Welcome To Our Complete Guide To The German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix.
What happens when you cross these two loyal, intelligent breeds?
Let’s find out!
This guide will tell you everything you need to know about German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, and how a puppy from the two of them might turn out.
But first, we will briefly discuss the designer dog controversy.
Because not everyone is happy about two breeds being combined.
The Designed Dog Controversy
A designer dog is created by crossing two purebred dogs.
There are some people who believe that mixed dogs are healthier than purebreds because there is more genetic diversity in their bloodlines and they are not subject to inbreeding.
On the other hand, advocates for purebreds believe that purebreds are a safer option, because they are predictable in their health and behavior.
Responsible breeders health test their animals and even work to reduce disease by only breeding healthy dogs.
But you can find responsible breeders in both the mixed and purebred world.
Let’s delve into some scientific research to gain more insight.
Purebreds or Mixed Breeds? The Science Behind Doggy Health
In her article, “The myth of hybrid vigor in dogs… is a myth” Carol Beuchat talks about something called hybrid vigor.
Hybrid vigor is the process of reversing the loss of fitness in dogs caused by inbreeding.
Beuchat argues that inbred dogs have less fitness, meaning a lower chance of reproducing.
Not only that, inbred dogs face other negative consequences, such as a shorter lifespan.
This can be remedied by adding genetic diversity into the gene pool.
But hybrid vigor isn’t just produced by creating hybrid (mixed) dogs.
It can also be produced by breeding purebreds with other non-related purebreds, thus introducing some diversity into the bloodline.
Diversity is most important, regardless of whether the dog is a mutt or a purebred.
Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do when choosing a cross like the German Shepherd Golden Retriever mix.
So let’s take a look at what you can expect from your cross bred puppy, by looking at their parents and comparing them.
Origins of the German Shepherd Dog
One of the most popular and recognizable breeds, German Shepherds have come a long way in the past hundred years.
Exactly as their name suggests, these dogs started out as sheep herders in Germany.
They were valued far more for their work ethic than their looks.
It was only at the end of the 19th century that an effort was made to create a specific dog of Germany.
A man named Max Emil Frederick von Stephanitz is largely credited for the success of the breed.
He created a club to maintain and regulate breed standards, and also bought a stud that he viewed as the ideal German Shepherd, which he then proceeded to breed.
With his efforts, German Shepherds became increasingly popular.
During WWI, this popularity declined in America and the UK due to anti-German sentiments.
However, German Shepherds quickly regained popularity and have been popular with the police and military.
Origins of the Golden Retriever
The Golden Retriever is of noble origins in that it was developed by a British aristocrat named Lord Tweedmouth.
Though the breed is believed to be of Scottish origin, Tweedmouth purchased the first retriever in Brighton, England.
He trained the dog, named Nous, to retrieve birds, and it went so well that he decided to breed Nous with a type of water spaniel that no longer exists.
The Golden Retriever was thus bred to be a sporting dog and is still used by hunters today as well as by charities such as Guide Dogs For The Blind, due to their intelligence and kind natures.
German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix Size
Male German Shepherds stand between 24 and 26 inches at the shoulder and weigh 65 to 90 pounds.
Females are between 22 and 24 inches tall and weigh 50 to 70 pounds.
Male Golden Retrievers are 23-24 inches tall and weigh 65-75 pounds.
Females are 21.5-22.5 inches tall and weigh 55-65 pounds.
Based on the parent breeds, you can expect a German Shepherd Golden Retriever mix to be a big dog!
German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix Characteristics
German Shepherds are known for their pointy ears and black and tan colorings, but they can actually come in 11 different colors including black, white, and liver!
They have bushy tails and an intelligent expression.
Golden Retrievers are strictly golden, with only three different color possibilities: light golden, golden, and dark golden.
Their long coat can be straight or wavy, and they wear a friendly expression.
There are many possibilities for what a Golden Retriever x German Shepherd might look like.
They may take after one parent more than another.
To get a better idea of how your puppy might turn out or what color he or she might be, have a look at the parents!
Golden Retriever Cross German Shepherd Temperament
German Shepherds are naturally intelligent, protective and loyal.
They can attach to one person more strongly than others, even becoming overprotective of that person.
They may be aloof toward strangers and in some cases can also be nervous of them.
On the other hand, the Golden Retriever is usually easy going.
He will normally have an innate love for people, and is a loyal companion.
Both breeds are intelligent and trainable using positive reinforcement methods for a wide range of tasks.
You can expect your puppy to be clever and loyal, but you will need to also be very careful about his socialization to avoid some of the potential issues with inappropriate guarding that GSDs display.
Meeting the German Shepherd parent and making sure that they are happy with strangers is vital, but you will still need to follow a good socialization plan.
German Shepherd Golden Retriever Socialization
When you mix two breeds, you won’t know until the dog is older which parent they will take after.
You therefore need to assume it will be the more nervous of the two.
Socialization is important for all dogs to keep them from becoming fearful or aggressive.
Even the Golden Retriever, a breed that rarely shows aggression, can develop such behavior.
From the day you bring your puppy home, start on a detailed plan of socialization.
Have visitors come to the house daily and take your dog out to busy places.
Continue with this daily socialization program until the window closes at around 14 weeks old.
Then carry on just once or twice each week, indefinitely.
German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix Training
Exercise is a vital part of any dog’s life, but it should not be overdone with German Shepherd Golden Retriever mix puppies due to the Shepherd’s risk of developing joint problems.
