They will do best with active people, particularly those that spend time outdoors and those with access to water for the occasional swim.
In addition, this is a good family pet as long as your family has access to space for plenty of off leash play. Both parent breeds are good with children, although as always, supervise small children with any sized dog.
Both of the parent breeds have a similar confirmation height with a range of 22”-26” with females
slightly smaller than males, with Goldies an inch or two shorter than their GSD counterparts.
However, the fact is that the actual range of size in both of the breeds is wider than the show standard, with both dog breeds tending to be much larger than the standard when bred for work or pets.
To get a good idea of the size of your Golden Shepherd puppy, the best bet is to ask the breeder for information on the size of previous litters, and to look over the parents of your pup.
Coat and Appearance
Although it is possible that you might find a Golden Shepherd with perky ears like the GSD, they are more likely to have floppy ears of the Goldie. Likewise, although the courser coat of the German Shepherd is possible, the softer and silkier style of the Goldie is a more common texture for the coat.
Coloration will depend on the parents, and since such a wide variation is possible in German Shepherds, the Golden Shepherd shares a diversity of looks, although hints of black and tan along with the tell-tale face mask of the GSD are common. All black German Shepherd Golden Retriever mix puppies do exist, but they are rare!
Since both dogs have a double coat, with a heavy shed in spring and fall, expect the same from this hybrid. A weekly brushing outside will go a long way to keeping the house from filling up with dog hair.
Health and Life Expectancy
Both hip and elbow dysplasia are common to both parent breeds and are therefor likely to be potential problems of this hybrid.
However, mixing the lines of these two very different breeds may help with the congenital problems of either parent breed…including lower rates of cancer than Goldies, and lower rates of Degenerative Myelopathy than GSD.
Like Goldies, Golden Shepherds tend to love food which means they are very likely to get overweight unless you keep an eye on their portions and limit their access to food and treats. Plenty of exercise will also help these dogs maintain a healthy weight and strong bones, joints and musculature.
The designer breed of Golden Retrievers mixed with German Shepherds are too new to have comprehensive statistics on life expectancy. However, 9-12 is a likely range given what we do know about the parent breeds.
Pros/Cons of the Golden Retriever and German Shepherd hybrid
Keep in mind that individual dogs, even among purebreds, have their own personalities. Environment, training, and the amount of socialization a canine gets also play a huge role in shaping the personality of your dog.
However, there are certain traits that are more likely than others which we can expect from the parent breeding. Here are some pros and cons to be aware of before deciding this designer dog is right for you and your family.
Among the Scottish aristocrats in the mid 19 th century, one of the most popular pastimes was bird hunting. However, the rugged terrain of the Scottish Highlands included both land and water, with marshes and ponds littering the landscape.
Although there were breeds such as spaniels that were bred to retrieve in the water, and other
retrievers that excelled on land, there was a need for a breed that would combine the traits of both for an all-around retriever that was at home on land or lake.
The man largely credited with the development of what would become the Golden Retriever bloodline was Dudley Majoribanks who was the Lord of Tweedmouth. His original stock included a “Yellow Retriever” (a land retriever now extinct) and the Tweed Water Spaniel. Over the course of the next 50 years, Bloodhound, St. John’s Water Dog and Irish Setter were also mixed in.
The first Goldie to be shown in the confirmation ring was in Britain in 1908, around the time the first pups were making their way to America. Not long after, in 1925, this member of the Sporting Group was added to the American Kennel Club Registry.
Since the 1970’s when President Ford showcased his pet dog Liberty, the Golden Retriever has been an extremely popular breed in the U.S. They remain a popular choice as sporting dogs, service dogs, athletes in dog sports such as agility, obedience and dock diving, and most importantly, beloved family pets. In fact, only Labrador Retrievers outrank this lovable breed in terms of popularity in the States.
Goldies are particularly well known to show a great deal of patience with children and other animals, making them a great choice for active families with kids and multiple pet households. They also do well with livestock, showing a desire to become friends with anyone they meet.
Their trusting and open nature does make them poor guard dogs, but it is certainly part of their
suitability as service animals. If properly socialized when young, Goldies are very adaptable to just about any situation and show a great deal of comfort in new situations and around new people.
Number four on the Stanley Coren canine intelligence scale, the Goldie is known to be a very intelligent breed with a strong desire to please. This is a winning combination to be sure! This makes them quite easy to train with positive reinforcement-based methods.
The AKC standard for Golden Retrievers sets the range for males between 23”-24” and females between 21.5” and 22.5” with a weight range of 55-75 pounds.
However, it is important to note that many Goldies that are bred for sale to U.S. households as pets tend to be a bit larger than the breed standard. In addition, the standards in different across the pond, with a larger and more muscular version of this breed popular in the U.K.
Coat and Appearance
This breed is well known for their beautiful golden coat, ranging anywhere from near white to a deep and rusty red. Coats can range from medium to longish, but almost all Goldies have a luxurious feathery tail.
Like most dogs bred to enjoy the water, the Golden Retriever is a double coated breed with a layer of thick and soft down under their luxurious silky top coat. Expect to brush them at a minimum of once a week, outside.
Each year they are likely to experience a major shed in the spring and another at the onset of the fall. The tail can be especially hard to keep up with, particularly if you live in an area with burrs of any kind.
In addition, their long floppy ears can make them prone to ear infections. A weekly ear wipe is
Health and Life Expectancy
With an average life expectancy of 10-12 years, the Golden Retriever has a typical age range for this sized canine.
Several types of cancer, including hemangiosarcoma, lymphosarcoma, mast cell tumors, and osteosarcoma are the biggest cause of death for this breed, as many as 60%. In fact, the problem is so serious that a large study is underway to try to identify the cause of the high rates of cancer in the breed, and hopefully solve the problem.
