German Shepherd vs Labrador? The ultimate conundrum!
They are both quite different personalities, but equally appealing in their own unique ways.
But don’t worry, we’re here to help!
We’ve broken down the similarities and differences between these two gorgeous breeds.
Helping you to decide whether a Lab or German Shepherd is the right dog for you.
Find Lab vs GSD health, temperament, training, grooming, lifespan, and so much more.
Labrador vs German Shepherd
The German Shepherd vs Labrador debate involves the two most popular pet dogs in the US, year after year. For the past 26 years, the Labrador Retriever has kept the number one spot all sewn up. The German Shepherd is hot on its heels in the number two position.
Without a doubt, either the German Shepherd or Labrador Retriever is a great choice for a companion canine. You simply can’t go wrong by choosing a well-bred, healthy and happy dog from either breed!
However, which breed is a better choice for your life, daily schedule, and what you have to offer a pet dog right now? There are some important differences that can help you.
The German Shepherd dog is a large size dog with a medium energy level. This means that the German Shepherd will thrive with focused and energetic activity, such as play time and daily walks, but then will look forward to nice rests in between, including naps and a long evening snooze.
Conversely, the Labrador Retriever is a medium size dog with a high energy level. The Lab needs lots of daily interaction, playtime and walks (or runs or swims or all of the above) to stay happy and healthy. Naps are lower priority. This can mean a more demanding pet dog to care for, at least in the puppy to mid-adult years.
This difference, and others we will cover here, can mean one breed may fit in better in your daily life.
German Shepherd vs Labrador size
The German Shepherd is classified as a “large breed dog” and the Labrador Retrieveris classified as a “medium breed dog.” However, can see by the statistics that there isn’t a huge difference in height or weight between the two breeds.
German Shepherd size:
- Height: 22 to 26 inches (adult males average 2 inches taller than adult females).
- Weight: 65 to 90 pounds (adult male); 50 to 70 pounds (adult female).
Labrador Retriever size:
- Height: 21.5 to 24.5 inches (adult males average 1 inch taller than adult females).
- Weight: 65 to 80 pounds (adult male); 55 to 70 pounds (adult female).
From a pure height and weight comparison, you probably won’t find much useful information to help you decide between a GSD vs Labrador. However, it is good to know the potential full adult height and weight of both dog breeds before you commit to either!
German Shepherd vs Labrador Appearance
Both the Lab and the German Shepherd are very good-looking canines! However, their overall appearances and demeanors are generally considered quite different.
German Shepherd Appearance
The German Shepherd is a master of calm confidence. From his alert upraised ears to his perfectly positioned paws, somehow a GSD still looks well-put-together even after a scramble through the brush or a dip in the lake!
One unmistakable trait that sets German Shepherd dogs apart is their erect posture. They simply appear incapable of slouching! This dog’s body is quite long, and is lean and rangy despite the thick two-layer coat and bushy tail.
If you’ve ever seen an athlete who simply knows he is fast, agile and strong, this may remind you of a German Shepherd. This dog knows his strengths and isn’t afraid to use them. In fact, the composed demeanor is part of what makes the German Shepherd such a great working dog.
German Shepherds can have many different coat colors, from light tan and gray to deep, rich browns with black accents. The black and tan coat color is the best-known combination for this breed.
Labrador Retriever appearance
After your first sight of a Labrador Retriever, you likely came away with an image of this dog’s eager, friendly face and eyes. The face of a Lab often seems to be smiling simply for the sheer joy of being alive!
The Lab is a strong, solid dog, and perfectly capable of looking the part of a perfect show dog. However, this breed’s natural eagerness and enthusiasm for life typically results in a less polished daily appearance!
The Lab is the most beloved pet dog in the US for the 26th year in a row for a reason. These are dogs that can make the bleakest day feel sunny and full of fun.
Overall, the Labrador’s body is typically described as solid yet not stocky. The coat is short, double-layer and waterproof, with an amazing “otter-like” tail that is made for swimming.
Labradors today are usually characterised as yellow Labradors, black Labradors or chocolate (brown) Labradors. Interestingly, if you are trying to decide between a black Lab vs German Shepherd, there is a newer GSD line with an all-black coat. They are really beautiful dogs!
Labrador vs German Shepherd – grooming and shedding
Blowing coat, shedding, molting. These are just a few of the terms commonly used by German Shepherd and Labrador lovers alike to describe their daily battles with their pets’ hair.
The truth is, both of these breeds tend to shed more rather than less, and more often rather than occasionally. In other words, if you are searching for a “hypo-allergenic” breed that won’t trigger your pet dander allergies, neither of these is an ideal pick!
Let’s take a look at some subtler differences between the shedding and grooming needs of the German Shepherd vs Labrador.
German Shepherd grooming and shedding
Part of what the German Shepherd dog is so well known for is their thick and luxurious coats. While this makes for a striking show dog and is certainly warm and cozy, it isn’t always fun for the owner!
After all, someone has to sweep or vacuum up all that shed dog hair! Moreover, German Shepherds don’t just shed seasonally, although they do tend to shed more during their biologically-mandated semi-annual coat change.
However, German Shepherds shed every day. Part of the reason is that these dogs have a longer and very thick outer coat layer, and an equally thick shorter insulating under-coat layer. Both layers have to continually shed out old hair and grow in new hair as nature dictates.
Unless you enjoy living in a sea of dog hair, you should brush your German Shepherd at least three times per week, with one more intensive grooming session weekly. It may also be wise to invest in a heavy-duty vacuum cleaner. To learn more about German Shepherd coats, we recommend this informative post.
Labrador Retriever grooming and shedding
To put it simply: Labradors shed. They shed morning, noon and night, in the summer and in the winter. Labs do tend to shed more heavily during seasonal coat changes (called “molting”), but there is no time of year when they will be “finished” shedding.
Shedding is a year-round affair. A big part of the reason for this is because the Lab has a two-layer coat. The top layer is thick and waterproof. The bottom layer is short and thick to serve as insulation for these water-loving dogs. Both layers need to shed regularly to stay effective in their jobs. This applies whether or not your Lab is actually swimming in the icy lake waters like her ancestors did!
So that’s the bad news. Your Lab is going to shed, and there really isn’t anything you can do about it.
However, other Lab lovers have been working to tackle the shedding problem for decades. You can find advice on how to cope effectively with your Labrador’s shedding here.
Ultimately, if you choose to share your life with a Lab of any color, you will need to commit to near-daily brushing and weekly grooming (not to mention house and car cleaning) to keep your Labrador’s shedding hair under control.