Exercise should be gradually built up, allowing the dog to gain muscle.
However, once they are older they need to receive proper exercise or they may become bored and cause trouble.
Both Germans and Goldens need mental and physical stimulation, and so will their offspring!
Your German Shepherd Golden Retriever mix will need companionship.
This will not be a dog suited to a home where the family is not around for much of the day.
German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix Grooming
German Shepherds have a waterproof double coat and are always shedding, though not profusely unless it’s shedding season.
Golden Retrievers also have a water-resistant double coat, and their long hair can easily become tangled and matted.
Frequent brushing is important to keep the coat sleek and mat-free.
Choose a brush that can reach both layers of fur as your puppy will also have a double coat like its parents.
Bathing can be kept occasional.
A German Shepherd Golden Retriever mix’s nails should be checked regularly and clipped when needed.
Teeth should be brushed weekly, and ears should be checked for wax buildup, especially if the puppy takes after the Golden Retriever.
Potential Health Risks of a German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix
The list of health risks for these breeds seems pretty long, and your mix may possibly inherit any of them.
Some health problems are also more commonly seen with old age.
German Shepherds have a life expectancy of about 11 years.
Their health risks include anal furunculosis anal gland issues and food allergies.
There i also a rick of hypothyroidism, chronic superficial keratitus, epilepsy, hip and elbow dysplasia, bloat and megaesophagus.
Von Willebrand’s disease, and cardiac problems such as patent ductus arteriosus, chronic degenerative radiculomyelopathy have also been associated.
They have also been plagued with back problems due to breeds causing them to have increasingly arched backs.
Golden Retrievers have a life expectancy of about 12.5 years.
Health risks for this breed include allergic skin disease (atopy), aortic stenosis, digestive tract diseases.
There is also a higher rate of elbow and hip dysplasia, endocrine disease, epilepsy, geriatric and canine vestibular disease.
Other health problems associated with them include hypothyroidism and pyometra.
Not to mentioneye conditions!
Including hereditary cataracts, congenital cataracts, generalized progressive retinal atrophy, retinal pigment epithelial dystrophy, multifocal retinal dysplasia, and glaucoma.
The biggest concern with Golden Retrievers right now however is probably cancer. Nearly 40% of all Goldens will die from this.
A risk that is dramatically increased in neutered females.
German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix health
Health risks like these underline the importance of purchasing your pup from a responsible breeder.
One that has health tested the parent animals.
These tests can give insight on what sort of health issues, if any, your dog may run into down the line.
Golden Retrievers should have good hip and elbow scores, a clear eye test and be PRA clear as a minimum.
The German Shepherd parent should also have good hip and elbow scores, a cler eye test and be PRA clear.
You should also make sure that the German Shepherd parent does not walk on their hocks and has a straight back.
And that the Golden Retriever parent has no family history of cancer.
German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix Puppies
Mixed breeds can be harder to find than purebred dogs, but they’re still out there. Check the newspaper and look around online.
Once you do find a breeder, make sure you visit and ask to discuss the health tests of the parents.
These health tests are very important as they can inform you about any health risks your puppy could inherit.
A responsible breeder will share these results with you.
When you visit, make sure you take a good look at the residence and the parent dogs.
Make sure the German Shepherd has a straight back and is not walking on his hocks.
The behavior of the parents should reflect their respective breeds.
Both should be friendly to you and display no signs of aggression.
The German Shepherd might not want to jump in your lap for a cuddle, but he should seem unworried by your presence and have a wagging tail.
Check the Golden’s hair for mats and tangles, as this will give you a good idea of how well the breeder takes care of their dogs.
The breeder should ask you lots of questions, and be happy to answer them from you too.
If you have any doubts, walk away and resume your search elsewhere.
Is A German Shepherd Golden Retriever mix right for me?
German Shepherd Golden Retriever mix dogs are active and intelligent.
Mental and physical stimulation is important.
Early socialization and the use of positive reinforcement training is essential.
Especially if you have children or they regularly visit.
No breed of puppy should be left alone for long periods of time, as puppies need an enriching environment and lots of attention.
With both parents being prone to separation anxiety, a German Shepherd Golden Retriever mix is only suited to homes where the family is around for much of the day.
- O’Neill et al 2013 Longevity and mortality of owned dogs in England. The Veterinary Journal.
- Adams and Evans 2010 Methods and mortality results of a health survey of purebred dogs in the UK. Journal of Small Animal Practice.
- American Kennel Club
- Beuchat, Carol. 2014 “The myth of hybrid vigor in dogs…is a myth.” The Institute of Canine Biology, 22 Dec. 2014,
- German Shepherd Dog Club of America.
- Golden Retriever Club of America.
- House, A.K., et al. 2009. “Analysis of NOD1, NOD2, TLR1, TLR2, TLR4, TLR5, TLR6 and TLR9 genes in anal furunculosis of German shepherd dogs.” Tissue Antigens.
- Kennedy, L.J., et al. 2008. “Risk of Anal Furunculosis in German Shepherd Dogs is Associated with the Major Histocompatability Complex.” Tissue Antigens.
- Scott et al. 1990. A Survey of Canine and Feline Skin Disorders Seen in a University Practice: Small Animal Clinic, University of Montréal, Saint-Hyacinthe, Québec (1987-1988). The Canadian Veterinary Journal.
- Stock, K.F., et al. 2011. “Genetic Analyses of Elbow and Hip Dysplasia in the German Shepherd Dog.” Journal of Animal Breeding & Genetics.