About one in five GRs will suffer from hip or elbow dysplasia. Less serious, but more common, are skin problems including hot spots, allergies, and dermatitis which can be a perpetual issue for some of these silky coated canines.
One of the things to be aware of with this breed is that they are not known for turning down food and tend to have poor ability to self-regulate. Free feeding a Goldie almost always results in an obese dog, wreaking havoc on their bodies and ultimately radically decreasing their quality of life and overall health.
As a sporting dog, their exercise needs are moderate to high, although they do tend to get less high strung than some of the other sporting dogs if they go a few days without a good run. Still, they are best suited for active families, preferably those that have access to water for swimming and space for this dog to run off leash daily.
Northwest Europe was teeming with small agricultural villages in the 1800’s where large flocks of sheep roamed the countryside. An indispensable ally for the shepherd in keeping his flock safe from predators and the hazards of the natural environment were his trusty working dogs.
For centuries, dogs were bred among locals with the traits of a great working sheep dog that could herd, guard and endure the rugged environment in mind. Speed, strength, aggression, guarding instincts, a strong sense of smell, and above all, intelligence and focus were prized characteristics in most breeding programs.
Around the beginning of the 20 th century, the standardization of canine breeds became the trend. Max von Stephanitz, a retired German Captain, became one of the champions for the breed as we know it today.
He was so impressed with a single specimen, named Horand von Grafrath, who was a product of one such local breeding program, who soon became the first German Shepherd Dog and first sire of the breed standard we know today.
Von Stephanitz’s vision included that German Shepherds be bred with working ability as the top priority, rather than physical appearance. In addition to herding, the breed has found work in a variety of places over the years.
In the 1920’s, specially trained guide dogs for the blind were almost exclusively from the German
Shepherd breed, selected because of their high intelligence and ability to focus on their work despite distractions.
However, in the decades to follow, other breeds including the Labrador Retriever and Golden Retriever have become the first choice in service dogs thanks to their less guarded behavior and lower levels of aggression.
The German Shepherd remains a popular choice for police and military work, with scent duties such as drug and bomb sniffing among their chief responsibilities. They are also extremely adept as search and rescue dogs thanks to their excellent sense of smell, strong work ethic, and extreme focus on the job at hand.
There has been recent controversy over this breed over the last decade, with the breed standard
starting to favor severely sloped backs in some quarters. The controversy came to a head after the 2016 Crufts “Best in Breed” winner was so badly deformed that there were concerns the dog might be in pain just managing to walk around the ring.
The controversy remains alive and well, as some have advocated splitting the breed to allow for the severely sloped back GSDs to still have a place in the ring.
When properly socialized as puppies, and handled with consistent and experienced leadership, German Shepherds tend to be confident, courageous, protective, loyal, hardworking, diligent and intelligent. However, if poorly guided or subject to abuse, GSDs can become aggressive to both people and other animals.
In addition to intelligence, GSDs are bred for their protective nature. This means they are capable of aggression when provoked and tend towards viewing newcomers with some degree of suspicion. On the other hand, they tend to display an extremely protective stance to members of their pack, making them excellent guard dogs.
In general, they are easy to train as long as the trainer provides consistent leadership that includes fair corrections when needed, and plenty of positive reinforcement for work well done.
GSDs need high levels of mental stimulation, and moderate levels of physical stimulation. They thrive when they have a great deal of interaction including games such as fetch or “Find it!” If left alone too much, this breed is rather notorious for becoming an incessant and loud barking nuisance.
It is not a good breed for apartment living, or for those that spend most of their day away from home.
The AKC breed standard stipulates a height of 22”-24” for females and 24”-26” for males. However,
many GSD’s bred for purposes outside the confirmation ring are larger than this.
In fact, some breeders have deliberately parted from the breed standards which have strayed from the original dogs of the breed. You may see such pups sold as “Old-Fashioned” or “Straight Back” GSDs as the controversy over the breed standard for this dog continues to rage on both sides of the pond.
Coat and Appearance
The GSD has perky triangular ears that are erect and alert. One of the few standards to discuss specific gender differences, the female and male dogs are expected to present with “feminine” and “masculine” appearances, especially in the head and face.
In terms of colors, a wide variety is permissible for confirmation including the standard black and tan coloration as solid colors, although white dogs are disqualified and blue and liver are considered faults.
They have double coats which makes them well insulated for colder weather, but it can be a liability in hot weather. In addition, they are notorious for shedding quite profusely and a daily brush outside is the best way to keep the house from being over run with fur.
Health and Life Expectancy
Unfortunately, there are a number of health problems that are common in this breed, including hip and elbow dysplasia, Degenerative Myelopathy, osteoarthritis as well as degenerative spinal stenosis.
It is critical that you work with a breeder to make sure they are doing the appropriate genetic testing to maintain the highest quality and health in their bloodline. Ask for the health records of the parents as well as an information they have on the health of previous litters. Responsible breeders always provide this information with pride.
A little shorter than some other dogs of this size group, the average life expectancy for GSDs is 7-10 years.
Is a German Shepherd and Golden Retriever Mix Right for You?
This is a
great dog for
- Families with children (5 or older) who are active and have space for regular outdoor play.
- People that enjoy the outdoors and regularly make time for exercise opportunities such as
running, swimming or hiking for some off-leash exercise.
- Those looking for a loyal companion who is adaptable to new environments, friendly with new
people and social with other dogs, should definitely go for the Golden Retriever German Shepherd Mix .
- Folks that have some experience with dog training, particularly using positive reinforcement
This is a poor choice
as a dog for
- People that need to leave their dog at home all day while they are at work.
- Apartment or condo living.
- Those with inactive lifestyles.
- Inexperienced dog owners who have trouble setting boundaries and providing consistent leadership.